Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson caves to Walmart
When corporations speak, politicians listen, politicians act. Arkansas’ legislature passed House Bill 1228. It was on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s desk. He had vowed to sign the bill. This bill is very similar to the bill signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence that caused an uproar. Governor Mike Pence has been in retreat since since the corporate masters have strongly signaled that he must change or repeal the bill.
Soon after the Arkansas bill cleared the legislature, Walmart urged Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill.
“Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual.
Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.”
— Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO
How would Asa Hutchinson save face after the demands from one of his most important corporate masters? Remember he said he intended to sign House Bill 1228.
Asa Hutchinson caved gracefully. He gave a long speech stating that he was not going to sign the bill in its current form. In his prepared remarks he did not mention the influence from Walmart. Instead he stated that his son signed a petition asking his father, the Governor to veto the bill.
“It’s been my intention all along that House Bill 1228, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, be crafted in a way that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “… Because the federal law does not cover state causes of action that we have a similar law in the state of Arkansas. … To do that changes need to be made”
In other words, at this time he must cave until he can get not citizen buy-in, but corporate buy-in to the law. It is great that on this issue corporations and citizens are on the same side, after corporations weighed the pros and cons. It does not bode well for the average American citizen on many other issues like environmental protection, climate change, and other major issues that politicians only act swiftly on corporate command.