Arkansas Governor Says He Has Concerns About Religion Bill

Feb 24, 2015

Governor Asa Hutchinson says he's concerned about possible “unintended consequences” of legislation scheduled to be discussed at a Senate committee meeting Wednesday.

The Conscience Protection Act would allow someone to cite religious beliefs in denying someone service. Gay rights groups say it would sanction discrimination.

Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday he has questions about how it would be applied.

"I can see a great deal of litigation coming out of this and so we want to have a better understanding of it, but at this point I do have some reservations about it, but we’ll see how the bill develops through the legislative process."

Hutchinson stopped short of saying whether he would oppose the bill filed by Representative Bob Ballinger, a Republican from Hindsville.

When asked about it, the governor said he had briefly reviewed the bill one time and met with his legal team, but still didn’t know exactly how it would work if passed.

"As a lawyer who has a little bit of experience in the legal arena, but also on the Judiciary Committee when some of these issues came forward in Congress, I think there’s a lot of questions that have to be answered,” Hutchinson said.

He had refused to sign or veto a separate bill that went into effect Monday that bans local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation or gender identity. That bill was spurred by a law passed last year by city leaders in Fayetteville, which was then repealed by voters in November.