Gov. Hutchinson Signs Marijuana Restrictions

This week Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a bill-signing ceremony for two bills that restrict marijuana edibles and marijuana advertising.

S.B. 440 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) prohibits marijuana stores from selling marijuana-infused candy and other foods that are likely to appeal to children.

We have read time and again about children hospitalized after eating gummies, cookies, or other foods laced with so-called “medical” marijuana. S.B. 440 helps protect Arkansas’ children from this dangerous drug.

S.B. 441 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) restricts medical marijuana advertisements in much the same way as tobacco advertisements. Marijuana ads cannot target children. They cannot be placed near schools or daycares. And they have to include disclaimers about the dangers of marijuana.

This bill will help tighten Arkansas’ restrictions on “medical” marijuana.

Family Council was pleased to support both of these bills during the legislative session, and we enjoyed attending the bill-signing ceremony with Gov. Hutchinson, Sen. Bledsoe, and Rep. Lundstrum this week.

Bad Legislation: Electronic Gambling, Alcohol, and Sex-Education

A lot of really good legislation has passed at the Arkansas Legislature this year, but several bad bills have been filed as well. Here’s a quick look at a few proposals in play that would hurt Arkansas’ families and communities.

H.B. 1912 (Video Lottery Machines): This bill by Rep. Grant Hodges (R – Rogers) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) would legalize video lottery terminals under the Arkansas Lottery. Video lottery machines are more addictive than traditional lottery tickets, and the odds of winning typically are very low. This makes video lottery machines particularly harmful for people with gambling problems and for poor individuals who play the lottery out of desperation. In other states where these games are legal, bars and truck stops have set up miniature casinos by installing video lottery machines in back rooms. Family Council has opposed past efforts to legalize video lottery machines and other casino-style games in Arkansas, and we oppose H.B. 1912 as well. Read H.B. 1912 Here.

S.B. 492 (Entertainment Districts): This bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) lets cities create “entertainment districts” where open containers of alcohol can be carried and consumed outdoors. Entertainment districts essentially are areas where public intoxication is legal. Under this bill, an entertainment district could be temporary — such as at an event or festival — or it could be permanent. Because of their association with excessive drinking, entertainment districts in other states have raised serious concerns about crime, DUI offenses, and public safety. The bill recently passed the Arkansas Senate and is currently before the House Rules Committee. Read S.B. 492 Here.

S.B. 304 (Sex Education): This bill by Sen. Will Bond (D – Little Rock) and Rep. LeAnne Burch (D – Monticello) requires every school district in Arkansas to offer “evidence based” health courses to 7th – 12th graders that include instruction on preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases through abstinence and contraceptives. We know from experience that the kind of curriculum S.B. 304 mandates won’t actually teach students to be abstinent. Instead it will encourage students to be sexually active. Past “evidence-based” programs pushed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did not have a meaningful impact on teen birth rates or teen abortion rates. S.B. 304 simply continues these flawed policies. S.B. 304 is currently before the House Education Committee. Read S.B. 304 Here.

Committee Passes Bill to Reduce Tax on Used Cars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Little Rock – On Tuesday the Arkansas House Revenue and Tax Committee passed H.B. 1342, sponsored by Rep. John Payton (R – Wilburn), amending state law concerning sales tax on used cars and trailers.

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement saying, “This is a good bill. It changes state law so that people won’t have to pay sales tax if they spend less than $7,500 on a used car. That’s going to help a lot of families get a reliable vehicle without breaking the bank.”

Cox said Family Council has supported efforts to change the state’s law taxing used cars for years. “We’ve worked on this issue for over a decade. The used car tax hurts Arkansas’ poor and middle class families. A lot of folks can barely scrape together a few thousand dollars to buy a used car as it is. They can’t afford to pay the state on top of that. Single moms who need a reliable vehicle to get to work, school, and soccer practice shouldn’t be penalized for buying a used car. H.B. 1342 gives families like theirs some relief.”

Cox said he hopes Arkansans will ask their state legislators to support H.B. 1342. “This is commonsense legislation that’s going to help a lot of families, and won’t cost the State very much in tax revenue. It still needs to pass the entire Arkansas House and the Arkansas Senate. I hope Arkansans will ask their lawmakers to support this good bill.”

Family Council is a conservative education and research organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.