Summary of Good and Bad Bills, Arkansas Legislative Session 2007

from Conservative Jerry Cox of  Family Council

 

Below is a letter sent to Family Council friends which is self explanatory.  Most of you know that Family Council  has been a strong force for years at the Capitol for  social conservative issues.  Family Council spearheaded the successful Marriage Amendment and is in the process of making a decision about how and when to sponsor a ballot initiative to prevent unmarried couples (including homosexuals) from adopting or providing foster care for children. Jerry Cox said one of the greatest feats for this endeavor would be to raise the money required to fund this project.  I believe it would be a real encouragement to Family Council if we would send a donation to them for this cause and write them a note of encouragement.  You can send your donation to  Family Council,
414 S Pulaski St., Suite 2, Little Rock, AR 72201.  You can send it by credit card by going to this link: 
http://www.arkansasvotersguide.com/donate.asp

We really need to get this done to protect our children and our culture.  I am sending a donation today.  Debbie Pelley  April 26/07

 

April 2007

 

Dear Family Council Friends,

 

In 86 days the Arkansas Legislature introduced 2,818 bills.  About half of these became law.  When it came to family and morality issues, we stopped every bad bill.   Some, like the lottery and the Equal Rights Amendment had to be fought very hard.  Other bad bills, like the one to provide public financial aid to send the children of illegal immigrants to college, never got off the ground.  Larry Page with the Arkansas  Faith and Ethics Council, Bill Wheeler with Families First, Rose Mims with Arkansas Right to Life, Bob Hester with the Arkansas Family Association, and Betsy Hagan with Eagle Forum worked to help defeat several bad bills.  In addition, Family Council succeeded in passing over half of the good bills we wanted to pass.  On the pro-family front, we didn’t lose any ground.  Unfortunately, the Arkansas Legislature didn’t pass the bill to ban homosexual adoption and foster care.  The Senate passed the bill, but Speaker of the House Benny Petrus effectively killed this legislation by diverting it to the House Judiciary Committee.  Governor Mike Beebe undermined the bill’s chances by questioning its constitutionality.  Rep. Kathy Webb, (D) of Little Rock, the legislature’s only openly gay member and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, worked very hard to defeat the bill.  Now we need to decide if we should start gathering signatures to place this law on the ballot in 2008.

 

The same day the House Judiciary Committee rejected the bill to ban homosexuals from adopting children, they passed a bill by Sen. Percy Malone (D) Arkadelphia that bans smokers from being foster parents.  The same lawmakers who told us they couldn’t support our ban on homosexual foster care because children were in desperate need of foster homes didn’t hesitate to reduce the number of potential foster homes by baring  smokers from being foster parents.  While Family Council doesn’t condone either one, it is a sad day when lawmakers think it is more acceptable to be gay than to smoke cigarettes.   The ACLU worked tirelessly on behalf of the homosexuals, but didn’t lift a finger to help the smokers keep their right to be foster parents.

 

With a new governor and a new lieutenant governor as well as losing conservative seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives, some people wondered how family issues would fare in the legislature.  Overall the environment was not as friendly as in years past, but we were still able to stop every bad bill and pass most of the good ones.   Thanks to everyone who made calls, sent e-mails, and made their voices heard on so many important issues.  Here is a report on the legislative session.  For more information, visit our website at ArkansasVotersGuide.com.  http://www.arkansasvotersguide.com/

 

[You can obtain more information and links to votes on the following bills  by going to Family Council's website at this link http://www.arkansasvotersguide.com/blog.asp]

 

 

Seventeen Good Bills Passed

 

Passed:  Regulating Charitable Bingo and Raffles:  HB 1426 ACT 388:  By Rep. Shirley Walters of Greenwood. In November 2006, voters across the state of Arkansas approved a state constitutional amendment that legalized bingo for charitable purposes.  As soon as this measure passed, big-time gambling interests from Florida, Texas, and elsewhere began plans to take over and run “charitable” bingo operations in Arkansas.  These gambling interests saw the opportunity to make a lot of money at the expense of Arkansas charitable organizations and at the expense of the citizens of Arkansas.  Family Council worked with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and Rep. Walters to write a law to prevent these moneyed gambling interests from making Arkansas’ charitable bingo amendment into something the voters never intended.  Governor Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel supported Rep. Walters’ bill as well.  It appears that most of the loopholes favoring big-time gambling interests have been closed.  However, we will need to closely monitor the implementation and enforcement of this legislation.  Moneyed gambling interests will almost certainly return to the legislature every time it is in session seeking legislation that will allow them to spoil Arkansas charitable bingo amendment.  This is why Family Council and other organizations opposed passage of the charitable bingo amendment in the first place.

 

Passed:  Regulating Sexually Oriented Businesses:  HB 1536 ACT 387:  By Rep. George Overbey of Lamar.   Residents of Clarksville, Arkansas were shocked when an adult oriented business moved into a vacant building at the intersection of Interstate 40 and College Avenue.  Like most small towns, Clarksville had no zoning ordinance to keep this type of business out of the more respectable parts of town.  Attorney General Dustin McDaniel worked with Rep. Overbey to pass a state-wide zoning ordinance that keeps adult oriented businesses at least 1,000 feet from homes, churches, schools, playgrounds, libraries, and recreation areas.  Under Arkansas law, promotion of obscenity is a class D felony, however convictions have been hard to secure.  So larger communities like Little Rock have established zoning laws to keep these businesses out of the main stream.  Small towns along interstate highways have become desirable locations of adult oriented businesses because the Interstate brings them potential customers, and small towns have not been equipped to fight out of state promoters of pornography and their lawyers.  For constitutional reasons, this new law applies only to new businesses.  The adult oriented business in Clarksville will be allowed to continue operating.  If the citizens of Clarksville and Johnson County want this business shut down, they should demand that their local police, their prosecuting attorney, and their judges enforce Arkansas’ obscenity law.

 

Passed:  Affirming the Right of a Woman to Refuse to Have an Abortion:  HB 2768:  Rep. Sid Rosenbaum of Little Rock.  Not even the ACLU opposed this law.  It simply says that no one can force anyone else to have an abortion unless the mother’s life is at stake.   Family Council worked with Rep. Rosenbaum to secure passage of this new law that prevents husbands, boyfriends, or parents from forcing a woman or girl to have an abortion against her will. 

 

Passed:  More Freedom for Home Schoolers:  HB 2394 ACT 824:  By Rep. Sid Rosenbaum of Little Rock.  For years, home schoolers have met together to conduct classes.  They’ve ordered classes on video.  They’ve had a grandparent or other family member help teach their children.  Under Arkansas law, this has been illegal.  The old Arkansas home school law says that a home school is one that is “conducted primarily by the parent.”  Family Council worked with Rep. Rosenbaum to secure changes in the law that now defines a home school as one that is “provided by a parent or legal guardian.”  This enables home schooling parents to utilize other people and resources for the education of their children.  Now that home school parents are able to bring in outside people and resources, it answers some of the criticism that they may not be qualified to teach all courses.

 

Passed:  Increasing the Number of Governor’s Distinguished Scholarships:  SB 837 ACT 1046:  By Sen. Jim Argue of Little Rock.   Each year, the State of Arkansas awards a maximum of 325 Governor’s Distinguished Scholar scholarships to students who score at least a 32 on the ACT test.  If the number of applicants exceeds 325, the Department determines who is qualified to receive the scholarship based on criteria such as class rank and leadership in school.  Until 2006, every student making at least a 32 on the ACT test was awarded the scholarship because the total number of qualified students had never exceeded 325.  Last year a record number of students made at least a 32 and the Department was forced to use a formula to “weed out” students.  The formula immediately disqualified every home schooled student because it awarded them no points for leadership at school or class rank.  Initially 4 home schoolers were turned down for the scholarships.  Later, they were awarded the scholarships because some public school students decided not to attend an Arkansas college and could not accept the scholarship.  The scholarship provides a free education for the student to attend any college or university in Arkansas.  We worked with the Department of Higher Education to secure passage of a law to increase the number of scholarships to 375 per year.  This should ensure that every student, home schooled or otherwise, will receive the scholarship if they make at least a 32 on the ACT.  However, this does not solve the problem of the Department of Higher Education’s formula being discriminatory toward home schoolers.  Hopefully the formula will not have to be used in the near future, but we are working to get it changed as well.

