'Pro-discrimination' bill passes Senate committee UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 5, 2015

'Pro-discrimination' bill passes Senate committee UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 at 11:02 AM

click to enlarge STATE KNOWS BEST: Sen. Bart Hester's anti-anti-discrimination bill advances.
  • STATE KNOWS BEST: Sen. Bart Hester's anti-anti-discrimination bill advances.
SB 202, Sen. Bart Hester's bill to deny cities the right to pass their own anti-discrimination ordinance, was approved by the Senate committee on City, County and Local affairs this morning on a roll call vote, 4-2.

The legislation is a direct response to Fayetteville's attempt last fall to protect LGBT people from housing or employment discrimination. Hester, a Republican from Cave Springs, was an outspoken opponent of the city ordinance, as was the bill's co-sponsor in the House, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville).

Judging from Twitter, it sounds like leaders of municipalities — including Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola — told the committee there could be many unintended consequences for cities resulting from Hester's bill, but didn't take a very firm stand against the legislation. 

Max wrote earlier today about how Stodola could have responded to SB 202: By speaking in favor of the rights of Little Rock's LGBT community, not just making a technical argument about municipal versus state rule. 

It'll head to the Senate floor from here.

UPDATE: City Director Kathy Webb, a former member of the legislature, attempted to lobby the committee. She later wrote a note on Facebook about it.

Today, I am saddened by the passage of SB 202 by the Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committee. For six years, I served on the House CCLA. It's an important committee, where the issue of local control has always been paramount. But today, this was not the case. Senators who talk loudly about "federal government overreach" voted to prohibit cities and counties from including protections for LGBT people in their city and county codes.

As a city director, I find this appalling. As one who has worked on economic development issues for years, I find it counter to job creation, growth and prosperity. The overwhelming majority of companies in the Fortune 500 list include protections for LGBT employees.

Personally, I find it even worse. I have faced the discrimination this bill okays. Don't I, and our other LGBT neighbors, family members, co-workers and friends deserve the same protections others have? This bill ensures that we will not have them.

It's flat-out wrong.

I ask every fair-minded Arkansan to make 

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