Legislation Clarifies Arkansas’ Video Voyeurism Law

On Monday Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) filed H.B. 1586 clarifying Arkansas’ law concerning video voyeurism.

The bill makes simple changes to state law that help clarify Arkansas’ video voyeurism statutes.

This is an issue that Family Council has worked on in the past.

In 2007 we helped secure passage of Act 187 strengthening Arkansas’ anti-voyeurism laws.

At the time, advances in technology had made it possible for voyeurs to take inappropriate pictures of people using cameras hidden in shoes, backpacks, and elsewhere. Act 187 of 2007 helped update Arkansas law to keep pace with changes in technology.

H.B. 1586 makes simple changes to Arkansas’ video voyeurism law that help clarify and strengthen the law even further.

Read The Bill Here.

Here is Legislation We Support, Oppose, or are Watching

We’re wrapping up another week at the Arkansas Legislature.

Lawmakers filed several different proposals, and they voted on many others.

Below is a quick recap of what happened at the legislature this week, and some of the legislation Family Council supports, opposes, or thinks is worth knowing about.

Good Bills Passed

Act 94 / H.B. 1211 (Religion is Essential): This good bill by Representative Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Senator Kim Hammer (R – Benton) recognizes that religion and religious organizations are essential in Arkansas. H.B. 1211 will protect churches and religious groups without hampering the government’s ability to respond during a pandemic. See how your state representative voted hereSee how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

Act 90 / H.B. 1195 (Pro-Life): This good bill by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) and Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark) enacts legislation ensuring that women are offered information, assistance, and resources that could help them choose an option besides abortion. See how your state representative voted hereSee how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1116 (Simon’s Law): This good bill by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) and Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs) is named in honor of an infant in Missouri who died after doctors put a Do Not Resuscitate order on his chart without his parent’s knowledge or permission. If passed, it would help protect children in Arkansas from being denied life support or having a DNR placed on their medical charts without parental consent. The bill has passed the Arkansas House and Senate. See how your state representative voted here. See how your senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

Good Bills Filed

Sen. Irvin announced S.B. 354 at a press conference in the Capitol Building on February 25.

S.B. 354 (Fairness in Women’s Sports): This good bill by Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R -Smackover) would require student athletes to compete according to their biological sex. This would prevent boys who claim to be girls from competing in girls’ sports at school — and vice versa. Family Council supports this measure. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1570 (Prohibiting Sex-Reassignment on Children): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Alan Clark (R – Lonsdale) prohibits sex-reassignment procedures on children. The bill also prevents funding of sex-reassignment procedures performed on children. This bill will protect children from being subjected to surgeries and procedures that can leave them sterilized and permanently scarred. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1523 (The Equal Justice Act): This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) identifies various protections and criminal penalties currently found in Arkansas law. The bill expands on Arkansas’ law regarding felonies involving violence. It creates the offense of committing a felony involving violence for the purpose of preventing a person from exercising his or her constitutional right. The bill outlines minimum and maximum sentences for this type of felony. It also requires the state to collect and report statistics regarding felonies involving violence committed for the purpose of preventing a person from exercising his or her constitutional right. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1572 (Informed-Consent to Chemical Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Scott Flippo (R – Mountain Home) outlines the informed-consent process for chemical abortion. Arkansas’ current informed-consent laws for abortion are geared primarily for surgical abortion procedures. H.B. 1572 will help ensure women get all the facts about chemical abortion — including its risks, consequences, and and pro-life alternatives. This will help save many unborn children from abortion. Read The Bill Here. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1544 (Pro-Life Cities Resolution): This good bill by Rep. Kendon Underwood (R – Cave Springs) and Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) lets municipalities in Arkansas declare themselves pro-life. H.B. 1544 outlines some of the findings and language that cities can put in their pro-life resolution. The bill also clarifies that Pro-Life Cities can install signs or banners announcing that they are pro-life. Read the Bill Here.

