Recapping first couple weeks of the Arkansas legislative session

It’s been a busy few weeks at the State Capitol—from the beginning of the year with a new governor and a new legislative session that’s well underway.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawmakers have moved quickly on a wide range of topics and legislation to start the new session.

With so many different things that have happened so far, let’s walk through some of those new bills and executive orders.

On Thursday, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduced her tenth executive order that focuses on limiting government overreach and improving education.

In a press release, the Governor said this will streamline the process that school districts use to apply for federal and state funding—right now, the academic and financial planning processes operate independently from each other.

Governor Sanders added that education reform is a main focus of hers, and this is part of that overall plan.

Moving on to bills, there’s a wide range of topics to cover.

Abortion laws in Arkansas saw a big chance following the overturning of Roe v. Calf.

House Bill 1174 could lead to additional changes, including allowing prosecution when a person causes the death of an unborn child and repeating laws that allow pressing a woman to get an abortion.

The bill states that this would not apply in certain cases where a mother’s life is at risk. House Bill 1174 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

Maybe the most notable proposal so far is Senate Bill 43 sponsored by State Senator Gary Stubblefield.

If approved, the bill would classify a drag performance as an adult-oriented business. It would also add restrictions on where performances could happen.

A State Senate committee approved the bill during a committee meeting on Thursday.

“And it’s a shame that we even have to bring up a bill like this to protect our children,” Stubblefield said.

People against the legislation rallied outside the State Capitol after the vote, saying that lawmakers aren’t listening.

“When you have all these people coming in saying this is not okay, and you still choose to do it anyway, then it shows you’re not actually listening to the people you represent,” Athena Sinclair, Miss Gay Arkansas 2021, said.

Senate Bill 43 will head to the full Senate for debate on Monday.

One more bill you may have heard of is House Bill 1131, sponsored by State Representative RJ Hawk, which would introduce “Bentley’s Law” to Arkansas.

The bill would require intoxicated drivers convicted in a deadly crash to pay child support for the victim’s children.

“If somebody wants to make a reckless decision to drink and drive after knowing what the law is now, those children now have a hardship the rest of their life,” he said.

That bill is currently being worked on before scheduled.

There are, of course, other bills that are being discussed and worked on right now. Stick with THV11 as the session continues.

The session will resume on Monday.

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