Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TOP STORY > >Despite stroke, senator says he has work to do

By JOHN HOFHEIMR
Leader senior staff writer

He may be recovering from a stroke, but don’t expect state Sen. Bobby Glover, 72, to be a backbencher when the General Assembly convenes in January. Glover says he has work to do before he is term limited out.

Glover, a Carlisle Democrat, thinks county officials should serve four-year terms instead of two-year terms, and has already filed a Senate bill to that effect—the first of the new session.

“We’re about the only state that doesn’t have four-year terms for county officials,” Glover said Monday. “Salaries aren’t all that high,” he said. “We live in the 21st century. After the first year (of a two-year term) they have to start campaigning again.”

He said even Arkansas mayors serve four-year terms and that county judges, sheriffs, clerks, assessors and the state’s residents would be well served by the change.

Glover attempted to pass a similar bill two years ago, and this time he’s worked out all the rough spots with the Arkansas Association of Counties, which favors the bill, he said.

GROCERY TAX

Two years ago, when Gov. Mike Beebe fulfilled a campaign promise by repealing the first half of the state’s 6-cent grocery tax, Glover handled the bill for him.

Glover said the governor had hoped he could cut the remaining 3 percent grocery tax during the January session of the General Assembly, but that the economy could be too slow and the state could be left with insufficient revenues.

“I anticipate that he’s going to ask that we take off another penny,” said Glover. “I’ve asked to handle it for him.

He said the governor had factored in another penny off the grocery tax when he prepared his balanced budget.”

At the November general election, voters decided to have annual sessions of the General Assembly instead of every two years.

Glover said he believed that was a bad idea. He plans to sponsor an amendment repealing the new constitutional amendment.

CHAIRMANSHIPS

Glover’s colleagues have elected him Senate chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.

Glover also will be vice chairman of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee during the 87th General Assembly. He also will be on the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.
Both committees are expected to have full agendas during the 2009 legislative session including the governor’s penny sales tax reduction.

State Agencies will consider legislation establishing a state lottery, which voters approved in the election earlier in November.

“I’m very pleased with my committee assignments because I’ll be working on some of the major issues before the Legislature,”
Glover said. “It’s also important to me that I’ll be able to effectively represent my constituents.”

Glover will be on the Joint Budget Committee, which reviews in detail all state agency spending requests.

Glover will be a member of the Legislative Council, which meets in the interim between sessions to monitor state government operations. He also will serve on the Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs.

SCRUTINIZE SPENDING

The Joint Audit Committee scrutinizes the spending practices of state agencies, school districts, cities, counties and institutions of higher education. If auditors uncover questionable procedures, they outline improvements, and in cases of serious wrongdoing they refer their findings to local prosecutors.

“It was humbling to be elected by my fellow senators to the leadership of the Audit Committee. I’ll do my best to justify their confidence in me,” Glover said.

Glover also will serve on the Joint Performance Review Committee, which tracks state agency spending to make sure government dollars are spent wisely, and the Senate Rules Committee, which determines disputes about parliamentary procedures.

Glover represents Senate District 28, which includes Lonoke and Prairie counties and parts of Pulaski and Arkansas counties.

STROKE

Speaking of his stroke, Glover said it hit him about 1 a.m. last August, characterized by “excruciating pain in the shoulder and both arms.

He was taken first to Baptist Hospital at Spring Hill, later to “Big Baptist.”

He had a couple of MRIs and a CAT scan and they determined that he had a tear in blood vessels in his brain stem.

“I’m progressing, still having trouble with my right eye,” Glover said. “My voice is getting stronger, my right arm and leg are gaining strength. I’m walking with assistance.”

“I feel so fortunate,” Glover said. “It could have been so much worse. People have been so nice to me.”

“It has completely and totally wiped me out as far as running for statewide office,” said Glover. He had said he would run for Secretary of State after finishing his last term as a senator.

“It’s been kind of a blessing, an opportunity to change my priorities,” he said.