Rep. Kim Hendren – Principles NOT friendships or favors

I had the pleasure of working for the Arkansas General Assembly for almost thirty-two years and worked for many good legislators.  Some were conservative and some were liberal.

Representative Kim Hendren (R)

One of the legislators I enjoyed working with is Representative Kim Hendren. He has served both in the Arkansas Senate and Arkansas House of Representatives. When I retired he was still in the Senate.

I saw a Facebook post showing his recent speech on the House floor.  After seeing the speech, I wanted to share my perspective on Kim Hendren.

When I was the Director of the Bureau of Legislative Research I saw him in action many times.  He has a way of quickly cutting to the truth of things that is aided by his sense of humor.  He stands up for his principles, even when he knows the fix is in and the votes are lined up against him. His willingness to stand alone and speak for principles and fairness is something I admire about him. Sometimes when Kim Hendren takes the microphone he is mad at the stupidity of a state agency. Sometimes he is frustrated because the legislature is not standing up for fairness, conservative principles, or high standards of public service. His remarks can cut to the bone, but I have never seen him be mean spirited.

Several years ago, before the start of a Legislative Council meeting he took me aside and told me sternly, “You need to know I’m going to grill you today.” That is not what a state employee wants to hear from a legislator. I was fortunate in that my turn to be grilled was easy since the facts were on my side and I had been hoping for an opportunity to set the record straight.

Outsiders may think it awkward to sometimes see him voting on the opposite side of his son, Senator Jim Hendren, and his brother-in-law, Governor Asa Hutchinson, but those who know him understand he votes based on his principles and not on family ties, friendships, or favors.

In an environment where legislators are pressured to go along to get along, it is refreshing to see Kim Hendren in action. Whether you like or dislike his conservative principles, Kim Hendren is no lukewarm politician.

 Videos of Representative Kim Hendren

I want to share the video I saw on Facebook. It is good speech with solid principles. I’ve included some additional videos as examples of his humor and candor.

VIDEO 1. – On the House Floor

Some background information is necessary for this video. He is speaking against SB5, a bill requested by his brother-in-law (Governor Hutchinson) and sponsored by his son (Senator Jim Hendren). The bill proposed to transfer about $100 million from the Arkansas Healthy Century Trust Fund to the Long Term Reserve Fund.  The Arkansas Healthy Century Trust Fund was created by the people to save for health needs. Under the legislation, the money goes from being trust funds for health needs to being money in a spending account for multiple purposes.

To spend the money the Governor only has to get approval from one committee, the Legislative Council (or during a legislative session by the Joint Budget Committee). In his speech, Kim Hendren refers to the committee approval process as being “the select few” because the normal process of authorizing an expenditure is by an appropriation bill approved by a three-fourths vote of the Arkansas House of Representatives and a three-fourths vote of the Arkansas Senate. Kim Hendren was on the losing side of the issue and the legislature approved sending the money to the spending account.

Video by the YouTube user Keeparkansaslegal.

VIDEO 2. Previous committee discussion on same issue.

Rep. Kim Hendren’s humor is evident in his opposition to the same issue when it was previously discussed in the Joint Budget Committee.

Video by Conduit Media Group

VIDEO 3 Discussing legislative leadership failures.

Speaking against House leadership can get you in trouble but Rep. Kim Hendren tell it like it is.  In the video he complains about games being played by leadership to try to pass an internet sales tax.  He opposed the internet sales tax and this time he was on the winning side. The tax is another instance in which he was on the opposite side from his son (Senator Jim Hendren) and his brother-in-law (Governor Hutchinson).

Video by Conduit Media Group

VIDEO 4. Fairness and property tax assessment.

He raises the issue of unfairness to taxpayers in the process for property tax reassessment.

Video by Conduit Media Group


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David Ferguson is a former Director of Arkansas’ Bureau of Legislative Research, having a thirty-two-year career as an attorney for the Arkansas legislature.  After retirement from state service his primary focus has been beef cattle farming. He is also a former officer of Conduit for Action.