Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

Rita Sklar ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge to halt a new Arkansas anti-loitering law that it says unconstitutionally targets panhandlers and that the restrictions pose the same problems as a ban on begging that was struck down last year.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to make it easier to challenge proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

Justices on Thursday rejected an attorney's request to change court rules to allow challenges to be filed directly with the state Supreme Court over proposed amendments referred to voters by the Legislature. The proposal would have also required the same standard on ballot measures initiated by voters to be used on legislatively referred ones.

Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A prosecutor says he plans to charge a man accused of crashing his vehicle into a Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas Capitol with first-degree criminal mischief.

Larry Jegley told The Associated Press Monday that 32-year-old Michael Tate Reed faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the felony charge.

His attorney wasn't immediately available for comment.

Reed was arrested last month after Little Rock police say he intentionally drove into the monument, destroying it less than 24 hours after it was erected.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arkansans don't need special civil rights protections, according to the Arkansas legislature and governor. Act 137 of 2015 bars cities and counties from passing ordinances that "create protected classification or prohibits discrimination" on anyone not covered by the state's existing civil rights codes.

Arkansas's Civil Rights Act bans discrimination on the basis of race, religion and other classifications — but not sexual orientation or gender identity. And because several state anti-bullying and domestic violence statutes offer LGBTQ Arkansans protection, opponents say local codes are redundant — codes such as Fayetteville's Ordinance 5781 that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  

State Act 137 also ensures that “businesses, organizations and employers doing business in the state are subject to uniform nondiscrimination laws and obligations.”

But Act 137 has come under judicial scrutiny.

The base of the 10 Commandments monument was installed earlier this month.
Wesley Brown / Talk Business & Politics

A tablet containing the 10 Commandments is being installed this morning on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol building. Lawsuits have been promised from several entities contending the monument amounts to a state preference or endorsement of particular religious beliefs. The state Legislature approved the privately funded monument.

A state commission will be holding a public hearing Tuesday morning on its proposal to raise salaries by two percent for state elected officials. The Independent Citizens Commission meets at the state Capitol Tuesday at 9am. The commission has proposed pay raises for members of the state judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, Appeals Court justices; state legislators and the state’s seven constitutional officers.  

An Arkansas Senate panel has voted to study a bill limiting which restrooms transgender people can use that had stalled in this year's legislative session after facing opposition from the state's Republican governor, tourism groups and LGBT rights supporters.

Rita Sklar ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Abortion rights groups are asking a federal judge to block several new abortion restrictions in Arkansas, including a ban on a commonly used second-trimester procedure.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block laws that have yet to take effect but were approved by lawmakers this year.

One Capitol Mall has houses the Joint Budget Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Legislative Council executive committee gave permission on Thursday (June 15) for the Bureau of Legislative Research to hire outside legal counsel, a move designed to help the legislative research group cope with requests from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and possibly other investigatory agencies.

Talk Business & Politics reports.

Report Finds More Than One In Four Arkansas Kids Live In Poverty

Jun 13, 2017
Rich Huddleston Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Arkansas Business

Arkansas has much work to do to raise itself from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to overall child well-being. The Natural State ranked No. 45 out of 50 states in the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report released Tuesday. The state ranking slipped one notch from a year ago.

Roughly 188,000 Arkansas children are living in poverty. That comes to 27% up from 26% reported a year ago. Nationally the child poverty rate is 21%, slightly better than 22% in the last year’s report.

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