Bill Declaring Religion as Essential Passes Senate, Goes to Governor

On Wednesday the Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly passed H.B. 1211.

This good bill by Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton) recognizes that religion and religious organizations are essential in Arkansas.

In other states we’ve seen churches and religious organizations singled out during the COVID-19 pandemic. H.B. 1211 helps prevent that from ever happening in Arkansas.

Public officials have the authority to protect health and public safety, but the the free exercise of religion is never suspended.

H.B. 1211 ensures our government never closes churches during a disaster or other emergency.

It prevents the government from penalizing a church that meets during an emergency, and it requires churches to comply with the same basic health and safety standards as everyone else.

Churches and charities support their communities during an emergency. They need to be free to serve people without worrying that the government might punish them. H.B. 1211 provides that protection.

H.B. 1211 passed with overwhelming support in the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate. It now goes to Governor Hutchinson’s desk to be signed into law.

Below is a breakdown of how the Arkansas Senate voted on H.B. 1211.

Voted For The Bill

  • B. Ballinger
  • Beckham
  • Bledsoe
  • Caldwell
  • L. Chesterfield
  • A. Clark
  • B. Davis
  • J. Dismang
  • L. Eads
  • J. English
  • Flippo
  • S. Flowers
  • T. Garner
  • Gilmore
  • K. Hammer
  • J. Hendren
  • Hester
  • Hickey
  • Hill
  • Irvin
  • M. Johnson
  • B. Johnson
  • M. Pitsch
  • Rapert
  • Rice
  • B. Sample
  • G. Stubblefield
  • J. Sturch
  • D. Sullivan
  • Teague
  • D. Wallace

Voted Against The Bill

None.

Voted “Present” On The Bill

  • Elliott
  • K. Ingram
  • G. Leding
  • C. Tucker