In a luncheon speech to the Hope Rotary Club on Thursday, State Senator Larry Teague (D-Nashville) said the past legislative session was as challenging and contentious as he has ever seen.

In a luncheon speech to the Hope Rotary Club on Thursday, State Senator Larry Teague (D-Nashville) said the past legislative session was as challenging and contentious as he has ever seen.
“There are people up there with agendas, and some of these folks are just angry all the time.  I’m not angry; I don’t have an agenda. I just want to go up there and keep things running and get the people’s business done,” he said.
Teague, who is on the Senate Finance Committee, has also been tapped for the Governor’s tax reform panel, a group of legislators charged with studying and making recommendations about the state’s tax code.
“Those are going to be some interesting and challenging meetings,” Teague said.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Teague has his own insights into the state’s $5.49 billion budget, which ironically included a $163 million increase over the past year, but also saw a $50 million tax cut proposal.
Teague said, “At least, I can say that we are still running a surplus, and our entire state budget is equal to some state’s budget deficits.”
Still, Teague said he was concerned about recent data points that show state revenue from sales tax collections are down slightly so far this year.
“It has been a bit stagnate; I don’t know the cause, but I know a lot of folks I talk to are doing their shopping on Amazon.  We had a proposal for an Internet Sales collection, but some members were successful in calling it a ‘tax increase’ and drove votes away.  It really is something we should have been collecting all along on mail orders, dating back to the old Sear catalog,” he said.
Another issue that saw a lot of activity was the concealed carry law, which Teague said, “I have never seen so many lobbyists up there; I think the NRA hired everyone in town, and the remaining ones that weren’t with the NRA were against the measure.”
With the exception of certain SEC athletic events and medical institutions, however, concealed carry was eventually passed as did the end of the Medicaid expansion, which Teague said he voted against.
“I am greatly worried about our rural health facilities; I’ve been in government for 20 years, and there are only three hospitals in my district now.  Wadley here in Hope, and one in Nashville and Mena.  They were all struggling before, and at least, the Medicaid expansion helped them back to stable ground,” he said.
And with the healthcare measures now being considered in Washington DC, Teague said, “I kind of wish we had wanted until we saw what they were going to do with this; we may have to think about another special session, which we could always call.”