The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Extensive Media Coverage of Delta Caucus Conference, May 2-3, 2013

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus conference at the Clinton Center on May 2-3, 2013 received 21 television reports, at least six radio reports including three on Arkansas public radio, four articles in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, four articles in Talk Business, two articles from the Arkansas news bureau, an Associated Press report, among other articles.

We are including a sampling of some of these articles, although there were far too many to include all of them. They are printed exactly as they were published, with no changes whatsoever (examples are from Talk Business, the Arkansas News bureau, and KUAR public radio, with their permission in all cases). There was such a huge volume of information at the two-day conference that one way of summarizing the substance for those who were not able to be there in person is by sending out media reports.

This is the second in a series of reports about the May 2-3, 2013 Delta conference at the Clinton Center. The first focused on President William Jefferson Clinton’s presentation on May 2, 2013 at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

President Clinton was there for over an hour and after speaking he stayed to visit with many of the Delta partners individually. His presentation was brilliant, as always.

Upcoming reports will focus on the “big picture” panel in the afternoon of May 3 at the Clinton Library, and an article expressing appreciation to Clifton Avant, Delta Caucus board member emeritus and winner of this year’s Inspire Hope Award (presented jointly by Laymon Jones and the Delta Caucus). Clifton Avant retired as an executive at Entergy after many years of distinguished service for the Delta’s community and economic development.

The series of articles will be sent out over the next several weeks. Many people have congratulated the Delta Caucus on its most successful conference ever. Thanks a million to all the people who made this event such a great success. The organizational structure of the Delta Caucus can be found on the website at

The Delta Caucus has a six-member board of directors and a 20-member senior advisory executive committee. We also welcome feedback from the several thousand partners across the eight-state region and in Washington, DC. This message is from the board, which consists of Lee Powell, chairman; Rep. Mark McElroy, Vice Chairman; Dr. Martha Ellen Black, Treasurer (Dr. Black is executive director of the nonprofit Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri), Board Member Barrett Harrison, executive director of the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority and former mayor of Blytheville, Arkansas; Brad Cole, vice president of Pepsi Mid-America based in Illinois and former mayor of Carbondale, Illinois. The advisory executive committee members are listed on the website at


  1. KUAR Public Radio, “Top Political Leaders Debate Best Ways to Help the Delta,” May 2-3, 2013, by Michael Hibblen

  2. Arkansas News Bureau, May 1, 2013, “Over $200 Million in Delta Investments Announced”

  3. Talk Business, May 3, 2013, “Ross, Halter Trade Jabs at Delta Conference,” by Michael Cook

  4. Arkansas News Bureau, May 3, 2013, “Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidates Trade Jabs at Delta Conference,” by Rob Moritz

  5. UALR Public Radio, KUAR, May 1, 2013, “Arkansas Gubernatorial Hopefuls to Address Delta Caucus,” by Malcolm Glover

  6. Arkansas Public Radio, KUAR, “Arkansas Dems Vying for Governor Both Tout Education,” May 3, 2013, by Nathan Vandiver

  7. Talk Business, “Hutchinson, Coleman Draw Differences in Delta Group Speeches,” May 2, 2013, by Roby Brock

  8. Talk Business, May 2, 2013, “Cotton on Possible Senate Run: ‘Never A Good Idea to Say Never’”

  9. Talk Business, May 3, 2013, “Sen. Pryor Open to More Debate on Gun Legislation,” by Michael Cook

Top Political Leaders Debate Best Ways To Help The Delta By Michael Hibblen; Hear the report by KUAR’s Michael Hibblen.

Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton speaking to the Delta Grassroots Caucus Thursday night in Little Rock.

Many of the state’s top political leaders – and those aspiring for office – are taking part in a conference considering the best ways to revive the poverty-stricken Delta region.

The two-day Delta Grassroots Caucus started Thursday night with participants hearing from the Republican candidates for Arkansas governor, a freshman congressman and former President Bill Clinton.

“For the first time, literally in a generation, the larger demographic and other forces that are working on the world will help the Delta region,” Clinton said.

But he told the opening session meeting at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock that it will take many entities working together.

“There’s never going to be enough government money to take a poor region of America out of the dumps all by itself. You’ve got to have private sector growth. Number two, in order to have private sector growth, you’ve got to have good government policy. You have to have government and the private sector, and increasingly all these great foundations in Arkansas working together,” Clinton said.

