The Daily Press The Saline Courier | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2014-09-27T12:58:54-04:00 explains Farm Bill vote; U.S. Rep. gives opinion on the nation's next AG2014-09-27T12:58:54-04:002014-09-27T12:58:54-04:00The Saline CourierPolls of likely voters indicate the race is considered a toss-up with some polls showing Cotton with a 3 to 4 percentage margin over Pryor.The race between the two candidates has intensified in recent weeks in advance of the Nov. 4 general election.During a telephone interview Thursday, the first-term representative spoke about the tone of the campaign, his view of his vote on the Farm Bill and an opinion on Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation.Cotton responses to several questions follow.Question: "Rep. Cotton, are you concerned about the negative tone of campaign advertisements in the Senate race to the point that voters are tuning out on the election process?Cotton: "Well I can only speak to my ads. I'm proud of the campaign we've run. You've probably seen ads we've run with me and my dad on the farm or my Mom and me at the grocery store or Christmastime. My wife and I at our home in Dardanelle. I'm trying to run a campaign that's focused on the issues and that shares with Arkansans my views and why I think we need to elect a conservative senator to represent Arkansas' conservative views and values."And then, of course, I'm working very hard on the campaign trail every single day meeting voters and getting a chance to look them in the eye. I can ask them directly for their votes and tell them that we need them to get to the polls and get all their friends and family to the polls as well."Question: "Would you vote the same on the Farm Bill knowing what you know now and if so, why? If not, why not?Cotton: "Yes, of course. The Farm Bill that passed doesn't deserve the name. It should be called the Food Stamp Bill. It's 80 percent food stamps spending, which is a program that's nearly doubled under the Obama administration. Arkansas farmers will get only a few fractions of a penny of the benefits of that bill. In fact 75 percent of Arkansas farmers are estimated to receive nothing at all."That's a bad deal for Arkansas farmers. It's a bad deal for Arkansas taxpayers. I wish we had passed a true farm bill and a food stamp reform bill that focused on reforming the food stamp program preventing waste and abuse and getting people the assistance they need in their hour of need."That's exactly what we did in the House of Representatives, but Barack Obama issued a veto threat and Mark Pryor stood with Barack Obama and forced the chair to go forward in an old-fashioned manner. I just think we can't keep doing things in the old-fashioned ways of Washington, D.C. That's how we got $18 trillion in debt."Question: "What specific issues would you work on for Arkansas and how do you anticipate being able to get around what most voters see as a hyper-partisan and dysfunctional Washington environment?"Cotton: "First, the most important thing that Arkansans focus on in our conversations is a healthy, growing Arkansas economy and jobs. I'm going to be focused very much on trying to return economic prosperity and opportunity to our state and to our country. There are several key components of that."Second, I think we have to get our budget back to balance. We can't keep spending more money than we take in, which takes more money out of the economy that could be spent for families borrowing to get a mortgage to build a home which puts people to work or companies to expand or even build an entirely new factory to put people to work. We have to reform our tax code."Right now we have some of the highest taxes in the developed world and our tax code is deeply unfair. It's convoluted. It's frustrating. We need to simplify our taxes and lower tax rates."We need to let Arkansans keep more money and let them decide how to spend it rather than letting politicians in Washington take their money and decide whether to give it back when they spend it in politician-approved fashions."Third, we have to get out of control regulations and regulatory uncertainty back under control. You see this in, for instance, when it comes to the cost of energy whether it's electricity for your home or gas at the pump. We continue to see gas prices go up at the pump and that's in large part due to the regulations of Barack Obama's EPA."We need to get them back to cost-benefit analysis and we need to eliminate the uncertainty they are creating for all of our businesses across the state of Arkansas that don't know what's next. Those are just a few ways we could grow the economy and help people get back to work."In regards to partisanship, I've worked with Democrats on several issues. Obviously I have more in common with Republicans as a Republican myself, but that doesn't mean we can't find common cause when we work together. It's often more of an issue by issue basis when working with Democrats.Take, for instance, national security. On the Foreign Affairs Committee I work closely with Democrats like Eliot Engle from New York or Ted Deutch of Florida or Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts who believe that America's strength and confidence in the world, and believe that we need to follow the old way of saying peace through strength. We don't necessarily agree on a lot of domestic policy, but we do agree on that and we work together closely on it."Or take some of the core economic interests of South Arkansas and West Arkansas, which are parts of the state that I now represent, which is timber and forestry products. There are a lot of Democratic states like Oregon and Washington who also represent districts that are heavily dependent on timber and forestry products."We worked together on legislation that will help that industry and its workers unless the EPA doesn't attempt to regulate the loads of timber from the forests that our state forestry