From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Week in review.

In General Business on 3 April 2009 at 2:07 pm

A flood of tax cuts passed the House, including a break for development in urban business districts, an exemption from capital-gains levies and a back-to-school tax holiday. Gov. Beebe expressed reservations about the cuts. The Joint Budget Committee continued to have epic meetings as it tried to wrap up the state’s finances. The committee voted to raise the salary of Director of Higher Education Jim Purcell by $50,000 despite vocal opposition by some members.

Lawmakers rushed to pass bills through committee as the session approached its final week. A Senate committee rejected a bill that would restrict the sale of toy guns in Arkansas. The bill is named after a child who was shot by police in 2007 while reportedly carrying a toy gun. Lawyers for the child’s family have said the bill title hurts their case, since they are arguing that the child was not actually carrying a toy gun when he was shot. Another Senate committee oversaw a compromise between weapons groups and FOI advocates that will allow open access to the names and zip codes of concealed-carry holders. A House committee rejected two energy efficiency bills in the face of opposition from energy companies. Another House committee told acupuncturists they cannot call themselves doctors.

The Senate asked voters to decide, in 2010, whether the people of Arkansas should have a constitutional right to hunt and fish. The Senate said immigrant children who have had three years at an Arkansas high school cannot go to college at in-state rates if they do not have proper documentation. The House rejected a resolution informing the federal government that Arkansas has states’ rights.

The House passed a bill to ban lobbyists from giving lawmakers their credit cards to pay for stuff, but only after House Republicans used a procedural move to delay the measure. Members of the House Rules Committee were forced to rehear the bill on the spot after Rep. Ed Garner objected to a provision that would prevent lobbyists from being paid based on legislative action. Of his objection, Rep. Garner said, “I’ve opened up a whole can of Pandoras.”

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