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HomeState & NationalFran Cavenaugh's Legislative update April 16, 2021

Fran Cavenaugh’s Legislative update April 16, 2021

April 12

With a vote of 65-26 and 5 members voting present, the House passed SB622 on Monday.

This bill states that a person who commits a serious felony involving violence is subject to serve at least 80% of his or her sentence if the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime under an aggravating circumstance.

Aggravating circumstance under this bill means a defendant purposely selected the victim because the victim was a member of or was associated with a recognizable and identifiable group or class who share mental, physical, biological, cultural, political, or religious beliefs or characteristics.

The House also passed the following:

HB1160-This bill would increase the sales tax exemption on used motor vehicles. Currently, used cars sold for under $4,000 are exempt from sales tax. This would increase the threshold to $7,500.

HB1779-This bill requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to identify state agency positions that have been vacant for two or more years.

It also states that a state agency shall not fill or otherwise utilize a position identified by OPM without the prior approval of the Legislative Council or the Joint Budget Committee if the General Assembly is in session.

HB1831-This bill creates the Star Spangled Banner Act, which directs school districts to adopt a policy requiring public schools and state-supported institutions of higher education to broadcast “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the commencement of each school-sanctioned sporting event.

HB1832-This bill would require public schools to observe a moment of silence following the daily Pledge of Allegiance.

SB153-This bill states the initial licensing fees associated with the formation of a business in this state shall be waived for low-income Arkansans.

The House will convene on Tuesday at 1 pm.

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April 13

The Governor has now signed 680 bills into law since the beginning of the 2021 Regular Session.

On Tuesday, the House passed several bills including the following:

HB1793-This bill requires correctional or detention facilities to establish a policy to offer mammograms and physician consultations to female inmates of a certain age.

SB296-This bill states that photographs, video, or other information identifying a resident of a long-term care facility shall not be shared on a social media site without consent. The bill outlines specific exemptions such as documenting abuse or unintentionally showing a resident in a photo or video.

HB1789-This bill states that a federal employee may not make an arrest or conduct a search or seizure in this state without first notifying the county sheriff in which the arrest, search, or seizure will take place.

SB486-This bill states a person shall not enter or remain in an area within one hundred feet of the primary exterior entrance to a building where voting is taking place except for a person entering or leaving a building where voting is taking place for lawful purposes.

HB1866-This bill states that no county or State Board of Election Commissioners shall accept any funding, grants, or gifts from any source other than:

(1) A city or incorporated town.

(2) The governing authority of the county.

(3) The State of Arkansas.

(4) The United States Government.

The House will convene on Wednesday at 1 pm.

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April 14

On Tuesday, the House passed bills outlining several tax credits and exemptions.

HB1157 would double the income tax deduction for a teacher’s qualified classroom expense from $250 to $500.

HB1513 creates an income tax credit for up to $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for Arkansas State Police.

HB1196 would provide a sales and use tax exemption for water used by a poultry farm.

HB1054 allows for sales tax exemptions of isolated sales at special events.

The House also passed the following:

HB1879-This bill allows tuition waivers for dependents of disabled veterans, prisoners of war or a person declared missing in action or killed in action to be used at private and non-profit institutions of higher education. The amount of the waiver would be capped at the maximum amount of those at state-supported institutions.

HB1849-This bill states a vehicle shall not be driven upon the left lane of a multilane highway, except as follows:

(1) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing that movement

(2) When all other lanes for traveling in the same direction are closed to traffic while under construction or repair

(3) When all other lanes for traveling in the same direction are in disrepair or are in an otherwise undrivable or unsafe condition

(4) When a vehicle is preparing to exit the multilane highway on the left

HB1767-This bill allows the operation of a personal delivery device in pedestrian areas and certain streets.

HB1547-This bill states that a state agency or a state or local official shall not mandate an individual to receive a vaccine for COVID-19. It also states that if a state-controlled facility desires to mandate an individual to receive a vaccine, then the agency can make the request to the Arkansas Legislative Council. If a variant of COVID-19 occurs and mutates to be a more virulent strain that impacts children within two years from the date that the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, then the Department of Health can request a meeting with the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.

SB139-This bill allows a student applying for the Arkansas Governor’s Scholars Program or the Minority Teacher Scholarship Program to use his or her ACT super score.

The House will convene on Thursday at 1 pm.

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Thursday April 15

On Thursday, the House advanced a proposed constitutional amendment. HJR1005 would require statewide ballot initiatives to receive 60% of the vote before becoming law. If approved by the Senate, HJR1005 would be placed on the ballot in November of 2022.

The House also passed the following:

HB1391-This bill amends the law concerning consumer protection of seniors from predatory practices. It states that if a financial services provider has reasonable cause to suspect that financial exploitation may have occurred or is being attempted, the financial services provider may refuse or delay the execution of a financial transaction.

HB1012-This bill would require a buyer of a used catalytic converter other than a scrap metal recycler to file an electronic record of the used catalytic converter purchase.

SB298-This bill is titled the Arkansas Sovereignty Act of 2021. It states that all acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations of the United States Government that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Arkansas Constitution are invalid in this state and shall not be recognized.

SB59-This bill states that a personal firearm, a firearms accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Arkansas and that remains within the borders of Arkansas is not subject to federal law or federal regulation.

SB536-This bill establishes the Buffalo River Conservation Committee.

The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.

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