S.B. 388 (Abortion Facilities): This good bill by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro), Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville), and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) requires any facility that performs abortions to be licensed by the Arkansas Department of Health as an abortion facility, and it prohibits abortions in hospitals except in cases of medical emergency. S.B. 388 will help ensure that every clinic that performs abortions follows all of Arkansas’ laws concerning abortion facilities. This has the potential to save many women and unborn children from abortion. Read The Bill Here.

H.B.1566 (Marijuana Certifications): This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) and Sen. David Wallace (R – Leachville) requires marijuana certifications written for mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s to be issued by a board-certified psychiatrist or neurologist. Under current law, any physician can certify a patient to use marijuana for PTSD or Alzheimer’s regardless of the physician’s training and experience with mental health. This will protect mental health patients from receiving an inappropriate certification to use marijuana. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1024 (Religious Freedom): H.J.R. 1024 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould), Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.14 (Religious Freedom): S.J.R. 14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1025 (Life): H.J.R. 1025 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It says that the sanctity of life is paramount to all other rights protected by the constitution. It states that Arkansas citizens, acting as jurors, have the sole authority to determine the amount of compensation or civil penalty imposed because of injuries resulting in death or resulting from acts that create a significant risk to life. H.J.R. 1025 will help prevent the State of Arkansas from placing a price tag on human life. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1006 (Recall): H.J.R. 1006 by Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R – Walnut Ridge) amends the Arkansas Constitution to permit voters to recall elected officials and judges in Arkansas. Upon initial review, Family Council supports this amendment. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1010 (Casino Gambling): H.J.R. 1010 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) amends the Arkansas Constitution to remove authorization of a casino in Pope County. This is a good amendment that will help curtail casino gambling in Arkansas. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1010. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1011 (Casino Gambling): H.J.R. 1011 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It changes the casino amendment that authorizes casino gambling in Pope, Jefferson, Garland, and Crittenden counties. Under H.J.R. 1011, the Arkansas Racing Commission would not issue a casino license in Pope County unless the voters of the county approve conducting casino gaming at a local election. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1011. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1018 (Lottery): H.J.R. 1018 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale), Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It clarifies that proceeds from the Arkansas Lottery may be used to fund scholarships and grants to students at vocational-technical and technical institutes. Currently, lottery scholarships are only available to students enrolled in public or private two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Family Council supports legislation that ensures lottery-funded scholarships are managed responsibly. We support H.J.R. 1018. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.16 (Boys and Girls Athletics): S.J.R. 16 by Sen. Alan Clark (R – Lonsdale) would amend the Arkansas Constitution to require public schools to designate their athletic teams as “male” or “female,” and require student athletes to compete according to their biological sex. This would prevent boys who claim to be girls from competing in girls’ sports at school — and vice versa. Family Council supports this measure. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 6 (Prohibiting Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) prohibits abortion in Arkansas, except in cases when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Family Council fully supports this good bill. Family Council is working closely with Sen. Rapert to pass this good bill that could save the lives of thousands of children and give the courts an opportunity to overturn decades of bad, pro-abortion rulings. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and been sent to the Arkansas House Public Health Committee. See how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1441 (Pro-Life/Bioethics): This good bill by Rep. Cindy Crawford (R – Fort Smith) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) regulates the buying and selling of human eggs. Arkansas law currently lets companies harvest women’s eggs for profit. Commercial egg harvesting carries a number of risks and is ethically suspect. H.B. 1441 prohibits companies from paying women for their eggs, but contains exceptions for free egg donations and for fertility treatments. The bill is currently in the House Public Health Committee. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1402 (Abortion-Inducing Drugs): This good bill by Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) and Sen. Blake Johnson (R – Corning) updates Arkansas’ restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs like RU-486. It outlines requirements that abortionists must follow in administering abortion-inducing drugs, and it prohibits abortion drugs from being delivered by mail in Arkansas. It also updates current law to ensure doctors who perform chemical abortions are credentialed to handle abortion complications and can transfer the woman to a hospital if she experiences complications. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1324 (Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant Women): This good bill by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) gives pregnant women priority in accessing substance abuse treatment programs that accept Medicaid. Read The Bill Here.

