1.8.21 – THV11 –
There’s a lot of hot-button issues on this year’s agenda and those alone make this session one of the most anticipated in Arkansas history.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — There’s a lot of hot-button issues on this year’s agenda and those alone make this session one of the most anticipated in Arkansas history. But with the pandemic, these legislators will be relying more on technology than ever before.
When lawmakers enter the Capitol for the start of this year’s session on Monday, they will be greeted with social distancing signs and temperature checks.
People will not be allowed to stand around in the Capitol, and there will be signs to tell you which direction to walk down each hallway.
When lawmakers get to work, they will be looking at issues that include cutting taxes, COVID-19 restrictions, expanding broadband, police reform, and raising teachers’ pay.
“We’ve got to do a better job of trying to pay them something that is more commiserate with the invaluable public service that they provide,” said Representative Matthew Shepherd.
There’s also a hate crime bill on the table, which would impose charges for a crime against someone’s race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
This could possibly be the hardest bill to pass since some legislators have already tried to defeat the bill before session begins.
“I’ve had multiple people ask me, well does it involve this because of this class of people in there or that class,” said Senator Jimmy Hickey. “I really don’t feel that’s it as much as it is people don’t understand why you would not keep the equality the same across the classes.”
“I’m always hopeful that with more understanding of it, more discussion, more dialogue, that we can get something that’s very good and send a signal that we are not going to tolerate that kind of violence in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.