Multiple bills have already been filed in the state legislature ahead of the start of the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly’s start in January 2019. Thursday, Nov. 15 was the first day lawmakers could begin filing bills for the upcoming session.
Currently, there are 11 bills that have been introduced in the legislature. Of these 11 bills, five have been introduced by freshman Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado). Three have been introduced by Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville), while single bills have been introduced by Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) and Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock).
Rep. Blake introduced a bill on Friday that, if approved, would create the Arkansas Voter Integrity and Security Act. The bill also seeks to require automatic voter registration in Arkansas and amend Amendment 51 of the state Constitution.
Under Blake’s proposal, the Office of Driver Services would provide the Secretary of State with information for every individual who obtains or renews a driver’s license or personal identification card. The Secretary of State’s office would submit the information to the appropriate county clerk offices for individuals to be registered to vote.
Two abortion-related bills have been filed by Sen. Garner. One bill would create the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, which would outlaw abortions for the purpose of “genetic selection” against fetuses with down syndrome or possible down syndrome.
The second abortion-related bill would require “additional reporting requirements” by doctors and healthcare facilities in regards to abortion complications. Under this proposal, doctors and medical facilities will be required to submit reports in the event of harmful or adverse outcomes that arise from an abortion.
Douglas has submitted a bill that would require out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax. Specifically, the bill targets remote and online sellers, who would have to collect and remit the sales tax to the state of Arkansas. According to Douglas’ bill, collecting sales tax from remote vendors is “essential in funding state and local services
In addition, Douglas proposes abolishing the General Assembly’s fiscal session and requiring that the Assembly meet every two years. His third bill would amend the state Constitution to revise the election process.
Two bills are connected to juveniles and the school system. Rep. Gazaway’s bill would amend the state’s anti-bullying policy to require that school board members receive anti-bullying training. The bill would also create the positions of anti-bullying specialist and anti-bullying coordinator. Every school superintendent would be required to appoint a district anti-bullying coordinator, who will oversee the district and state policies on bullying to “prevent, identify and address bullying of students.”
The second bill, coming from Sen. Clark, would allow General Assembly members to attend hearings held under the Arkansas Juvenile Code of 1989. Opening these meetings to lawmakers would, according to the bill, allow lawmakers to initiate legislative reform related to child welfare.
Garner proposed creating the Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Veterans Affairs, which is designed to consist of 28 General Assembly members, including six Senate members, 18 Representatives, the Speaker of the House or a designee, and the President Pro Tempore or a designee. According to the bill, the task force would review issues “relevant to improving the productivity and wellness of veterans residing in this state,” including mental health and suicide prevention.
Garner also proposed naming the shotgun as the official state firearm and the Bowie Knife as the official state knife.
The 92ndArkansas General Assembly will convene Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.