FOR GUN LAW CHANGES: Rep. Bob Ballinger and Sen. Jonathan Dismang.
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NRA LOBBYIST: Anthony Roulette opposed amendments to gun bill.
UPDATE: Shortly after the SEC voiced objections to guns at sporting events in Arkansas, the House Judiciary Committee took up a bill to ban them there and make other amendments to new legislation that expanded places where concealed weapons can be taken in Arkansas. The committee approved the amendments and sent the bill to the House floor.
Here's what occurred during the day:
The AP reported that the Southeastern Conference, from which millions flow into University of Arkansas coffers, had asked the state to exempt college sports events from a newly expanded gun law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses, in the Capitol, in courthouses, in bars and in many other places.
This is the aim of an amendment to the new law that had cleared the Senate but hadn't been acted on in the House yet. The NRA says it opposes this change. But reports AP:
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday that the measure signed into law last week by Gov. Asa Hutchinson creates concerns for the conference and its member institutions.
Sports got prompt attention where the cries of every college board and hundreds if not thousands of students and parents against the bill did not.
Rep. Charlie Collins, who started the gun bill rolling, was interviewed on a sports talk show:
Collins: I’m confident that what we do won’t put ourselves in jeopardy of the NCAA penalizing Arkansas.
Collins said he expects to see alignment on an amendment later Tuesday that would alleviate concerns about the bill when it comes to allowing concealed carry at athletic venues.
“My expectation is that it will be the kind of amendment that satiates this issue, that takes down the concern that somehow the NCAA is going to have some kind of negatives for Arkansas, because certainly no one intends for that to happen,” Collins said.
Collins said the legislature has no desire to hurt collegiate athletics in the state of Arkansas.
Students? Daycares? Bar patrons? High school football crowds? Parks?
Collins soon after unveiled new amendments to the Judiciary Committee by Rep. Bob Ballinger for the Senate bill. He said he didn't fear some of the "sky is falling" predictions made by opponents of the bill. But he said the changes mean, "We can have confidence everything will move forward smoothly." It says, as to a ban on guns at sporting events, that colleges will define "sensitive areas." This same allowance will be given UAMS to define sensitive areas, rather than giving a blanket exemption to the entire campus. Daycares were added to the section prohibiting guns on K-12 campuses. The bill requires security plans for those who declare firearm sensitive areas where guns are prohibited.
Here's the amendment.
The NRA testified against the amendment. Lobbyist Anthony Roulette said it found "a number of problems." Firearm-sensitive areas defined in the bill are too broad, he said, and he had similar criticism of the exception for sporting events. If law-abiding citizens are going to be prohibited from having guns, other steps must be guaranteed to guard against non-law-abiding citizens. The definition of athletic events is also vague, he said. It migth include parking lots, which would move law backward, he said. He said he feared adjacent building and grounds could also be banned.
Other speakers included Jan Morgan, a pro-gun advocate who appears frequently on Fox News who said she couldn't believe that, of all places, Arkansas and Republican politicians were taking any steps to limit "gun rights." Why? She was told the governor. She said she tried to confront the governor, but couldn't get past senior staff. She called opposition "politically correct, dirty games."
"You are not here to do the will of Asa Hutchinson," said Morgan, her voice rising. She said her daughter went to college in Texas, not her native Arkansas, because she wanted to be on a place where she could be protected by her concealed weapon. "We sholdn't be here discussing gun rights issues. This should be a no-brainer. .... You vote in favor of this amendment, I"m going to be your worst enemy."
Rep. Bob Ballinger and Sen. Jon Dismang spoke for the bill. They said they'd work to see that it wouldn't be abused as the NRA feared to spread gun-free zones. Ballinger, a staunch gun advocate, indicated he thought compromise was a better approach than simply fighting any changes to the law Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed last week.
Rep. Doug House brought up the issue of whether the legislature could even set rules for universities given the autonomy granted universities in Arkansas by Amendment 33.
In the end, the bill got a do-pass recommendation on a divided roll call vote. With the new amendments, if the bill passes the House, it will have to return to the Senate for concurrence.
The Senate today approved SB 724 to provide exemptions from a new expanded concealed weapon bill to allow them to be banned from college athletic events. The vote was 23-7 and the bill goes to the governor. /more/
The version of Arkansas gun legislation likely to be approved in the Senate today creates a bureautic morass and significant campus expense to keep concealed weapons out of college athletic events. Realistically, the procedure is likely to be followed only for the biggest events, such as Razorback football. /more/
Sen. Jonathan Dismang ran into opposition but still passed his bill to add UAMS, the State Hospital and college athletic events and venues as exceptions to legislation signed yesterday to expand where qualified concealed carry permit holders may take weapons. The NRA will fight the changes in the House. /more/
UPDATE: Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the expanded concealed carry legislation, but some additional legislation is promised, at a minimum to exempt UAMS and the State Hospital from the expanded list of places where concealed weapons are allowed for those with a new permit that requires an additional day of training. /more/
Opponents of an extension of 12.4 millions in Little Rock School District property taxes at a cost of $600 million or more say critical construction needs in the district can be made without a bond issue that lines the pockets of bond firms and lawyers.
The Little Rock City Board has scheduled a special Sunday TV show to posture about violence. A grassroots anti-crime group complains that the city board had ignored its calls for action until an episode of violence in a white neighborhood.
Arkansas Business reports here on a federal court filing Wednesday that shows a second person has pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme to help a major contractor of the state Department of Human Services.
The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.