There were a few fireworks, but Rep. Bob Ballinger‘s so-called “religious conscience” bill, HB 1228 — which critics argue would establish additional protections for discrimination against gay people — will head to the governor’s desk after the House concurred in Senate amendments.
That doesn’t mean that the hope of a compromise around adding non-discrimination language is necessarily dead. Lawmakers and the governor continue to discuss the possibility of adding non-discrimination provisions via separate legislation rather than an amendment. Of course, that means getting a bunch of GOPs to vote for legislation codifying anti-discrimination rules, including for LGBT folks. And we’re running out of time. So…we’ll see. Certainly seems like a long shot at this point.
Sources say that Gov. Asa Hutchinson today pushed for an inclusion of an amendment with non-discrimination language, but Ballinger and other backers of the bill refused. This is a bit awkward for Ballinger and co. since they insisted that their bill was not about discrimination.
Hutchinson reportedly has new concerns about the bill’s impact on economic development after the uproar following a similar law passing in Indiana. Multiple companies in and out of Arkansas have expressed disapproval of the bill. Still, there is no reason to expect Hutchinson to veto the bill. The legislature can override his veto by simple majority and Hutchinson had already said he would sign this version.
Worth remembering that Hutchinson pushed hard to get the bill as is out of committee in the first place. Oops.