Family Council’s Greatest Hits From 2020

Members of the team from Family Council stand with AUL’s 2020 Life List recognizing Arkansas as the most pro-life state in the country.

It’s been a busy year. The coronavirus outbreak forced us to make some adjustments to how we work, but our team at Family Council met those challenges head-on. Here’s a quick rundown of just a few of our “greatest hits” from 2020.

Seeing Arkansas Named the Most Pro-Life State in America. Ten years ago we set out to make Arkansas the most pro-life state in America. By working together with others, we have done that. Americans United for Life recently released its Life List 2021 naming Arkansas the most pro-life state in the nation. Becoming the most pro-life state wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work by a lot of different people. Arkansas now has the opportunity to become a true, nationwide leader in the effort to end abortion.

Distributing 65,000 Arkansas Voter’s Guides. Since 1990 Family Council has produced Arkansas’ only statewide, nonpartisan voter’s guide. We survey the candidates on abortion, guns, education, taxes, or other issues, and we publish their responses in print and online. We also survey some of the judicial candidates, and we summarize any proposals that appear on the ballot. This year we distributed approximately 65,000 printed copies of the Arkansas Voter’s Guide for the primary and general elections, and we had thousands more people view candidate surveys and information at Family Council’s voter’s guides helped tens of thousands of Arkansans choose the candidates that best reflect their values. That’s something to celebrate.

Lawmakers and others gather outside the surgical abortion facility in Little Rock on April 10, 2020, shortly after the facility was ordered to stop performing elective surgical abortions due to COVID-19.

Shining the Light on Abortion Facilities Daily During the Pandemic. During the COVID-19 shutdowns last spring, our team reported almost daily from outside the abortion facilities in Little Rock. You may have seen some of the videos we streamed from the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood or Little Rock Family Planning Services. Those videos helped expose how abortionists were continuing to operate despite state health directives prohibiting elective surgical procedures—and how women were travelling to Arkansas from other states for abortions during the pandemic.

Receiving the Mary Rose Doe Award. Family Council was honored to receive the Mary Rose Doe Award on Monday, January 27, 2020, at Arkansas Right to Life’s banquet. Since 1985 Arkansas Right to Life has bestowed the award on individuals and organizations that go the extra mile in fighting for unborn children. Arkansas Right to Life President Andy Mayberry surprised Jerry and the staff by presenting Family Council with the Mary Rose Doe Award in recognition of 30 years of pro-life work in the state.

From Left: Charisse Cooksey, Luke McCoy, Jerry Cox, Doris Cox, Ken Yang, and Erin Hogan pose with the 2020 Mary Rose Doe Award.

Helping Churches Navigate COVID-19. Last spring and summer we received dozens of phone calls, emails, and questions from ministers around the state asking us for advice on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team was in regular communication with state health officials, and we were able to explain the state’s health directives and guidelines to folks all over Arkansas. We were able to help churches find ways to meet without having to worry that they might run afoul of the Arkansas Department of Health.

Hosting Monthly Prayer Meetings. Family Council has hosted monthly prayer meetings all year long. We started the year by hosting these meetings at the Arkansas Capitol Building. After COVID hit, we moved those meetings online. These prayer meetings are an opportunity for believers to lift up our state leaders in prayer. We are very grateful that there are dedicated Arkansans who did not let the outbreak stop them from praying for those in authority. If you would like to be part of these monthly prayer meetings or if you would like to receive prayer requests from our office via email from time to time, give us a call at (501) 375-7000.

Closely Monitoring Pro-Abortion Groups. Our team has kept a watchful eye on pro-abortion groups all year long. Besides reporting from Little Rock’s abortion facilities last spring, we have also monitored Planned Parenthood’s campaign reports and job openings. We have paid close attention to lawsuits Little Rock Family Planning Services and the ACLU have filed to overturn some of Arkansas’ pro-life laws. We’ve reported every time pro-abortion groups like NARAL endorsed candidates in Arkansas. We’ve also kept close tabs on new pro-abortion groups, like Reproaction. Reproaction tries to appeal to younger women and is more aggressively pro-abortion than groups like Planned Parenthood. In May Family Council staff member Erin Hogan attended a virtual seminar Reproaction held teaching women about do-it-yourself chemical abortions at home. Earlier this year we alerted key individuals around the state about ways that these pro-abortion groups seemed to be working to make inroads on Arkansas’ college campuses. We plan to continue monitoring these groups and reporting what we learn in 2021.

