Sen. Jim Hendren spoke with Roby Brock from Talk Business & Politics about his early vision for Common Ground Arkansas and the changes he’s seen in the Arkansas legislature in the last several decades.
“The purpose of Common Ground Arkansas is to try to provide tools and support for candidates and elected officials who have that desire to find common ground, to work together, to work across the aisle. I believe that is what makes government work. And right now, there is no pressure from the center. All the pressure is from the extremes.”
Sen. Hendren has served in the Arkansas legislature in leadership roles for two decades, both the Arkansas Senate and the House of Representatives.
“The biggest concern I have in Arkansas politics right now is I have seen the extreme almost radicalization of the legislature compared to what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. And, you know, that’s not indicative of the Arkansas people when you look at the governors we’ve elected, from Winthrop Rockefeller to Mike Beebe to Asa Hutchinson. We tend to elect centrist, problem solving people. But yet our legislature has been polarized to the point that it’s not reflective of what Arkansas is.”
He said he’d like to see the legislature focus on issues that impact people’s everyday lives and our business community more than on nationalized issues over with legislators have little control.
“We need to start looking for common ground and solutions because we do tend to focus on the shiny things that don’t make a lot of difference, whether it be stand your ground or abortion bills or gun bills. We’ve got to start focusing on these things that effect people’s paychecks and their ability to get and keep jobs in Arkansas.”