Seark Today asked Arkansas House District 9 candidates Howard Beaty, a Republican from Crossett, and his opponent, State Rep. LeAnne Burch, a Democrat from Monticello, a series of questions via e-mail. Below are the questions and Mr. Beaty’s unedited answers. See Rep. Burch’s Q&A HERE

Beaty Biographical Sketch

Do you support or oppose the proposed constitutional amendment to make permanent a half-cent sales tax for highways and roads. Why?

I support the continuation of road funding. Commerce happens over the road system and we need good roads.

If elected, what type of legislation would you likely initiate or strongly support that you believe would have a long-lasting impact on the people of District 9? Elaborate.

As a member of the super-majority party, I plan to work with leadership to lower the tax burden and bring jobs to Southeast Arkansas. Right now, our area is represented by Democrats who don’t get a seat at the table due to their party label.

Do you agree with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s statewide mandate to wear masks? Why or why not?

Governor Asa Hutchinson has been very prudent in his leadership with regards to COVID19. I believe he has made his decision based upon the sound advice of trusted and skilled health care advisors. I am proud to have his support for my campaign.

Eighteen Republican state lawmakers in September, six months after Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared a public health emergency in Arkansas, filed a lawsuit saying public health directives were issued without legislative oversight. The lawsuit was filed against Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero. Do you support the lawmakers’ efforts? Why or why not?

I don’t agree with this lawsuit. I believe Governor Asa Hutchinson has operated within the guidelines established by the legislature. There may be specific decisions that legislators and citizens don’t like or agree with, but those decisions were based upon the advice of trusted and skilled healthcare advisors. The issues that lawmakers have with the law that provided direction to Governor Hutchinson can and will be addressed legislatively in the very near term and there was no need to involve the judicial branch of government.

You recently released campaign material critical of your opponent’s votes on abortion, voting to spend taxpayer money in communist China, and a cell phone tax. What specific bills do the campaign mail outs refer to? How would you have voted on those specific bills and why?

My opponent is a democrat and her voting record reflects that. Here are the votes:

• HB 1564 of 2019 doubled the cell phone tax in Arkansas and made us the 6th highest cell phone tax in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

• HB 1856 of 2019 to support taxpayer funded abortions in Arkansas.

• SB 149 of 2019 where she voted against the Arkansas Human Life Protection Act.

• SB 110 of 2019 which included taxpayer funding for money to be spent in Communist China.

• HB 1249 of 2017 where she opposed expanded concealed carry rights.

•HB 1036 of 2019 where she voted against lowering concealed carry fees.

• HB 1820 of 2019 where she failed to support gun rights.

• SB 411 of 2019 where she supported sanctuary cities in Arkansas.

I would have voted the opposite of her on every bill except SB 110, where I would have worked with members of my party (Republican  Party) to change the bill.

If you could ask your opponent one question what would it be? Your opponent will be allowed to reply.

Why did you vote to allow benefit cuts to be made to our retired teachers, including cutting their monthly stipends from $75 to potentially $0, in 2017?

Rep. Burch’s reply to Mr. Beaty’s question will be published when received.