H.C.R. 1007 (Abortion): This good resolution by Rep. Jim Wooten (R – Beebe) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) recognizes January 22 — the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision — as “The Day of Tears” in Arkansas. The resolution acknowledges the 61 million of unborn babies killed in abortion in America over the past five decades, and encourages Arkansans to lower their flags to half-staff on January 22 to mourn the innocent children who have lost their lives. The resolution has passed the House and been sent to the Arkansas Senate. Read The Resolution Here.

S.B. 85 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) requires an abortionist to show an ultrasound image of the unborn baby to the pregnant woman before an abortion. Currently, Arkansas law says an abortionist must offer to let the woman see the ultrasound image. Research indicates that some women are less likely to have an abortion once they see an ultrasound image of their unborn child. That means pro-life bills like S.B. 85 can help further decrease the number of abortions in Arkansas. Arkansas Right to Life is the chief proponent of this bill, and we fully support their efforts. The bill is currently before the entire Arkansas Senate. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1408 (Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) helps prevent abortion providers and their affiliates in Arkansas from receiving Medicaid reimbursements from the state. Read The Bill Here.

Rep. Julie Mayberry presents H.B. 1061 in the House Public Health Committee on February 25.

H.B. 1061 (No Patient Left Alone): This good bill by Rep. Julie Mayberry (R – Hensley) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) protects patients from being left alone and denied visitors in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar facilities. No one should be barred from being in the hospital with their dying child, spouse, or parent. This bill helps address that in Arkansas. H.B. 1061 passed the Arkansas House Public Health Committee and has gone to the entire Arkansas House. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1160 (Used Car Tax): This good bill by Rep. John Payton (R – Wilburn) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) would eliminate the tax on used cars sold for less than $7,500; the bill contains a provision that would take effect in 2023 eliminating the tax on used cars sold for less than $10,000. Family Council has worked for years to eliminate the used car tax, because it hurts single moms and middle class families who often can barely afford to buy a used vehicle, much less pay sales tax on one. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1431 (Used Car Tax): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) eliminates the sales tax on used cars sold for less than $10,000. The bill is similar to H.B. 1160 by Rep. Payton and Sen. Rapert. Family Council has worked for years to eliminate the used car tax, because it hurts single moms and middle class families who often can barely afford to buy a used vehicle, much less pay sales tax on one. Read The Bill Here.

The Arkansas House Public Health Committee hears testimony in favor of S.B. 289 from Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Stephanie Nichols on February 25.

S.B. 289 (Conscience): This good bill by Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) and Rep. Brandt Smith (R – Jonesboro) protects healthcare workers’ rights of conscience. Arkansas’ current conscience protections are narrowly focused on abortion, abortifacients, and end of life decisions, and they protect only a limited number of people. S.B. 289 helps broaden these protections for healthcare workers. The bill passed the Arkansas Senate, but the Arkansas House Public Health Committee has failed to pass it so far. See how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1353 (Marijuana Advertisements): This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) closes a loophole in Arkansas’ laws regarding medical marijuana advertisements. It clarifies the law to say that marijuana dispensaries and cultivators cannot use a cross of any color or other symbols commonly associated with the practice of medicine in their advertisements. The bill has passed the Arkansas House of Representatives. See how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1430 (“Tim Tebow” Law): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) makes technical adjustments to Arkansas’ “Tim Tebow” law that allows home schoolers to participate in interscholastic activities at public and private schools. H.B. 1430 makes it easier for home schoolers to play sports or other activities outside their resident school district. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1461 (Home School): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) helps give home schooled students equal access to tests like the ACT, SAT, PSAT, AP Test, and other assessments. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1429 (Home School): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) and Sen. Ben Gilmore (R – Crossett) makes it easier for a student to withdraw from a public school to home school. The bill eliminates the fourteen-day waiting period currently in Arkansas law for families wishing to transfer out of a public school. It also makes technical corrections to the home school law. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills Filed

