Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

Trent Garner
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas lawmaker sponsoring legislation to allow concealed handguns at colleges is holding off on a compromise proposal that would have included age and training limits to carry on campus.

Republican Sen. Trent Garner said Monday he's deferring a proposal that would have allowed anyone with a concealed handgun 25 and older to carry if they undergo up to 16 hours of active shooter training. Garner said he'll support an alternative bill filed last week that would allow anyone with a license to carry on campus.

On this edition of KUAR's Week-In-Review podcast, we explore the state's decision to schedule execution dates for eight inmates over a period of ten days. The Death Penalty Information Center says that's an unprecedented timetable for executions since the U.S. resumed capital punishment in 1977.

Why the hurry?  What’s the status of execution drugs, and do the inmates have any appeals left?

A federal grand jury in Fayetteville has indicted a former Arkansas state senator who left office this year. It’s the latest development in a kickback scheme that has already brought down one other former legislator.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and State Senator David Wallace (R-Leachville) presenting the MLK/Lee Day bill in committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Martin Luther King Jr. Day would stand alone, separated from Arkansas’s dual observance with Robert E. Lee, under a proposal advanced by a Senate committee. On a voice vote Thursday, legislation passed to move the observance of Lee to October. Governor Asa Hutchinson led the cause to disjoin the Civil Rights leader and Confederate general.

“The fact is celebrating Martin Luther King on the same day as a Confederate general gives Arkansas a sense that you make a choice and this choice diminishes the contributions of Dr. King,” Hutchinson told committee members.

arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House of Representatives Committee on Education advanced a bill Thursday that exempts public schools and universities from disclosing security plans and records under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Attorney and former House Speaker Robbie Wills spoke against the bill, SB12, on behalf of the Arkansas Press Association. He said concerns about releasing school security plans to potential assailants are unfounded.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is endorsing a proposal to end the dual recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee on the same day each year.

He took to the lectern Wednesday to say that, as Americans celebrate the slain Civil Rights icon, residents of the state are presented with a choice.

“That choice that is there, it divides us as Arkansans and as a nation,” Hutchinson said.

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

An Arkansas Senate committee has advanced bills to change the medical marijuana law approved by voters in November by banning smoking medical marijuana and the selling of food or drinks containing the drug, but an effort to halt the start of the program until the drug is legalized nationwide failed.

The Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor on Wednesday endorsed and sent to the full Senate bills banning the smoking, eating or drinking of marijuana, but allowing a patient or designated caregiver to incorporate marijuana into food or drink for medicinal use.

Arkansas voters will be asked next year to limit damages awarded in civil lawsuits, cap attorneys' fees and give the Legislature power to write court rules under a measure given final approval by lawmakers.

The Senate approved by a 20-11 vote on Wednesday a resolution to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot next year. The measure, if approved by voters would place a $500,000 limit on punitive and non-economic damages awarded in civil lawsuits, and limit attorneys' contingency fees to 33.3 percent of the net amount recovered.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A bill that would freeze enrollment in Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion program has advanced out of a state House committee.

Republican state Rep. Josh Miller's proposal would require the state to ask federal officials for permission to end enrollment. The bill calls for new enrollment to end as of July 1, 2017.

The proposal now heads to the full House.

Miller says more people have enrolled than anticipated and lawmakers have expressed concern about the program's costs amid uncertainty about the fate of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Altus Arkansas is home to several Arkansas wineries.
wikimedia

A bill to open-up the sale of wine in Arkansas grocery stores to all producers, rather just small vineyards, fell three votes short in the Arkansas House. Liquor store owners lined the House gallery on Monday, opposed to the bill which would open up competition. State Representative Gary Deffenbaugh of Van Buren spoke against the bill. The Republican worried that retailers like WalMart would shut down local stores.

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