Arkansans had some small victories and moments to be proud of in the Legislature this past week. Our Democratic lawmakers went to the Capitol, stood tall, and represented our values in the face of tremendous pushback. Tough battles are still ahead and some dangerous bills are already headed to the governor’s desk. Let’s do the work.
The Look Ahead
Banning Our History // The 1619 Project
A deeply ignorant bill that seeks to re-write history, prohibiting children from learning about the foundations of slavery in America, is being introduced in the House Education Committee this Tuesday. Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) is unashamed of his bill to ban history.
Lowery met with the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus on the first day of Black History Month to try and defend his legislation. Hats off to these lawmakers for grilling Lowery and exposing how this bill would fail our children’s education and spiritual well-being. Check out what one of Arkansas’s most beloved educators, Joyce Elliott, had to say (click here).
Reproductive Health Rights // Banning Abortion & Forced Ultrasounds
Senate Bill 6 and Senate Bill 85 are the next looming threats to Reproductive Health Rights in Arkansas. SB6 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) seeks to outright ban abortion access in Arkansas. He hopes to push the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade. SB85 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R-Rogers) would force doctors to show women ultrasounds before granting access to their Constitutional right to access abortion services. Both bills could go before the Senate Public Health Committee this week.
Stand Your Ground // A Rough Future
Informed, passionate testimony and hundreds of calls and e-mails from individuals and organizations from all across Arkansas helped stop the dangerous Stand Your Ground law from passing through a House committee. But since then, a faction of the Republican House caucus has been adamant about forcing the bill through despite failing to get enough votes in the House Judiciary Committee. They’ve threatened to use an extraordinary parliamentary procedure trick to extract the bill straight from committee, and have been meeting after hours to try and pressure members to flip their votes.
The House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) now says he expects Stand Your Ground will pass — one way or another. Read his comments here. And check out Rep. Nicole Clowney’s take on the situation on Talk Business & Politics. Thank you all who are working non-stop to stop this bill from becoming the law of the land in Arkansas.
The Look Back
Reproductive Health Rights // The Hotline Mandate
This demeaning and invasive bill to restrict women’s reproductive health rights passed the House and Senate and now heads to the Governor’s desk. HB1195 forces a woman seeking an abortion to call a hotline to receive “counseling” from non-professional, non-medically trained private call center operators contracted by the state.
Democrats in the Arkansas House made sure our voices were heard in the public and for the record. Four Democratic state Representatives rose and asked eight questions of bill sponsor Jim Dotson (R- Bentonville). Thank you to Minority Leader Tippi McCullough (Little Rock), Rep. Deborah Ferguson (West Memphis), Rep. Monte Hodges (Blytheville), and Rep. Vivian Flowers (Pine Bluff).
They revealed that Dotson hasn’t done too much research into his own bill, including not knowing what/if there are qualifications or training for the hotline operators.
Dotson represents Bentonville, a place that symbolizes growth, culture, and a forward looking vision for northwest Arkansas. Legislation like this shows Dotson is out of step with the future of a united Bentonville. Thank you to Daisy Bonilla for running an aggressive campaign for this House District in 2020, reaching new voters, and building on the incredible work of 2018 nominee Gayatri Agnew (elected to City Council in 2020).
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO: YOU for committing to the fight against Stand Your Ground and the many battles forced upon us during this Legislative session.
Arkansas Democrats can come together and build back better. Let’s support our lawmakers, our emerging leaders, and build now to elect Arkansas Democrats.