Veterans, abortions and steel

by The City Wire staff ( 6 views 

By the end of our 6th week in session, the Governor signed over 140 bills into law. 76 of those bills originated in the House. Over 450 bills have been filed in the House during the 89th General Assembly.

One bill now making its way to the Governor’s desk will be the first step in establishing a new home for our veterans. This bill allows the State Department of Veterans Affairs to select a new site for a 150 bed facility after seeking advice from a task force.

We updated you last week that the House and Senate both passed identical versions of the Human Trafficking Act. This week, the Governor signed the bill into law. Now Act 132 enhances penalties for human trafficking offenses and allows for the creation of a task force to identify other ways to address the epidemic. Since 2008, national hotlines have taken 246 calls reporting suspected cases of human trafficking in Arkansas.

The Governor also recently signed a bill which provides changes to the state’s lethal injection procedure. The Arkansas State Supreme Court ruled the previous method unconstitutional. Act 139 defines the procedure and identifies the class of drugs used opening the door for executions to resume.

The House sent HB1037 to the Governor’s desk this week after concurring in an amendment. The bill prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. The bill makes exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk.

And the House passed SB134. This bill would prohibit abortions after 12 weeks. It provides similar exceptions and includes exceptions for fatal fetal disorders and medical emergencies.

In other developments this week, the House and Senate leadership started the process of selecting a company to do an independent assessment for the Big River Steel project. According to Amendment 82, we have 20 days to have that assessment complete. This assessment will give us more information about the potential impact this project will have on the state budget. It will be useful information going forward as we will eventually be voting on whether or not to support a steel mill in Mississippi County with bonds backed by General Revenue.

We will continue to keep you updated on the steel mill project and other pieces of legislation as we move forward.

Remember you can watch most committee meetings and all House floor proceedings on our website at