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Arkansas Times

Little Rock Mayor Asks Governor Hutchinson To Veto HB1228

Little Rock's mayor is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a "religious freedom" bill that critics have said sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians and that the mayor argues will hurt the state's economic development efforts.
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KUAR Brings Color Dash 5K To Conway!

HB 1228 bill sponsor, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) after the committee vote.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas House is poised Tuesday afternoon to vote on a nationally watched bill that proponents say advances "religious freedom" and opponents deride as sanctioning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The decision on the House floor comes in the wake of Indiana enacting a similar law. In Arkansas, as in Indiana, a number of the world's largest corporations have or are threatening to boycott the states. 

Several more announcements were made Tuesday from industry leaders.

NASCAR

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a publicity rights bill backed by the family of Arkansas football legend Frank Broyles. Spokesman J.R. Davis said it was his first veto of the session.

The bill sailed through both chambers earlier this month with only six representatives and three senators voting against it. Proponents, such as the National Football League Players Association, say it will prevent businesses from using a person's name or likeness to sell goods.

Broyles' family has said they want to protect his rights after his death.

A bill designed to restart executions in the Arkansas by allowing an alternative lethal injection procedure and hiding the source of the drugs was endorsed by a Senate panel.

The Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs advanced the bill to the full Senate in a voice vote Tuesday. It would allow the Department of Correction to use a combination of three drugs or a barbiturate for executions. The agency would also be barred from releasing who makes or supplies the drugs.

Former site of the Little Rock Veterans Home
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs

Every veteran nationwide would be eligible for in-state tuition to attend Arkansas’s higher education institutions under a bill passed by the House Education Committee Tuesday. Randy Massanelli, the top lobbyist for the University of Arkansas, spoke in favor.

Acxiom CEO Scott Howe and Chief Legal Officer Jerry Jones have signed a letter calling on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto HB 1228, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Acxiom, a Little Rock-based technology firm, is one of the biggest database marketers in the world. It employs about 1,760 workers in Arkansas.

Howe and Jones said in their letter that they “respectfully request” the governor to veto the legislation.

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to cutting the amount of lottery-funded scholarships freshmen would receive and basing its eligibility solely on standardized testing starting in 2016.

The Senate on Monday voted 27-2 to lower the scholarship amount incoming freshmen receive from $2,000 to $1,000 and increase the amount students receive in the second year from $3,000 to $4,000. The amounts received in later years - $4,000 for juniors and $5,000 for seniors - would remain the same.

California wine
www.california-wine-trails.com

An Arkansas lawmaker who wanted to outlaw California wine in retaliation for the West Coast state's egg regulations says he has pulled the bill and that it's effectively dead.

The bill was drafted by Republican Rep. Dan Douglas of Bentonville in protest to a voter-approved California law banning the sale of eggs from chickens kept in cages too small for the animals to turn around. It would prohibit the important of wine from any state that places a "substantial burden" on the Arkansas agriculture industry, as determined by Secretary of the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

Bob Ballinger
arkansashouse.org

A proposal aimed at protecting religious beliefs that opponents say allows widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians is advancing to the Arkansas House for a final vote.

Arkansas Capitol
flickr.com

Legislation outlining Arkansas' annual $5.2 billion budget for the coming fiscal year is heading to the House and Senate for votes.

The Joint Budget Committee endorsed identical versions of the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act on Monday. The budget bill sets priorities for state spending.

The bills now go to the House and Senate. Under them, there would be increased funding for schools, prisons and Medicaid while keeping higher education spending flat.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Several dozens of people, including former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, have gathered in Little Rock to show their distaste for a proposed law that critics say would sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.
 
They oppose the bill prohibiting state and local government action that would substantially burden someone's religious beliefs unless a "compelling" interest is proven.
 
McDaniel said at the Sunday gathering held by the Arkansas chapter of Human Rights Campaign that he opposed the law that he believes allows for discriminatory practices.
 

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Arkansas Legislature

Arkansas lawmakers are working to wrap up this year's legislative session after addressing tax cuts, continuing the state's private option and other issues.

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