Helping Stop Public Drinking in Siloam Springs. In May, Family Council helped alert our friends in Northwest Arkansas about a proposed city ordinance that would have permitted public drinking throughout much of downtown Siloam Springs. City officials heard overwhelmingly from their constituents. When it was all said and done, the city opted not to legalize public drinking. Public drinking is a scourge on the community. It raises serious concerns about drunk driving and public safety. It hurts neighborhoods and families. That’s why Family Council was pleased to do our part to keep public drinking out of downtown Siloam Springs.

Equipping Arkansans to Pass Pro-Life Resolutions. Family Council drafted model ordinances that cities and counties can use to declare themselves Pro-Life. We have distributed the language for these ordinances to supporters around the state. Our goal is to see hundreds of Pro-Life Cities and Pro-Life Counties designated all over Arkansas.

Arkansas A.G. Joins Brief Before U.S. Supreme Court Over Election Problems in PA

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Last week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined nine other state Attorneys General in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The amicus brief is part of a lawsuit over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judgment that allowed ballots in the presidential election to be received by mail three days after Election Day in that state.

The filing argues:

[T]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority and encroached on the authority of the legislature in ruling that ballots received three days after election can be accepted, including ballots with an illegible postmark or no postmark at all. Second, that voting by mail can create risks of voter fraud, including in Pennsylvania. And lastly, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision exacerbated these risks of absentee ballot fraud.

The brief goes on to argue,

In a typical Presidential election, it is often hard to predict in advance whether the outcome will be close in any particular State, and whether that State’s decision will affect the outcome of the election. But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in this case created a window of time for unscrupulous actors to wait and see until after Election Day whether the outcome would be close enough—both in Pennsylvania, and in the nation as a whole—to make attempting fraud worthwhile.

The brief closes by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judgment.

Missouri’s attorney general filed the brief. State A.G.s from Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Florida signed it as well.

Read the full amicus brief here.

Arkansas Voters Pass Issues 1 and 2, Reject Issue 3

The Associated Press reports that voters in Arkansas passed Issue 1 continuing the one-half percent sales and use tax and Issue 2 amending term limits in Arkansas; voters rejected Issue 3 amending the rules governing ballot initiatives and referred measures.

Below is an overview of each ballot issue from Family Council’s 2020 Arkansas Voter’s Guide.

PASSED: Issue 1, Continuing a One-Half Percent Sales and Use Tax For the State’s Highway System, County Roads, and City Streets

Issue 1 is a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 1 to the people for a vote. If passed it will continue the one-half percent sales and use tax that is set to expire in 2023. This proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution makes the one-half percent sales and use tax permanent. The tax revenue generated would be used for state, county, and city roads, streets, highways, bridges, and other surface transportation. The sales tax does not apply to food and food ingredients. The tax revenue shall be distributed to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund, the County Aid Fund, and the Municipal Aid Fund.

PASSED: Issue 2, Legislative Term Limits

Issue 2 is a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution changing term limits for state legislators. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 2 to the people for a vote. Issue 2 creates the “Arkansas Term Limits Amendment” and amends the term limits applicable to state legislators. Currently state legislators can serve up to sixteen years in a lifetime. Issue 2 would limit state legislators elected after 2021 to serve no more than twelve consecutive years. However, they would then be eligible for election to the state legislature after four years out of office from their last elected term.

DEFEATED: Issue 3, Changing the Citizen Initiative and Legislative Referral Process

Issue 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment changing the process of citizen initiatives and measures referred out by the state legislature. In 2019 the Arkansas Legislature referred Issue 3 to the people for a vote. Issue 3 amends the process for the submission, challenge, and approval of proposed initiated acts, constitutional amendments, and referenda. If passed this constitutional amendment would require that a petition contain valid signatures equaling at least half of the required percentage of signatures from each of 45 counties compared to the current 15 county requirement. Issue 3 also requires a three-fifths vote of both chambers of the legislature in order for them to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to the voters. Issue 3 eliminates the option for petitioners to collect extra signatures for 30 days if the petition fails to meet the signature requirements, requires challenges to the sufficiency of any ballot measure to be filed no later than April 15 of the election year, and requires signatures for citizen initiative petitions to be submitted to the Arkansas Secretary of State by January 15 of the election year.