Above: Rep. Bentley presents H.B. 1156 in the Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Legislature just wrapped up its fourth week of the 2023 session.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened this week — and a look at legislation we are tracking:

  • The Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee passed S.B. 66 that will help protect children in Arkansas from Internet pornography.
  • The Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee passed a bill that could expand public drinking in “entertainment districts” in Arkansas.
  • The Arkansas House of Representatives passed H.B. 1156 protecting the privacy of public school students in school locker rooms, showers, restrooms, and similar facilities.
  • The Arkansas Senate passed H.B. 1024 that could expand public drinking in Arkansas.
  • The Arkansas Senate passed S.B. 66 that will help protect children in Arkansas from Internet pornography.
  • The House City, County, and Local Affairs Committee passed an amended version of S.B. 43 to protect children from adult performances.

Good Bills Passed So Far

H.C.R. 1005 (Religious Freedom): This good measure by Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) declares January 16, 2023, “Religious Freedom Day” in Arkansas. Read The Measure Here.

Good Bills Filed So Far

S.B. 43 (Decency): This good bill by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) prohibits adult performances on public property or in view of children. It also prohibits public funding of adult performances. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1156 (Privacy): This bill by Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro) addresses privacy in public school locker rooms, showers, restrooms, changing areas, and similar facilities by requiring public schools to designate these facilities for “male” or “female” use. See How Your Representative Voted HereRead The Bill Here.

S.B. 66 (Pornography): This good bill by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) requires pornographic websites to use a government-issued ID or a commercially available age verification method to protect children from pornography. See How Your Senator Voted Here. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 81 (Obscenity): This good bill by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – Russellville) and Rep. Justin Gonzales (R – Okolona) prohibits giving or sending a child harmful sexual material that contains nudity or sexual activity. The bill also eliminates exemptions for libraries and schools in the state’s obscenity statute, and it creates a civil cause of action Arkansans can use if the state, a city, or a county distributes obscene material. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1098 (Pro-Life): This good bill by Rep. Julie Mayberry (R – Hensley) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) permits Safe Haven Baby Boxes at volunteer fire stations in Arkansas. See How Your Representative VotedRead The Bill Here.

H.R. 1010 (Pro-Life): This good resolution by Rep. Cindy Crawford (R – Fort Smith) recognizes the vital role of pregnancy help organizations in Arkansas. Read The Resolution Here.

H.B. 1006 (Abortion): This good bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R — Knoxville) would require an employer that covers abortions or travel expenses related to abortions to also provide 16 weeks of paid maternity leave to employees in Arkansas. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1148 (Family): This good bill by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R – Horatio) and Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) provides an income tax credit of up to $1,000 for money spent on diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, and prepackaged baby food. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1305 (Child Welfare): This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Siloam Springs) protects child welfare by amending the “mature minor” doctrine in Arkansas law to clarify minors may consent to medical treatment for sexual assault; sexual, domestic, or physical abuse; or alcohol or substance abuse. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills Passed So Far

H.B. 1024 (Public Drinking): This bill by Rep. David Ray (R – Maumelle) and Sen. Matt McKee (R – Pearcy) would let cities and towns that do not collect advertising and promotion taxes on hotels and restaurants establish entertainment districts where public drinking is legal. This would let communities authorize public drinking in entertainment districts even if the community does not cater toward hospitality and tourism. That has the potential to expand public drinking in Arkansas. Read The Bill Here. See How Your State Senator and State Representative Voted Here.

Bad Bills Filed So Far

H.B. 1301 (Abortion): This bad bill by Rep. Nicole Clowney (D – Fayetteville) would legalize abortion in cases of “fetal abnormality incompatible with life.” The bill does not define what is or is not a “fetal abnormality.” It is not clear how a federal judge might interpret this language. Unborn children should not be aborted simply because a doctor thinks they may be at risk for a fetal abnormality. Family Council strongly opposes this bill — and any other bill that would weaken our state’s pro-life laws. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1174 (Fetal Homicide and Wrongful Death): This bill by Rep. Richard Womack (R – Arkadelphia) and Sen. Matt McKee (R – Pearcy) changes Arkansas’ fetal homicide law and wrongful death statute. Among other things, the bill makes it possible to prosecute or sue a woman for the death of her unborn child. It is unclear how a court might interpret and enforce this bill in light of Arkansas’ laws prohibiting abortion. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1204 (Nonpublic School Testing): This bill by Rep. Jim Wooten (R – Beebe) requires nonpublic schools that receive any form of state funding to assess their students with a standardized test. Read The Bill Here.

Other Legislation to Watch

S.B. 4 (National Security): This bill by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R — Branch) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R — Perryville) restricts access to TikTok on computers, tablets, phones, and other devices owned by the State of Arkansas. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1255 (National Security): This bill by Rep. Wade Andrews (R – Camden) and Sen. Steve Crowell (R – Magnolia) prohibits corporations and governmental entities from China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia from purchasing property in Arkansas. Read The Bill Here.

H.J.R. 1001 (Salaries for Elected Offices): This proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. David Ray (R – Maumelle) and Sen. Ben Gilmore (R – Crossett) would let the General Assembly set salaries for various elected offices in the state. Read The Measure Here.

S.B. 113 (Contraception): This bill by Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) and Rep. Deann Vaught (R – Horatio) requires Medicaid to reimburse healthcare providers for long-acting, reversible contraception immediately and during postpartum. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1161 (Student Maternity and Paternity Leave): This bill by Rep. Ashley Hudson (R – Little Rock) provides prenatal and postnatal leave for public school students. Read The Bill Here.