commissions have been regulating for decades. So, I work frequently with Democrats on a bipartisan basis and it tends to be on an issue by issue basis where our views and the views of our constituents overlap."Question: "What is your opinion of the Keystone XL pipeline?Cotton: "I think it should have been permitted years and years ago. It's emblematic of the challenges of the Obama regulatory agenda as created. They continue to drag their feet on a project that would create tens of thousands of jobs and would show the world that America is open for new energy exploration."We've passed legislation in the House of Representatives that would expedite the permitting of that pipeline. I know that Sen. Pryor says he is in favor of it, but he can't get Harry Reid to bring that legislation up for a vote on that Senate floor which makes me wonder if he truly does want it even though we have hundreds of people employed right there in Central Arkansas who are making pipe for that project and I'm sure would like to make a lot more pipe. It's an example of the secondary, indirect type of jobs you get when you tap into natural resources such as natural gas."Question: Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down. Who would you support and what kind of individual would you like to see as his replacement?Cotton: "I'm glad to see that Attorney General Holder has finally decided to resign. He should have resigned years ago. This Department of Justice is the most politicized in recent times. It's deeply troubling when the chief law enforcement officer and agency are so clearly used for partisan purposes and has so many scandals swirling around them, whether it's fast and furious providing guns that are used to kill American law enforcement officers or failing to adequately investigate the IRS or pursuing investigations that appear to be targeted toward political adversaries.Benton, ARBrent DavisCotton explains Farm Bill vote; U.S. Rep. gives opinion on the nation's next AGNo source says Cotton financed by billionaires; Cotton: He took $50,000 from same donors2014-09-27T12:54:12-04:002014-09-27T12:53:53-04:00The Saline CourierDuring an interview with The Courier and in his campaign document "What's at Stake: A Study on Tom Cotton's Votes Against Arkansas," Pryor asserts that Cotton has received more than $20 million from the Club for Growth and a group founded by David and Charles Koch.Pryor also contends that Cotton skipped the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren this year to attend a weekend gathering hosted by Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by the Koch brothers.In addition, Pryor alleges that during Cotton's 2012 campaign for the Fourth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cotton received a FedEx box filled with campaign donation checks amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.Cotton's campaign was contacted and asked if these statements from Pryor are accurate.David Ray, spokesperson for the Cotton campaign, responded for Cotton."While Senator Pryor is obsessed with which donors contributed to whom, he ignores the inconvenient fact that he's taken over $50,000 from the same donors he's now attacking," according to Ray. "This is his attempt to distract voters from his record of rubber-stamping President Obama's agenda on nearly every issue important to Arkansas."Senator Pryor voted for Obamacare and even calls it 'an amazing success,'" Ray said. "He's voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants, bailouts for Wall Street banks, and helped President Obama add nearly $1 trillion per year to our national debt. He's attacking Tom Cotton because he can't defend his record of voting with President Obama 93 percent of the time."Ray asserts that Pryor received donations "from the same group he's attacking totaling $20,000 between 2003 and 2008" and "the same contributions from 2009-14, which total $39,000 for a combined total of $59,000."Ray cited his sources as articles posted on the website and an article at "The Weekly Standard" website.The Opensecrets articles can be found at The Weekly Standard link is Dorey, spokesman for the Pryor campaign, admitted that the money had been contributed and responded to the allegations made by Ray by saying, "It's the worst $50,000 the Koch brothers ever spent if they think they could influence Mark Pryor. The out-of-state billionaires have their man in the race. They successfully urged him (Cotton) to vote against the farm bill, disaster relief, affordable student loans and to raise the age for Medicare and Social Security to 70."Benton, ARBrent DavisPryor says Cotton financed by billionaires; Cotton: He took $50,000 from same donorsNo source Pryor makes stop in Benton; Campaign trail runs its way through Saline2014-09-27T12:51:35-04:002014-09-27T12:51:35-04:00The Saline CourierPolls have shown the race to be a toss-up between the two candidates.Included in Pryor's local visit was a stop at The Saline Courier office, where he answered a number of questions. The questions and Pryor's responses follow.Question: "Much has been made of your vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Looking back on the vote, knowing what you do now, would you change your vote? If so, why, and if not, why not?"Pryor: "I think I probably would have changed some of the provisions in the act. You always know that in a big piece of legislation like that that you're not going to get it all right. You just don't know until it's implemented and you deal with the regulations that are written and how it is handled out there in the country."Health care is very complicated. It's complex with a whole range of issues that you have to deal with on health-care reform. I've already sponsored, co-sponsored or voted for different bills to change it. I think it's one of those things that — you know it's been to the Supreme Court. It's the law of the land. Now it's time for us to go in and reform it and make it work better. There are still problems with it."