Friday, March 11, 2005

Update on Legislative Session

from Sen. Jim Holt Aide Jason Sheppard


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Holt supporters, stay tuned. It looks like this will be an interesting weekend for us...

Status of HB1525 (Tuition subsidy/scholarships for illegals): The Senate Education Committee is still waiting for Senator Wilkins to return from the hospital. It will probably be mid-to-late next week before the committee again considers this bill.

Perhaps you read the articles this week concerning SB206. Here's the gist: To address the concerns of critics of his bill, Senator Holt took the formality of requesting the opinion of Arkansas' attorney general, Mike Bebe, as to which public services the legislation would deny to illegal aliens (the intent of the bill is to block ALL services not required by federal law (federal laws require emergency services where a life is immediately threatened, etc.), and to require citizenship for voting). However, Bebe does not seem interested in rendering an opinion on this matter. In fact, the AG has been reluctant to get involved with the illegal immigration issue at all. For example, when asked about his opinion on whether HB1525 would violate federal law, Bebe initially resisted making any public statement claiming that he was only offering advice on this particular bill directly to his "clients," the legislators.

I'm fairly certain that the office of Attorney General is a statewide elected office--meaning that the Attorney General answers to the people of Arkansas as well as their elected representatives. Nonetheless, because Senator Holt formally requested a legal opinion on HB1525, it's now available to all. The results? Essentially, it was decided that HB1525 would violate federal law. We're not surprised. Representative Elliot (D-Little Rock), the bill's sponsor, still plans to try to push the bill through. They just don't get it.

There have been a record number of bills submitted this session-- 3176; not bad for only 135 legislators! Many are working overtime to tax and regulate Arkansans to within a hair's breadth of revolt. There are too many bills for me to "spam" you about, lest I risk overloading you (and myself!). I'll do my best to distill things down for you, but it would help if you checked from time to time to see the latest status of, and to comment on, bills of interest (note: the views expressed on ArkansasWatch are not necessarily those of Senator Holt's).

Here is a sampling of legislation in which you might be interested:
A proposed constitutional amendment that would gut Amendments 59 and 79 and allow property taxes to increase at a rate of up to 10% between appraisals and reappraisals rather than being limited at the current cap of 5% (HJR1021 by Rep. Bill Stovall, D-Quitman). When it comes tax time, our legislators would love to consider us all as living in multi-million dollar abodes...

A bill to restrict parents from initiating the homeschooling of their child(ren) to between semesters only. (HB2439, Cook D-Williford) I call this the Brady bill waiting period for homeschool parents. They know that plenty of parents begin homeschooling immediately after they lose all patience with their school administrators/teachers, etc.

A bill to add 5 cents to the cost of gasoline purchased by debit or credit card (why? because they can). (HB2838, Jackson R-Berryville) Rumor has it that this may violate federal law prohibiting penalizing payment via plastic. We'll be on the lookout to see whether they'll contort it just enough to skirt such a law.

A bill to to expand electronic gambling contingent upon the approval of voters in local elections. (SB999, Johnson D-Bigelow). After squeaking through the senate by 1 vote, this one need only clear the house.

A bill which would put up for vote the authority of the State Highway Commission to issue state highway improvement bonds (HB2887 by Bolin, D-Crossett)

A bill to add 'sexual orientation' to the protected groups listed in the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (HB2751, Smith D-Fayetteville). Another attempt at conferring special rights upon homosexuals. Churches would be exempt (for now). How nice of them.

9:09 PM, March 11, 2005  

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