HB 1228 advances to full House; Ballinger declines to add non-discrimination amendment | Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 30, 2015

HB 1228 advances to full House; Ballinger declines to add non-discrimination amendment

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge 'SHAME ON YOU': Protesters chant at Rep. Bob Ballinger. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • 'SHAME ON YOU': Protesters chant at Rep. Bob Ballinger.

After a House committee advanced an amended version of a so-called "religious freedom" bill, protesters gathered in the halls of the state Capitol chanted, "Shame on you!" to passing legislators.

The House Judiciary Committee concurred with Senate amendments to HB 1228 by a vote of 11 to four, with four committee members not voting. Only Democrats opposed advancing the bill. Rep. Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado), chair of the committee, said there was no time for public comment. 

House Minority Leader Rep. Eddie Armstrong (D-North Little Rock) asked the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville), if HB 1228 creates a new form of discrimination.

Ballinger said it wouldn't. The crowd in the meeting room booed.

Ballinger said the bill would make Arkansas consistent with 31 other states and the federal government that use the same standard outlined in HB 1228 for protecting religious beliefs.  

But he acknowledged the protest of the bill.

"Individuals have used this as kind of a symbol of something they want to attack. I understand that. A lot of people are hurting. A lot of people are frustrated. ... The reality is that we’re concurring some Senate amendments. From my standpoint, we’ve had the opportunity to make whatever changes need to be made and they were made."

  • Brian Chilson

Rep. David Whitaker (D-Fayetteville) asked Ballinger about a possible amendment.

"You’ve stated on prior occasions and reasserted today that there is no discriminatory intent in this law. ... Would you have an objection to a non-discrimination disclaimer in your bill?"

Ballinger said it depended on how discrimination was defined. 

"I think you’re hinting on something that needs to be a balance. If someone wants to protect another class of people then bring the bill and let’s debate it."

Ballinger said his motivation for introducing the bill was the story of a terminally ill Jehovah's Witness in Kansas, who asked the Kansas Medicaid program to pay for an out-of-state liver transplant. She said her religion prevented her from accepting a blood transfusion and asked for the state to pay for a bloodless transplant at a Nebraska hospital. The woman successfully battled the state in court, but not in time for the transplant, Ballinger said. 

Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) wondered if any sincerely held religious belief would apply to Tony Alamo, the jailed Arkansas cult leader who was convicted for taking underage girls across state lines for sex, or other oddball religions.   

Ballinger said Alamo would not win in court because the state has a compelling interest in protecting children. But generally, he said he wanted to protect people with diverse beliefs. 

"I actually want to protect people with odd beliefs if the have sincerely held positions. I want to protect Jehovah's Witnesses, even if I don't agree with them. ... I think that's part of what our founders intended when they did this."

click to enlarge PROTESTING: Outside the House Judiciary Committee meeting room. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • PROTESTING: Outside the House Judiciary Committee meeting room.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (25)

Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Thursday line's open

    • "Poll: Americans Want Mueller to Work Through Christmas."--Andy Borowitz "Politicians who brag that they've accept…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Thursday line's open

    • Howdy Doody?

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Thursday line's open

    • He would have to be an anti-hero, Olphart, maybe like Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou…

    • on December 14, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation