Charlie Collins, R-Dist 84 and 2014 lieutenant governor candidate, was presented with the Conservative Arkansas Conservative Of The Year Award during the group’s Jan. 18 meeting. The presentation speech appears below.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have the privilege tonight of presenting Conservative Arkansas’ 2013 Conservative of the Year award. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy task to make such a determination. We believe there are several contenders in Arkansas worthy of such a consideration; men and women who have played valuable roles as we have observed our great state transform from blue to red. Make no mistake, we are very proud of the accomplishments of the first Republican majority since Reconstruction, and we look forward to an opportunity to make it happen again in the upcoming election and to move that football further down the field.
In consideration of such a title, we would obviously seek someone who shares our conservative values; a person who is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-freedom; who wants Arkansas to be prosperous and to continue to honor the values of faith and family that makes ours the ninth most conservative state in the U.S., despite our Blue Dog days. This year’s winner has consistently demonstrated his dedication to those values. For this year’s award, we chose a state legislator that has worked tirelessly to turn the tide toward economic reform here at home. While serving as Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee, he has been among the most diligent in the pursuit of tax cuts. He sponsored multiple tax reduction bills in the House, which were defeated time and time again, until finally succeeding with Act 1459 to reduce the income tax rates for all Arkansans. The hard-working people of Arkansas and its businesses will ultimately reap $140 million in tax cuts per year as a result of this law, along with the economic spur that is encouraged by such reductions.
As gun-control advocates nationwide continually called for stricter regulations in the wake of tragic campus shootings, he set a precedent that moves Arkansas in the opposite direction with the passage of a campus carry bill that ensures college campuses have the opportunity to arm their faculty and defend our children. He further supported gun rights by co-sponsoring the Church Protection Act which gives churches the authority to decide if concealed handguns will be allowed on their property and by protecting the privacy of concealed carry license holders and applicants.
He pushed common sense reform by co-sponsoring the Voter ID bill and he stood for life by co-sponsoring the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which protects unborn babies past 20 weeks gestational age. He was also one of only 17 legislators who agreed with us that the Big River Steel project was a poor investment for Arkansas and voted against the $125 million super project.
As the sole conservative legislator hailing from the more liberal armpit of Northwest Arkansas, he’s an unconventional man. He is an excellent strategist and seems to be pretty good with numbers. During the 2011-12 session, he tied Treasurer candidate, Duncan Baird, for the number one ranking in the Advance Arkansas Institute’s evaluation of conservative legislators. Within six months of that report, he was gambling that reputation on his support for the Arkansas Healthcare Independence Act, notably dubbed the Private Option. Day in and day out, he stepped in front of the firing squad and flooded our Twitter feeds with a conviction for what he truly believed to be the most prudent course for Arkansas as Obamacare would begin to bear down on us, even as prominent organizations with deep pockets suddenly threatened political careers over “wrap-around costs”. Which brings me to our final point…that ultimately, we chose our winner because of his conviction; because we know that it’s relatively easy to confront the enemy. It’s far more challenging and requires much greater endurance to stand steadfast in a wave of criticism and doubt from friends and fellow conservatives. What’s more, he accomplished this with a degree of grace that is unmatched and to which all of us should aspire. Simply put, he is a good Christian man who has shown an unwavering commitment to the betterment of Arkansas through the implementation of conservative principles.
It is my honor to present this year’s Conservative of the Year Award to State Representative and candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Charlie Collins.