The two Republicans who have so far announced their candidacies for governor spoke about their visions for spurring growth in the Delta and the best ways to bring about economic development. Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR News

Republican candidate for Governor Curtis Coleman speaking Thursday night.

Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman expressed his hesitation for projects like the Big River Steel mill in Osceola, which this year’s session of the Arkansas Legislature approved $125 million in state incentives to bring to the state.

Coleman said he believes there are better approaches. “Let’s development partnerships with our communities, provide the necessary seed capital for those new companies to start and thrive,” Coleman said.

“I believe our state will be so much stronger if we see 125 or a 150 new companies start up every year instead of one new super project once every generation. Just imagine for a moment what could be done if a 125 new companies started by 125 young Delta entrepreneurs had just one million dollars each in seed capital to get started.”

Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR News

Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson addresses the Delta Grassroots Caucus Thursday night.

But his opponent for the nomination, former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, said “We have to continue to look at the expansion of jobs. And yes, I did support the Big River Steel project in Osceola,” he said to a spattering of applause.

“I did because whether you’re from western Arkansas, southern or eastern Arkansas, we have to be able to invest in those big projects. When you do your due diligence and have the opportunity to create $75,000 a year jobs, over 600 I believe it is, that qualifies for the large project, passed by the Legislature, due diligence done, I think it’s an appropriate investment,” Hutchinson said.

On Friday, the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates who have announced at this point, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter and former Congressman Mike Ross, will share their thoughts with the group. Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR News

4th district U.S. Representative Tom Cotton speaking to the group Thursday night.

Also speaking Thursday night was fourth district Congressman Tom Cotton, who argued deregulation would be key in helping rural communities.

He touted legislation introduced by first district Congressman Rick Crawford called the FUELS Act.

“It would exempt farmers from various spill control and clean up requirements if they have small tanks that are fewer than 10,000 gallons or on an entire farm of fewer than 42,000 gallons,” Cotton said. “The University of Arkansas estimates that this bill alone could save almost $3.4 billion for America’s farmers.”

Also slated to speak on Friday are Gov. Mike Beebe, Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman and Congressman Crawford.

ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU 12:41 pm - May 01, 2013

Over $200 million in Delta investments announced

Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK — The Delta Regional Caucus on Wednesday announced more than $200 million in investments by businesses and nonprofit organizations in the economically depressed Delta region.

The caucus made the announcement a day ahead of its annual conference, set for Thursday and Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Scheduled to speak at the conference are gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson, Mike Ross, Bill Halter and Curtis Coleman; Gov. Mike Beebe; U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and U.S. Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.

The investments announced Wednesday include:

—Mid-South Delta Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, announced the investment of $60 million in loans, grants and equity, with about a $10 million investment over five years in program support and credit enhancement, and leveraging up to an additional $190 million in total development costs from their network of local partners across the region, for a total investment of $200-$250 million. The investments are for housing, job creation, energy efficiency in LISC’s Green Development Center and “green” best practices, policy advocacy, and other community and economic development initiatives in the region.

—Southern Bancorp and its affiliates have made more than $3 billion in loans for affordable credit and capital in markets largely abandoned by banks, helping over 1,000 individuals accumulate assets through individual development accounts, and granting more than $10 million to communities in the Delta areas of Arkansas and Mississippi for local revitalization projects.

—Heifer International announced a $250,000 implementation grant for fiscal year 2014 to support the “Seeds of Change” project in the eastern Arkansas Delta. The project is focused on sustainable agriculture and enterprise development, farmers’ markets, technical assistance, financial training, credit counseling, value-added goods and other actions filling the gaps in the regional food value chain. This follows through on Heifer’s pledge to expand its activities in the Delta made at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012.

—The Foundation for the Mid South announced a pledge of up to $2 million to address work force and economic development opportunities in the Delta.

—HOPE Enterprise Corp. and HOPE Credit Union also have made progress on pledges they made at the Clinton Global Initiative last year, increasing member-owners from 9,000 to 28,000 and closing more than 7,200 loans totaling over $260 million. Projects announced include a new credit union set up in Utica, Miss., after the only bank in the city closed, a new micro branch to be set up in Pine Bluff in collaboration with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and new enhanced version of HOPE Mobile, their mobile banking app, now serving 300 members.