 

Passed:  Charter Schools:  HB 1504 ACT 736:  By Rep. Keven Anderson of Rogers.  The State of Arkansas has authorized a maximum of 24 open-enrollment charter schools.  These are new public schools located within an existing public school district.  They usually focus on a particular area of study such as art or science.   In order to establish a charter school, local citizens must have a state approved charter, form a board of directors, and recruit students.  They operate under a different set of rules and regulations than traditional public schools.  Family Council worked the Rep. Anderson to pass this law that makes it easier to establish a charter school in Arkansas.  Initially, this legislation removed the limitation on the number of open-enrollment charter schools, but this was amended out of the bill.

 

Passed:  Strengthening Arkansas’ Voyeur Law:  HB 1473 ACT 187:  By Rep. Donna Hutchinson of Bella Vista.  Advances in technology have enabled voyeurs to take inappropriate pictures of people using cameras hidden in shoes, backpacks, and elsewhere.  Our existing voyeur law prohibited photographing a person if they were in a place where they could reasonably expect privacy.  Family Council worked with Rep. Hutchinson to secure passage of this new law that makes it illegal to take photographs underneath clothing in public places.

 

Passed:  Prohibit Sex Offenders from Living Near Victims or Contacting Victims:  HB 1564 ACT 394:  by Rep. Dawn Creekmore of Hensley.  This new law prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of the sex offender’s victim, strengthens registration requirements for sex offenders and it strengthens voyeur laws. 

 

Passed:  Blinder Racks for Pornographic Magazines:  SB 182 ACT 579:  By Rep. Denny Altes of Fort Smith.  In 2003, the Arkansas Legislature passed a law to require pornographic magazines to be placed behind the counters of stores.  The ACLU challenged the law and it was declared unconstitutional.  When the law was struck down, this allowed businesses to place pornographic magazines out front with nothing over the covers of the magazines. This new law requires businesses that sell pornographic magazines to place a cover over the front of the magazine.  Family Council worked with Sen. Altes to secure passage of this law.

 

Passed:  Repeal of a Portion of the Tax on Groceries:  SB 185 ACT 110:  By Senator Bobby Glover of Carlisle.  Family Council supported Governor Beebe’s effort to reduce the state sales tax on groceries to 3%.  Passage of this law by Sen. Glover eases some of the tax burden on families.  Family Council supports the repeal of the entire tax, but this is a good start.  With this year’s budget surplus lawmakers were willing to reduce the tax.  Citizens will need to keep the pressure on lawmakers if they want to see the remainder of the tax eliminated.    

 

Passed:  Disclose Information regarding Sex Offenders to Students at Institutions of Higher Education:  HB 1274 ACT 147:  By Rep. Dawn Creekmore of Hensley.  Colleges and Universities must release information on sex offenders that law enforcement provides to the school.  This new law, supported by Family Council, should help students at Arkansas colleges and universities know if sex offenders are living on campus or attending classes with them. 

 

Passed:  Increasing the Penalty for Indecent Exposure and Internet Stalking:  HB 1013 ACT 38:  by Rep. Dawn Creekmore of Hensley.  This new law makes it a felony to repeatedly be convicted of indecent exposure.  In addition, it increases the penalty for sexual predators who prey on children by using the Internet.  Family Council supported this legislation. 

