Bills, Bills, Bills: Tax Cut Commission, Special Elections, Death Certificates, & Guns

Jan 12, 2017

Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

It's likely over 2,000 bills will be filed during this legislative session and just over 300 have been filed so far. Legislation impacting special elections, a Blue Ribbon taxes task force, executions, and hand guns were filed on Wednesday.

KUAR will be keeping track throughout this legislative session. A round-up from Wednesday includes:

Special Elections: Rep. Andy Davis, a high-ranking Republican representing western Pulaski County and parts of Saline County, filed HB 1151 to require voters be notified of upcoming special election dates via mail. Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Blue Ribbon Tax Commission: House Majority Leader Mat Pitsch (R-Fort Smith) and Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren (R-Sulphur Springs) are taking the lead on Governor Asa Hutchinson's pledge to create a Blue Ribbon task force to take a comprehensive look at future tax cuts. The Republican governor announced his intention during his State of the State address this week, in part to ease concerns among his party that his $50 million income tax cut didn't go far enough, quick enough, or benefit enough wealthy people.

HB 1159, which also has Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) who pushed for bigger cuts, outlines how the Arkansas Tax Reform and Legislative Relief Task Force will be established. The 16-member body would be comprised of the Senate President, five members appointed by the Senate President, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House, five members selected by the Speaker, the House Majority Leader, and the House Minority Leader. The task force would meet 30 days after the legislature adjourns sine die.  

The bill further outlines the governor's plan to cut taxes for low-income earners, below $21,000 a year, totaling $50.5 million.

Executions: Rep. Rebecca Petty (R-Rogers) is back for a second term and continuing to legislate around the margins of the death penalty. Her daughter, Andrea, was kidnapped and killed in 1999. In 2015, Petty sponsored legislation to expand the number of people who can watch executions and the areas they can be viewed.

HB1158 would change how the cause of death is recorded by the State Medical Examiner or a county coroner. It would be recorded as "Pursuant to a judicial sentence of death — Execution".

Hand Guns: Rep. Danny Watson makes his debut in the legislature this session. The first-term Republican from Hope's legislation is one of several bills filed to ease restrictions on concealed carry. HB1152 would exempt employees of detention facilities and auxiliary law enforcement officers from taking steps to re-qualifying for a firearm permit beyond what regular, full-time officers are required to do.