Arkansas Legislature Enters Week 2 With Guns Blazing

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 12:00 am  

Republican Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest.

The 89th General Assembly entered week two with guns blazing. Well, with gun bills, anyway.

Sen. Bryan King’s bill to allow concealed-carry permit holders to “carry” in churches that OK the practice advanced out of committee, as did a resolution urging the federal government not to mess with the Second Amendment.

King, a Republican from Green Forest, advanced his Senate Bill 71 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it awaits a full Senate vote this week.

The measure, which Gov. Mike Beebe indicated he’d sign, would take churches off the list of places where concealed handguns are prohibited. Churches would be given the choice to allow guns or not, and would determine who could carry them.

An amendment requiring churches that allow guns to carry more insurance was defeated.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1035 by Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, would allow trained faculty and staff to carry on college campuses in the state. It awaits a vote in the House Education Committee.

A non-binding resolution by Rep. Richard Womack, R-Arkadelphia, would urge the federal government not to infringe on Second Amendment rights. It unanimously passed out of the House State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee with a full House vote expected this week.

If passed, the resolution would be distributed to President Barack Obama, congressional leaders and other state legislatures. Though his signature is not required, Beebe told The Associated Press last week that he supports the measure.

Elsewhere, Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock filed the Arkansas Interdistrict Public School Choice Act of 2013 (Senate Bill 114). The veteran Democratic lawmaker, who served three terms in the House and is in her third Senate term, wants to replace the state’s school choice law governing student transfers between districts. Her bill would allow transfers so long as a move didn’t impact desegregation.

A bill filed in the session’s opening week could compete with Elliott’s measure for votes. Sen. Johnny Key’s Senate Bill 65 amends existing law to allow students one transfer per school year. The Mountain Home Republican could run the bill through the Senate Education Committee this week.

Speaking of schools, Sen. David Burnett, D-Osceola, filed a bill last week that would create a capital grant program for open enrollment charter schools that would be administered by the state Department of Education.

Democratic Rep. Butch Wilkins of Bono filed legislation last week severely limiting the circumstances under which Arkansas insurance companies could pay for abortions outside of a separate rider. Wilkins’ House Bill 1100 would provide exceptions for rape, incest and the safety of the mother, something past legislation didn’t do. In 2011, a measure not including such exceptions passed in the Senate but failed to advance out of House committee.



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