House bill mandates locked school doors
The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a series of bills intended to clarify laws regarding the locking of schools' exterior doors and the effective date for a sentencing enhancement for felony with a firearm.
Rep. Brian Evans, R-Cabot, said his House Bill 1005 aims to make it clear that all schools are required to have exterior doors closed and locked when students are present.
The House voted 96-0 to send HB 1005 to the Senate. The Senate Education Committee approved the bill later Wednesday morning, sending it to full Senate for further action.
In her written call for the special session, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked lawmakers to consider amending Arkansas Code Annotated 20-22-1011 (a) "to provide clarity for public schools, private schools and educational institutions to keep exterior doors closed and locked during school hours apart from transition times as required by Arkansas Code Annotated 6-21-121."
Senate Bill 4, an identical bill to HB 1005, was approved by the House Education Committee on Wednesday and moves to the full House for further action.
Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, R-Paragould, presented both his House Bill 1006 and Senate Bill 6, identical pieces of legislation that he said are aimed at clarifying an effective date for a sentencing enhancement for a felony with a firearm under the Protect Arkansas Act.
The issue was raised by the state's Code Revision Commission, he said.
The House voted 90-1 for HB 1006, sending it to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, which approved the bill later Wednesday and sent it to the full Senate for further action. The House voted 89-2 to send Senate Bill 6 to the governor.
Sanders asked lawmakers in the special session to consider clarifying that Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-120 (e) (1) applies to offenses committed on or after July 2, 2007, but not before Jan. 1, 2024, and Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-120 (g) applies to sentencing for offenses committed on or after Jan. 1, 2024.
-- Will Langhorne and Michael R. Wickline
House panel passes education measures
The House Committee on Education on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 1008, which aim at allowing students who qualified under the Succeed Scholarship program to stack the Educational Freedom accounts and Philanthropic Investment In Arkansas Kids scholarships together regardless of whether they were or were not in public school or private school last year.
The identical bills, sponsored by Rep. Sonia Eubanks Barker, R-Smackover, and Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, move to the full House for further action.
In her call for the special session, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked lawmakers to consider amending the Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids Program Act and the Arkansas Children's Educational Freedom Account program to provide for the provision of educational services and access to additional funding for children with disabilities under the Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids program, the Succeed Scholarship program and the Arkansas Children's Educational Freedom Account program.
-- Will Langhorne and Michael R. Wickline
Resolution in House would extend session
Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier, on Wednesday filed House Resolution 1001 that aims to extend the special session up to 15 days to allow lawmakers to consider amending Act 851 of 2023, "including establishing sound standards for digital asset mining businesses and requiring demand-response agreements between digital asset mining businesses and public utilities."
Act 851, known as the Arkansas Data Centers Act of 2023, limits the kinds of regulations local governments can implement on cryptocurrency mining facilities. Several Arkansas counties moved to pass emergency ordinances to regulate noise and other issues linked to the facilities ahead of the act's Aug. 1 effective date.
Meeks, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology, has said he would like to see the Legislature address issues stemming from cryptocurrency mining during a special session.
-- Will Langhorne
The calendar of public events for today, the fourth day of the 2023 special session. The legislative calendar is at www.arkleg.state.ar.us/Calendars/Meetings.
8:30 a.m. House convenes, House Chamber
8:30 a.m. Senate Rules, Resolutions and Memorials, Room 309
9 a.m. Senate convenes, Senate Chambe