Senator Says Task Force Not Interested in Taxing Churches

Yesterday we wrote about a proposal at the Arkansas Legislature to tax passive income of churches. The proposal was among those up for consideration at the legislature’s Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force.

Under Arkansas law, income churches receive from things like interest earned on savings accounts or from the sale or rental of church property is not subject to the state income tax. The proposal before the task force would eliminate this exemption.

Sen. Jim Hendren (R — Gravette) is the senate chairman of the task force. I spoke with Sen. Hendren this morning, and he has assured me the task force has no interest in eliminating churches’ passive income tax exemption.

I am deeply grateful to everyone who contacted their state legislators yesterday to express their concern about this proposal, and I hope our elected officials will continue working to ensure taxes are not increased on churches and charities.

Did You Know Lawmakers Nearly Voted to Let You Unknowingly Waive Your Right to a Jury Trial?

Last week legislators convened for a special session of the Arkansas Legislature. Two identical bills that caught our attention were H.B. 1006 by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) and S.B. 5 by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock).

In a nutshell, these bills made it possible for people to unknowingly waive their right to a jury trial when signing a contract. If a company wanted to, they could include language saying that you waive your right to a jury trial in any contract they make you sign—including contracts for admission into a nursing home or hospital, leases, insurance, loans, and so on.

The bills made the waiver irrevocable—meaning once you signed away your right to a jury trial, you couldn’t get it back.

The bills also said that you could not get your right to a jury trial back by arguing that you didn’t read the waiver, didn’t understand the waiver, or didn’t know you were forfeiting your right to a jury trial.

Our chief concern was that nursing homes would force residents to waive their right to a jury trial in order to live in the nursing home. If a grandmother were injured or killed due to nursing home neglect, she or her family would not be able to take her case before a jury.

The bills were filed at 9:00 AM on Tuesday. An hour later H.B. 1006 was in the hands of legislators on the House Judiciary Committee.

Our staff quickly analyzed the bill and drove to the Capitol. The bill’s ink practically was still wet when I sat down to testify in the committee room.

As politely as I could, I told lawmakers why we opposed the bill. “This affects old people,” I finally said. “How many old people in Arkansas even know this bill is being debated right now?”

Fortunately, the bill narrowly was defeated. Had Family Council not been there to oppose it, I am not sure what would have happened.

Several different lawmakers told me the legislation was prompted by a recent court case regarding a dispute over a loan. Lawmakers wanted to make it possible for borrowers and lenders to settle their differences outside of the jury trial system. Personally, I don’t object to that, but passing a blanket proposal that would let elderly nursing home residents and their families unknowingly sign away their right to a jury trial is just plain irresponsible.

After H.B. 1006 failed in committee, Sen. Hutchinson amended S.B. 5. He narrowed the bill so that it only applied to loans, and he took out the language about people being able to sign the waiver unknowingly and the waiver being irrevocable. We decided we could live with those changes, so Family Council quit opposing S.B. 5.

The amended version of S.B. 5 passed the Arkansas House Thursday and has gone to Gov. Hutchinson to be signed into law.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to take away Arkansans’ right to a jury trial.

Fifteen years ago Family Council spent almost an entire legislative session battling it out with members of the nursing home industry who wanted to shield themselves from lawsuits. At that time, they wanted to take away nursing home residents’ right to go to court. Our staff attorney, Martha Adcock, spent more hours than I can count working with lawmakers to defeat that bad proposal.

I am glad we were successful last week, and I am deeply grateful to the state legislators who helped defeat H.B. 1006 and amend S.B. 5 to address our concerns.

Sadly, this fight is not over. Rep. Bob Ballinger, a sponsor of the bill, plans to continue advocating for the passage of the portions of the bill that lawmakers rejected. Rep. Ballinger told lawmakers that work needs to continue in order to help the business community.

219 Candidates File for Legislative, Federal Offices

capitol3-1The filing period for candidates to run for office in Arkansas ended earlier this week.