(With) that being said, there's also the other part that should be said, and that is a few weeks ago I was at a church and a guy came up to me and hugged me. He said 'thank you for voting for that.' He said 'I'm a diabetic and I haven't had health care in 15 years.'"I hear those kind of stories a lot. Hospitals will tell you it's keeping their doors open. When I talk to folks in that world, they say it has helped. I talked with staff at (Arkansas) Children's Hospital the other day and they said they didn't have a big no-pay problem because they have patients with Our Kids First, but what they see is that parents are now getting treatment."The doctor said a patient that comes there for treatment on a regular basis had a parent with a growth in her shoulder area. She couldn't ever get it looked at. She came back with her daughter and the doctor asked her about the growth and the mother said 'It's gone.' The doctor asked how and she said 'I now have health care.' I hear this from doctors all the time. They say we are now seeing patients we should have seen years ago. They've been out there but they haven't been able to come in (for health care)."Anyway, you just understand it's a mix. There are pluses and minuses. With the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans have made this a big campaign issue in 2010, 2012 and now in 2014. Who knows if it will even by an issue by 2016. But we're the only state in this region, the states that we neighbor, that did the Medicaid expansion and we have 205,000 people on private insurance through that and 40,000 people on the exchanges, so you are looking at right at 250,000 people that have insurance today that didn't have it a year ago. "So you would think that people would say, 'hey, this is working,' but you know I'm guessing their idea on the other side is to be negative, negative, negative, negative on it and just make people believe it is horrible. I've had people tell me you will never convince me that the Affordable Care Act is good, no matter what you say."It was a complicated bill and, by the way, I did read the whole thing. If you pass a big complicated bill like that and you get 80 percent of it right you've probably done something. We probably did get somewhere around there, but we need to go back and work on that 20 percent. It should be bipartisan, but the Republicans backed out of it and it became a one-party cram-down. We have to get the Republicans engaged and find good solutions to this. I believe that almost everybody agrees that our health care system had lots and lots of problems before."Question: "We did an informal survey of readers asking for their thoughts on the tone of the ads between your campaign and your opponent. Are you concerned that the negative tone of the ads will cause voters to not pay attention to the election? When you have to put out a negative ad, is there a set of criteria or standards in your mind that you follow before you say 'I approve this'?"Pryor: "I'm concerned that (the negative tone of the ads) will cause the voters to tune out. Yes, we have a set of criteria we follow. Every time we put out an ad, we come up with almost a little booklet, usually about three pages long, but we document everything we say and I think that's important for accountability."Look, we can argue about words like my opponent says I'm for amnesty when it comes to immigration. John McCain said that anyone who calls this amnesty isn't being intellectually honest. I agree with him on that. If you look at all the things we did in the immigration reform, I think a reasonable person would look at it and say, 'OK, that's not amnesty. I may not still be for it, but that's not amnesty.'"Also, for example, we've passed the toughest border security bill. I guess the thing I don't like about it and I'm sure I'm like your readers here (regarding the negative tone of advertising). The voters in Arkansas are smart and I think that sometimes the national media don't understand the intuitive nature of our voters here in Arkansas. For example, in one of these immigration ads, they get this little clip of me about five seconds long where I say the border is more secure than it was ten years ago."Well, I was in an interview and the question was 'Harry Reid says the border is secure today. Do you agree?' I said 'No, but the border is more secure than it was ten years ago' and then I went through all the things we've done and need to do and the whole deal."They've done that to me two or three times. They'll take a clip, a little snippet, and totally do the opposite of what I said. I think people around the state understand that everybody plays that game."But I don't play that game. I don't want to take something out of context. I'm not comfortable with that. That's why we document everything. We try to have a standard, try to have some integrity and I think that's one thing that we talked about early on in the campaign is that win, lose or draw, we want to keep our integrity during this. After it's all said and done, I have to look at myself in the mirror. I'm staying here in Arkansas. I'm going to live here the rest of my life."If I'm back in the Senate for next six years, then great. If not, I'm still living here in Arkansas. This is my state. This is my community."Question: "Why do you want to run again?"Pryor: "I want to do it because I really do believe in our government, our system. I believe the founding fathers set this up the right way and if we let it work, it works great. I've seen it work very well. I've seen it work not at all."It's not working very well right now. Way too much gridlock. Hyper-partisanship. Unfortunately it's the rule up there right now, not the exception. I want to get up there and make a difference. My role in the Senate has been bridge-builder, someone who brings people together, who works in a bipartisan way and it turns out I'm