Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

An expanded bill allowing people to carry concealed firearms on public university campuses and other locations narrowly passed out of the Arkansas Senate Thursday. Passage came after senators voted to extract the bill from the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, where it had stalled. 

California wine
www.california-wine-trails.com

After more than a month of fierce debate that brought dozens of liquor store owners across the state to Little Rock, the Arkansas Senate on Wednesday quietly approved a controversial measure that will allow Wal-Mart and other grocery chains to sell a wider selection of wines.

Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, stood out as the lone voice to speak against Senate Bill 284 on the floor. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, was passed over on the Senate calendar for several days as supporters and opponents camped around the Senate chamber to lobby votes.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Proposals allowing people to bring concealed handguns onto Arkansas public colleges and universities continue to be stalled in the Arkansas Senate.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a bill that sets up three centers aimed at reducing the incarceration rate of those with mental illness.

The governor has earmarked $5 million for three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers, saying they will benefit public safety. If law enforcement officers suspect someone they encounter is in need of mental health treatment, the staff at the centers can offer evaluations and treatment.

Hutchinson signed the bill Wednesday. He had listed it among his priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore (file photo).
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

An effort to give private charter school companies priority on buying “under utilized” public school buildings is advancing through the Arkansas Legislature this week. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman talked about the potential impact with the Superintendent of the Little Rock School District Mike Poore and whether it makes him think twice about a school closure plan.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are putting a voter ID measure on the ballot next year as they try to reinstate a requirement that was struck down by the state Supreme Court more than two years ago.

The Senate on Tuesday approved by a 24-8 vote a plan to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot. The proposed amendment says the Legislature shall approve a law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.

Governor Asa Hutchinson  Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking the Trump Administration for approval to make changes to the Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program. They include lowering the eligibility cap, which would reduce the number of beneficiaries by about 60,000 people, and adding a work requirement for recipients.

The Republican governor’s announcement came the same day that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released a long-awaited plan to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Whether that will get the needed support for passage isn’t known yet.

Steps leading up the Arkansas Senate chamber.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

An attempt to ban the smoking of medical marijuana fell short in the Arkansas Senate while a bill to ban edibles was deferred. But both measures altering the voter-approved constitutional amendment could come up later this week.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday, Republican Jason Rapert of Bigelow said inhaling smoke is not good medicine.

“You mark my word. People will be hurt, they will be injured, and some will die as a result of this loose amendment,” said the senator.

Sample of Arkansas Driver's License.
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration

Arkansas drivers may soon have access to a digital driver’s license in addition to a hard copy. The Arkansas Senate advanced a bill on Monday that would create and offer a digital license as an equivalent to the physical license at traffic stops and the like.

Alongside a physical license drivers could pay $10 for a digital copy provided by the Office of Drivers Services.

Governor Asa Hutchinson  Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to add a work requirement to Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion and to lower its eligibility cap, which would add new restrictions to the program even as the future of the federal health overhaul remains unclear.

The Republican governor on Monday detailed changes he'll ask the federal government to approve for the program, which uses Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for the poor. More than 300,000 people are on the program that was created in 2013 as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

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