A lot of legislation is in play at the capitol. Here’s a quick look at good bills and bad bills so far this legislation session.
Good Bills Passed
S.B. 448 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) requires an abortionist to be board-certified or board-eligible OB/GYN. Currently any medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy in Arkansas can perform a chemical or surgical abortion. S.B. 448 will protect women from dangerous abortion practices. The bill also updates Arkansas’ definition of a “viable fetus.” Under current federal case law, states have a lot of leeway to restrict abortion when an unborn child is considered “viable.” Updating this definition will make it easier to pass and enforce pro-life legislation in Arkansas. The bill has passed both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature and will go to the governor to be signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
H.B. 1399 (Pro-Life): This good bill by Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) and Sen. Scott Flippo (R – Bull Shoals) prohibits public funds from being used to clone or kill unborn children for scientific research. The bill has been sent to the governor to be signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
H.B. 1439 (Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) and Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) prohibits abortion in Arkansas after the eighteenth week of pregnancy unless the mother’s life or physical health is in serious jeopardy. The bill has passed the Arkansas Legislature and has been sent to the governor to be signed into law. Read the Bill Here.
H.B. 1413 (Home Schooling): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) prevents schools from charging home schooled students extra to take concurrent credit courses for college credit. The bill has passed the Arkansas Legislature and has been sent to the governor to be signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 149 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) prohibits abortion in Arkansas if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. This good bill has been signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 156 (Free Speech): This good bill by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Berryville) and Rep. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro) prevents public colleges and universities from infringing the free speech of students and faculty on campus. This good bill has been signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 168 (Pro-Life): This good bill by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) updates Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act. It lets a woman surrender her newborn to law enforcement personnel, fire department personnel, or medical personnel. Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act protects children from being abandoned, and it provides women with options besides abortion. This good bill has been signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 341 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) and Rep. Joe Cloud (R – Russellville) amends Arkansas’ informed-consent law for abortion to ensure women know how to find information about chemical abortion pill reversal. Doctors have demonstrated that chemical abortion drugs can be counteracted if the woman receives treatment quickly. This bill has passed and been signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 2 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) prohibits abortions performed because the baby has Down Syndrome. The bill has passed and gone to the governor to be signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 3 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) requires abortionist to report complications arising from an abortion. Abortion carries a number of risks and consequences, and the reporting required by this bill will help Arkansas craft better pro-life laws in the future. The bill has passed and gone to the governor to be signed into law. Read The Bill Here.
Good Bills Filed
H.B. 1342 (Used Car Tax): This good bill by Rep. John Payton (R – Wilburn) and Sen. Terry Rice (R – Waldron) eliminates the sales tax on used cars sold for less than $7,500. Currently, sales tax is collected on new and used cars sold for $4,000 or more. This bill will provide tax relief to a lot of families who rely on used vehicles. The bill is currently in the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. Read The Bill Here.
H.B. 1761 (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. 1761 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. 1453 (Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Clint Penzo (R – Springdale) and Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) requires abortionists to give women information about perinatal hospice. Modern medicine has made it possible to test unborn children for deadly fetal abnormalities, and many children who test positive for these abnormalities are aborted. H.B. 1453 will help women choose options besides abortion in these situations. The bill has passed the Arkansas House of Representatives and is currently before the Senate Public Health Committee. Read The Bill Here.
H.B. 1511 (Home Schooling): This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) ensures home schooled students and private school students can access the Succeed Scholarship the state offers to students with special needs. Currently, this scholarship is only available for students enrolled in a public school. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 278 (Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) and Rep. Spencer Hawks (R – Conway) makes several improvements to Arkansas’ abortion laws. The bill is currently before the House of Representatives. Read The Bill Here.
H.B. 1378 (Lottery): This good bill by Rep. Jim Dotson (R – Bentonville) and Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Berryville) raises the percentage of Arkansas Lottery revenue allocated for college scholarships to 25% by the year 2025. Currently, the Arkansas Lottery spends about 18% of the money it makes on scholarships. Read The Bill Here.
Good Bills Defeated
The following are good bills that have failed to pass so far at the legislature.
H.B. 1289 (Conscience): This good bill by Rep. Brandt Smith (R – Jonesboro) protects the rights of conscience of all healthcare workers and companies. This would prevent people and organizations from being forced to promote, participate in, or pay for medical procedures that violate their conscience. The bill failed to pass in the House Public Health Committee. Read The Bill Here.
