Jonesboro's Freshman House Member Making Big Impact in Legislature

MARCH 14, 2005 - Posted at 7:42 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - From publicly admonishing the head of his own party in a committee hearing to urging representatives to vote down a popular tax-break measure on the House floor, freshman Representative Dustin McDaniel is known for speaking out.

In just two months in the Legislature, the Jonesboro Democrat and trial lawyer has also built a reputation for persuasiveness.  He shepherded through a sweeping prescription-drug reform bill known as Arkansas Rx, which authorizes the state to negotiate with drug companies for rebates on prescription drug prices for the uninsured.

The law is expected to help about 400,000 Arkansans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford health insurance.  Other members of the House say they are impressed that McDaniel could get the bill through.

McDaniel says he is happy where he is and won't acknowledge any desires for higher office.  But people who know him, from fellow legislators to police officers who served with McDaniel on the Jonesboro Police Department before he went to law school, say they would like to see him move up.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)