 

Passed:  Prohibiting an Award of Child Custody or Visitation with a Sex Offender:  HB 1025 ACT 56:  by Rep. Dawn Creekmore of Hensley.  This new law prevents divorced sex offenders from being awarded custody or unsupervised visitation of their children unless the court determines that the sex offender poses on threat to the child. 

 

Passed:  Prohibiting a Sex Offender from Residing near Public Parks or Youth Centers:  HB 2266  ACT 818:  by Rep. Johnny Key of Mountain Home.  This new law, supported by Family Council, adds parks and youth centers to the list of places that sex offenders must avoid living near.  Arkansas law now prohibits level 3 & 4 sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, daycare, park, or youth center. 

 

Passed:  Prohibiting a Sex Offender from Obtaining or Possessing an ID Card or Drivers License with an Incorrect Physical Address:  HB 2286 ACT 392:  by Rep. Tracy Pennartz of Fort Smith.  Family Council supports a new law by Rep. Pennartz that requires sex offenders to keep the address on their drivers license up to date.  This will enable better tracking of sex offenders. 

 

Passed:  Creating a Certificate of Birth for Stillborn Children:  SB 398 ACT 509:  By Sen. Mary Anne Salmon of North Little Rock. Arkansas law has permitted parents of stillborn children to obtain a death certificate for their child, but it did not permit them to obtain a birth certificate.  Family Council worked with Sen. Salmon to secure passage of this new law that permits parents of stillborn children to obtain a birth certificate for their child.  This law is another step in affirming the personhood of unborn and newborn children. 

 

Passed:  Creating a Cord Blood Bank Commission:  HB 2416 ACT 695:  By Rep. Jon Woods of Springdale.  Family Council worked with Rep. Woods to establish a commission that will work to establish Arkansas’ first cord blood bank.  New mothers can donate their baby's umbilical cord blood.  The blood in the umbilical cord and placenta contains unique cells that can be used to treat diseases.  In addition, cord blood may be used as a source of stem cells rather than destroying human embryos to obtain embryonic stem cells.  Cord blood may be a pro-life solution to the stem cell debate.

 

Nine Good Bills that Failed to Pass

 

Defeated:  Banning Gay Adoption and Foster Care:  SB 959:  Senator Shawn Womack of Mountain Home.  In 2006, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services’ regulations banning homosexuals from serving as foster parents.  The Court ruled that the Child Welfare Agency Review Board that set the policy had no authority to do so.  The Court stated that the issue of regulating gay foster parenting was an issue more appropriately addressed by the legislature.  The court did not rule on whether or not a ban on homosexual foster parents would be constitutional.

 

Family Council worked with Senator Womack to draft the strongest law of this type in the nation.  The law banned homosexuals from serving as foster parents or adopting children.  The law also banned couples living together out of wedlock from adopting for serving as foster parents.  The law drafted for Arkansas was patterned after Florida’s ban on gay adoption and Utah’s ban on adoption or foster care by cohabiting couples.  The Florida law has been upheld by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Utah law remains in force.  The Arkansas Senate passed the bill.  Here is how they voted.

 

Twenty senators voted to ban gay adoption:   Altes, Baker, Bisbee, Bookout, Capps, Critcher, Faris, Glover, Hendren, Horn, G. Jeffress, B. Johnson, Laverty, Malone, Miller, Pritchard, Trusty, Whitaker, Wilkinson, Womack

 

Seven senators voted against banning gay adoption:   Argue, Brown, Bryles, Crumbly, Madison, Salmon, Steele

 

Seven senators did not vote:   Hill, J. Jeffress, Luker, T. Smith

 

Two senators were had excused absences:  Broadway, Taylor

 

On two previous occasions, the Arkansas House of Representatives had debated the issue of gay adoption.  In both cases, the legislation had been assigned to the Aging, Children, Youth, and Military Affairs Committee.  In spite of appeals by members of the House of Representatives, Speaker Benny Petrus of Stuttgart assigned the bill to the House Judiciary Committee.  This move effectively killed the bill.  The House Judiciary Committee is a liberal and inexperienced committee and has only two Republican members out of 20.  Kathy Webb, the legislature’s only openly lesbian member, is a member of the Judiciary Committee.  In spite of the fact that similar laws in Florida, Utah, and Mississippi have been allowed to stand, Governor Mike Beebe undermined the bill by questioning its constitutionality. 

