Legislation We’re Watching: Hate Crimes, Contraceptives, Abortion, and More

A number of bills have been pre-filed ahead of the 2021 legislative session in Arkansas.

Here are a few of the bills that Family Council is watching.

Good Bills Filed

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. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills Filed

S.B. 3 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Sen. Jim Hendren (R – 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 (R – 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.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. Oral contraceptives carry a number of health risks — which is why women currently need a prescription from a doctor — and they can cause the death of an unborn child by preventing the unborn child from implanting and growing inside the mother’s womb. Family Council opposes H.B. 1069. Read The Bill Here.

Other Bills We’re Watching

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. 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 permitholders — such as liquor stores — deliver alcoholic beverages to private residences in the county where the store is located. Read The Bill Here.

Good and Bad Legislation Filed So Far

Lawmakers began pre-filing legislation for the 2021 session in November.

Our team has reviewed every bill pre-filed so far.

Here are some good and bad pieces of legislation we are watching.

Good Bill: S.B. 6 Ending Abortion in Arkansas. S.B. 6 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) would prohibit abortion in Arkansas except in cases when the mother’s life is at risk. If passed, it would give our federal courts the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade and other pro-abortion decisions. Family Council fully supports this good bill.

Bad Bills: S.B. 3 and H.B. 1020 Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation in Arkansas. S.B. 3 and H.B. 1020 by Sen. Jim Hendren (R – Gravette) and Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) would write special, protected classes into Arkansas law by enacting hate crimes legislation. The bills are identical to one another. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 25 years, and we oppose these two bills as well.

Washington County Republican Committee Passes Resolution Against Hate Crimes Legislation

On Wednesday the Washington County Republican Committee passed a resolution calling on the Arkansas Legislature to reject any hate crimes legislation in Arkansas.

The resolution reads,

A Resolution Opposed to Hate Crime Legislation in Arkansas

WHEREAS, the Republican Party was founded in 1854 by a group of people who were united in their desire to abolish slavery; and,

WHEREAS, the Republican Party abolished slavery in 1865, passed the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution in 1866, passed the 19th Amendment in 1919 guaranteeing women the right to vote, granted Native Americans citizenship in 1924, and integrated the Little Rock School District and passed the Civil Rights Act in 1957; and,

WHEREAS, the Republican Party has been the only party fighting “hate crimes” throughout the history of our county; and,

WHEREAS, in addition to these achievements, the Republican Party has also fought for the adherence to impartial justice and equity, all of which is shared by the Washington County Republican Committee; and,

WHEREAS, our Nation currently is seeing partiality, intemperate behavior, and violence stemming from situations unwittingly or deliberately presented as unjust;

Whereas against such a background, legislation is to be considered by the Arkansas Legislature to enact a “hate crime” bill;

Whereas such a bill proposes to increase criminal penalties due to perceived intents of perpetrators, intents stemming from characteristics of victims which can be based upon what is increasingly being known as identity politics;

Whereas Arkansas and Federal laws already contain provisions for aggravating and mitigating circumstances based upon empirical evaluation of criminal activities;

Whereas those provisions include divisions between misdemeanors and felonies and recognition of varied degrees of offense;

Whereas prosecutors and the courts are permitted further discretions in application of such laws;

Whereas such divisions and discretions against the backdrop of dispassionate legislation allow for careful application of justice designed to be separate from emotions and transient thoughts;

Whereas hate crime legislation is largely symbolic and provides no deterrent to criminal activity;

Whereas provisions to minutely examine intents of criminal defendants can ultimately expand into the criminalization of beliefs, or so-called “thought crimes;”

Whereas such expansion can also have a chilling effect on legitimate First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religious practice and belief;

Whereas such expansion can also open the door to criminalization of other legitimate social behaviors considered by some to be politically incorrect, behaviors which in some cases are already being sanctioned by job and other income losses and by social harassment;

Now, therefore, given our concerns listed above, be it resolved by the Washington County Republican Committee that we request the Arkansas Legislature to affirm its adherence to dispassionate justice by rejecting any hate crime legislation for our State.

On Monday, Sen. Jim Hendren (R – Gravette) and Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) filed S.B. 3 to enact hate crimes legislation in Arkansas.

Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation like S.B. 3 for more than 25 years. You can read more about why we oppose it here.