Transcript of Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock with
House Speaker Designate Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Designate Jonathan Dismang
March 23, 2014 at this link: http://talkbusiness.net/2014/03/rep-gillam-sen-dismang-outline-governing-style-issues-2015-leadership/ Scroll down to bottom for the video.
This is Talk Business and Politics with Roby Brock:
Roby Brock: Welcome to the program. We are glad to have you with us this week. The Arkansas legislature overturned the governor's veto, officially closed its fiscal session business, and the House elected a new designated speaker. Joining me at our political round table. Janelle Lilley, Capitol reporter for KATV, newly elected House Speaker Designate Jeremy Gillam from Judsonia, and old elected Senate President Designate Jonathan Dismang of Searcy. Thank you'll both for being here. We appreciate you very much.
Humorous introduction and then:
Roby Brook: The first question goes to Janelle.
Janelle: What I want to know is with the Private Option battle ending for this year. It looks that all roads that point to next year the same thing happening again. How is it going to be any different is getting through it this year going to change the way that you guys approach it next year?
Dismang: I think the biggest thing is we are going to have real data, and we'll have some experience that we'll be able to look at and make sure that it is moving in the direction that we intended it to, first and foremost. As Asa said in some recent announcements, you know right now it's the law of the land; and if he is elected, he will take a look at it and establish some reforms based on the direction that he would like to provide. And so the Private Option was never meant to be stagnant, was always supposed to be something that was changed and moved; And I think we'll see that within the next section, but again it will be contentious as it has been in the last session; and that is just part of the reality in regards to the Private Option.
Janelle: Well, you had an easier time of it in the Senate than the House, but what about the House?
Gillam: Well, I think as Senator Dismang keyed on something very important, there's the fluidity of the situation. The data coming in as it is being implemented is going to tell us all a lot of things. And I think as long as the members are getting communicated to and they're in the meetings and we're studying it as we move forward, I think there is a chance of having consensus moving into the session. That is what we are going to really strive for is to make sure the members are on the same page, and hopefully we'll be able to avoid some of the same circumstances in the fiscal session.
Roby Brock: Absent the data that you're going to be looking at, are there some specific things that you want to see changed or that you already have an idea need to be changed or moved in a different direction?
Dismang: I think the Health Savings Account Program which was part of the original law, but also here more recently we mandated that actually take place for the program to continue. I think another development of that program will be critical as things move forward. I also think in regards to emergency transportation and that waiver of request has been put out (we haven't put it out yet) for development of that at this point will be very important as we move forward. I think those two things are what are identified right now as priority, but again I think it will evolve as it is meant to evolve and there will be other input and other discussions. And I think, I am certain there will be change in direction and change in priorities before we get into the next session.
Roby Brock: Is either one of you willing to be the person to help wind it down if that is what the data suggest that you should do?
Gillam: I think if we get to that point when we begin next session and the membership looks at it and says this is not working like we need it to and we can't see a viable option of changing it and still moving it forward, then we'll go that direction. We are going to be responsible in how we do it and make sure it is done in a proper way; but if that is the will of our body, then we will take that direction.
Janelle: I understand there is already a committee formed for that purpose that John Burris is leading at this point. Right?
Jeremy Gillam: Yes
Roby Brock - Let's talk about the veto override this week. The governor vetoed this tax break bill for the natural gas industry and there's some splitting hairs as to how to define if it was a tax break or not a tax break. I don't want to debate that, but the governor has basically said that COLA's for state employees are now threatened. Do you guys feel that the COLA's for state employees should be threatened. It's a pretty small percentage of the budget.
Jonathan Dismang: Right. I think it's point one percent of the overall forecast and you know, the governor is very conservative in his budgeting and especially in his forecast. You know we have talked to BLR legislative research quite a bit the last few days and even prior to when we were working through the forecast, and they feel like it is conservative and it will come in above which means that A, B, and even B1 which is where the COLA's are and possibly C could even be funded. So I am fairly confident that we will get to that point; but, of course, if the governor does change the forecast and revises it down, it will require him or the next governor to revise it back up as the revenues actually come in and we get to know the reality vs. the forecast.
Roby Brock: Have you fielded any questions, calls from constituents about that?
Jeremy Gillam. Actually, I have not. I think most of the folks that lives in my district were aware of the forecasting and the nature of the governor and how conservative he is on the forecasts. So I think they feel pretty confident the revenues are going to be there so I have actually not had very many phone calls at all.