 

The bill to ban gay adoptions and foster care was debated for almost 2 hours in the House Judiciary Committee.  Here is our commentary on how each member dealt with or didn’t deal with the issue.  At the end, a voice vote was taken.  There was no roll call.  We have no official way of knowing how each member voted.  However, some did tell how they voted after the meeting.  Some told us where they stood before the hearing began. 

 

1.  Robert Jeffery (Chairman), (D) Camden:  Indicated before the hearing began that he would support the bill.  He did a good job of

moderating the hearing.  He provided ample time for a “do pass” motion to be made.  We were unable to determine if he voted when the voice vote was taken.

2. Jon Woods (R) Springdale:  Voted for the bill and made the “do pass” motion, but did not speak in favor of the bill.

3.  John Paul Wells (D) Paris:  Voted for the bill but did not speak in favor of the bill.

4.  Lamont Cornwell (D) Benton:  Voted for the bill but did not speak in favor of the bill.

5.  Aaron Burkes (R) Lowell:  Voted for the bill but did not speak in favor of the bill.

6. Steven Breedlove (D) Greenwood:  Indicated that he opposed gay adoption.  Did not attend the hearings on the bill.

7. Charolette Wagner (D) Manila:  Indicated that she opposed gay adoption.  Did not speak for the bill.  We were unable to

 determine how she voted on the voice vote.

8. Tommy Baker (D) Osceola:  Rep. Baker told one of his constituents that he would support the bill.  He did not speak for the bill.

  We were unable to determine how he voted on the voice vote.

9. Bubba Powers (D) Hope:  Indicated to one of his constituents that he opposed gay adoption.  Did not speak for the bill. Asked

 negative questions during the hearing.  We were unable to determine how he voted on the voice vote. 

10.  Robert Moore (D) Arkansas City:  Did not speak for or against the bill. We were unable to determine how he voted. 

11. Earnest Brown (D) Pine Bluff:  Did not speak for or against the bill. We were unable to determine how Rep. Earnest Brown

 voted on the voice vote.

12.  Jerry Brown (D) Wynne:  Did not speak for or against the bill.   We were unable to determine how Rep. Jerry Brown voted on

 the voice vote.

13. Mark Pate (D) Bald Knob:  Did not attend the hearing on the bill.  He was present when the vote was taken. We were unable to

 determine how he voted on the voice vote.

14. Joan Cash (D) Jonesboro:  When contacted by a retired minister who was one of her constituents, she would not tell him how she

 planned to vote or if she would be attending the hearing on the bill.  She did not speak for or against the bill. We were unable

 to determine how Rep. Cash voted on the voice vote.

15.  Tracy Pennartz (D) Fort Smith:  Voted against the bill and spoke negatively about the bill.

16.  Will Bond (D) Jacksonville:  Voted against the bill but did not speak against the bill.

17.  Chris Thyer (D) Jonesboro:  Voted against the bill but did not speak against the bill.

18.  David Johnson (D) Little Rock:  Voted against the bill and asked negative questions of the sponsor of the bill.

19.  Kathy Webb (D) Little Rock:  Voted against the bill, spoke against the bill, and spoke negatively toward a person who testified

for the bill.

20.   Steve Harrelson (D) Texarkana:  Voted against the bill.  Spoke against the bill.  In the opinion of Family Council, Rep.

 Harrelson was unnecessarily rude to a witness who testified in favor of the bill.