H.J.R.1014 (Capping Damages): H.J.R. 1014 by Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood), Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages that courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, H.J.R. 1014 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.8 (Capping Damages): S.J.R. 8 by Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View), Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, S.J.R. 8 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1015 (Restricting Evidence): H.J.R. 1015 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville), Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.7 (Restricting Evidence): S.J.R. 7 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark), Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.9 (Restricting Evidence): S.J.R. 9 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark), Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 3 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Sen. Jim Hendren (I – Gravette) and Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to H.B. 1020. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1020 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) and Sen. Jim Hendren (I – Gravette) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to S.B. 3. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1008 (Initiatives and Referenda): H.J.R. 1008 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R – Horatio) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It requires initiatives and referenda submitted to voters via petition drives to be approved by at least 60% of the votes cast on the measure in order to pass. However, it would not require constitutional amendments submitted by the General Assembly to be approved by 60% of the vote. Family Council opposes this measure. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1228 (Public Drinking): This bad bill by Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) would let cities in dry counties approve public drinking in “entertainment districts” if the city contains a private club that serves alcohol. Under Arkansas’ “entertainment district” law, alcohol can be carried and consumed outdoors on city streets and sidewalks around bars and restaurants, if approved by the city council. The bill has passed the Arkansas House of Representatives and been sent to the Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee. See how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1066 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) would let microbrewery operators ship beer directly to private residences anywhere in the state of Arkansas or to residences in other states that allow direct shipment of alcohol. The bill may not contain sufficient safeguards to prevent alcohol from being delivered to someone who is under 21. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1148 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R – Walnut Ridge) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) overhauls Arkansas’ local option election law concerning alcohol. The bill reduces the threshold for taking a county wet or dry via a petition drive. Liquor stores in wet counties would be able to continue operating even if the county voted to go dry. The bill would make it easier for some cities or towns in a dry county to be wet while the rest of the county is dry. Read The Bill Here.

Other Bills

H.R. 1011 (Recognizing the Cherokee Nation West): This resolution by Rep. Marcus Richmond (R – Harvey) and others calls on the federal government to recognize Cherokee Nation West as a separate tribe from the larger Cherokee Nation. Recognizing Native American tribes in Arkansas could facilitate future efforts to build Indian casinos in the state. For this reason, Family Council generally has had concerns about formal recognizing this tribe and others. Read The Resolution Here.

S.B.339 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) and Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Russellville) would let restaurants sell sealed containers of alcohol to-go and deliver alcoholic beverages to consumers in a wet county. The bill may not have sufficient safeguards to prevent alcohol from being delivered to someone who is under 21. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1069  (Contraceptives): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) lets pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor. Family Council previously opposed this bill. However, Rep. Pilkington has filed amendments to the bill. His amendments address objections Family Council raised against H.B. 1069. At this time, Family Council is neutral on this bill. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 32 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) and Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) would let retail liquor permit holders — such as liquor stores — deliver alcoholic beverages to private residences in the county where the store is located. The bill may not contain sufficient safeguards to prevent alcohol from being delivered to someone who is under 21. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House. See how your senator voted hereSee how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

S.B. 76 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Lance Eads (R – Springdale) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) lets “excursion trains” serve alcoholic beverages to passengers. It has passed the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House. See how your senator voted hereSee how your representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1341 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) and Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) permits on-premises consumption of alcohol on Christmas Day. Currently, Arkansas law generally prohibits bars and liquor stores from selling alcohol on Christmas. This bill would allow alcohol to be sold for on-premises consumption in bars and restaurants on Christmas. It would not let liquor stores sell alcohol for off-premises consumption. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 155 (Organ Donations): This bill by Sen. Breanne Davis (R -Russellville) and Rep. Austin McCollum (R – Bentonville) helps prevent people with physical or mental disabilities from being denied organ transplants because of their disabilities. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and been sent to the House Public Health Committee. See how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1522 (Marijuana Transportation and Possession): This bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) prohibits a person from being under the influence of marijuana in public or at a marijuana dispensary or marijuana cultivation facility. It clarifies that it is unlawful for a person to use marijuana by inhalation in a place where marijuana is prohibited by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. It also imposes penalties for possessing more marijuana than Arkansas’ medical marijuana amendment allows. And it makes it a crime to transport medical marijuana into Arkansas from another state. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 389 (Parental Review of Sex-Education): This bill by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) requires public schools to notify parents about sex-education material and give parents the option of opting their students out of the class or activity. Read The Bill Here.

