Special license fees for seniors: Aren't they now illegal at local level? | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 22, 2015

Special license fees for seniors: Aren't they now illegal at local level?

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 9:08 AM

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved a batch of special license fees for codgers such as I'll be come June 10 — $3.50 fishing and hunting licenses for those 65 and up, for example.

And I got to thinking: Isn't this discriminatory against young people? And didn't the legislature just express a pretty strong interest in not creating special classes of protection?

I refer to Sen. Bart Hester's so-called intrastate commerce improvement act. It said: 

A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy  that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.

I know. This bill was aimed at cities and counties, not state agencies. It was meant to preserve legal discrimination against gay people. But it created many potential problems, which I'm reminded of by Game and Fish protecting a classification — oldsters — from higher license fees. Cities and counties do this all the time at their golf courses and such. And I believe it's illegal under the Hester gay discrimination act.

Why? Glad you asked. The Arkansas civil rights law says:

The right of an otherwise qualified person to be free from discrimination because of race, religion, national origin, gender, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability is recognized as and declared to be a civil right. 

Please note: Age is not included. Thus, clearly, special rights for old-timers create a protected classification not contained in state law and thus would be illegal. Thanks, Sen. Hester.

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