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Academics, taxes, loos and bullies: Week 3

A wild week three within the legislature has come and gone. Tradition warfare laws continues to be a factor, and might be for the remainder of the session, however we did see substantive payments filed and thought of by the legislature. Watch our video recap or learn on for the highlights.

Anti-Drag Invoice passes senate ground

Sen. Stubblefield’s anti-drag bill, SB43, simply handed the Senate this week. Senate Democrats spoke in opposition to the invoice, arguing the mean-spirited invoice solved no actual downside for Arkansans. Sen. Clarke Tucker’s feedback stood out to us. “This invoice isn’t about governing,” he mentioned. “It’s about bullying.” Sen. Greg Leding talked about what a number of Arkansans are questioning: why is the Senate working a invoice that targets trans Arkansans when there are numerous urgent points in our state like excessive charges of kid starvation, baby mortality, and kids who die by firearms?

One other large argument in opposition to the invoice is that it’s unconstitutional, or as Sen. Tucker put it, authorities overreach on the expense of non-public freedom. Proponent for the invoice, nevertheless, caught to the theme of defending kids and upholding Christian values. If separation of church and state is one thing you imagine in, we warning you in watching the Senate debate on SB43, because the Bible is inextricably woven into the case for SB43.

SB43 handed the Senate with each Republican voting for it and each Democrat voting in opposition to it. The invoice now heads to the Home committee for Metropolis County and Native affairs.

Murder Abortion invoice tabled

Some excellent news for the week: the Home abortion invoice that classifies abortion as homicide has been tabled for now. The Household Council, Arkansas’s largest pro-life/anti-abortion group got here out in opposition to the invoice, stating girls shouldn’t be criminalized for searching for abortions. For AR Individuals agrees! When conservatives and liberals are each in opposition to a invoice, particularly relating to abortion, it demonstrates how dangerous and pointless a coverage is. Maybe the sponsors of the invoice have been attempting to make their mark within the 94th Normal Meeting. No matter their intentions, the invoice is remarkably harmful and we’re happy to see it put aside. We’ll hold you knowledgeable on any adjustments with the invoice’s standing.

“Faculty Alternative week” invades LR 

As we await the governor’s omnibus training invoice, which seemingly contains voucher growth, out-of-state lobbyists swarmed the Capitol this week with promises to equalize the playing field for Arkansas students. Their pitch: “fund college students, not programs.” The college alternative foyer is subtle, extraordinarily well-funded, and gunning for training reform in Arkansas. However those who stand to profit from vouchers and “college alternative” aren’t Arkansas college students. It’s those that will take advantage of cash off of vouchers. If voucher growth passes, the coverage would hurt small or rural college districts the place college students can’t entry non-public faculties.

It’s our view that investing in public training (and lecturers!) shouldn’t be a partisan subject. Rumor is the governor’s training bundle is delayed as a result of conservative legislators from rural districts are in opposition to voucher growth, figuring out how a lot it might damage their district’s faculties. This week Rep. Wooten, a Republican from Beebe, filed two training payments in response to voucher growth. HB1204 and HB1205 would require non-public faculties that settle for public funds to 1) present transportation to any pupil inside 35 miles; 2) settle for any pupil that applies by way of the voucher program; 3) require non-public faculties that settle for public funds to submit annual pupil evaluation assessments.

Proper now non-public faculties in Arkansas that settle for vouchers do not need these necessities; Rep. Wooten’s payments might be a litmus for lawmakers. If representatives imagine college alternative is about fairness, they are going to vote for these payments. In the event that they vote no, it signifies college alternative is admittedly about monetary achieve.

Democrats introduce RAISE Act

On Thursday the Democratic caucus received forward of the governor’s workplace and launched two companion payments addressing instructor and workers salaries. The RAISE Act of 2023 would give $10,000 bonuses to all lecturers and enhance base instructor pay from $36,000 to $50,000. It will additionally present funding to bump beginning labeled pay from $12/hr to $15/hr. Democrats specified the payments tackle educator pay solely — an intentional distinction from the governor’s yet-to-be-seen omnibus invoice the place salaries will increase (seemingly decrease than what Democrats have proposed) might be folded in with voucher growth.

Mary Bentley’s “toilet invoice” heard in committee

Rep. Mary Bentley, a legislator in relentless pursuit to purify faculties from trans and nonbinary college students, launched HB1156 this week in Home Schooling. Attributable to some amendments, members didn’t vote on the invoice however did hear testimony for and in opposition to it. Along with the invoice’s mean-spirited intent, it’s noteworthy Bentley had members of the Conway Faculty Board testify in favor of the invoice. Conway schools are the epicenter of Arkansas’s school culture wars. A vote is predicted someday subsequent week. For extra context, we suggest this great write up via the Arkansas Advocate.

Tax chat with Bruno Showers of Arkansas Advocates for Youngsters and Households

Bruno Showers, coverage wunderkind over at Arkansas Advocates for Children and families, talks about tax coverage for this session. A biggie would be the elimination of the state earnings tax, or at a minimal, payments that chip away at it. Working-class and low-income Arkansans positively want extra money of their pockets, however eliminating the state earnings tax will not be the best way to do it. Eradicating the important funding supply for important applications can be detrimental for therefore many. As an alternative, Showers argues, the state ought to make investments extra in service applications that assist households keep afloat. Test it out:

One nice takeaway from our dialog with Showers is that this: even when tax laws feels intimidating, you continue to deserve a say in how the coverage is made. On a regular basis Arkansans have as a lot of a proper to be on the tax-policy desk as anybody else. Certain, there’s a studying curve to understanding these insurance policies, however don’t let the technicalities hold you from being engaged. It’s price studying and value pursuing, and in spite of everything, it’s our cash.

The publish Teachers, taxes, bathrooms and bullies: Week 3 appeared first on Arkansas Times.