A Legislative Update

The Arkansas Legislature was shut down, for the most part, this week due to snow.

Our team has been busy working from home on different pieces of legislation.

Below is a brief summary of some of the bills we are currently supporting, opposing, and tracking.

Good Bills Passed

Act 94 / H.B. 1211 (Religion is Essential): This good bill by Representative Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Senator Kim Hammer (R – Benton) recognizes that religion and religious organizations are essential in Arkansas. H.B. 1211 will protect churches and religious groups without hampering the government’s ability to respond during a pandemic. See how your state representative voted hereSee how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

Act 90 / H.B. 1195 (Pro-Life): This good bill by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) and Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark) enacts legislation ensuring that women are offered information, assistance, and resources that could help them choose an option besides abortion. See how your state representative voted hereSee how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

Good Bills Filed

H.J.R.1024 (Religious Freedom): H.J.R. 1024 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould), Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.14 (Religious Freedom): S.J.R. 14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1025 (Life): H.J.R. 1025 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It says that the sanctity of life is paramount to all other rights protected by the constitution. It states that Arkansas citizens, acting as jurors, have the sole authority to determine the amount of compensation or civil penalty imposed because of injuries resulting in death or resulting from acts that create a significant risk to life. H.J.R. 1025 will help prevent the State of Arkansas from placing a price tag on human life. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 6 (Prohibiting Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) prohibits abortion in Arkansas, except in cases when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Family Council fully supports this good bill. Family Council is working closely with Sen. Rapert to pass this good bill that could save the lives of thousands of children and give the courts an opportunity to overturn decades of bad, pro-abortion rulings. The bill has passed the Senate Public Health Committee. It is currently before the entire Arkansas Senate. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1006 (Recall): H.J.R. 1006 by Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R – Walnut Ridge) amends the Arkansas Constitution to permit voters to recall elected officials and judges in Arkansas. Upon initial review, Family Council supports this amendment. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1010 (Casino Gambling): H.J.R. 1010 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) amends the Arkansas Constitution to remove authorization of a casino in Pope County. This is a good amendment that will help curtail casino gambling in Arkansas. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1010. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1011 (Casino Gambling): H.J.R. 1011 by Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It changes the casino amendment that authorizes casino gambling in Pope, Jefferson, Garland, and Crittenden counties. Under H.J.R. 1011, the Arkansas Racing Commission would not issue a casino license in Pope County unless the voters of the county approve conducting casino gaming at a local election. Family Council supports H.J.R. 1011. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1018 (Lottery): H.J.R. 1018 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale), Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It clarifies that proceeds from the Arkansas Lottery may be used to fund scholarships and grants to students at vocational-technical and technical institutes. Currently, lottery scholarships are only available to students enrolled in public or private two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Family Council supports legislation that ensures lottery-funded scholarships are managed responsibly. We support H.J.R. 1018. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.16 (Boys and Girls Athletics): S.J.R. 16 by Sen. Alan Clark (R – Lonsdale) would amend the Arkansas Constitution to require public schools to designate their athletic teams as “male” or “female,” and require student athletes to compete according to their biological sex. This would prevent boys who claim to be girls from competing in girls’ sports at school — and vice versa. Family Council supports this measure. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1441 (Pro-Life/Bioethics): This good bill by Rep. Cindy Crawford (R – Fort Smith) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) regulates the buying and selling of human eggs. Arkansas law currently lets companies harvest women’s eggs for profit. Commercial egg harvesting carries a number of risks and is ethically suspect. H.B. 1441 prohibits companies from paying women for their eggs, but contains exceptions for free egg donations and for fertility treatments. The bill is currently in the House Public Health Committee. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1402 (Abortion-Inducing Drugs): This good bill by Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) and Sen. Blake Johnson (R – Corning) updates Arkansas’ restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs like RU-486. It outlines requirements that abortionists must follow in administering abortion-inducing drugs, and it prohibits abortion drugs from being delivered by mail in Arkansas. It also updates current law to ensure doctors who perform chemical abortions are credentialed to handle abortion complications and can transfer the woman to a hospital if she experiences complications. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1324 (Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant Women): This good bill by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) gives pregnant women priority in accessing substance abuse treatment programs that accept Medicaid. Read The Bill Here.

