Sponsors will try again in committee tomorrow to pass legislation that would provide a guarantee of habitability in rental housing. Arkansas is the only state without such protection and the bill failed in its first outing on account of continuing opposition from the Arkansas Realtors and other landlords. If the people mattered, it should be a slam dunk, based on a recent poll.

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a grassroots lobby, commissioned a poll on legislative topics including the landlord-tenant bill. The results on this one were overwhelming: Every congressional district, every age group, men, women, Democrats and Republicans: All answered the posed question strongly in favor of the proposal.

We already know by its actions that the legislature doesn’t think much of voters. It wants to limit popular initiatives. Many want to roll back the minimum wage increase approved by voters. It couldn’t wait to carve gaping loopholes in an ethics amendment. It favors permissive gun laws and more restrictive abortion laws despite polling that suggests a difference in majority opinion.

Nonetheless, here’s the polling report.

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From a Policy Panel release:

A poll conducted this week on behalf of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas Citizens First Congress showed that nearly 91 percent of likely Arkansas voters would favor the enactment of a law that would create minimum housing standards for renters.

House Bill 1410, filed by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) requires minimum standards for health and safety in rental properties, allows tenants to either terminate their lease or sue for repairs if they are not made, and prevents landlords from retaliating against
tenants who seek repairs. Arkansas is the only state that does not offer these protections to renters. …

Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. “It’s time for Arkansas to protect our families from being forced to pay for unsafe living conditions by passing House Bill 1410.”