Senate Narrowly Passes Bill Letting Cities Permit Public Drinking

A little before 2:00 PM Wednesday the Arkansas Senate passed S.B. 492, a bad bill that lets cities and municipalities in wet counties create entertainment districts.

Entertainment districts are areas of town where people can carry and drink alcohol on streets and sidewalks.

Under current law, people caught doing this could face charges of public drinking and public intoxication. S.B. 492 changes state law and ultimately will lead to increased public drinking and public intoxication in our communities.

The bill received only 18 votes in the Arkansas Senate, which is the bare minimum it needed to pass. It now goes to Governor Hutchinson’s desk.

Below is a breakdown of how the Arkansas Senate voted on this bad bill.

Voted FOR S.B. 492

Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Berryville)
Sen. Will Bond (D – Little Rock)
Sen. Ronald Caldwell (R – Wynne)
Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D – Little Rock)
Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville)
Sen. Lance Eads (R – Springdale)
Sen. Joyce Elliott (D – Little Rock)
Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock)
Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado)
Sen. Jim Hendren (R – Gravette)
Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R – Texarkana)
Sen. Ricky Hill (R – Cabot)
Sen. Keith Ingram (D – West Memphis)
Sen. Mark Johnson (R – Little Rock)
Sen. Greg Leding (D – Fayetteville)
Sen. Terry Rice (R – Waldron)
Sen. Bill Sample (R – Hot Springs)
Sen. David Wallace (R – Leachville)

Voted AGAINST S.B. 492

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers)
Sen. Alan Clark (R – Lonsdale)
Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R – Beebe)
Sen. Scott Flippo (R – Bull Shoals)
Sen. Kim Hammer (R – Benton)
Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs)
Sen. Blake Johnson (R – Corning)
Sen. Bruce Maloch (D – Magnolia)
Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway)
Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R – Branch)
Sen. James Sturch (R – Batesville)
Sen. Larry Teague (D – Nashville)

Voted “Present” on S.B. 492 (Did Not Vote For or Against It)

Sen. John Cooper (R – Jonesboro)
Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D – Pine Bluff)
Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View)

Did Not Vote on S.B. 492

Sen. Eddie Cheatham (D – Crossett)
Sen. Matthew Pitsch (R – Fort Smith)

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.