2017 Regular Session Update: The Future of Brit and Luke’s Arkansas General Assembly Series

It has been a while since our last post. I don’t think I have even uploaded an independent piece since November. I have, however, been pretty active on Instagram if anyone wants to see 23 different photos of Bird, Sid, and our newest furry resident, Watson. 15941081_10155549684624057_7000371060805088474_n

I’ve also been keeping track of several bills flitting around the Capitol, both for personal and professional interests and calling every representative I can to list my concerns. On that note, I want to ease into my main point of focus today. Luke and I will be continuing our bill series, but now that the session has started, we will be tweaking our focus and format a bit.

In large part, this is due to the sheer volume of bills that have been filed. Some are technical bills to correct language or slightly restructure code, while others make you stop and stare at the page for a bit while you try to figure out what the motivation was behind the authorship. The latter are the bills we are going to focus on.

Please don’t misinterpret this as us saying that technical bills are not to be taken seriously. Given the ramifications of any legislation, I want to stress that all bills should be handled with some gravitas. However, I don’t want to spend several hours dissecting bills that correct language while bills like HB 1222 slip through the cracks and committee. In fact, prompting from several former and current teachers has pulled HB 1222 out of the hopper and to our attention and it will be the first bill we examine this weekend. HB 1222 deals with creating an income tax credit for donations to nonprofits that distribute education savings accounts to select parents for use for tuition, tutoring, services and related costs of attending private schools (and it is messier than that makes it sound).

***Note: Just as an illustration on how fast these bills move and change, HB 1222 was filed on the 18th, just a week ago, and has already been amended twice.

So if you are looking for a technical bill, please check out the entire 626 bills filed thus far. If you have any questions on any bill that you have heard whisperings about, hit us up in the comment section or on our contact page. Or text us- occasionally we remember to answer our cell phones (sorry, family). If anyone would like us to do an in-depth look at any bills, we will also gladly jump at the task.

Something I think Luke and I have both realized over the past few months is how difficult it can be to stay active in state politics. We both work relatively set hours with steady incomes, so we already have privileges that others don’t. We have both written mock legislation before and are familiar with the layout of bills, so that gave us another leg up. I even have steady overlap in my work and politics; yet we struggle to keep afloat. Each of our previous entries for our Arkansas General Assembly series required 20 plus hours of reading and researching over the course of 10-11 days, which never sounds like a lot until you are sitting down to read more technical language on your holiday. In part, that is why Luke and I will continue to do bill research and work on keeping a stream of updates from committees and amendments. With constant calls for more local and state involvement, we thought it might be nice to provide more avenues to approach an overwhelming amount of legislation.

In the meantime, if you find yourself with time on your hands (or not- this is worth making some time for), call or write to your local representatives or Governor Hutchinson about any legislative or policy concerns you have, whether they be with the federal nightmare happening right now or on a state issue (like HB 1032, which through inaccurate, non-medical terminology prohibits D&E procedures and further restricts universal body autonomy and passed through the Senate and House today). Remember we have previously covered bills that range from xenophobia to racism to socioeconomic classism and back again. Don’t just speak out against policies that directly impact you. Equality is not achieved when white men and women secure the facade of it. We don’t have to go back to the 1950’s to see inequality; we can just look to a few weeks ago. If you need help finding the appropriate representative to contact, the Arkansas Legislative Assembly website has contact information listed. If large groups are more your thing and you are available this Saturday in the central Arkansas area, come out to the 7th Annual Rally for Reproductive Justice. Luke and I will be there and would love to give anyone a lift.

Until next time,

Brit

 

 

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