HomeState & NationalFran Cavenaugh's Legislative Update for week ending April 3

Fran Cavenaugh’s Legislative Update for week ending April 3

The House passed several bills amending election laws on Thursday [April 1], including the following:

HB1777-This bill would allow a registered voter who is a victim of domestic violence to request secure voter status. This would help domestic violence victims keep their addresses from being made public.

HB1715-This bill amends Arkansas law concerning absentee ballots. It states that the county clerk or other designated election official providing materials to qualified voters shall not distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications or unsolicited absentee ballots to electors. It also goes on to say that the county clerk shall provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee applications received.

HB1803-This bill would give the state Board of Election Commissioners the authority to institute corrective actions for violations of election and voter registration laws.

SB496-This bill amends the law concerning special elections. It states special elections would be held on the second Tuesday in March, May, August, or November in presidential election years and the second Tuesday in February, May, August, or November in non-presidential election years.

The House also passed SB531, which would create the Arkansas Legislative Arts and Technology Boot Camp. The camp will issue a final written report, which will include an inventory of Arkansas’s statewide arts and cultural assets and identify funding needs to maintain a statewide database.

The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm.


Close to 500 bills have been signed into law so far this session.

As we work to address the remainder of the bills this session, you may notice some changes to committee schedules.

You can find the updated schedules at

On Wednesday [March 31], the House passed several bills, including the following:

HB1765-This bill states that by July 1, 2021, the Director of the Division of Workforce Services shall adopt and implement internal administrative policies to pursue recovery of improper overpayments of unemployment benefits.

This bill would also direct a percentage of proceeds of the unemployment stabilization tax to the Division of Workforce Services Unemployment Administration Fund to be used solely for the purpose of modernizing the information technology systems and hardware utilized in the administration of the unemployment insurance program.

SB204-This bill establishes a legislative study to research the best practices for reducing the number of children in foster care.

SB389-This bill would require public schools to provide parents prior written notification and an opportunity to inspect materials related to sex education, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

SB349-This bill would adjust funding for public schools that offer curriculum not aligned with the Science of Reading. This bill also directs the Secretary of the Department of Education to hire an Education Ombudsman to assist the division in enforcement.

The House will convene on Thursday at 1 pm.


By a vote of 64-34 and 1 member voting present, the House passed SB410 on Tuesday [March 30].

This bill establishes the framework for a new Medicaid expansion program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.

ARHOME would replace the current Arkansas Works program. It would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of work opportunities, education, and skill development.

The House also passed the following:

HB1788-This bill would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service.

SB161-This bill would allow public schools to offer a hunting safety course as part of their curriculum.

HB1750-This bill states that a medical marijuana dispensary shall post signage at the check-in station of the dispensary notifying the qualifying patient of the availability of a pharmacist consultant. It also requires that information be posted on the dispensary website.

SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development.

SB397-This bill directs the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Higher Education Consumer Guide for prospective students and parents.

The guide would include the following information on each state-supported higher education institution:

  • Retention and graduation rates.
  • The cost of tuition.
  • The average amount borrowed and loan default rate.
  • Percentage of students who applied for first-time undergraduate admission and were offered admission.
  • Average composite test scores of students enrolled.
  • Job placement of students within the first three years of graduation.

The House will convene on Wednesday at 1 pm.


Mondey 29 MQ

The public health emergency will continue in Arkansas for another 60 days. The Governor made the request for the extension to the Arkansas Legislative Council this morning.

This afternoon, the House passed several bills, including the following:

HB1237-This bill states that at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, a public school district board of directors may elect to implement an alternate school calendar. An alternate school calendar shall consist of at least 1,068 hours of instructional time.

Currently, state law requires 178 days of instructional time. This law gives schools more flexibility on a start date and length of a school day.

HB1264-This bill creates the Small Town Economic Development Act. This bill amends the exemptions to the licensing requirements for architects to buildings whose fair market value does not exceed $250,000. The current exemption is for buildings under $100,000.

HB1642-This bill states that a public housing authority shall require compliance by a custodial parent or noncustodial parent as a condition of eligibility for housing benefits and assistance.

SB18-This bill states in cases concerning child custody, there is a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in the child’s best interest.

HB1702-This bill states that a person operating a bicycle upon a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

HB1671-This bill establishes the Arkansas Student-Athlete Publicity Rights Act. It allows student athletes in higher education to enter into a contract and receive compensation for the commercial use of the student athlete’s name, image, and likeness.

HB1446-This bill allows children of military families to be eligible for succeed scholarship.

SB470-This bill establishes the Online Marketplace Consumer Inform Act. It would require an online market facilitator to collect information, including business name, address, email, and phone number. High volume sellers would be required to have this information accessible to consumers on their website.

The House will convene on Tuesday at 1 pm.

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