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Arkansas Senator Proposes Bill to Rename Clinton National Airport

© AP Photo / Julio CortezFormer President Bill Clinton stands on stage with his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Former President Bill Clinton stands on stage with his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. - Sputnik International
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The Arkansas Senate is deliberating a bill that would strip the Clinton name from the state’s largest airport. The bill would prevent any public structure being named after a living person, or a person who served in public office less than 10 years prior to the structure’s completion.

While it does not mention the Clintons by name, the bill would force a renaming of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock. The airport, opened in 1972, was named the Little Rock National Airport until the city government voted to change the name in 2012.

The bill's author is Republican Jason Rapert, an outspoken and often controversial state Senator. He has stated that he does not believe Arkansas should celebrate the former first family.

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"You have a president who was impeached for having an affair with an intern in the Oval Office and then disbarred," said Rapert, in reference to a 1998 scandal in which President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He was acquitted of the charges the following year, but lost his license to practice law in Arkansas.

Rapert claimed that he was inspired to draft the legislation after "several Arkansans across the state" expressed to him "discomfort" in naming the state's largest airport after the Clinton family.

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Before he was US two-term president, Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas from 1979-1981 and again from 1983-1992. His wife Hillary served as First Lady of Arkansas, as well as a college lecturer and attorney in that time.

Arkansas is traditionally Republican, but Little Rock (the state's largest city) is dominated by Democrats. City officials have voiced their desire to keep the airport's current name.

"I think the name of the airport is appropriate and I support retaining it," said Meredith Catlett, a member of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission.

"I happen to think that the naming of the airport as it is doesn't have any negative impact on our state or on our city," Little Rock mayor Mark Stodola told ArkansasMatters.com. "As a matter of fact I think it is the opposite."

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Rapert was in the news Monday for proposing other conservative pieces of legislation, including an anti-abortion law that would define life  in the state as beginning at conception, and another defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Neither bill passed the Senate floor.

His airport law, Arkansas Senate Bill 430, makes exceptions for those who were prisoners of war, or who are at least 75 years of age and retired. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette observed that, of the state's 93 public airports, only Clinton National would need to be renamed under the law.

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