Janelle: Can we talk about the campaign season that is coming up and what your plans are for that? I mean you were elected by Republicans and Democrats and so I am curious what that means as far as are you going to go stump for people in contested districts; do you have any standards as that goes?
Jeremy Gillam: My philosophy basically has been the same since I got in the House. That is to show the utmost respect to my colleagues that I serve with and so I am not going to be out campaigning against my colleagues. [Against Democrats he is saying because she specifically asks about Dems and Republicans in contested districts] We've got several open seats and some primaries that are just Republican primaries so I think there are plenty of things to keep me busy in planning the House and getting ready, you know, moving forward in the next session that I won't have to be out campaigning against my fellow colleagues. [Gillam's respect should be for the people who put him in office more than his Democrat opponent colleagues. Babies are being murdered in the womb, people are facing bankruptcy, skyrocketing insurance and inflation, becoming dependent on food stamps, etc. because of the policies of the Democrats, and Gillam refuses to campaign for the GOP candidates who want to change the policies causing these factors]
Roby Brock: I've got a question for you on the Senate side of things. The House has done an admirable job of live streaming all of their business. The Senate seems to be a little slower to the take on this. You're going to be in leadership position now to force that. Do you see opening up the senate proceedings, the senate committee meetings to livestreaming, to open it up to more people around the state.
Jonathan Dismang: I think it's something we'll discuss but something we'll discuss as a whole, you know it will not be my decision solely to move forward either way. I mean in some ways it is something I am supportive of. I would like to be able to have that broadcasts and have that representation out there, but again the Senate is a little bit different body. For instance, we don't use microphones on the Senate floor. That would have to change if we want to be recording or videoing what we do or you know to be able to hear what we're saying. And so I am just not sure at this point: Number one what the costs are going to be, Number two, how it changes the climate of the Senate or the atmosphere of the Senate, and I think all those things have to be looked at before we make a firm decision on how we move forward.
Alright Senator Jonathan Dismang, Speaker designate Jeremy Gillam, Representative, thank you both for being here. We appreciate you.
2nd Part of Interview.
Roby Brock: All right, we're back for our web extra with the Senate President Designate Jonathan Dismang, the Speaker Designate Jeremy Gillam. We've got more to talk about in our web extra, go for it.
Janelle: We do. We have committee assignments to talk about. I think this is something you know after what happened last year with Speaker Carter and the Republicans taking control of the House and all that drama that came along with it, the committee assignments became an issue that was talked about throughout the whole rest of the regular session and in the fiscal session, so tell me what your plans are with that.
Jeremy Gillam: Well, right now I think that given the nature of the dynamics in the House, and I am a firm believer in proportionate representation and so at this point it doesn't look like we're going to be inventing the wheel on that. I think Speaker Carter laid out a really good platform and design on how to do the committee assignments as far as Democrats and Republicans so I look to probably follow along those lines and of course, the elections in November will make some difference in that as far as who is elected and things so we will go from there so it's not necessarily set in stone at this point but it looks to be the direction we're going to go.
Janelle: Have you given anyone a committee chairmanship yet?
Jeremey Gillam: Nope. Not a one. I've had several that have asked me to make sure they do not get one, so I have had more of that than I have of the other.
Roby Brock: Has anything changed down in the Senate in terms of how you guys do your committee assignments?
Dismang: Of course, the pro tem does not have as much influence on assignments as for instance, the speaker does, you know. One of the biggest issues there would be Budget Chair. Senator Teague [Democrat] is doing a great job for Senator Lamoureaux this current session, and you know we haven't visited yet about what he would like to do moving forward but that would probably be one of the more prominent you know positions that we would some influence on. [On November 8 in Democrat Gazette, Dismang was quoted as saying: "I gave my word to Teague to do that almost a year ago, at this point, and I am going to honor my commitment," Dismang said.
Roby Brock: You think you might keep him in that role?
Dismang: At this point that's what I would like to do but again I haven't had that conversation with him to make sure that he would like to continue to serve in that capacity.
(Side issue about how many influential people there are in Searcy.)
Roby Brock: Gentlemen, thank you both very much for being with us and participating in our web extra. Best of luck; look forward to visiting with you.
Roby Brock: You can keep up with the latest on business and politics each and every day at
talkbusiness.net or KATV.com. Thanks for watching.