S.B. 387 (Lottery): This good bill by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D – Little Rock) and Rep. Jasen Kelly (R – Benton) raises the percentage of Arkansas Lottery revenue allocated for college scholarships to 25% by the year 2025. Currently, the Arkansas Lottery spends about 18% of the money it makes on scholarships. The bill failed to pass in the Senate Education Committee. Read The Bill Here.
Bad Bills Filed
S.B. 492 (Entertainment Districts): This bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) lets cities create “entertainment districts” where open containers of alcohol can be carried and consumed outdoors. Entertainment districts essentially are areas where public intoxication is legal. Under this bill, an entertainment district could be temporary — such as at an event or festival — or it could be permanent. Because of their association with excessive drinking, entertainment districts in other states have raised serious concerns about crime, DUI offenses, and public safety. The bill currently is before the House of Representatives. Read S.B. 492 Here.
S.B. 304 (Sex Education): This bill by Sen. Will Bond (D – Little Rock) and Rep. LeAnne Burch (D – Monticello) makes it possible for Planned Parenthood to worm its way into public schools across Arkansas by teaching “health courses” to 7th – 12th graders that include instruction on preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases. We know from experience that these courses are not effective at preventing teen pregnancy and are not good for students. S.B. 304 is currently before the House Education Committee. Read S.B. 304 Here.
H.B. 1912 (Video Lottery Machines): This bill by Rep. Grant Hodges (R – Rogers) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) would legalize video lottery terminals under the Arkansas Lottery. Video lottery machines are more addictive than traditional lottery tickets, and the odds of winning typically are very low. This makes video lottery machines particularly harmful for people with gambling problems and for poor individuals who play the lottery out of desperation. In other states where these games are legal, bars and truck stops have set up miniature casinos by installing video lottery machines in back rooms. Family Council has opposed past efforts to legalize video lottery machines and other casino-style games in Arkansas, and we oppose H.B. 1912 as well. Read H.B. 1912 Here.
Bad Bills Defeated
The following are bad pieces of legislation that have been defeated at the Arkansas Legislature for the time being.
H.B. 1290 (Contraceptives): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs) 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. That’s why Family Council opposes H.B. 1290. The bill has been tabled by the Senate Public Health Committee, which means it probably will not pass this year. Read H.B. 1290 Here.
SJR 18 (Ratifying the Federal Equal Rights Amendment): This proposal by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D – Little Rock) and Rep. Jamie Scott (D – North Little Rock) would make Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment. This amendment to the U.S. Constitution is intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, but the way it is worded could cause it to have a number of unintended consequences. States that have passed similar amendments have been forced to pay for abortions with taxpayer funds, and the Equal Rights Amendment could affect everything from college fraternities and sororities to how men and women are housed in federal prisons. The measure was defeated in the Senate State Agencies Committee. Read SJR 18 Here.
H.B. 1536 (Physician-Assisted Suicide): This bill by Rep. Dan Douglas (R – Bentonville) lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. The bill was defeated in the House Public Health Committee. Read H.B. 1536 Here.
How To Contact Your Legislators
You can leave a message about legislation for your state senator by calling the Arkansas Senate during normal business hours at (501) 682-2902.
You can leave a message about legislation for your state representative by calling the Arkansas House during normal business hours at (501) 682-6211.
This post has been updated to reflect the current status of certain bills and the dates that certain events occurred.
Last week the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a list of federal Title X funding recipients.
According to the federal report, Planned Parenthood affiliates around the nation will receive $16,170,000 in Title X funds this fiscal year.
Title X grants from the federal government are earmarked for family planning services.
In Arkansas, Title X funds go to the State; elsewhere, the money goes to private groups.
The report indicates federal funding will go to Planned Parenthood affiliates working in eight states.
Even though it’s still receiving millions of dollars in public funding, Planned Parenthood issued a statement chastising the Trump Administration for stripping four of its affiliates of Title X grants this year.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortions, and the Title X money it receives from the federal government helps keep its doors open. Although Title X funds cannot be used directly for abortion, the taxpayer dollars help subsidize its abortion business indirectly. That’s why states like Arkansas have fought to keep Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers off the government dole.
Photo Credit: By jordanuhl7 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons