7-7-21 – 4029-TV – Allison Wise Weekday Evening Anchor/Reporter
The session lasted 108 days. Lawmakers filed 1,675 bills and 894 bills became law.
Several bills that were introduced stemmed from direct issues with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new laws span a variety of topics including budget changes, education, voting restrictions and social impact issues.
The Unborn Child Protection Act was passed and has been challenged by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The law bans abortions in Arkansas unless it’s to save the life of the mother.
The two opposing groups filed a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.
Arkansas lawmakers also passed the GIRLS Act – Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports. It makes it illegal for student-athletes who are identified as male on their birth certificate to play on women’s teams.
The law applies to interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural or club sports in the state. Supporters have said the law promotes equity in female sports; however, opponents have said the law would be discriminatory against transgender athletes.
A law making porch theft a felony crime was also passed in this year’s session. The crime – known as “porch pirating” was a misdemeanor. Now, it’s a Class D felony in Arkansas that could lead up to six years in prison.
In addition to several education bills passed in the 2021 session, a new law requiring Holocaust education was signed by Gov. Hutchinson. The bill passed unanimously in the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate, and received bi-partisan support.
“We want to learn from our history, so we don’t repeat it,” said Senator Bart Hester, the lead sponsor of the bill.
The law requires schools to generate an understanding about the causes and effects of the horrific event, and develop dialogue about the ramifications of bigotry, stereotyping, and discrimination.