The Senate today passed Sen. Bart Hester’s bill to strip local government of design control of housing developments. The vote was 23-11 with one not voting.

Sen. Keith Ingram, a former mayor, gave an impassioned speech in favor of home rule and against state government meddling. He noted an effort had been made to push the bill through committee without notice and that the Arkansas Municipal League was still attempting to find consensus on amendments.

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Proponents contended local regulations could price poor people out of cities. Sen. Alan Clark spoke for the bill, but said he still hoped for amendments to improve the bill.

Sen. Joyce Elliott questioned Hester at some length, along the lines of when his efforts to usurp local control would end. She referred to his legislation to invalidate local civil rights ordinances to protect gay people so as to protect discrimination against LGBT people.

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Sen. Stephanie Flowers said it was important to mention that Hester was a residential  contractor.  She suggested the legislation puts developers in charge of housing and presents potential for scamming consumers.