Altogether 219 candidates filed for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Senate, and State House.

Below is a list of all the candidates that filed for these offices.

U.S. President

Name Office Party
Bernie Sanders U.S. President Democratic
Hillary Clinton U.S. President Democratic
James Valentine U.S. President Democratic
John Wolfe U.S. President Democratic
Martin J. O’Malley U.S. President Democratic
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente U.S. President Democratic
Ben Carson U.S. President Republican
Bobby Jindal U.S. President Republican
Carly Fiorina U.S. President Republican
Donald J. Trump U.S. President Republican
Gov. Chris Christie U.S. President Republican
Jeb Bush U.S. President Republican
John R. Kasich U.S. President Republican
Lindsey Graham U.S. President Republican
Marco Rubio U.S. President Republican
Mike Huckabee U.S. President Republican
Rand Paul U.S. President Republican
Rick Santorum U.S. President Republican
Ted Cruz U.S. President Republican

U.S. Senate

Name Office Party
Conner Eldridge U.S. Senate Democratic
Frank Gilbert U.S. Senate Libertarian
Curtis Coleman U.S. Senate Republican
Senator John Boozman U.S. Senate Republican
Jason Tate U.S. Senate Write-In

U.S. House

Name Office District Party
Mark West U.S. Congress 1 Libertarian
Congressman Rick Crawford U.S. Congress 1 Republican
Dianne Curry U.S. Congress 2 Democratic
Chris Hayes U.S. Congress 2 Libertarian
Brock Olree U.S. Congress 2 Republican
Congressman French Hill U.S. Congress 2 Republican
Charles Neely U.S. Congress 2 Write-In
Mathew Wescott U.S. Congress 2 Write-In
Nathan LaFrance U.S. Congress 3 Libertarian
Congressman Steve Womack U.S. Congress 3 Republican
Kerry Hicks U.S. Congress 4 Libertarian
Congressman Bruce Westerman U.S. Congress 4 Republican

State Senate

Name Office District Party
State Senator Bart Hester State Senate 1 Republican
Senator Jim Hendren State Senate 2 Republican
Representative Lance Eads State Senate 7 Republican
Sharon Lloyd State Senate 7 Republican
Senator Jimmy Hickey, Jr. State Senate 11 Republican
Senator Bruce Maloch State Senate 12 Democratic
Senator Alan Clark State Senate 13 Republican
Senator Greg Standridge State Senate 16 Republican
Senator John R. Cooper State Senate 21 Republican
David Burnett State Senate 22 Democratic
Representative Dave Wallace State Senate 22 Republican
Senator Ronald Caldwell State Senate 23 Republican
State Senator Stephanie Flowers State Senate 25 Democratic
Senator Eddie L. Cheatham State Senate 26 Democratic
Elvis Presley State Senate 26 Libertarian
Senator Bobby J. Pierce State Senate 27 Democratic
Trent Garner State Senate 27 Republican
Senator Jonathan Dismang State Senate 28 Republican
Justice of the Peace R.D. Hopper State Senate 29 Republican
Senator Eddie Joe Willams State Senate 29 Republican
Will Bond State Senate 32 Democratic
Jacob A. Mosier State Senate 32 Libertarian
Joe Woodson State Senate 34 Democratic
Representative Donnie Copeland State Senate 34 Republican
Senator Jane English State Senate 34 Republican

