Close to 500 bills have been signed into law so far during the 2021 Regular Session. There are still several hundred bills making their way through the legislative process. In the 12th week of the session, the House passed the following bills regarding economic development, education, and elections:
HB1788-This bill would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service.
SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development.
HB1264-This bill creates the Small Town Economic Development Act. This bill amends the exemptions to the licensing requirements for architects to buildings whose fair market value does not exceed $250,000. The current exemption is for buildings under $100,000.
SB470-This bill establishes the Online Marketplace Consumer Inform Act. It would require an online market facilitator to collect information, including business name, address, email, and phone number. High volume sellers would be required to have this information accessible to consumers on their website.
SB389-This bill would require public schools to provide parents prior written notification and an opportunity to inspect materials related to sex education, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
SB349-This bill would adjust funding for public schools that offer curriculum not aligned with the Science of Reading. This bill also directs the Secretary of the Department of Education to hire an Education Ombudsman to assist the division in enforcement.
SB161-This bill would allow public schools to offer a hunting safety course as part of their curriculum.
SB397-This bill directs the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Higher Education Consumer Guide for prospective students and parents.
HB1237-This bill states that at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, a public school district board of directors may elect to implement an alternate school calendar. An alternate school calendar shall consist of at least 1,068 hours of instructional time. Currently, state law requires 178 days of instructional time. This law gives schools more flexibility on a start date and length of a school day.
HB1671-This bill establishes the Arkansas Student-Athlete Publicity Rights Act. It allows student athletes in higher education to enter into a contract and receive compensation for the commercial use of the student athlete’s name, image, and likeness.
HB1446-This bill allows children of military families to be eligible for the Succeed Scholarship.
HB1715-This bill amends Arkansas law concerning absentee ballots. It states that the county clerk or other designated election official providing materials to qualified voters shall not distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications or unsolicited absentee ballots to electors. It also goes on to say that the county clerk shall provide the county board of election commissioners with a daily count of absentee applications received.
HB1803-This bill would give the state Board of Election Commissioners the authority to institute corrective actions for violations of election and voter registration laws.
SB496-This bill amends the law concerning special elections. It states special elections would be held on the second Tuesday in March, May, August or November in presidential election years and the second Tuesday in February, May, August or November in non-presidential election years.
The House will convene on Monday at 1 pm. You can find schedules and links to live streams at www.arkansashouse.org.