H.C.R. 1007 (Abortion): This good resolution by Rep. Jim Wooten (R – Beebe) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) recognizes January 22 — the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision — as “The Day of Tears” in Arkansas. The resolution acknowledges the 61 million of unborn babies killed in abortion in America over the past five decades, and encourages Arkansans to lower their flags to half-staff on January 22 to mourn the innocent children who have lost their lives. The resolution has passed the House and been sent to the Arkansas Senate. Read The Resolution Here.

S.B. 85 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) requires an abortionist to show an ultrasound image of the unborn baby to the pregnant woman before an abortion. Currently, Arkansas law says an abortionist must offer to let the woman see the ultrasound image. Research indicates that some women are less likely to have an abortion once they see an ultrasound image of their unborn child. That means pro-life bills like S.B. 85 can help further decrease the number of abortions in Arkansas. Arkansas Right to Life is the chief proponent of this bill, and we fully support their efforts. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1116 (Simon’s Law): This good bill by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) and Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs) is named in honor of an infant in Missouri who died after doctors put a Do Not Resuscitate order on his chart without his parent’s knowledge or permission. If passed, it would help protect children in Arkansas from being denied life support or having a DNR placed on their medical charts without parental consent. The bill has passed the Arkansas House and been sent to the Senate Public Health Committee. See how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1408 (Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) helps prevent abortion providers and their affiliates in Arkansas from receiving Medicaid reimbursements from the state. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1061 (No Patient Left Alone): This good bill by Rep. Julie Mayberry (R – Hensley) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) protects patients from being left alone and denied visitors in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar facilities. No one should be barred from being in the hospital with their dying child, spouse, or parent. This bill helps address that in Arkansas. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1160 (Used Car Tax): This good bill by Rep. John Payton (R – Wilburn) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) would eliminate the tax on used cars sold for less than $7,500; the bill contains a provision that would take effect in 2023 eliminating the tax on used cars sold for less than $10,000. Family Council has worked for years to eliminate the used car tax, because it hurts single moms and middle class families who often can barely afford to buy a used vehicle, much less pay sales tax on one. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1431 (Used Car Tax): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) eliminates the sales tax on used cars sold for less than $10,000. The bill is similar to H.B. 1160 by Rep. Payton and Sen. Rapert. Family Council has worked for years to eliminate the used car tax, because it hurts single moms and middle class families who often can barely afford to buy a used vehicle, much less pay sales tax on one. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 289 (Conscience): This good bill by Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) and Rep. Brandt Smith (R – Jonesboro) protects healthcare workers’ rights of conscience. Arkansas’ current conscience protections are narrowly focused on abortion, abortifacients, and end of life decisions, and they protect only a limited number of people. S.B. 289 helps broaden these protections for healthcare workers. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and is currently before the House Public Health Committee. See how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1353 (Marijuana Advertisements): This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) closes a loophole in Arkansas’ laws regarding medical marijuana advertisements. It clarifies the law to say that marijuana dispensaries and cultivators cannot use a cross of any color or other symbols commonly associated with the practice of medicine in their advertisements. The bill has passed the House Rules Committee and been sent to the entire House of Representatives. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1430 (“Tim Tebow” Law): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) makes technical adjustments to Arkansas’ “Tim Tebow” law that allows home schoolers to participate in interscholastic activities at public and private schools. H.B. 1430 makes it easier for home schoolers to play sports or other activities outside their resident school district. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1461 (Home School): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) helps give home schooled students equal access to tests like the ACT, SAT, PSAT, AP Test, and other assessments. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1429 (Home School): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) and Sen. Ben Gilmore (R – Crossett) makes it easier for a student to withdraw from a public school to home school. The bill eliminates the fourteen-day waiting period currently in Arkansas law for families wishing to transfer out of a public school. It also makes technical corrections to the home school law. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills Filed