“We commend Mid-South Delta LISC, Heifer International and the 42 partners of the collaborative Seeds of Change program in the east Arkansas Delta, Southern Bancorp and HOPE Enterprise Corp./HOPE Credit Union for these exemplary projects that will generate jobs, provide financial services, promote sustainable agriculture, enterprise development, energy efficiency/green jobs, and home ownership,” Caucus Director Lee Powell said in a news release.


Ross, Halter Trade Jabs At Delta Conference; By Michael Cook May 3rd, 2013

In separate speeches to the Delta Caucus Conference on Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Bill Halter and Mike Ross outlined parts of their vision for the future of Arkansas and took a few swipes at each other. Former Lt. Governor Bill Halter was the first to speak to the group with a speech focusing primarily on education and economic development. Halter covered some of the details of his Arkansas Promise plan, which he said would provide full college tuition for any Arkansas student who gets a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Halter said he would pay for his plan by using lottery revenue, existing revenue in state budget for scholarships, Pell Grants, philanthropy and additional $50 million dollar from the state’s general revenue.

Halter took a swipe at all the announced candidates for Governor by noting all of them opposed the lottery scholarship programs and also oppose his Arkansas Promise Plan.

The most intriguing point of contrast Halter employed against the other candidates for Governor was over the topic of health care.

Halter said: “I’m the only candidate for Governor who said in the beginning of the process, not at the end, that he was for health care reform so that the over 250,000 Arkansans that weren’t covered, but could be through the health care, would receive that. A lot of people are telling me they’re for it now, or they’re okay with it now, but they weren’t leading to get it done.”

This sounded like a swipe against former Congressman Mike Ross over the private option. During a Q&A with the press afterward Halter was asked about specifically about Ross and the private option.

Halter said: “Congressman Ross voted against the health care reform bill, then after it was law he voted to repeal it. So these things followed in sequence if you did not have the health care reform bill provided, you wouldn’t have had a private option.”

In the press Q&A Halter took another swipe at Ross for his opposition to the lottery scholarship program and, according to Halter, there wouldn’t have been 107,000 scholarships awarded.

After lunch, it was former Congressman Mike Ross’ turn to address the crowd. Overall, Ross’ speech was more tailored to the crowd made up of elected officials and leaders from the Delta.

Ross noted he previously represented a large part of the Arkansas Delta during his 12 years as the Congressman from the Fourth Congressional District and listed an impressive array of projects he was able to bring to south Arkansas. Ross said he wanted to be an economic ambassador for

Arkansas and would work to make sure no Delta family got left behind.

During Ross’ remarks he took no jabs at the other gubernatorial candidates, but did criticize Halter’s scholarship plan and the lottery in general in the question-and-answer portion of his presentation. When asked if he would support a plan similar to Halter’s, Ross said:

“I’m planning on being the next Governor of Arkansas so I’m not going make promises I can’t keep. I’m not going to do any fuzzy math on that. I know the previous speaker [Halter] proposed this idea of every kid in Arkansas going to college for free, something that no state in America has been able to afford. He says it will cost $50 to $75 million dollars more a year, some say it will cost even more and he says he’s not going to raise taxes. You know we’re not like Washington, we can’t spend more than we take in.”

Ross talked about the Arkansas lottery and he claims it needs to be cleaned up since it’s not paying out as much in scholarships as it once had.

During the press Q&A after his speech, Ross was asked if they thought it would be impossible to do such a program without raising taxes or cutting other programs. Ross said in part:

“Money doesn’t grow on trees and this isn’t Washington, we can’t print money and we can’t spend more than we take in.” Ross went on to say, “You’re talking to the wrong guy, he’s the one [Halter] who has to show you all the math.”

I asked Ross his thoughts on Halter’s line of attack over Ross’ votes on health care reform and the private option. Ross didn’t directly address Halter’s charge, but did say in part:

“I always said there were good and bad parts to health care reform. I’ve always said the Medicaid expansion was a good part, a needed part and addresses a good deal of the people who do not currently have access to health care.”

Overall, both Democratic candidates stuck to their positive messages, but both didn’t pass up opportunities to throw a few punches.

