First Pro-Life Legislation of the Session Filed

Senator Missy Irvin and Representative Julie Mayberry have filed the first pro-life bills of the 2015 legislative session in Little Rock.

Senate Bill 53 and House Bill 1076 would require doctors performing a chemical abortion (using drugs such as RU-486) to be present during the procedure and make arrangements for a follow-up visit in the days after administering the drug.

Evidence from around the country suggests abortion-inducing drugs are increasingly being distributed without proper oversight from a doctor. This poses a serious threat to women’s health.

Abortion advocates often say abortion ought to be safe, legal, and rare. SB53 and HB1076 would help abortionists abide by that mantra and would curtail the proliferation of abortion-inducing drugs.

Lawmakers Looking to Abolish Lottery Commission

Senator Jimmy Hickey has filed a bill that would abolish the Arkansas Lottery Commission and put the Arkansas Lottery and its director under the authority of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the governor.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission currently operates as an independent state commission with relatively little oversight. Its nine commissioners were appointed by the governor and members of the Arkansas Legislature. Senator Hickey’s proposal would bring the state lottery under the purview of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and it would cause the Arkansas Lottery Director to serve at the pleasure of the governor–just as virtually every other state agency director does.

This bill, presumably, is intended to bring more accountability and stability to the Arkansas Lottery. The Arkansas Lottery Commission set an unusual precedent last year when it voted to approve lottery “monitor games” despite objections from Arkansas’ lawmakers. As some legislators said last spring, the Arkansas Legislature created the Lottery Commission, and the Arkansas Legislature can change it. It seems that may be exactly what some lawmakers intend to do.

We will keep an eye on this bill as it develops at the Arkansas Legislature in the coming days. You can read Senator Hickey’s entire proposal here.

Legislation to Watch in 2015

The Arkansas Legislature will convene soon, and already lawmakers are filing legislation Arkansans may want to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

  • Lottery Scholarships: Senator Hickey has filed two bills (SB3 and SB5) amending Arkansas’ Academic Challenge Scholarship. Academic Challenge is primarily funded by the Arkansas Lottery. Among other things, Senator Hickey’s proposals would raise the ACT and GPA requirements for scholarship applicants and make scholarship money available for students obtaining technical certificates.
  • Balanced Budget Amendment: Representative Bell has filed a bill (HB1006) calling for an Article V convention for the purpose of adding an balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, states can call a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the constitution. Since the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, a constitutional convention has never been called. Representative Bell’s proposal would limit the scope of the convention to drafting a balanced budget amendment.
  • Constitutional Convention: Representative House has filed a resolution (HJR1001) calling for an Article V convention for the purpose of “proposing amendments” to the U.S. Constitution. Rep. House’s proposal differs from Rep. Bell’s in that it does not limit the scope of the convention to drafting amendments related to balancing the federal budget.
  • Ethics Legislation: Representative Warwick Sabin and Senator Jon Woods have co-sponsored legislation (HB1002) to “make amendments and clarifications to the ethics laws of the state of Arkansas.” Two years ago Representative Sabin and Senator Woods sponsored the constitutional amendment that eventually became Issue 3–which voters passed last November. Issue 3 changed Arkansas’ ethics laws, established a special committee for the purpose of determining pay scales for elected officials, and lengthened term limits for Arkansas’ legislators. HB1002 is a shell bill right now, meaning it has little more than a title, and will be amended later to flesh it out. This bill will be interesting to watch, because it–presumably–is intended to interpret some of the provisions governing gifts to lawmakers and political candidates under Arkansas’ newest constitutional amendment.

Family Council has no position on any of this legislation at this point; these are simply noteworthy bills voters may want to watch as the legislative session unfolds.