Arkansas Politics Blog

State Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) presenting her bill in the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
arkansashouse.org

A drug testing program for Arkansans seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, is one step closer to becoming law. A House committee on Tuesday passed the bill to extend a two year trial run indefinitely.

The latest in a series of bills to exempt security details from the Freedom of Information Act has been filed in the Arkansas Legislature. Keeping information about the Governor’s Mansion secret from the public is the objective of Republican State Representative DeAnne Vaught of Horatio in southwest Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Education Building in Little Rock near the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A bill to open-up membership in the public charter school authorizing panel to anyone in the public – without requirement – sailed through the Arkansas Senate on Monday. Currently the panel that makes recommendations on whether charter schools should open, close, or expand is made up of Department of Education employees.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren said establishing criteria for holding the posts is a burden on the state.

File photo. State. Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) with former State Representative Anne Clemmer testifying to a committee in 2013.
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

A push to call for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution to redefine marriage and abortion rights narrowly failed in the Arkansas Senate. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for states to join together to propose amendments. It’s never been used before, but speaking on the floor on Monday state Senator Jason Rapert said it’s the only tool he has left.

Rapert proposed two separate resolutions. The first would redefine marriage as between one man and one woman. The second would say life begins at conception and effectively ban abortion.

The Arkansas Senate on Thursday voted 21-10 to approve a resolution, SJR8, which places limitations on attorneys’ fees and a $250,000 cap on awards in injury lawsuits. The proposed constitutional amendment also transfers courtroom rulemaking authority from the state Supreme Court to the Legislature.

The measure could end up as one of three the Legislature sends to voters for consideration on the 2018 general election ballot. If passed, it would take effect in 2019.

Rep. Charlie Collins
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

A bill requiring public colleges and universities to allow their faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus easily advanced out of the Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Sponsored by Fayetteville Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, the bill, HB1249, now heads to the full Senate. It was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

File photo. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to the Political Animals Club at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

This week the Arkansas Legislature pushed forward a bill to collect sales taxes on out of state, online purchases. Some retailers, like Amazon, say they support the move and will preemptively start collecting taxes in March.

Governor Asa Hutchinson is roundly praising Amazon’s announcement that the Seattle-based company wants sales tax be collected for online retailers and will voluntarily help collect them. In a statement, the Republican said the company’s decision is “laudable and good news for the state.”

The KUAR News team took a look back at the week's top news in the latest installment of the Week In Review Podcast.

State Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch) after his primary move-up bill failed to advance out of committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The public would have less access to information about public schools and colleges under a bill passed by the Arkansas Senate. State Senator Gary Stubblefield, a Republican from Branch in northwest Arkansas, presented his bill on Thursday. He said exempting security information from the Freedom of Information Act is a necessary safeguard in dangerous times.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

One lawmaker’s proposal to establish an appointment system for Arkansas Supreme Court justices appears, by his own admission, to be going nowhere.

Republican State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson’s proposed constitutional amendment, SJR4, calls for a commission that would suggest five names to the Governor for a possible appointment to a 14-year term on the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Senate would have to approve any nominee.

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