Arkansas News Bureau; Arkansas Politics; Arkansas Economy 5:19 pm - May 03, 2013 — Updated: 12:00 am - May 04, 2013

Arkansas Gubernatorial Candidates Trade Jabs At Delta Conference

Rob Moritz • Arkansas News Bureau

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., left, is greeted by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., at the podium during the Delta Grassroots Caucus Conference on Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center. By Rob Moritz

Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK — The Democratic candidates for governor traded jabs Friday, with former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter criticizing ex-Congressman Mike Ross’ opposition to federal health care reform and Ross accusing Halter of making college scholarship promises he can’t keep.

The two spoke spoke separately to more than 150 business people and elected officials at the Delta Grassroots Caucus Conference held at the Clinton Presidential Center. The primary election is a year away.

The state’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican John Boozman, also addressed the crowd.

Halter said during his speech that if Ross, as well as two Republicans seeking their party’s nomination — Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman — had their way the state would not have been able to expand health insurance to more than 250,000 low-income workers.

The Legislature this year enacted legislation enabling a so-called private option to expanding the federal Medicaid program — using Medicaid funds to subsidize private health insurance coverage to Arkansas’ working poor.

“The three other candidates for governor, that I am aware of, if they had had their way we wouldn’t have had this option at all,” Halter said.

He said he is the only candidate who supported health care reform from the beginning. Halter told reporters later that Ross, Hutchinson and Coleman opposed the Affordable Care Act when it was proposed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and approved by Congress in 2010.

He also said Ross, who was in Congress at the time, voted against the proposal, and voted later to repeal it.

“These things follow in sequence,” Halter said. “If you did not have a health care bill provided, you wouldn’t have had a private option.”

Ross told reporters after his speech that he maintains the Affordable Care Act had “some good parts and some bad parts,” and noted that even Beebe has said that if he had been in Congress in 2010 he would have voted against it.

“We wouldn’t have the private option today without (Beebe’s) leadership,” Ross said. “I support the private option just as Gov. Beebe did.”

During his speech to the Delta Grassroots Caucus, Ross questioned how Halter could afford his proposal to provide college scholarships to all high school graduates with a 2.5 grade point average or higher.

“I’m not going to make any promises I can’t deliver,” he said.

Ross expanded on his comments with reporters later. “Money doesn’t grow on trees and this isn’t Washington. We can’t print money, and we can’t spend more than we take in,” Ross said, noting that the Legislature recently cut taxes by $140 million over the next three years.

“By (Halter’s) terms, it’s going to take $50 million to $75 million in new money, and he says he’s not going to cut teacher pay and he’s not going to raise taxes, so you all are talking to the wrong guy, he’s the one that needs to show you all the math,” Ross said.

Halter told the Delta advocates Friday his plan, patterned after the “Arkansas Promise” in El Dorado, would be funded with lottery revenue, $20 million a year the state now contributes to the Academic Challenge Scholarship program from general revenue, federal grants, like the Pell Grant, philanthropic contributions and an additional $50 million to $75 million a year in state general revenue.

Halter told reporters later he believes his scholarship plan can be funded without having to raise taxes or cut services.

“There are initiatives that are taken in every legislative session,” he said, adding the state has a nearly $5 billion budget and revenue growth is forecast over the new few years, at least.

“I’ve said we will do this without raising taxes,” he said.

UALR Public Radio, KUAR, Little Rock, Arkansas, Local & Regional News 3:43 pm; Wed May 1, 2013

Arkansas Gubernatorial Hopefuls To Address Delta Caucus

By Malcolm Glover

The four announced candidates for next year’s governor’s race are scheduled to participate in events this week at the Delta Caucus Conference in Little Rock. The conference begins Thursday at the Clinton Presidential Center. Clinton Presidential Center

Republican gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman are scheduled to speak at a forum at 5 p.m. Thursday. The discussion will be followed by a speech from U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton. On Friday, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Bill Halter is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m., while rival Mike Ross is set to address the conference afterward.

Other speakers Friday include Gov. Mike Beebe, Sens. John Boozman and Mark Pryor and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. The caucus says it will announce funding of more than $200 million for investments in the region’s economic development.

Arkansas Public Radio, KUAR, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 3, 2013

Arkansas Dems Vying For Governor Both Tout Education

By Nathan Vandiver

Both Democratic Candidates for Governor in Arkansas say the private option of Medicaid expansion was the best deal available to the state but disagree on the bulk of the federal health care overhaul.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross spoke to members of the Delta Grass Roots Caucus Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

Halter called out his Democratic opponent on his vote against the federal health care law saying that Ross now praises the private option of Medicaid expansion developed during the recent legislative session.

