Funny business is piling up in the special language subcommittee of the legislature — where substantive law changes can be tacked onto bills without meaningful debate or House/Senate action — and also in Joint Budget, where member amendments can do similar clandestine harm.
One example this morning: Republican Sen. Bryan King is advancing, coincidentally or otherwise, the Stephens Inc. financial empire campaign against Securities Commissioner Heath Abshure. King dropped an amendment this morning in Joint Budget — kept secret until the meeting — to cut Abshure’s pay from $104,936 to $98,653.
Stephens has been on a tear against Abshure for his practice of accepting payments in lieu of fines for securities violations to the association of securities commissioners he once headed. Stephens has depicted this as a conflict of interest, though it’s a practice that has been followed in other states. Abshure justifies it because of the educational benefits the state gets from the group. Stephens has also rooted out Abshure’s failure to report on state financial disclosure forms the expenses paid by the association to its meetings. He has amended the reports.
The pay cut has been referred to Joint Budget’s personnel subcommittee. Abshure said he wouldn’t comment until the issue was before that subcommittee.
Background on the Stephens-Abshure dispute here from Arkansas Business. He believes it’s related to larger philosophical disagreements on securities industry regulation. The industry prefers self-regulation. Abshure has been critical.