From the legislature:
* GUNS: The House approved HB 2025 allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns into liquor stores.
AMPLIFICATION: The law only applies to employees of liquor stores. As several readers have noted, the legislature had already taken care of customers’ packing heat. The law previously allowed owners, but not employees, to carry concealed weapons in the stores where they work.
Are concealed fetuses allowed in liquor stores? Zygotes?
* ALIMONY: With 55 votes, the House passed a long debated bill to provide for an end to alimony to a cohabitating spouse.
* EXECUTION WITNESSES: The House, with 48 votes, fell three votes short of passing a bill (resisted by the Correction Department) that would require executions be open to spouse, children or siblings of a capital crime victim. Prison officials had feared the cost of accommodating a potentially large crowd and also raised a fairness issue, as Rep. John Walker did today: the bill provides a place for a victim’s family but known for the family of a person being executed.
* BODY ART: The House completed passage of those body arts bills. No debate after much earlier controversy and amendments.
* HIGHER EDUCATION: The House completed action, with 58 votes in favor, on legislation to remove an advanced degree qualification for the job of director of the state Higher Education Department. Gov. Mike Beebe’s effort to make Shane Broadway the director were stymied by his lack of an advanced degree, but he’s continued to serve as interim director. Rep. John Walker objected to the bill. A lack of reasonable qualifications for certain jobs makes those jobs a “farce,” he said. This case sends a message that the state doesn’t care about educational attainment. Walker had some rare support from Republicans in his opposition.
* AMENDMENTS: The Senate picked six constitutional amendments to go to match up with House picks to winnow down to three. Not exciting, as you might expect. The “tort reform” amendment from the chamber; election of the Game and Fish Commission; a vote suppression (ID) amendment; a legislative redistricting commission to change control of the process to favor the currently majority Republican legislature.
* CLEAN WATER: A coalition of groups announced opposition to a bill written by polluting industries to gut clean water law in Arkansas. The news release follows.