Speaking to reporters afterward he said if the other three candidates for Governor had their way, there would be no plan to insure thousands of low-income Arkansans. Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter told reporters Friday that his opponent for the Democratic nomination for Governor, former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross is switching his position on federal health care overhaul after Ross praised the private option of Medicaid expansion approved by the Arkansas legislature.

“Congressman Ross voted against the health care reform bill, then after it was law he voted to repeal it,” Halter said. “So, these things followed in sequence. If you did not have the health care reform bill provided, you wouldn’t have had a private option.”

Ross answered to reporters later that he’s always said there were good parts and bad to the federal health care overhaul.

“I’ve always said that the Medicaid expansion was a good part, Governor Beebe at the time of the vote in 2009 had said that if he had been in congress he would have voted against the health care bill, we wouldn’t have had the private option today without his leadership, I support the private option just as Governor Beebe did,” Ross said.

Halter also said Ross was against the scholarship lottery and is now for it. Ross said more scholarships are good, but the lottery has challenges and hasn’t yet reached its revenue goals.

Halter worked to create the scholarship lottery program while serving as Lieutenant Governor.

Both candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor also said they want to improve education in the state should they be elected.

Ross says he wants to improve early childhood education while Halter wants to fund more college scholarships. Ross questioned the feasibility of Halter’s scholarship plan, which is called the Arkansas Promise. Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Former Fourth District Congressman Mike Ross told reporters Friday that he supports the private option of Medicaid expansion because he sees it as the best way to implement the Affordable Care Act for the state, which he voted against. He also expressed doubt regarding the feasibility of the state being able to fund his opponent’s plan to provide more college scholarships.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and this isn’t Washington, and we can’t print money, and we can’t spend more than we take in, and my number one priority as Governor is going to be ensuring we have a balanced budget,” Ross said.

Halter told reporters with growth in state revenue, room could be found in the budget to fund additional scholarships.

“There are resources there, but ultimately budgets are always about choices and what I’m saying is that the Arkansas Promise is one of the highest return investments that we could make and I’m going to push for it,” Halter said.


Hutchinson, Coleman Draw Differences In Delta Group Speeches By Roby Brock May 2nd, 2013

Republican gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman appeared back-to-back at the Clinton School of Public Service to speak to a gathering of more than 100 Delta leaders.

The two GOP candidates shared their ideas for moving the Delta forward, while their speeches showed contrasts between their positions on several key issues.

The two biggest distinctions centered on economic development and health care for Arkansans. Coleman, a North Little Rock businessman, said he was opposed to the state investment in the Big River Steel project, which will locate in Mississippi County and produce up to 500 high-paying jobs. Coleman said he felt too many of the jobs would be held by out-of-state workers.

He also said it would have been more beneficial to take a $125 million bond program supporting Big River Steel and provide $1 million start-up grants to 125 entrepreneurs across the state.

“I believe our state will be so much stronger if we have 125 or 150 new companies start-up every year instead of one superproject once every generation,” Coleman said. Coleman also reiterated his support for de-centralizing the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and pushing for more local job recruiting efforts.

Hutchinson, a former Third District Congressman, said he supported the Big River Steel project and would have advocated for it as Governor. He said the good-paying jobs and ancillary business activity would more than pay for the investment in the project.

Hutchinson also said the state needed to do more to push for high school and college graduates with skills in computer science. Claiming that knowledge-based jobs were critical to rising incomes and the jobs of the future, Hutchinson said he would be looking for new ways to increase those degrees if he is elected.

“Right now in Arkansas, we are one of 41 states in the country that does not give core curriculum credit for graduation for computer science class. That needs to be changed. I will change that and make computer science a priority for education in Arkansas. Because that’s where you’re going to create the jobs of the future, you’re going to create the entrepreneurs of the future as well,” Hutchinson said.

Both Hutchinson and Coleman differed on their approach to health care reform. Hutchinson said the “private option” plan devised by the state legislature was a “creative solution” and had many attractive qualities because of its private sector applications.

