A lot of really good legislation has passed at the Arkansas Legislature this year, but several bad bills have been filed as well. Here’s a quick look at a few proposals in play that would hurt Arkansas’ families and communities.
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.
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 recently passed the Arkansas Senate and is currently before the House Rules Committee. 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) requires every school district in Arkansas to offer “evidence based” health courses to 7th – 12th graders that include instruction on preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases through abstinence and contraceptives. We know from experience that the kind of curriculum S.B. 304 mandates won’t actually teach students to be abstinent. Instead it will encourage students to be sexually active. Past “evidence-based” programs pushed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did not have a meaningful impact on teen birth rates or teen abortion rates. S.B. 304 simply continues these flawed policies. S.B. 304 is currently before the House Education Committee. Read S.B. 304 Here.