on the conservative end of the Democratic party for sure, but regardless of that, you have to have people out there who are willing to work together and find the common ground."Pryor currently is crossing the state to promote his report, which is titled "What's at Stake: A Study on Tom Cotton's Votes Against Arkansas."Benton, ARBrent DavisSen. Pryor makes stop in Benton; Campaign trail runs its way through SalineNo source 11 Facts You Won't Believe Are Actually True2014-09-27T10:22:07-04:002014-09-27T10:21:28-04:00The Saline CourierBenton, ARNo author availableVIDEO: 11 Facts You Won't Believe Are Actually TrueNo source candidates to talk at aerospace forum 2014-09-26T12:43:13-04:002014-09-26T12:43:13-04:00The Saline CourierRepublican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross are scheduled to speak Friday afternoon at the forum hosted by the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance. The forum will also feature Republican lieutenant governor hopeful and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and Democratic nominee John Burkhalter.The forum is only open to alliance members.Benton, ARAssociated PressArkansas candidates to talk at aerospace forum No source diocese wants to enter gay marriage suit 2014-09-26T12:41:14-04:002014-09-26T12:41:14-04:00The Saline CourierAnthony Taylor, the bishop of Little Rock, asked the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday to accept a friend of the court brief that argues justices should uphold Arkansas' 2004 same-sex-marriage ban. A state judge tossed the ban last spring.According to the media, the filing notes the ban was enacted by the people and says eliminating it would undermine an institution that is the bedrock of any society.Benton, ARAssociated PressArkansas diocese wants to enter gay marriage suit No source argue over alcohol measure on ballot 2014-09-26T12:40:19-04:002014-09-26T12:40:19-04:00The Saline CourierThe two groups and state election officials also tangled over whether the state used the right deadline in accepting petitions for the measure, which would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties. Currently, 37 counties are dry.Attorneys for Citizens for Local Rights, which is opposed to the measure, argued that the proposal doesn't fully explain to voters its implications. For example, the group argues the current prohibition on liquor stores being located within 1,000 feet of a church or school would be effectively abolished by the proposed constitutional amendment."There are doubtless many voters who would be in favor of the state's counties being wet, but who would have serious reservations about removing the fence that keeps new liquor stores away from churches and schools," the group said in its brief.Let Arkansas Decide, the group backing the expanded alcohol sales measure, argued that the proposal specifically allows the Legislature to regulate alcohol sales. The group also noted that the proposal, if approved, would not take effect until July 1, 2015 — which would give the Legislature time to approve any additional regulations."For the court to accept the petitioners' premise that the sale of alcoholic beverages are permitted anywhere and everywhere this would also mean that cities or counties could not even enact zoning ordinances as to their location. This is not so," the group said.Opponents of the alcohol measure also argued that the state should have used July 4 as the deadline for accepting petitions, not the July 7 deadline, since the amendment outlining the state's initiative process requires signatures be submitted not less than four months before Election Day."The corollary principle is that the filing deadline in Amendment 7 may only be amended by a constitutional amendment," the group said.Supporters of the alcohol measure noted that state offices were closed on July 4, and that it's common practice for a deadline to be extended to the next business day if it falls on a holiday."Everyone is aware that if your income tax return is due on a weekend or holiday that the due date is extended to the next business day," the group said "The right of the people to file an initiative petition should be given the same respect."In a separate filing, Secretary of State Mark Martin also defended the July 7 deadline and asked the court to dismiss the case. Attorneys for Martin noted that absentee ballots have already been sent to military and overseas voters containing the alcohol measure."The election has begun and Issue No. 4 is on the ballot," Martin's brief said.Benton, ARAssociated PressGroups argue over alcohol measure on ballot No source group readying for arts festival Saturday2014-09-25T15:44:31-04:002014-09-25T15:44:31-04:00The Saline CourierActivities are planned from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.Coordinator Janet Ausburn said the event will include bounce houses and other inflatable fun for children; various information and activity booths; numerous vendors; jewelry booths; and artwork on exhibit and for sale.Benton, ARLynda HollenbeckDowntown group readying for arts festival SaturdayNo source, coupons and resolutions discussed at waste meeting Wednesday2014-09-25T15:43:09-04:002014-09-25T15:43:09-04:00The Saline CourierThe resolution under consideration would establish requirements for waste hauler licenses, vehicle permits and regulations associated with businesses engaged in waste collection in Saline County.The resolution includes regulations waste haulers have been following for a number of years plus two changes. Benton, ARBrent DavisRecycling, coupons and resolutions discussed at waste meeting WednesdayNo source wins Salt Bowl blood drive2014-09-25T15:39:02-04:002014-09-25T15:39:02-04:00The Saline CourierThe two schools had partnered with the Red Cross in a competition to determine which one could draw the highest percentage of student donations. Benton, ARBobbye PykeBenton wins Salt Bowl blood driveNo source