Yesterday marked the deadline for filing new legislation at the Capitol for this legislative session.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday, nearly 700 bills and resolutions were filed by lawmakers. More than 650 of those were new laws senators and representatives would like to propose.

Many of these were what we call “shell bills.” Shell bills simply state the bill’s purpose in a sentence or two, and are fleshed out later with amendments. Others, however, are already complete pieces of legislation.

Here are a few bills filed yesterday worth noting:

Rep. Clemmer Files Lottery Scholarship Bill

Rep. Ann Clemmer filed a bill yesterday to require the Arkansas Lottery to appropriate at least 30% of its proceeds for scholarships.

Imagine if the Arkansas “Scholarship” Lottery actually began making scholarships its top priority. What a novel idea. Right now the Arkansas Lottery is one of the lowest in the nation when it comes to the percentage of revenue it allocates for its intended purpose. A few years ago Louisiana’s lottery for education took in millions of dollars less than Arkansas’s lottery, but paid out millions more for its intended purpose. Why? Because Louisiana sets aside a higher percentage of gross revenue than Arkansas does. Rep. Clemmer’s bill will help make the Arkansas “Scholarship” Lottery actually focus on providing scholarships.

Sen. Hester Files Religious Freedom Bill

Senator Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger filed SB1119 to restore religious freedom.

A lot of people do not realize that in the early ‘90s the U.S. Supreme Court issued some rulings changing the judicial scrutiny religious freedom receives. Even though the Free Exercise of Religion is a First Amendment freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, the courts no longer treat religious liberty like they used to.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act helps restore some of that liberty. Several states have passed similar legislation in the past two decades. Hopefully, Arkansas will be the next.

Rep. Hobbs Files Marriage-Brochure Bill

Would couples obtaining a marriage license benefit from a brochure outlining some basic tips on how to have a successful marriage? We think that many would find this information helpful.

HB2191 by Rep. Hobbs would make such a brochure available as long as private funds are used to design, print, and distribute it. The use of public funds to produce and distribute the brochure is prohibited, making this a win for marriages and taxpayers.

Other Bills Worth Noting

Some other bills worth noting include:

  • Sen. Joyce Elliot’s bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (see our policy brief detailing our concerns here).
  • Rep. John Edwards’ bill to promote adoption by protecting the privacy of the relinquishing parent.
  • A “shell bill” that intends to make a Covenant Marriage license free of charge.

As the session progresses, we’ll continue to keep you updated on other bills of interest.