The Arkansas Legislature just finished its third week of the 2023 session. Here’s a quick look back at what happened.
- Rep. David Ray (R – Maumelle) and Sen. Ben Gilmore (R – Crossett) filed H.J.R. 1001 amending the state constitution concerning salaries for elected officials.
- The Arkansas House of Representatives passed H.B. 1098 expanding Arkansas’ Safe Haven law that lets a woman anonymously surrender her newborn.
- H.B. 1024 that could expand public drinking in “entertainment districts” in Arkansas failed to pass in the Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee.
- The Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly passed S.B. 43 protecting children from drag shows.
- Rep. Wade Andrews (R – Camden) and Sen. Steve Crowell (R – Magnolia) filed H.B. 1255 prohibiting China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia from purchasing property in Arkansas.
- The House Education Committee heard testimony on H.B. 1156 protecting student privacy in public school locker rooms and restrooms.
Good Bills Passed
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 drag performances on public property or in view of children. See How Your Senator Voted Here. 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. Read 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. 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 Voted. Read The Bill 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.
Bad Bills Filed 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.
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.