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State Capitol news in brief: Senate OKs future legislative auditor

by Michael R. Wickline, Neal Earley, Will Langhorne | January 26, 2023 at 3:23 a.m.
Chair Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock (second from right), speaks during the Senate Committee on Education meeting Wednesday at the state Capitol in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Senate OKs future legislative auditor

The Arkansas Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee's appointment in September of Kevin William White as legislative auditor, to take office upon the retirement of current Legislative Auditor Roger Norman.

Arkansas Code Annotated 10-4-405 requires White's appointment be confirmed by the state Senate and state House of Representatives, Legislative Joint Auditing Committee Co-Chair Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, and former Co-Chair Sen. Ronald Caldwell, R-Wynne, said in a letter this week to Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs. The state House of Representatives hasn't taken action to confirm White yet.

Norman has served as legislative auditor since 2007. He said he hasn't decided on when he'll retire.

-- Michael R. Wickline

House approves bill on GED equivalence

A bill requiring employers to consider a General Educational Development test the same as a high school diploma for the purposes of employment passed the House unanimously Wednesday.

Rep. Carol Dalby, the sponsor of House Bill 1091, said the bill will clear up ambiguity in Arkansas law so that passing a "nationally recognized high school equivalency exam" will be considered the same as receiving a diploma from a accredited secondary school in Arkansas when applying for a job.

In cases of college and scholarship programs, a GED is already considered the equivalent as a high school diploma. Dalby said the bill, if passed, will make it easier for those who dropped out of school but obtained a GED to gain employment. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

-- Neal Earley

House passes sex offenders drone ban

The Arkansas House on Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit level three and level four sex offenders from purchasing, owning, possessing or operating unmanned aircraft for personal use.

House Bill 1125, sponsored by Rep. Brian S. Evans, R-Cabot, passed on a 95-1 vote.

Evans said he filed the bill after hearing from constituents who had seen a drone repeatedly fly over their backyard.

After the drone crashed on their property, the constituents discovered a level three sex offender had been piloting it.

The bill provides an exemption for the professional use of unmanned aircraft for any sexual offenders who hold jobs that require them to fly drones. A violation of the proposed law would be a Class D felony. The House sent the proposed law to the Senate for further action.

-- Will Langhorne

Senate passes bill on U.S.-made flags

The Arkansas Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill requiring that all state and national flags purchased by a public entity with public funds in Arkansas be made and manufactured in the United States.

The Senate voted 35-0 to send House Bill 1023 by Rep. Jack Fortner, R-Yellville, to the governor.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that she will sign the bill into law today.

Fortner previously told a House committee that flags given out to constituents were already made in the U.S. and that he was not involved in the production of flags.

-- Michael R. Wickline

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