Updated: Bill Protecting Children On Social Media Narrowly Clears Arkansas Senate, Goes to Governor

On Thursday the Arkansas Senate narrowly passed a bill that would help protect children in Arkansas from accessing social media sites without parental consent.

S.B. 396, the Social Media Safety Act, by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) says that social media companies must use age verification to ensure minors do not access social media platforms without parental consent.

The bill contains protections for user privacy. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.

More and more, we hear stories illustrating how social media platforms host content that isn’t suitable for children. The adults who operate these platforms should not be able to register children as users without parental consent.

In February the American Psychological Association’s Chief Science Officer told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that social media use heightens the risk of negative influences among adolescents, and that young people are accessing social media sites that promote eating disorders and other harmful behavior.

In December, news outlets reported how social media giant TikTok’s algorithm was suggesting videos that promoted self-harm and eating disorders to teenagers.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has published an analysis determining that social media is a major cause of mental illness in girls.

And a recent CDC report found 16% of high school students were electronically bullied in 2021 through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms.

Legislation like S.B. 396 would help parents and social media companies protect children from harmful content online.

S.B. 396 overwhelmingly passed in the Arkansas House on Wednesday. The bill now goes to Governor Sanders to be signed into law.

The Following Senators Voted For S.B. 396

  • J. Boyd
  • L. Chesterfield
  • A. Clark
  • Crowell
  • Dees
  • J. English
  • Gilmore
  • K. Hammer
  • Hester
  • B. Johnson
  • M. Johnson
  • F. Love
  • M. McKee
  • J. Payton
  • C. Penzo
  • J. Petty
  • Rice
  • Stone
  • G. Stubblefield
  • D. Sullivan
  • D. Wallace

The Following Senators Voted Against S.B. 396

  • J. Dismang
  • Hickey
  • Hill

The Following Senators Voted “Present”

  • J. Bryant
  • B. Davis
  • J. Dotson
  • Flippo
  • Irvin
  • B. King
  • G. Leding
  • C. Tucker

The Following Senator Did Not Vote

  • R. Murdock

The Following Senators Were Excused From Voting

  • Caldwell
  • S. Flowers

Arkansas House Passes Good Bill Protecting Children On Social Media

On Wednesday the Arkansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would help protect children in Arkansas from accessing social media sites without parental consent.

S.B. 396, the Social Media Safety Act, by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) says that social media companies must use age verification to ensure minors do not access social media platforms without parental consent.

The bill contains protections for user privacy. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.

More and more, we hear stories illustrating how social media platforms host content that isn’t suitable for children. The companies that operate these platforms should not be able to register children as users without parental consent.

In February the American Psychological Association’s Chief Science Officer told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that social media use heightens the risk of negative influences among adolescents, and that young people are accessing social media sites that promote eating disorders and other harmful behavior.

In December, news outlets reported how social media giant TikTok’s algorithm was suggesting videos that promoted self-harm and eating disorders to teenagers.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has published an analysis determining that social media is a major cause of mental illness in girls.

And a recent CDC report found 16% of high school students were electronically bullied in 2021 through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms.

Legislation like S.B. 396 would help parents and social media companies protect children from harmful content online.

S.B. 396 narrowly cleared the Arkansas Senate in a vote last week. The bill now must go back to the Arkansas Senate for concurrence in amendments the House made to it.

The Following Representatives Voted for S.B. 396

  • Achor
  • F. Allen
  • Andrews
  • Barker
  • Beaty Jr.
  • Beck
  • Bentley
  • M. Berry
  • S. Berry
  • Breaux
  • Brooks
  • K. Brown
  • M. Brown
  • Burkes
  • Joey Carr
  • John Carr
  • Cavenaugh
  • Clowney
  • C. Cooper
  • Cozart
  • Dalby
  • Eaves
  • Eubanks
  • Evans
  • D. Ferguson
  • K. Ferguson
  • C. Fite
  • L. Fite
  • Fortner
  • Furman
  • Gazaway
  • Gramlich
  • Haak
  • Hawk
  • D. Hodges
  • G. Hodges
  • Holcomb
  • Hollowell
  • Jean
  • L. Johnson
  • Ladyman
  • Long
  • Lundstrum
  • Lynch
  • Maddox
  • Magie
  • McAlindon
  • McClure
  • McCollum
  • M. McElroy
  • McGrew
  • McNair
  • S. Meeks
  • Milligan
  • J. Moore
  • K. Moore
  • Nicks
  • Painter
  • Pearce
  • Perry
  • Pilkington
  • Puryear
  • J. Richardson
  • Richmond
  • Rose
  • Rye
  • Schulz
  • Scott
  • R. Scott Richardson
  • Steimel
  • Tosh
  • Underwood
  • Unger
  • Vaught
  • Walker
  • Wardlaw
  • Warren
  • Watson
  • D. Whitaker
  • Wing
  • Wooldridge
  • Wooten