 

After the bill to ban gay adoptions failed to pass the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Frank Glidewell (R) of Fort Smith asked that the bill be placed on the House Agenda for the purpose of voting to pull the bill out of the committee and bring it to a vote of the entire House of Representatives.  Speaker Benny Petrus opposed the move to pull the bill out of the committee with a floor vote.  Over the weekend before the session ended, the motion to pull the bill out of the committee mysteriously disappeared from the House Agenda.  Rep. Glidewell inquired as to why his motion had been removed from the agenda. He was told that the Speaker thought he wanted the motion pulled down.  Rep. Glidewell informed the speaker that this was not the case. With only two days left in the session and short of the 67 votes needed the pull the bill out of the committee, Rep. Glidewell did not have the motion placed back on the agenda

 

Defeated:  Prohibiting the State Board of Health from Mandating the HPV Vaccine:  HB 2560:  By Representative Johnny Key of Mountain Home.  Many parents don’t want to be forced to have their children vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease.  Proponents of the vaccine argue that it will not only prevent the disease, but cervical cancer as well.  Previously, all vaccines had to be approved by the Arkansas Legislature.  More recently, the legislature delegated that authority to the State Board of Health.  Family Council worked with Rep. Key to try to move vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases under the authority of the Legislature.  Two members of the State Board of Health have already voiced their opinions that the vaccine should be mandatory. 

 

Defeated:  Regulating Payday Lending:  HB 1036:  By Rep. David Johnson of Little Rock Payday lending institutions have operated in Arkansas since 1999.  These lenders skirt Arkansas’ usury laws by allegedly charging fees rather than interest for their loans.  This means that some of their loans have interest rates as high as 400%.  Mostly they prey on the poor and the elderly.  Family Council worked with a coalition of groups led by AARP.  This bill passed the House and it was defeated in the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee.

 

Defeated:  Allowing Home Schoolers to Participate in Public School Extracurricular Activities: HB 2810:  by Representative Eric Harris of Springdale.  Family Council supported a bill by Rep. Harris to allow home school students to participate in public school extracurricular activities.  This bill failed on a voice vote in the House Education Committee.

 

Defeated:  Preserving Property Rights:  SB 69:  By Senator Ruth Whitaker of Cedarville.   The U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo Decision allowed personal property to be condemned and used for private development.  Family Council worked with Sen. Whitaker to pass a bill to ensure that the property of Arkansans would not be condemned and confiscated for private development.  This bill failed in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

Died:  65% of Public Education Funds Used in the Classroom:  HB 2447:  By Rep. Eric Harris of Springdale.  Many people believe public schools spend too much money on projects and personnel outside the classroom.  Family Council supported a bill by Rep. Harris to require schools to spend at least 65% of their money in the classroom.  Currently, Arkansas schools spend an average of 61% of their money in the classroom.

 

Died:  Local Option on Casino “Games of Skill”:  SB 982:  By Senator Denny Altes of Fort Smith.  Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound dog track in West Memphis wanted everyone to vote on their “electronic games of skill” in 2005.  In 2007 they didn’t want anyone to vote.  Why?  Because they got what they wanted!  In 2005 they drove legislation through the General Assembly that would provide for local elections in Hot Springs and West Memphis to approve “electronic games of skill” at the tracks located there.  Voters approved the games.  However, the legislation passed in 2005 had no provision for how local citizens could repeal the games of skill that they had approved.  The law passed in 2005 was a “one way” street with no way out.  Obviously, this is how the track owners like it.  Family Council initiated this legislation.  As soon as it was introduced, lobbyists for Oaklawn and Southland went to work against the bill.  Several Senators indicated that they would vote for the bill, but only Sen. Altes would actually sponsor it.

 

Died:  Affirming the Rights of Students to Pray at School:  HB 2445:  Rep. Eric Harris of Springdale.  The federal No Child Left Behind Program requires that schools affirm the right of students of engage in voluntary student-led prayer.  In light of this, Rep. Harris decided not to try to pass this bill.  When the No Child Left Behind program expires, we will need to pass legislation ensure that students continue to maintain this right.

