7 Major Issues Facing Arkansas Legislature

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 2:06 pm  

Two court rulings are likely to take up most of the Legislature's attention on education issues. (Photo by Shuttstock)


Two court rulings are likely to take up most of the Legislature's attention on education issues.

Lawmakers will likely vote on changes to the state's school choice law. A federal judge in June struck down the 1989 law, saying race couldn't be the only factor considered in deciding whether students could transfer between districts.

The Legislature is also expected to consider legislation that would give the state the authority to collect extra money from school districts where higher property tax collections pushed the districts above total school funding levels set by state law. The move is in response to a state Supreme Court ruling last year that the money was not considered state revenue.

Other education items on the agenda include legislation aimed at increasing the number of charter schools in the state and a proposal to create a private school scholarship program.


Lawmakers will consider a proposal that will require voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Poll workers are currently required to ask for photo ID, but voters are not required to show one in order to cast a ballot.

The proposal — outlined in a Senate bill and a proposed constitutional amendment — would allow voters who don't show photo ID to cast a provisional ballot, but the vote would not be counted unless they return to the county election commission with an ID or an affidavit explaining that the voter cannot show ID because of indigence or a religious objection.

Similar legislation passed the House in 2011, but died before a Senate committee.


The Lottery Oversight Committee has proposed giving university students $3,300 per year and community college students $1,650. In 2010, the first class of lottery scholarship recipients was awarded $5,000 for university students and $2,500 for students at community colleges. That was trimmed the following year to $4,500 and $2,225, where it remained through this year's class.


Abortion opponents see a chance to enact new restrictions with Republicans controlling the House and Senate this year.

The proposals expected include legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed claim that a fetus can feel pain after that point. Other legislation anti-abortion groups expect to support include a proposal that to ban most abortions from being covered through the health insurance exchange that would be created under the federal health care law and a prohibition on the use of telemedicine to make the abortion pill available.

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