The Following Representatives Voted Against S.B. 396

  • A. Collins
  • Duffield
  • Duke
  • Ennett
  • Gonzales
  • Hudson
  • J. Mayberry
  • McCullough
  • Springer
  • Womack

The Following Representatives Voted “Present”

  • D. Garner
  • B. McKenzie
  • Ray
  • T. Shephard

The Following Representatives Did Not Vote

  • Crawford
  • V. Flowers
  • Miller
  • Speaker Shepherd

Updated: Arkansas House of Representatives Passes Religious Freedom Measure

On Monday the Arkansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a good bill enhancing protections for religious freedom.

H.B. 1615, the Conscience Protection Act by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R — Elm Springs) and Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R — Branch), makes important clarifications to the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The bill also helps prohibit religious discrimination against individuals, business owners, and organizations that want to follow their deeply held religious convictions.

In 2015 Gov. Hutchinson signed Arkansas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. That good law has been on the books for the past eight years.

Since then, we have seen wedding venuesbakeriesphotography studios, and florist shops come under fire, because their owners wanted to operate according to their deeply held convictions. That is why it is so important for our laws to protect religious liberty as much as possible.

H.B. 1615 improves on good state law to help prevent the government from burdening the free exercise of religion in Arkansas.

If enacted, H.B. 1615 would provide Arkansans with some of the best religious freedom protections in the nation.

The bill now goes to the Arkansas Senate for consideration.

The Following Representatives Voted For H.B. 1615

  • Achor
  • Andrews
  • Barker
  • Beaty Jr.
  • Beck
  • Bentley
  • M. Berry
  • S. Berry
  • Breaux
  • Brooks
  • K. Brown
  • M. Brown
  • Burkes
  • Joey Carr
  • John Carr
  • Cavenaugh
  • C. Cooper
  • Cozart
  • Crawford
  • Dalby
  • Duffield
  • Eaves
  • Eubanks
  • Evans
  • C. Fite
  • L. Fite
  • Fortner
  • Furman
  • Gazaway
  • Gonzales
  • Gramlich
  • Haak
  • Hawk
  • D. Hodges
  • G. Hodges
  • Holcomb
  • Hollowell
  • L. Johnson
  • Ladyman
  • Long
  • Lundstrum
  • Lynch
  • Maddox
  • J. Mayberry
  • McAlindon
  • McClure
  • McCollum
  • M. McElroy
  • McGrew
  • B. McKenzie
  • McNair
  • Miller
  • Milligan
  • J. Moore
  • K. Moore
  • Painter
  • Pearce
  • Pilkington
  • Puryear
  • Ray
  • Richmond
  • Rose
  • Rye
  • Schulz
  • R. Scott Richardson
  • Steimel
  • Tosh
  • Underwood
  • Unger
  • Vaught
  • Walker
  • Wardlaw
  • Warren
  • Watson
  • Wing
  • Womack
  • Wooldridge
  • Wooten

The Following Representatives Voted Against H.B. 1615

  • F. Allen
  • Clowney
  • A. Collins
  • Duke
  • Ennett
  • D. Ferguson
  • V. Flowers
  • D. Garner
  • Hudson
  • Magie
  • McCullough
  • Nicks
  • J. Richardson
  • Scott
  • T. Shephard
  • Springer
  • D. Whitaker

The Following Representatives Did Not Vote

  • K. Ferguson
  • Jean
  • S. Meeks
  • Perry
  • Speaker Shepherd