Ready…set…GO. The 93rd Arkansas General Assembly is under way!
The 93rd General Assembly convened this week for their regular session. This group of legislators will consider thousands of bills and make hundreds of laws. They will make decisions that affect you, your family, and your community on a daily basis.
During the legislative session, we’ll work to keep you informed. We’re tracking bills on issues that are important to the disability community. We’ll let you know what’s happening at the Capitol, what bills are coming to a vote, what those bills would do, and how they will impact the lives of Arkansans with disabilities.
But it’s also important that you GET INVOLVED. Legislators will make decisions every day that affect your life and the lives of people you care about. Your voice matters. USE IT.
- Find out who represents you. Let them know your concerns.
- Do your homework – learn about the issues and make sure your senator and representative have the information they need to do their jobs well.
- Keep an eye out for DRA Calls to Action, and contact your legislators when important bills are up for a vote. They work for YOU, and they need to hear from you.
Our legislators often don’t have the perspective you have. When you share your experience, you help lawmakers better understand the implications of the bills they’re considering on people with disabilities.
And always remember, there’s strength in our numbers. We can make Arkansas a better place for people with disabilities. But it will take ALL of us, working together.
Our Legislative Priorities
- Advance legislation allowing for supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship.
- Eliminate fees and fines for juveniles going through the juvenile justice system.
- Increase penalties for crimes committed with the intent to harm someone based on race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, homelessness, disability, ethnicity, color, ancestry, service in the United States Armed Forces, or sex.
- Expand the voting rights of people with disabilities by eliminating the guardianship requirement.
- Improve licensing standards within psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs).
- Eliminate the excessive and harmful use of restraint and seclusion in educational settings.
- Expand health care coverage for individuals with traumatic brain injuries beyond the age of 21.
- Ensuring accountability of the PASSE system to consumers by enhancing evaluation procedures.
- Ensure all Arkansans have access to housing by permanently funding the Housing Trust Fund.
This week at the Capitol…
SB 3/HB 1020: HATE CRIMES BILL
Sen. Jim Hendren (R-2) and a group of bipartisan legislators have introduced Senate Bill 3 (its companion bill in the House, House Bill 1020, is being run by Rep. Fred Love (D-29). This bill would allow the state to seek increased penalties by no more than 20% for crimes where an offender targets a victim based on the victim’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, homelessness or military service.
Arkansas is one of only three states without some kind of hate crimes legislation. Governor Asa Hutchinson has expressed his support of this bill, as have many important members of the Arkansas business community, including Walmart, Tyson Foods, and the state Chamber of Commerce.
Disability Rights Arkansas unequivocally supports this bill, which would help protect people with disabilities and others, and make Arkansas a safer and more inclusive place.
CALL TO ACTION
This bill will be discussed TODAY (Thursday, 1/14) at 2:00 p.m. in the House Judiciary Committee. Contact the following
legislators NOW and tell them to make a Arkansas a safer and more inclusive place! Urge them to vote YES on HB 1020!
Carol Dalby | District 1 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @CarolDalby
Brandt Smith | District 58 | email@example.com
Stan Berry | District 68 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Frances Cavanaugh | District 60 | email@example.com
Nichole Clowney | District 86 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @NicoleClowneyAR
Andrew Collins | District 35 | email@example.com | @andrewcollinsAR
Cindy Crawford | District 76 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Cooper | District 44 | email@example.com
Kenneth Ferguson | District 16 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Vivian Flower | District 17 | email@example.com | @RepVivFlowers
Jimmy Gazaway | District 57 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @jimmygazaway
Ashley Hudson | District 32 | email@example.com | @ashleyforAR
Tippi McCullough | District 33 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @tippi31
Milton Nicks, Jr | District 50 | email@example.com
Jay Richardson | District 78 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcus Richmond | District 21| email@example.com
Jamie Scott | District 37 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @Anointed08
Matthew J. Shepherd | District 6 | email@example.com | @Matt_J_Shepherd
Keith Slape | District 83 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kendon Underwood | District 90 | email@example.com | @underwood4AR
HB 1005, SUPPORTED DECISION-MAKING
Earlier this week, Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-27) introduced House Bill 1005, which would allow an adult with a disability to enter into a legal agreement with a supporter or group of supporters, who can assist that individual with making decisions on his/her/their own behalf.
Supported decision-making is an alternative to guardianship. More than a dozen states have passed laws allowing supported decision-making, but Arkansas currently does not have a supported decision-making law. If HB 1005 passes, Arkansans with disabilities will have the opportunity to make their own choices, with the help of a person or persons they trust to offer support and guidance if they need it.
HB 1005 will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee NEXT THURSDAY.
To learn more about this issue, check out our video, Guardianship: Is it always the right choice?
The Arkansas State Capitol is the People’s House. Public input is essential to ensuring that YOUR voice is heard at the Capitol. The Arkansas House of Representatives, the Arkansas Senate, and the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office have issued the following procedures for public access to committee meetings and other convenings during the current legislative session.
At this time, virtual testimony in committee meetings is not allowed. Expect more on this issue as DRA works to ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to weigh in on the decisions that directly affect the disability community.