H.J.R.1014 (Capping Damages): H.J.R. 1014 by Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood), Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages that courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, H.J.R. 1014 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.8 (Capping Damages): S.J.R. 8 by Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View), Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to cap non-economic and punitive damages courts can award when a person is injured or killed through someone else’s negligence. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, S.J.R. 8 makes it possible for the Arkansas Legislature to put a price tag on human life. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1015 (Restricting Evidence): H.J.R. 1015 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville), Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.7 (Restricting Evidence): S.J.R. 7 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark), Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.J.R.9 (Restricting Evidence): S.J.R. 9 by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Ozark), Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It gives the Arkansas Legislature the power to set rules about pleading, practice, procedure, and evidence for all courts in Arkansas. Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. However, giving the Arkansas Legislature the ability to restrict evidence that can or cannot be used in court may make it difficult or impossible for people to obtain justice in court. Family Council opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 3 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Sen. Jim Hendren (I – Gravette) and Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to H.B. 1020. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1020 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) and Sen. Jim Hendren (I – Gravette) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to S.B. 3. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R.1008 (Initiatives and Referenda): H.J.R. 1008 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R – Horatio) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It requires initiatives and referenda submitted to voters via petition drives to be approved by at least 60% of the votes cast on the measure in order to pass. However, it would not require constitutional amendments submitted by the General Assembly to be approved by 60% of the vote. Family Council opposes this measure. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1228 (Public Drinking): This bad bill by Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) would let cities in dry counties to approve public drinking in “entertainment districts” if the city contains a private club that serves alcohol. Under Arkansas’ “entertainment district” law, alcohol can be carried and consumed outdoors on city streets and sidewalks around bars and restaurants, if approved by the city council. The bill has passed the Arkansas House of Representatives and been sent to the Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee. See how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1066 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) would let microbrewery operators ship beer directly to private residences anywhere in the state of Arkansas or to residences in other states that allow direct shipment of alcohol. The bill may not contain sufficient safeguards to prevent alcohol from being delivered to someone who is under 21. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1148 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R – Walnut Ridge) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) overhauls Arkansas’ local option election law concerning alcohol. The bill reduces the threshold for taking a county wet or dry via a petition drive. Liquor stores in wet counties would be able to continue operating even if the county voted to go dry. The bill would make it easier for some cities or towns in a dry county to be wet while the rest of the county is dry. Read The Bill Here.

Other Noteworthy Bills

H.B. 1069  (Contraceptives): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) lets pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor. Family Council previously opposed this bill. However, Rep. Pilkington has filed amendments to the bill. His amendments address objections Family Council raised against H.B. 1069. At this time, Family Council is neutral on this bill. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 32 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) and Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) would let retail liquor permit holders — such as liquor stores — deliver alcoholic beverages to private residences in the county where the store is located. The bill may not contain sufficient safeguards to prevent alcohol from being delivered to someone who is under 21. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House. See how your senator voted hereSee how your state representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

S.B. 76 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Lance Eads (R – Springdale) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) lets “excursion trains” serve alcoholic beverages to passengers. It has passed the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House. See how your senator voted hereSee how your representative voted hereRead The Bill Here.

H.B. 1341 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) and Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) permits on-premises consumption of alcohol on Christmas Day. Currently, Arkansas law generally prohibits bars and liquor stores from selling alcohol on Christmas. This bill would allow alcohol to be sold for on-premises consumption in bars and restaurants on Christmas. It would not let liquor stores sell alcohol for off-premises consumption. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 155 (Organ Donations): This bill by Sen. Breanne Davis (R -Russellville) and Rep. Austin McCollum (R – Bentonville) helps prevent people with physical or mental disabilities from being denied organ transplants because of their disabilities. The bill has passed the Arkansas Senate and been sent to the House Public Health Committee. See how your state senator voted hereRead The Bill Here.