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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

McDaniel vies for attorney general

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Attorney General candidate Dustin McDaniel (D-Jonesboro) says he wants to represent rural Arkansas in the Attorney General's Office. He spoke about that and many other issues during a May 10 interview at the Salem offices of The News.

"People in rural Arkansas feel like they've been forgotten," McDaniel said. "Being from the northeast part of the state, I know how that feels." He said he wants to represent the interests of rural Arkansans who he thinks are often overlooked in favor of the central part of the state.

As attorney general McDaniel would be the state's top law enforcement officer and lawyer.

McDaniel, a former Jonesboro policeman, said he wants to combat the rise in ice methamphetamine, which he said is brought to the state by illegal aliens from Mexico, with a border-to-border drug task force in Arkansas. He said this would work by making it easier for law enforcement agencies in the state to work together and share information.

"We'd want to be very careful in assuring all laws in dispensing prescription drugs are followed," McDaniel said in reference to the increased illegal use of prescription drugs. He said he would work to make sure all communities in Arkansas have access to drug courts.

"We are seeing success of drug courts all over Arkansas," he said. He said increasing the number of drug courts would help in the punishment and treatment of drug users of all kinds.

He said rural law enforcement needs the Byrne Law Enforcement Grant which is seeing its funding cut. He said losing this grant and discontinuing the funding of drug task forces would be a major step backward and would hurt rural law enforcement. He said rural law enforcement is a top priority of his and he would like to see it strengthened and preserved.

McDaniel, the father of a 5-year-old daughter, said he wants tougher penalties for sex offenders. One of those methods would be strengthening the reporting requirements for sex offenders and increasing the penalties for those who fail to do so.

McDaniel said one of the tougher penalties he favors is a 25-year mandatory sentence for sexually abusing a child. McDaniel said he favors enacting Jessica's Law in the state which allows for GPS tracking of sexual predators.

McDaniel said the attorney general is also the state's top consumer advocate. One of the issues for Arkansas consumers is the increase in electrical costs.

McDaniel said he went with the rural energy cooperative to Wyoming, an area from which Arkansas electric cooperatives, including North Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, get the coal used to power electrical plants throughout Arkansas. This has caused many Arkansas electric producers to use natural gas, which is more expensive than coal.

"There's enough low sulphur coal there to satisfy U.S. consumption for the next thousand years, he said. "We just can't get it here because of the railroads."

McDaniel said he'd help consumers by fighting rate increases at the public services commission and also work to lower the cost of producing electricity for utility companies.

McDaniel said biofuel is one way Arkansas can produce its own fuel and lessen dependency on foreign oil.

"We can lower the cost at the pump and improve the environment," he said.

"There's only one gasoline pipeline coming into Arkansas," he said. "If oil companies are increasing the price of gas five to six times a day, they'll have to prove to me that it is caused by market forces and not an attempt to make a profit on the backs of Arkansan farmers and families."

McDaniel also touched on health care issues. He said 450,000 people in Arkansas do not have health insurance. He said most of them are the working poor who make too much money for Medicare but not enough to buy health insurance.

McDaniel is the author of the Arkansas Rx Bill which he said provides relief through lowering the cost of prescription drugs by allowing the state to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers. According to McDaniel, the program has a $24 per year enrollment fee and saves consumers 15 to 20 percent on namebrand drugs and 50 to 60 percent on generic drugs.

"I'd like to establish a healthcare bureau designed to advocate on behalf of the uninsured and get them quality healthcare," he said. He said he'd also advocate for those with insurance who are not being treated fairly by their HMOs.

McDaniel has ties to Izard County. When he worked as a police officer in Jonesboro he shared a house with Jonesboro policeman Randy Yancey, son of former Izard County Sheriff Jack Yancey. His campaign manager, Mel Moody, lives in Salem.

McDaniel attended law school at UALR Law School after his time as a police officer. He serves as an attorney and is a current member of the Arkansas House of Representatives.

McDaniel will face Saline County Prosecutor Robert Herzfeld and North Little Rock City Attorney Paul Suskie in the May Democratic primaries.

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