Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A rule allowing Arkansas counselors to refer patients to another provider over religious objections is advancing, sparking criticism that the move could deny mental health services to gay and lesbian people.

A subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council on Tuesday endorsed the rule change proposed by the state Board of Examiners in Counseling, which regulates 2,800 counselors and marriage and family therapists in the state.

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Department of Human Services director Cindy Gillespie is moving quickly to implement reforms in the state’s largest agency, and she anticipates the foundation for many policy changes to be laid prior to the 2017 legislative session.

Former Rep. Kelly Linck (R-Flippin) relaxing in a chair (front left) during a committee's last meeting at the close of a special legislative session in May 2016.
Jacob Kauffman/KUAR News

Republican state Rep. Kelley Linck has notified Gov. Asa Hutchinson that he will be resigning his elected position to take a job with the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson’s five-year highway funding bill is now law but legislators are already looking to 2017 to make changes. The $50-million a year plan is largely funded by surplus and general revenue funds. A number of Republican lawmakers, as well as Democrats, desire as a more dependable, dedicated user-based funding source for a long-term approach.

State Representative Andy Davis sponsored the governor’s plan but says more highway legislation is expected in next year’s regular legislative session, “I don’t think this is the end of highway bills for five years.”

Governor Signs Arkansas Highway Plan Into Law

May 23, 2016
Highway funding legislature
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Legislature finished up a three-day special session Monday that concluded with Governor Asa Hutchinson signing a $50 million state highway funding appropriation that was initially rejected by the Senate’s transportation committee.

Jeremy Gillam Arkansas House of Representatives

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to raise nearly $50 million for the state's highways in the coming fiscal year.

The Senate on Monday approved by a 21-10 vote Hutchinson's proposal to tap into the state's surplus, investment returns and other funds to pay for the state's road needs. The measure now heads to Hutchinson's desk.

Lawmakers approved the plan shortly before adjourning a special session that began last week on the proposal.

A revised version of a publicity rights bill backed by the family of legendary former Arkansas football coach Frank Broyles that was vetoed last year has won initial approval from the state Legislature.

The House and Senate today approved identical versions of the proposal designed to protect a person's likeness from being used for commercial purposes without their permission.. Gov. Asa Hutchinson last year had vetoed a version of the bill over concerns that it would infringe on First Amendment rights.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the start of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's highway plan is headed toward a final vote in the Legislature, while a Senate-backed effort to limit the funding for one year appears dead.

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee today endorsed Hutchinson's proposal to use the state's surplus, investment returns and other funds to raise nearly $50 million for road needs in the coming fiscal year.

The House approved the measure earlier today, and it's expected to go before the full Senate on Monday.

File photo. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to reporters after addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the beginning of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s worked with fellow Republicans to keep a transgender bathroom bill off the agenda of a special session he called to address highway funding. Instead, Hutchinson plans to work with lawmakers on legislation for next year’s lengthier, regular legislative session.

During a press conference, Hutchinson said adding the item to the special session has the potential to detract from his primary objective.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the start of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A special session of the Arkansas Legislature is underway and the governor is still looking for more traction for his $50-million highway plan.