‘SEC Primary’ bill filed in Arkansas House, other bills generate interest

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 76 views 

Arkansas voters may have a key role in deciding who the nominees for next year’s presidential election will be, a state Senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, filed Senate Bill 389 at the capitol Tuesday morning. The bill was referred to the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee. Under the bill, voters would head to the polls March 1, 2016 to decide the Republican and Democratic nominees for the White House. Stubblefield said the bill would give the state’s voters a “voice in the process,” noting the nominee is often determined in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“The South has been an afterthought,” Stubblefield said of the process.

Stubblefield said the bill would work to end the nationwide belief that the “South is South Carolina.”

According to published reports, officials in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee are working on a so-called “SEC Primary” for the first Tuesday in March 2016. Stubblefield said his bill would work toward that goal and that the idea has received bi-partisan support. The state Senator said the March 2016 idea would not only bring candidates to the state, but also allow them to talk about issues with the state’s voters.

Under Stubblefield’s bill, candidates would file a party certificate with the Secretary of State’s office from Nov. 2, 2015 until Feb. 23, 2016. Each party would be responsible for determining the qualifications for running, provide applications to candidates and accepting and processing the applications.

There are at least two dozen Republicans and a half-dozen Democrats who are considering running in 2016. Among them are two people with ties to Arkansas – former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and former Arkansas First Lady, Democratic senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Bradley Phillips with LobbyUp.com recently spoke with Talk Business & Politics on the most viewed bills from the legislative session, including a look at some of the filings for potential constitutional measures.

LobbyUp’s online bill tracking service uses its technology and analytics to bring some of the most heavily-read and controversial bills of the session to viewers and readers. Following is some of the legislation reviewed by Phillips.

• House Bill 1241
Filed by State Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, this bill would eliminate the PARCC assessment, a test tied to Common Core standards. The state has roughly invested $30 million in training and student prep for the assessment, which makes it a volatile measure of debate. HB 1241 was the most viewed bill of the week.

• House Bill 1373
The bill filed by Rep. David Fielding, D-Magnolia, also attracted a lot of traffic. It would prohibit the use of wireless handheld devices while driving. Phillips said this bill goes a little further than a texting bill; it could ban any usage of a handheld device in a car. As it is written, some believe the bill would outlaw talking or listening to music on a handheld device in your vehicle.

On the constitutional front, roughly 40 measures have been filed by the deadline to consider potential changes.

• House Joint Resolutions 1024-1026
The resolutions filed by Rep. Julie Mayberry, R-Hensley, would all impact the Lt. Governor’s office by eliminating the position, reassigning its duties, or providing that the office seeker run as a ticket with the Governor.

• Senate Joint Resolution 13
Filed by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, the proposed constitutional amendment would change sheriff’s terms to four years from two. Phillips said the logic behind the measure would be to provide more stability in local law enforcement.