 

Died:  Successful Marriage Information Offered With Every Marriage License:  HB 2476:  By Rep. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville.   Family Council initiated legislation to offer a pamphlet with every marriage license that contains information on how to have a successful marriage.  The State of Arkansas requires more training for people seeking to drive a car or go hunting than for people who get married.  While not required, this bill would have begun the process of providing a little training for people who get married.

 

Ten Bad Bills Defeated

 

Defeated:  State-Run Lottery:  HJR 1005:  By Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville.  Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter teamed up with Rep. Bond and several members of the House of Representatives to sponsor a state-run lottery.  Had it been passed by the legislature, the resolution would have appeared on the November 2008 General Election ballot as a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution.  The House State Agencies Committee rejected the measure.  Had they not rejected it, the Senate State Agencies Committee was poised to do so.  Family Council opposed this measure and testified against it.  There is some discussion that the Lieutenant Governor might spearhead a drive to gather petition signatures to place the measure on the ballot in 2008. 

 

Defeated:  Hate Crimes:  SB 264:  By Senator Hank Wilkins of Pine Bluff.  Sen. Wilkins proposed a weakened version of hate crimes legislation.  The bill passed the Senate, but failed in the House Judiciary Committee.  This marks the ninth time the Arkansas Legislature has rejected hate crimes legislation.  Most people still see this as an issue creating crimes for what people think or say rather than what they do.

 

Defeated:  Ratification of the Federal Equal Rights Amendment:  HJR 1002:  By Representative Lindsley Smith of Fayetteville.  Feminist and pro-abortion forces are working nationwide to persuade three more states to ratify the failed federal equal rights amendment.  The amendment, proposed in the 1970’s prevents discrimination on the basis of sex.  State constitutions with similar language have opened the door for courts to overturn state laws banning same-sex marriages and order states to fund abortions with public dollars.  Family Council worked very hard to defeat this measure.  The measure failed by one vote in the House State Agencies Committee

 

Died:  Requiring Home School Parents to have a GED or a High School Diploma:  HB 2714:  By Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville.   Family Council opposed a bill by Rep. Bond that would have required home school parents to have a GED or a high school diploma.  Most home schoolers will tell you that success in home schooling is more about the dedication of the parent than the education of the parent.  This bill would have eliminated many adults who were home schooled and now wish to home school their own children.  The bill was never debated.

 

Died:  Financial Aid for Children of Illegal Immigrants to Attend College:  SB 981: By Senator Hank Wilkins of Pine Bluff.   In 2005, the issue of scholarships for the children of illegal immigrants received a lot of attention.  In 2007 it hardly received a second look.  This bill by Sen. Wilkins was never debated and it died quietly in committee.

 

Died:  Clone and Kill:  HB 2806: By Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville.   Arkansas has one of the best laws in the nation when it comes to preventing the cloning of human embryos for research or any other purposes.  Rep. Bond’s bill would have undone all that by making it legal to clone human embryos as long as they were destroyed in the process of doing research on them.  This bill was never debated.

 

Defeated:  Abolishing the Electoral College as a Means of Electing the President:  HB 1703:  By Rep. Monty Davenport of Yellville.  This bill by Rep. Davenport would have mandated that Arkansas’ electoral votes go to the candidate who received a majority of the vote nationally.  This means that the people of Arkansas could vote for one candidate for president, but if the popular vote nationally favored someone else, our votes would go to the candidate winning the popular vote.  This bill passed the Arkansas House of Representatives, but it was never debated in the Senate State Agencies Committee.  Many Republicans believe this is in response to Al Gore receiving a majority of popular votes, but losing to George Bush.

