House Speaker calls for special session, opposes judicial impeachment idea

story by Roby Brock, with Talk Business, a content partner with The City Wire
roby@talkbusiness.net

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, isn’t a lame-duck speaker just yet. In an interview on “Talk Business & Politics,” Carter said he’ll fight a potential impeachment push regarding the same-sex marriage legal controversy and he said he will ask Gov. Mike Beebe to call a special session soon to fix school insurance plans.

Carter said that impeachment of Judge Chris Piazza would have no bearing to reverse the decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“That constitutional question, whether you like it or not, has to be answered at the Supreme Court,” Carter said. “I think there is a very good chance that this case, this particular case, will go to the United States Supreme Court.”

Carter acknowledged that state lawmakers do have the right to pursue impeachment of constitutional officers and judges under Article 15 of the state’s constitution. The article says those elected officials can be brought for impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “gross misconduct.”

“Every member has a right to file and pursue whatever policy things he or she wants to do. I’m not here to impede that. I’m just making it well-known that I’m going to fight it,” Carter emphasized. “There’s no significance on the outcome of the issue at hand, it’s irrelevant. It would take place months away, maybe even perhaps after the Supreme Court rules. What happens if the Supreme Court upholds it? Are we going to impeach the Supreme Court judges?” said Carter, who added that it is a “slippery slope.”

“It doesn’t matter that it’s this subject matter. It could have been on domestic relations, child custody or whatever. When you get the General Assembly that they don’t like decisions of the judicial branch, and you go try to impeach them, that is an absolute slippery slope and I stand behind that.”

Carter said he plans to call Gov. Mike Beebe (D) on Monday and ask him to consider a special session to make further changes to financially shore up a school insurance fund that has been bleeding money.

State lawmakers met last year to move $43 million in one-time money into the plan and added another $36 million annually from other sources as a quick fix. A bipartisan, bicameral task force has been focused on more long-term solutions that Carter says now have to be implemented before next year’s plans begin.

“I’m going to call the Governor, probably tomorrow. My recommendation is that we have a special session. I think we have to do it,” said Carter. “We do not at the state level have any ability or desire or want to continue to fund $30, $40, $50 million of these shortcomings. If we don’t do anything, it’s $70 million already in the hole. These recommendations — there’s going to be some heartburn about them — but at the end of the day, we’ve got to make that plan process sustainable.”

Carter said the session needs to take place before August in order to beat a deadline for enrollment in new insurance plans. Of interest, the House chamber at the state capitol could be undergoing massive renovations during a special session’s call. After the show taping, Carter said several options are being considered for alternative locations, including the Old State House.

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Link here for a Talk Business & Politics video of the interview with Carter.

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