Legislative watch | Arkansas Blog

Legislative watch

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The flow of new legislation reflecting the new dominant legislative culture is, well, choose your adjective. Some radical stuff lurks. And then there's just eventful stuff. At random this morning:

* REDEFINING LIFE: Rep. Justin Harris, who taxpayers support with payments to his religious daycare center, has a bill to redefine the definition of "child" to the time a fetal hearbeat can be detected. This is for the purpose — in this bill — of allowing child abuse charges to be brought over fetal abuse, such as, presumably, drug or alcohol use. Though this bill might be narrow in purpose — wow. Once this definition works into the legal code, what next? Isn't a child in line for inheritance? For a tax deduction? And so on.

* MORE MONEY FOR BILLIONAIRES: Another piece of the Billionaire Boys Club charter school agenda popped up this week. It opens the door to construction money for charter schools, the quasi-private schools funded with public money often operated by profit-making entities without democratically elected supervision. It's part of a package that includes removing charter schools from strong state oversight. The bill appears tailored to favor, particularly, the KIPP schools, some of the better charter schools but also organizattions favored already with significant support by Walton and other billionaire money. I guess now that they've put in the venture capital, it's time for taxpayers to take over, including building new buildings to entice students from existing public schools.

* SCHOOL CHOICE: Sen. Joyce Elliott has filed the bill backed by school administrators to repeal the current "school choice" act and replace it with one hoped to pass federal court muster. It would allow transfers for educational (not athletic) reasons, but also allow districts to consider the state's commitment to cure a dual system of education from the segregation days. But it wouldn't have a specific ban on transfers based on racial percentages of the sending and receiving school district. Good bill. Waltons and other billionaires don't like it. I wrote about this recently.

* ETHICS: Sen. Bruce Maloch ad Rep. Warwick Sabin have introduced legislation to prohibit multiple campaign contributions from corporate entities controlled by the same person. Call it the Jim Lindsey Memorial Act. Should it be so easy to evade campaign limits by creating multiple LLCs to max out? No? Will the Republican majority vote for good government? We'll see.

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