McDaniel told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he would be making fewer requests of lawmakers because he wants to keep a close eye on freshman legislators, to make sure they don’t put the state back in court over how public schools are funded.
“This year, with a large crop of first-time legislators, I am very worried about the implications on Lake View school litigation,” McDaniel said.
The state Supreme Court ruled in 2002, in a lawsuit filed by Lake View schools, that the state’s method of funding public schools was unconstitutionally inadequate and unfair. Not until 2007 did the high court release the state’s education system from its supervision, declaring that enough money had been added to the public-schools budget and changes made in the distribution formula had made it constitutionally equitable.
McDaniel said his legislative package for the upcoming legislative session would include a bill with stricter punishment for a sports agent, an athlete’s relative or another third party who negotiates benefits in exchange for an athlete attending a university. The attorney general cited the activities of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s father in seeking $180,000 from Mississippi State if he could steer his son to sign with that school.
“The student athlete’s career can be severely damaged if not destroyed when it comes to light, if the incident is severe enough the school can suffer … but the agent bears little real risk,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel wants to punish anyone acting as an intermediary in such cases by making it a felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and as much as six years in prison.
McDaniel said he hopes University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long will help present the bill.
Another bill that McDaniel is proposing would clarify his office’s subpoena authority when investigating suspected sexual predators. The plan would give the attorney general the power to issue an administrative subpoena that would require companies or people to provide information, such as an address, about an individual being investigated.
McDaniel said state law prohibiting sex offenders from working in daycare centers also needs to be clarified after a federal court ruling said a sex offender didn’t violate his parole by working at a daycare center as a carpenter, because he didn’t spend the bulk of his time involved with children.
Another proposal would punish an adult who sends obscene material to a minor, no matter what medium was used, to fix a disparity between using e-mail or a cell phone for such an act.
Other measures that McDaniel plans to support include a statewide ban on synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2, and a do-not-call list for businesses and fax machines to bar spammers from targeting companies.