Arkansas lawmaker censured for swearing at colleague

Arkansas

FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2015, file photo, Arkansas state Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, argues against a bill in the Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committee at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Flowers was censured for calling a colleague a “dumbass” during debate Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, over a nonbinding resolution on history that was overwhelmingly rejected. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas lawmaker was censured for calling a colleague a “dumbass” during debate Tuesday over a nonbinding resolution on history that was overwhelmingly rejected.

The Senate voted to censure Democratic Sen. Stephanie Flowers over the remark made toward the end of a debate over the resolution, which cited the country’s “ongoing positive record on race and slavery.”

Flowers, who voted against the measure, made the comment during an exchange with Republican Sen. Trent Garner, who supported it.

“Dumbass, you don’t know nothing about it,” Flowers, who was participating remotely, said.

Flowers is one of three Black lawmakers in the Senate. Garner and three other white Republican lawmakers voted for the resolution.

The Senate voted to censure Flowers moments after it rejected the resolution by a 4-22 margin. The resolution was criticized by lawmakers from both parties for being partisan and having inaccurate information.

“I think it’s important we conduct ourselves as professionals and that we ensure the Senate as an institution is seen in such a way that is not derogatory to another human being, whoever it is,” Republican Sen. Missy Irvin said as she called for Flowers’ censure.

It’s unclear whether the censure will carry additional penalties for Flowers. Senate President Jimmy Hickey said he’s thinking about whether to seek any additional action.

Flowers gained national attention two years ago when her comments during a committee hearing opposing a bill loosening restrictions on the use of lethal force in self defense were widely shared online.

When the panel’s chairman during that debate told Flowers to restrain herself, she responded, “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

Flowers, who has diabetes, has been participating in the Senate’s proceedings remotely because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The resolution was voted down the same day a House panel rejected a proposal that would have prohibited a New York Times project on slavery from being taught in Arkansas’ schools.

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