News & Events

April Legislative Session Update

With the end of the legislative session in view, legislators will work to finalize the state's general revenue budget for the next fiscal year and to determine the fate of certain bills on taxes, educational vouchers and a proposed reorganization of state government.

They also hope to decide whether to refer more than one constitutional amendment to voters in the 2020 general election.

inVeritas has been tracking lots of activity this cycle.  We’ve highlighted some interesting legislation that has been filed and discussed during this session.

Optometrists v. Ophthalmologists

We didn’t see this one coming. In what was likely the fiercest legislative battle of the 92nd General Assembly, viewed through the lens of a legislative observer, optometrists prevailed in the end. The ophthalmologists scored the first victory by defeating HB1251 initially in committee. However, the optometrists reflected on the loss and regrouped. With surgical precision, the optometrists amended the bill and in a span of 15 days, passed it through the House and Senate. The governor, perhaps realizing that it would be bad optics to veto the bill, signed HB1251 into law as Act 579.

Hog Waste

The Razorbacks were down in basketball this year and didn’t play in the NCAA Tournament, so the hottest conversations going on about hogs were at the Capitol. SB550, which would have transferred regulatory authority over liquid animal waste (i.e. hog excrement) from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, made it through the Senate. However, after the governor  said that he was “soo-ie” and couldn’t support the bill, it was sent to interim study. Shortly after, Mike Anderson was sent to the college sports equivalent of interim study.

Johnny Cash Statue

Arkansas’ own Johnny Cash has many incredible songs, but the most relevant one for a while at the Arkansas legislature was “Hurt.” The Man in Black would have been hurt by some of the testimony against placing a statue of him at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. However, in the end, the Arkansas legislature walked the line and approved SB75, clearing the way for a statue of Johnny Cash to be placed in the U.S. Capitol with one of Daisy Bates.

Solar Bill

It seemed like a bright idea for the sunny disposed solar advocates to propose the Solar Access Act – to allow for more options regarding solar energy in Arkansas. With the suits from Walmart working with the tie-dye wearing hippies (sorry to perpetuate stereotypes, it just makes for a more compelling story), SB145 truly proves that politics makes for strange bedfellows. In the end, after finding the political utility of working with the electric utilities, SB145 passed, opening up the solar market in Arkansas.

Spoof Bill

Michael Scott of The Office, one of the best spoofs of all time, made many prank phone calls, with hilarious results. Arkansans are not laughing about spoof phone calls on their cell phones. Therefore, Sen. Dismang, working with the attorney general, proposed SB514, to make spoofing and robocalling a felony, and it’s on its way to the governor’s desk. Our best guess is that Leslie Nielson will not be appearing for the bill signing.