LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Senate passes legislation allowing guns at schools operated by a church
The Arkansas Senate has approved legislation that would allow concealed weapons at churches that also operate private schools.
The Senate voted 29-4 Thursday and passed the bill by Republican Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest. It would allow — with the church's permission — concealed handguns to be carried at churches that also operate private schools.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
The measure is a follow-up to a bill sponsored by King and signed into law earlier this year that left it up to churches and other places of worship to decide whether to allow concealed weapons into their buildings.
Arkansas lawmakers give their final approval to bill changing charter school approval process
Arkansas lawmakers have given their final approval to a bill to change the way the state approves charter schools.
The Senate voted 32-3 Thursday for the bill designating the state Education Department instead of the Board of Education as the primary authorizer of charter schools. A spokesman said Gov. Mike Beebe plans to sign into law the proposal by Republican Rep. Mark Biviano of Searcy.
The bill would require the state education commissioner to appoint a panel of his staff to review and approve charter school applications. The Board of Education would have the power to review that panel's decisions.
Biviano had originally proposed legislation that would have taken the power to approve charter schools from the state board and would have created a new independent commission to consider applications.
Arkansas House committee votes down proposal to rewrite the state's school choice law
An Arkansas House panel has rejected a proposal to rewrite Arkansas' school choice law that a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional.
Lawmakers on the House Education Committee on Thursday voted against the measure, which would allow students to change schools for a variety of reasons, one of which was based on race.
A judge struck down the law last year, saying it couldn't rely solely on race to determine transfer eligibility.
Some lawmakers appeared interested in waiting for an appeal in that case before rewriting the statute.
A proposal to allow students who have already transferred to other districts under the school choice law to remain in those districts failed to clear the Senate on Monday. Two other competing proposals to rewrite the school choice statute have been filed.
Arkansas lawmakers pass legislation expanding lobbying ban to other officials
Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a bill to ban the state's constitutional officers and judges from becoming a lobbyist for a year after they leave office.
The Senate unanimously approved and sent to the governor the bill that expands a 2011 law placing one-year moratorium on lobbying for former House and Senate members.
The proposal by Republican Sen. David Sanders of Little Rock applies to the state's seven constitutional officers, circuit judges, district judges, Supreme Court justices and Appeals Court judges and would prohibit them from becoming lobbyists for a year after their terms end.
It would also place a one-year lobbying ban on employees of those offices.
The Senate approved an earlier version of the measure, but had to sign off on an amendment adding a co-sponsor.
Consultants say Ark. agency overestimated long term benefits of financing plan for steel mill
Consultants hired by the Arkansas Legislature say economic development officials overestimated the long term benefits of a proposal to finance a proposed $1.1 billion steel mill and didn't consider uncertainties surrounding the project.
The Legislature on Thursday released a summary of the report by IHS Global Insight. The company was hired to look at the cost and benefits of the proposed Big River Steel project.
Gov. Mike Beebe has asked lawmakers to approve a $125 million financing plan for the mill.
IHS said the steel industry can absorb the addition of the mill, but Big River may not be able to meet its production goals if another major facility opens.
State economic development officials note that the proposal includes provisions to recover costs if the mill doesn't meet performance goals.
Proposal to divert general revenue to Arkansas highways fails before House panel
A proposal to divert tax revenue from car sales in Arkansas to highways has failed before a House panel after state finance officials and education advocates warned that the move could threaten state services.
The bill by Republican Rep. Jonathan Barnett of Siloam Springs failed to advance past the House Public Transportation Committee. The panel voted 10-9 in favor of the bill, but it needed at least 11 votes to move to the House floor for a vote.
Barnett's proposal would have diverted revenues from the sale of new and used vehicles to state highways. The transfers would occur only if state sales tax collections exceeded $2.25 billion and would have phased in over time.
State officials estimated the move would cost the state $345 million by 2025.
Ark. House panel approves proposal to tighten laws on body art
An Arkansas House panel has advanced two proposals that would tighten the state's laws on body art procedures.
The House Public Health Committee on Thursday unanimously approved the measures, which were both supported by the tattoo industry.
One of the measures would prohibit body art procedures on minors under 16 years old except for ear piercings and limit certain piercings on people under 18 years old. Arkansas previously had no age limit on body art and required only parental consent.
The other proposal would bar body artists from performing sub-dermal implants, a practice that backers say should be left to plastic surgeons. The bill would also leave it up to the Health Department to decide whether to regulate scarification. A previous version of the bill would have banned the practice.