State House

Name Office District Party
Carol Dalby State Representative 1 Republican
Rusty Latham State Representative 1 Republican
Representative Lane Jean State Representative 2 Republican
Representative Brent Talley State Representative 3 Democratic
Cecil Anderson State Representative 3 Libertarian
Danny Watson State Representative 3 Republican
Fonda F. Hawthorne State Representative 4 Democratic
Representative DeAnn Vaught State Representative 4 Republican
State Rep. David Fielding State Representative 5 Democratic
State Representative Matthew Shepherd State Representative 6 Republican
Floyd M. Thomas Jr. State Representative 7 Democratic
Garry L. Smith State Representative 7 Democratic
Sonia Eubanks Barker State Representative 7 Republican
Jeffrey R. Wardlaw State Representative 8 Democratic
State Rep. Sheilla E. Lampkin State Representative 9 Democratic
Jim A. Hall State Representative 9 Republican
Dorothy Hall State Representative 10 Democratic
Representative Mike Holcomb State Representative 10 Republican
Bob G. Ware State Representative 11 Democratic
Representative Mark D. McElroy State Representative 11 Democratic
Representative Chris Richey State Representative 12 Democratic
Representative David Hillman State Representative 13 Democratic
State Representative Camille Bennett State Representative 14 Democratic
Roger D. Lynch State Representative 14 Republican
Wayne Willems State Representative 15 Libertarian
Representative Ken Bragg State Representative 15 Republican
Representative Kenneth B. Ferguson State Representative 16 Democratic
Representative Vivian Flowers State Representative 17 Democratic
Justice of the Peace Richard Bright State Representative 18 Democratic
Representative Richard Womack State Representative 18 Republican
Representative Justin Gonzales State Representative 19 Republican
John Maddox State Representative 20 Republican
Representative Marcus E. Richmond State Representative 21 Republican
Representative Mickey Gates State Representative 22 Republican
Representative Lanny Fite State Representative 23 Republican
Representative Bruce Cozart State Representative 24 Republican
Jerry M. Rephan State Representative 25 Democratic
Les A. Warren State Representative 25 Republican
Richard Alvin Midkiff State Representative 25 Republican
Representative Laurie Rushing State Representative 26 Republican
Melissa Larkan Fults State Representative 27 Democratic
Andy Mayberry State Representative 27 Republican
Mike Creekmore State Representative 27 Republican
Representative Kim Hammer State Representative 28 Republican
State Representative Fred Love State Representative 29 Democratic
Glen Schwarz State Representative 29 Libertarian
Fred Allen State Representative 30 Democratic
St. Representative Charles L. Armstrong State Representative 30 Democratic
Representative Andy Davis State Representative 31 Republican
Susan Inman State Representative 32 Democratic
Representative Jim Sorvillo State Representative 32 Republican
State Representative Warwick Sabin State Representative 33 Democratic
Michael Williams State Representative 33 Libertarian
Representative John W. Walker State Representative 34 Democratic
State Reprensentative Clarke Tucker State Representative 35 Democratic
Representative Charles Blake State Representative 36 Democratic
Eddie L. Armstrong III State Representative 37 Democratic
Kent Walker State Representative 38 Democratic
Victoria Leigh State Representative 38 Democratic
Carlton Wing State Representative 38 Republican
Bill Rahn State Representative 39 Democratic
Representative Mark Lowery State Representative 39 Republican
Representative Douglas House State Representative 40 Republican
Representative Karilyn Brown State Representative 41 Republican
State Representative Bob Johnson State Representative 42 Democratic
Patrick Thomas State Representative 42 Republican
Representative Tim Lemons State Representative 43 Republican
Garry Baker State Representative 44 Libertarian
Representative Joe Farrer State Representative 44 Republican
Representative Jeremy Gillam State Representative 45 Republican
Representative Les Eaves State Representative 46 Republican
State Representative Michael John Gray State Representative 47 Democratic
Rep. Reginald Murdock State Representative 48 Democratic
State Representative Marshall Wright State Representative 49 Democratic
Steve Hollowell State Representative 49 Republican
Representative Milton Nicks Jr. State Representative 50 Democratic
Representative Deborah Ferguson State Representative 51 Democratic