 

Died:  Requiring Dept of Health to make HPV Vaccine Available:  SB 954:  By Rep. Sue Madison of Fayetteville.  Sen. Madison’s bill would have required the Arkansas Department of Health to come up with a plan for making the HPV vaccine available to all girls ages 12 and over.  If implemented, this program would have cost the state millions of dollars and angered parents who oppose being forced to have their child vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease.

 

Amended:  Emergency Contraceptives:  SB 847:  By Senator Mary Anne Salmon of North Little Rock.  This bill started out as a bad bill, but was amended and rendered harmless.  It allows any health care facility or any health care provider to refuse to provide the so called morning after pill to patients.  Pro-life experts believe the pill sometimes causes an abortion rather than preventing pregnancy.

 

Amended:  More Social Workers in Public Schools:  SB 868:  By Senator Tracy Steele of Little Rock.  This bill to define the role of social workers in public schools was amended to ensure that no students or parents would have to receive “help” from social workers unless they want it.  Since 2005, social workers have operated in public schools to help students and their parents secure state services.

 

Other Bills:  Senator Terry Smith of Hot Springs secured some minor tax breaks for his friends at Oaklawn horse track.    Senator Sue Madison’s bills to redefine child abuse were defeated or amended and rendered relatively harmless.  Bills by Rep. Lindsley Smith and Rep. George Overbey to regulated solicitation by phone and by mail were never debated.  A bill by Sen. Jack Critcher dealing with incapacitated adults was amended and it passed.  A bill by Rep. Rick Saunders of Hot Springs requires all non-profit organizations to register with the Secretary of State each year.  Rep. Eddie Cooper slightly changed the laws regarding organizations that promote or oppose ballot issues like the recently passed Arkansas marriage amendment.

 

A Wedding Invitation

 

Many of you have been friends of our family for a long time.   When I started Family Council in 1989, David, our oldest son, was four years old.  John Michael was two and Richard was a newborn.  We hadn’t even thought of Mark.  The years pass so quickly.  On May 5th David will graduate college from John Brown University with a degree in business.  On May 25th he will celebrate his 22nd birthday and the next day, May 26th, he will get married.  Quite a busy time wouldn’t you say?

 

Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Mason of Parsons, Kansas and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Cox of Little Rock, Arkansas are pleased to announce the marriage of their children Martha Elizabeth Mason and David Christopher Cox on Saturday, May 26th  in Northwest Arkansas. 

 

If you are a supporter of Family Council, you’re invited and we would love to have you join our family for this celebration.  Just call the Family Council office at (501) 375-7000 so we can give you the details about the wedding and put you on the guest list.

 

Family Council Needs Your Financial Support

 

Being so focused on the legislature hasn’t left us much time to raise money.  One of our greatest challenges is to have enough money coming in to keep our doors open while being so focused on fighting battles in the legislature and elsewhere.  We’ve made it through another legislative session and we’ve done pretty well.  Now we need to replace our dwindling finances.  If you have not made a donation to our work recently, now would be a good time.   We’re trying to build up our team of regular monthly supporters.  Please mark the enclosed card if you can make a regular monthly donation.  Regardless of how you give our how much you give, we need your support during the month April.  

 

A Heartfelt Thank You From Jerry Cox and the Staff of Family Council

 

My staff and I deeply appreciate your support that has enabled us to fight for you and your family for the past 86 days that the legislature has been in session.  In June, Family Council will celebrate our 18th year of standing up for families, for morality, for biblical values, and for you.  We count it an honor, a joy, and a heavy responsibility to stand for good in the halls of government, to speak the truth through the media, to challenge the church to rise up, and to inspire citizens to be salt and light.  Your financial support, your prayers, and your kind words mean everything to us.  We couldn’t be here without you.  You and our other friends are a vital part of every victory.  We have committed our lives to this fight.  Thank you for committing your resources. May God bless you for all you have done to help us.  Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you.

 

                                                                                    Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

                                                                                    Jerry Cox

                                                                                    President

 

 

 

 

 

Hit Counter