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Capitol Access is an online column by Jacob Kauffman. His column aims to give people unique insights into the Arkansas legislative session.

Ethics, Concealed Carry in Church Schools, and the Poultry Capital



Governor Beebe signed SB 331, a bill creating a one year moratorium on registering as a lobbyist for constitutional officers, agency heads, judges, and various commissioners into law today. The bill did not generate a single nay vote in the Senate or House.

The bill’s author, Republican Senator David Sanders of Little Rock, noted this legislation also restricts employment with a company if a state official or employee had “direct impact over a particular entity” or was in a position of picking a “winner or loser.” 

When I spoke with Senator Sanders he made it clear that this legislation was not crafted over a concern with what a former state official might do while a lobbyist. Its intent was to stop “what is done during, or to line-up a job.”

I asked Senator Sanders how he determined one year was a sufficient length of time for restrictions. He argued that this brought these state offices in line with legislative branch restrictions. Sanders speculated that the length of time could be extended for legislators, state officials, and justices in the future.

Sanders said he was “looking for citizens to ask for more” and noted he would be keeping an eye on ballot initiatives focused on ethics reform.

Concealed Carry in Church Schools

Yesterday the Senate passed Senator Bryan King’s (R) bill, “authorizing churches operating a private K-12 school to allow designated persons to carry a concealed handgun on the school property.”

Senator King was also the lead advocate for a bill that passed earlier in the session allowing churches to determine if they’d allow concealed carry on their grounds. On the floor King said SB 896 was an attempt to clarify the extent of the previous piece of legislation.

Senator Flowers (D) of Pine Bluff pressed Senator King with a string of concerns over safety. After several questions Senator Flowers requested to ask one more question. Senator King (who just tangled with Flowers in the Voter ID Debate) replied, “Is this going to make me get a 2/3 vote or do a tap dance?” Flowers replied, “I think that’d be good.”

The bill passed the Senate 29-4 and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon.

The Poultry Capital of the World

Senator Jon Woods sponsored one the more humorous bills of the session yesterday. SB 949 designated Springdale, Arkansas as “the Poultry Capital of the World.”

Senator Woods introduced the bill as the “most important bill of the session by far.” During Woods’s remarks, Senator Bruce Maloch (D) held a microphone to his smart phone and played audio clips of a chicken. The chamber enjoyed the prank and voted unanimously for the bill. Today it was placed in the House Agriculture Committee.