Representative Dwight Tosh State Representative 52 Republican
Representative Dan Sullivan State Representative 53 Republican
Hunter Williams State Representative 54 Democratic
Johnny Rye State Representative 54 Republican
Wes Wagner State Representative 54 Republican
Representative Monte Hodges State Representative 55 Democratic
Joe Jett State Representative 56 Democratic
Frankie Gilliam State Representative 57 Democratic
Jimmy Gazaway State Representative 57 Republican
Ronnie C. Spence State Representative 57 Republican
Shawn D. Strouss State Representative 57 Republican
Nate Looney State Representative 58 Democratic
Representative Brandt Smith State Representative 58 Republican
Jack Ladyman State Representative 59 Republican
Rep. James Ratliff State Representative 60 Democratic
Frances Cavenaugh State Representative 60 Republican
Representative Scott Baltz State Representative 61 Democratic
Christopher Olson State Representative 61 Libertarian
Marsh Davis State Representative 61 Republican
State Representative Michelle Gray State Representative 62 Republican
Phillip Finch State Representative 63 Republican
Representative James Sturch State Representative 63 Republican
Representative John Payton State Representative 64 Republican
Rick Beck State Representative 65 Republican
Chris L. Steplock State Representative 66 Republican
Representative Josh Miller State Representative 66 Republican
Rep. Stephen Meeks State Representative 67 Republican
Representative Trevor Drown State Representative 68 Republican
George Overbey Jr. State Representative 69 Democratic
Aaron Pilkington State Representative 69 Republican
Representative David Meeks State Representative 70 Republican
Representative Ken Henderson State Representative 71 Republican
Representative Steve Magie State Representative 72 Democratic
Shannon L. Taylor State Representative 72 Republican
Lesa Wolfe Crowell State Representative 73 Democratic
Representative Mary Bentley State Representative 73 Republican
Representative Jon S. Eubanks State Representative 74 Republican
Representative Charlotte V. Douglas State Representative 75 Republican
Representative Mathew W. Pitsch State Representative 76 Republican
Stephen Edwards State Representative 77 Libertarian
Representative Justin Boyd State Representative 77 Republican
George B. McGill State Representative 78 Democratic
Gary Deffenbaugh State Representative 79 Republican
Representative Charlene Fite State Representative 80 Republican
Susan K. McGaughey State Representative 81 Democratic
Bruce Coleman State Representative 81 Republican
Derek Goodlin State Representative 81 Republican
Representative Bill Gossage State Representative 82 Republican
Kyle Adams State Representative 83 Libertarian
Rep. David L. Branscum State Representative 83 Republican
Representative Charlie Collins State Representative 84 Republican
State Representative David Whitaker State Representative 85 Democratic
Dwight Gonzales State Representative 85 Republican
Rep. Greg Leding State Representative 86 Democratic
Representative Robin Lundstrum State Representative 87 Republican
Clint Penzo State Representative 88 Republican
Isaac Foley State Representative 88 Republican
Philip Humbard State Representative 88 Republican
Irvin Camacho State Representative 89 Democratic
Charles Gaines State Representative 89 Republican
Jeff Williams State Representative 89 Republican
Jana K. Starr State Representative 90 Republican
Randy Alexander State Representative 90 Republican
Representative Jana DellaRosa State Representative 90 Republican
Rep. Dan Douglas State Representative 91 Republican
Representative Kim Hendren State Representative 92 Republican
State Representative Jim Dotson State Representative 93 Republican
Grimsley Graham State Representative 94 Democratic
Debra M. Hobbs State Representative 94 Republican
Representative Rebecca Petty State Representative 94 Republican
Grant Brand State Representative 95 Libertarian
Austin McCollum State Representative 95 Republican
Representative Sue Scott State Representative 95 Republican
Michael J. Kalagias State Representative 96 Libertarian
Representative Grant Hodges State Representative 96 Republican
Representative Bob Ballinger State Representative 97 Republican
John Arthur Hammerschmidt State Representative 98 Republican
Ron McNair State Representative 98 Republican
Bruce Emerson State Representative 99 Republican
Jack Fortner State Representative 99 Republican
Representative Nelda Speaks State Representative 100 Republican