LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Lawmakers from across Arkansas will convene on January 11 for the 93rd General Assembly.
Beginning in November, legislators were allowed to file bills ahead of the regular session. Some of the bills introduced focus on abortion restrictions, "Stand Your Ground" laws, hate crimes, law enforcement integrity and other issues.
Here's a look at some of the bills filed before the session begins:
HB1020: Hate crimes legislation
With bipartisan support and a push from Governor Asa Hutchinson, the proposed bill would add a hate crime law to Arkansas law.
If passed, a person would be charged with additional penalties for an offense that was committed due to someone's attributes, which includes race, color, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Arkansas is currently one of three states without a hate crime law in the United States.
HB1061: No Patient Left Alone Act
This bill would allow at least one support person to be present with a patient "throughout [their] hospitalization, visit to the office of a healthcare professional, or institutionalization."
The proposed law was introduced due to the inability for visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HCR1003: End the COVID-19 public health emergency
Introduced by Rep. Justin Gonzales (R-Okolona), the resolution looks to terminate the COVID-19 public health emergencies enacted by Gov. Hutchinson.
The resolution would also terminate "all executive orders issued in response to the emergency."
Several bills have been filed in the Senate to address the executive orders that would be terminated if this passes. A similar resolution was also filed in the Senate.
Read the full resolution here.
HB1007: Law Enforcement Integrity Act of 2021
Introduced by Rep. Fredrick Love (D-Mabelvale), the bill would create a law enforcement integrity unit with the Arkansas State Police.
The unit would be in control of a hotline and database to report police officers who "commit abuses of police power or violations of a person's civil rights."
SB6: Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act
The bill, filed by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), claims that the United States Supreme Court committed a "grave injustice" and "crime against humanity" in its ruling on Roe v. Wade.
The proposed law would made abortion illegal in Arkansas unless to save the mother's life in an emergency. If passed, the bill could possibly give the Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, which ruled in favor of a pregnant woman to have an abortion without government restrictions.
SB24: Stand Your Ground law
Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Ozark) is once again hoping to get a "Stand Your Ground" law passed in Arkansas.
In 2019, Ballinger's attempts to get a "Stand Your Ground" law passed failed after it faced opposition from Sen. Stephanie Flowers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
A 2013 study from Texas A&M said that "Stand Your Ground" laws "lead to a statistically significant eight percent net increase in the number of reported murders and nonnegligent manslaughters."
And a 2017 study found that Florida's law saw a 24.4% percent increase in homicides and a 31.6% increase in gun-related homicides.