Feb 10, 2023 - Politics

Arkansas lawmakers' focus shifts during fifth week of session

Arkansas State Capitol. Photo: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Legislators stayed busy for the fifth week of the 94th General Assembly.

Catch up quick: We cut through the noise and political seesawing to give you a quick rundown:

A number of bills were filed, including:

  • HB 1385 would require the Arkansas Medicaid Program to reimburse health care providers for offering long-acting reversible contraception immediately after giving birth and during postpartum.
  • SB 230 seeks to require employers to provide eight hours of paid time off for employees to vote and to extend early voting to 30 days prior to Election Day, up from 15 days.
  • HB 1367 would change who's eligible for jury duty from registered voters to licensed drivers, and HB1355 would exempt people ages 70 and older.
  • HB 1357 seeks to create an advisory council to study treatments for Arkansans with rare diseases.
  • HB 1359 would abolish the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling, the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, the Arkansas Psychology Board and the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board and instead create the Arkansas State Board of Mental Health Professionals.

Legislators also submitted resolutions for constitutional amendments that, if passed, will make the ballot for voter approval:

  • HJR 1008 would establish a right to reproductive freedom, including abortion, contraception, sterilization, miscarriage management, infertility care, postpartum care, prenatal care and childbirth. Abortion is illegal in Arkansas except in cases to treat ectopic pregnancy, save the pregnant person's life or to remove a fetus with no heartbeat. The proposed amendment would allow the state to regulate abortion past the point of fetal viability, when doctors deem a fetus could likely survive outside the womb.
  • JHR 1013 would eliminate an exception that allows slavery in cases of "punishment for a crime," meaning people in prison would have to be compensated for their work.
  • HJR 1009 would change judicial races to partisan races. Judicial candidates currently do not run with a party affiliation.
  • SJR 13 would legalize adult use of marijuana and growing marijuana at home.
  • SJR 12 would require landlords to provide homes that are safe, clean and fit for human habitation and decriminalize failure to pay rent. Arkansas is the only state where failure to pay rent is a crime and where landlords can rent uninhabitable property.
  • SJR 18 seeks to repeal the office of the lieutenant governor.

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