Arkansas Capitol Almanac


Associated Press

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 8 at 12:02 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Ark. House completes veto override, imposing near-ban on abortions from 12th week of pregnancy

The Arkansas House has completed a veto override that gives the state with the toughest anti-abortion law in the country.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe had vetoed a ban on most abortions beginning in the 12th week of pregnancy. The GOP-dominated House voted 56-33 on Wednesday to override. The Senate overrode it Tuesday.

Only a simple majority was needed in each chamber.

The 12-week ban won't take effect until this summer. Last week, the Legislature overrode Beebe's veto of a ban on most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy. That law took effect immediately.

Abortion rights proponents have already said they'll sue to block the 12-week ban from taking effect. Beebe says the courts are likely to overturn both bans and that the state will waste money defending them.


Ark. Republican lawmaker says machine didn't record his vote to override abortion veto

A Republican lawmaker says he supported overriding Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a 12-week abortion ban, but his voting machine didn't record his vote.

Rep. Randy Alexander of Fayetteville was the only Republican listed as not voting Wednesday on the override of the veto of the abortion ban. The Republican-led House successfully overrode Beebe's veto, giving Arkansas the strictest abortion ban in the country. Fifty Republicans and six Democrats supported the override. The Senate voted a day earlier to override Beebe's veto.

An override requires only a simple majority in the House and Senate.

Alexander said he pressed the "yes" button on his voting machine but it wasn't recorded. He filed a letter with the House stating that he intended to vote for the override.


Arkansas House panel advances proposal requiring voters to show photo identification

A House panel has advanced legislation requiring Arkansas voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot.

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 13-6 on Wednesday to advance the voter ID bill proposed by Republican Sen. Bryan King. The panel last week delayed a vote on the measure so that a fiscal impact study could be performed.

The Senate approved the measure earlier this month.

King's proposal would only take effect when there's funding for the state to provide IDs free of charge to voters who don't have driver's licenses. It would also exempt voters who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Arkansas law currently requires poll workers to ask for identification, but voters aren't required to show it.


Arkansas Senate committee approves income tax exemption for active military pay

A Senate panel has approved exempting active armed services members' pay from Arkansas' income tax, the first major tax cut headed to a vote in this year's session.

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on Wednesday advanced the proposal, which officials say will cost Arkansas about $7.2 million annually. The lawmaker behind the proposal says the exemption would benefit about 6,300 people.

Lawmakers backed the proposal despite warnings from state finance officials that there's no money in Gov. Mike Beebe's proposed balanced budget for additional tax cuts.

The chairman of the Senate panel says he expects lawmakers to take up more proposed reductions now that a projected shortfall in Arkansas' Medicaid program has been reduced.

Last week, House Speaker Davy Carter called for $150 million in tax cuts this session.


Arkansas lawmakers reject $1 million award for family of Bentonville boy killed by soccer goal

Arkansas lawmakers have rejected awarding $1 million to the family of a 9-year-old killed when an unanchored soccer goal fell on him two years ago.

The Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday failed to advance the award for the family of Jonathan Nelson. A claims subcommittee had recommended the award.

The proposal received 27 votes but needed at least 29 from the 56-member budget panel.

The Department of Finance and Administration opposed the claim, citing the impact it would have on the state's budget.

Jonathan was a fourth-grader at Elm Tree Elementary School in Bentonville when he was killed by the falling soccer goal. His family filed a claim against the Department of Human Services, which licensed an after-school program that operated at the elementary school.


Quote of the day:

"Not the governor, nor anyone else other than the courts, can determine if something is constitutional or unconstitutional.,"

Rep. Bruce Westerman, a Republican from Hot Springs, said in urging his colleagues to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a bill that bans abortions as early as 12 weeks into pregnancy.