Session Update — February 24, 2017

Keeping Track of the 91st General Assembly

This week has been a hard-fought one in the committee rooms. Sometimes the most important battles happen in the places that aren’t always on the front page or the primetime news broadcast. The State of Arkansas has also had key victories on the House floor, as protections for citizens and catalysts for the Natural State were among the flurry of bills sent to the Senate. Here are just a few of this week’s highlights:

  • Rep. Clarke Tucker’s bill (HB1006) to stiffen penalties on corrupt politicians passed out of the House today. Politicians who take bribes or exchange verdicts for sexual favors deserve harsher penalties, and Tucker’s bill upped the felony classification for those officials who violate the public trust.
  • HB1551, a GOP bill that would would do away with standards and licensing for countless highly trained professions, failed in committee today. It was encouraging to see bipartisan efforts to protect the health and safety of Arkansans despite tremendous pressure from outside special interests.
  • House Democrats on the Revenue and Tax Committee successfully forced negotiations on SB140, a bill that codifies the collection of sales tax on internet purchases. Leader Michael John Gray proposed an amendment that would designate a portion of those collected taxes to help fund rural police and fire departments, Pre-K and after-school programs, and assistance for those with developmental disabilities. These have been priorities for the House Democrats since Governor Hutchinson took office.

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