Now that bill filing for the 92nd General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature has opened, both new and experienced advocacy groups have begun looking for sponsors for legislation they hope will become state law.
Zachary Crow, the head of Decarcerate, an organization dedicated to reducing the prison population in Arkansas, said his group is looking forward to being more active in this session.
"Now we have one session under our belt, we're ready to amplify the work that we will be doing," said Crow. "And so this is the first time that we have legislation that has originated from us that we've had a hand in drafting."
Decarcerate formed in late 2015 and participated in the 91st General Assembly in 2016, but only by supporting the legislation of other groups. Crow declined to provide specifics, but said his organization is currently working on three separate pieces of legislation. The group is holding a public meeting Monday night to begin discussion on their draft legislation.
Organizations with more legislative experience, like Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), are also planning their strategies for the upcoming session. Rich Huddleston, the group's executive director, said he hopes to push forward between 6 and 8 bills in 2019.
"We're working really hard ourselves this session to really try and find more bipartisan approaches to our policy wish list and trying to find policy solutions that we think will appeal to both conservatives and moderates and liberals at the same time," Huddleston said.
Neither Decarcerate nor AACF are ready to file a bill yet, but nearly a dozen bills were filed on opening day, November 15. Included on the list are two related to abortion, one requiring out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax, and two hoping to establish the shotgun and the bowie knife as the official state firearm and state knife.
The regular session convenes on Monday, January 14.