In an interview after his speech, Hutchinson made his strongest comments to date on the “private option” plan, saying he would have signed the bill into law as Governor. He also said he would have pushed for the plan to be dealt with in a special session to allow more legislative focus on details.

Coleman said he opposed the “private option” plan and stated he would like to find a way to more dramatically reduce Medicaid rolls. One suggestion he made was to find a way to pay rural doctors, particularly in the Delta, the same rate for services as more populated areas. He contended that this would incentivize health care in the Delta and rural Arkansas.

He also said that he would have advocated for a subsidy for rural hospitals to help them financially while his economic development ideas took root.

On Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Bill Halter are scheduled to speak to the Delta Grassroots Caucus.


Cotton On Possible Senate Run: ‘Never A Good Idea To Say Never’

By: Talk Business Staff Updated: May 2, 2013

Fourth District Congressman Tom Cotton (R), who is heavily rumored to be a GOP challenger to Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, tells Talk Business Arkansas that while it is too early to decide if he’ll run, he’s not closed the door on the possibility.

In a speech to the Delta Grassroots Caucus - a group of business and political leaders from across the Arkansas Delta and other states - Cotton touched on a variety of federal issues and economic development ideas that have been central to his traditional message to constituents.

The Fourth District covers all or part of 33 counties, most of which are in the Delta’s footprint.

After the speech at the Clinton School of Public Service, Cotton was asked how he felt about being a prospect to challenge Pryor for his Senate seat in 2014.

“That goes to show you how slim the prospects are. I am really focused right now on some of the work I described in there. The House still has significant legislation ahead of us, like the debt ceiling that should be coming up in the next few months. And it’s very early in the political process. I haven’t made any decisions, you know, I don’t really have campaign staff or campaign offices so there’s not much going on for me right now on the political front,” said Cotton, who is serving his first term in Congress.

When asked as a follow-up whether the door was open or closed for a Senate run, Cotton responded, “I learned in the Army that it’s never a good idea to say ‘never’ and always a bad idea to say ‘always’.”


Sen. Pryor Open To More Debate On Gun Legislation By Michael Cook May 3rd, 2013

On Friday (May 3), U.S. Senator Mark Pryor addressed the Delta Caucus Conference in the Great Hall of the Clinton Library focusing mainly on agriculture issues, but it was the issue of gun control that made news.

During a Q&A with reporters after his speech, Senator Pryor said there was some talk of creating a bill that took the best parts of Manchin-Toomey and the Grassley Amendment to create a new bill and that he would look at such a bill, but would only make a final judgment after seeing the bill.

Senator Pryor said: “After the vote Senator Manchin has talked about maybe reworking his bill possibly. There’s some discussion of maybe taking the best parts of Grassley [Amendment] and the best parts of Manchin-Toomey and trying to put something together. And that may happen. I don’t know if that’s happening right now because we’re all on recess right now and listening to the folks back home. If someone wants to put something together I’ll certainly look at it and I’ll make a judgment based on what they put together.”

And the issue of gun control was brought up during the Q&A with the audience. Pryor noted that he voted for the Grassley Amendment which he believed was better bill and expanded background checks. He also expressed some frustration that so much attention was focused on Manchin-Toomey and that the Grassley Amendment didn’t get enough focus.

“I felt like Grassley {Amendment} was a much stronger, better approach than Manchin-Toomey,” said Pryor. Pryor went on to say, “There’s a lot of differences in these two pieces of legislation that I felt like people in Arkansas and the nation once they understood Grassley would like Grassley better.”

Pryor then covered the reasons why he believed the Grassley Amendment was superior legislation to Manchin-Toomey such as better federal and state agency data collecting, prohibiting the practice of straw purchases of guns, more funding for the COPs program and more funding for mental health care. . The COPs program was a Bill Clinton initiative that put 100,000 more officers on the street. And in Arkansas about 40% of those officers are school resource officers.

Pryor said in his speech various outside groups often attack him for two reasons: 1) He takes the time to read legislation 2) He listens to the folks in Arkansas. Pryor elaborated further on outside interests groups and their effect on Arkansas politics in a post-speech interview.

Pryor said: “I don’t think they’ll have a big effect. I think people in Arkansas know I read the legislation and listen to the folks back home and they know I make an independent judgment. They also understand when you look at my ten years in the Senate I’ve been among one of the most independent Senators in Washington.”