Budget, courts, 2nd Amendment, constitutional amendments on agenda this week at Capitol

Budget, courts, 2nd Amendment, constitutional amendments on agenda this week at Capitol
There are several major issues on the agenda this week at the state Capitol in Little Rock as lawmakers continue work before a scheduled recess on April 30. (Source: ABC/NBC)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - There are several major issues on the agenda this week at the state Capitol in Little Rock as lawmakers continue work before a scheduled recess on April 30.

One of the main issues this week will be the state budget bills.

Last year, Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposed a $5.9 billion state budget that would fund operations starting July 1 through June 30, 2022.

The proposal also included $50 million in tax cuts, as well as work on reducing the sales tax on used vehicles in the state. On Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on several budget bills including funding for the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Finance and Administration and ArDOT.

Arkansas’ budget is funded through the Revenue Stabilization Act.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History, the funding is done in several categories. For instance, Category A covers essential services like education and prisons, while Category B deals with the expansion of existing programs or new programs in state government.

Category C, which is typically called the wish list, is what lawmakers or state officials may want in a budget but may not be funded, the Encyclopedia noted.

Revenues are funded, starting with “A” and the rest, while cuts to state government are done first with “C”, “B” and then “A.”

SENATE

The Senate is expected to take up a bill Monday that would establish the state of Arkansas as a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State.

The bill, HB1390, is sponsored by Rep. Johnny Rye (R-Trumann). Under the bill, ratification would be required for federal firearm laws.

“All acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations of the United States Government, whether past, present, or future, 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, Article 2, § 5, are invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state unless the act, law, order, rule, or regulation is ratified and approved by the General Assembly through normal legislative process,” the bill noted.

Supporters of the bill have said it would protect constitutional rights like the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment, while opponents have said the federal Supremacy Clause would outweigh any state law.

The bill was approved 75-11 in the state House earlier this month.

A bill dealing with updating the state’s law on video voyeurism is also set for a Senate vote.

The bill, HB1586, is sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould). The bill would amend state law to include people who have not consented to the observing, viewing, photographing, filming or videotaping of video voyeurism.

The bill was approved 92-0 in the House March 15.

COMMITTEES

A bill that would seek to protect renters in the state of Arkansas also heads to a House committee this week.

SB594, sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy), would require landlords to provide running hot and cold water, electricity, and a working sewer system.

The bill was approved 28-1 April 13 in the Senate.

A proposed constitutional amendment is also on the agenda for the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee Monday.

The bill, SJR10, would allow the General Assembly to convene itself in extraordinary session, with the approval of the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tempore.

Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville) and Rep. Fran Cavenaugh (R-Walnut Ridge) are the main sponsors for the bill, which also has nearly 25 lawmakers as co-sponsors.

A pair of court-related bills, including a court security bill, also head to committees this week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has on its agenda SB315, sponsored by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Oark).

If approved by the legislature, the bill would allow a district judge to request a court security review including courtrooms, courthouses, judge’s chambers and administrative offices, from the state Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness.

If it is found that the security is bad, the Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court would allow the district judge to collect a security fee on every misdemeanor conviction or violation in district court, as well as on the filing of a civil or small claims case in district court.

The House Judiciary Committee also has SB626 on its agenda this week.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), Rep. Justin Boyd (R-Fort Smith) and Rep. Jamie Scott (D-Little Rock), would require courts to keep a “uniform recording” of bail records.

They include:

  • The most serious charge a defendant is facing in court.
  • The amount of the initial bail, whether cash or secured.
  • The amount of the initial bail would show the total amount of cash tendered, if applicable; total percentage paid of the bail amount, if applicable; the current length of the defendant’s pre-trial detention; the disposition of any cash bail, if applicable; any subsequent bail modification, if applicable, and the number of defendants with an outstanding warrant for failure to appear.
  • The number of defendants who re-offend while on bail and have an outstanding warrant for their arrest or are subject to a pending motion to revoke bail.

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