This week the Arkansas Legislature moved forward with plans to look at two key pieces of legislation between now and 2019.
The first is S.B. 583 by Senator Joyce Elliott. The legislature will study the feasibility of requiring 25% of lottery proceeds to fund scholarships; reinstating the 2.5 GPA requirement to be eligible for scholarships; and having independent consultants for the Arkansas Lottery.
The second is S.B. 774, the privacy bill by Senator Linda Collins-Smith. This bill would have required a person using a public shower, locker room, restroom, or similar facility on government property to use the facility that corresponds to the biological sex listed on his or her original birth certificate. The legislature will study this issue in the months to come.
Lawmakers cannot pass these bills during the interim study period, but can research these issues, collect testimony, and present recommendations when the Arkansas Legislature reconvenes as a whole.
We are glad lawmakers have agreed to look at these two issues during the interim. The next step is to schedule meetings where experts, members of the public, and others can testify at the Capitol.
This afternoon a good bill that prohibits “medical marijuana” users from smoking marijuana failed to clear the Arkansas Senate for the second time since last week.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment currently lets practically anyone qualify to smoke marijuana. Even children are allowed to smoke it.
Smoking is a recreational activity that is almost universally recognized as unhealthy.
That’s why S.B. 357 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) prohibits marijuana smoking; other forms of medical marijuana use—such as marijuana oils, tinctures, and vaporizers—would remain legal, but not smoking.
This afternoon S.B. 357 failed to pass the Arkansas Senate. The bill needed twenty-four votes to pass; it received only eleven.
Here are the senators who voted for S.B. 357:
- Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R-Rogers)
- Sen. Ron Caldwell (R-Wynne)
- Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas)
- Sen. John Cooper (R-Jonesboro)
- Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs)
- Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View)
- Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)
- Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock)
- Sen. Greg Standridge (R-Russellville)
- Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch)
- Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot)
Here are the senators who voted against S.B. 357:
- Sen. Will Bond (D-Little Rock)
- Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock)
- Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale)
- Sen. Joyce Elliot (D-Little Rock)
- Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith)
- Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado)
- Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Gravette)
- Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana)
- Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock)
- Sen. Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis)
- Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning)
- Sen. Uvalde Lindsey (D-Fayetteville)
- Sen. Bruce Maloch (D-Magnolia)
- Sen. Terry Rice (R-Waldron)
- Sen. David Wallace (R-Leachville)
Here are the senators who did not vote on S.B. 357:
- Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D-Crossett)
- Sen. Lance Eads (R-Springdale)
- Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock)
- Sen. Scott Flippo (R-Bull Shoals)
- Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff)
- Sen. Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs)
- Sen. Larry Teague (D-Nashville)
Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) voted “Present” on the bill instead of voting for or against it.
Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) was not able to vote due to an excused absence from the Arkansas Senate.
The Arkansas Senate was flooded with phone calls from people all over Arkansas who support this good bill. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette chastised the legislature over the weekend for failing to pass a commonsense regulation like S.B. 357 to ban marijuana-smoking. The fact that the Arkansas Senate failed to pass S.B. 357 today shows that senators are out of touch with Arkansans.
Unfortunately, the Arkansas Senate did not expunge the vote that was cast today. That means it is highly unlikely Sen. Rapert will be able to bring S.B. 357 back up for a third vote.
However, there is legislation related to marijuana-smoking up for consideration in the Arkansas House of Representatives. We plan to work with lawmakers to help those good bills move forward. We will have more information about that legislation in the coming days.
Rep. Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro) has filed a resolution recommending the Bible be recognized as Arkansas’ State Book.
Arkansas has a state bird; a state flower; a state gem; a state instrument; and we even have a state butterfly. There’s no reason we should not have a state book, and what better book is there than the Bible?
H.R. 1047 supports recognition of the Bible as Arkansas’ state book. The Arkansas House of Representatives could vote on this resolution this afternoon.
You can ask your state rep to support H.R. 1047 by calling 501-682-6211.