The House today continued its efforts to limit people’s rights.
It voted 62-22 to prohibit collective bargaining with state and public school employees. It’s aimed at school teachers. There are currently no collective bargaining agreements with any state employees. The Little Rock School District was the last, an agreement invalidated by the state six years ago.
The bill was amended to carve out popular police and fire unions, transit employees and cities and counties, some of which have union agreements. The only speaker in opposition, Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) asked why some were carved out and some were not. Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville) said the bill also allowed punishment against state employees who participated in strikes.
The House voted 75-18 and two present for SB 354, Sen. Missy Irvin’s bill to prohibit something that isn’t happening — transgender girls participating in girls’ sports. It allows schools and girls who believe they’ve been harmed to sue over a violation.
McCullough rose to oppose this bill too.
She coached girls for 26 years and went to college on a basketball scholarship. She’s also a member of the LGBTQ community. She said she was sorry no member of the House had sought her thoughts on the bill. She said legislators hadn’t listened to medical professionals, parents or transgender girls. She said there have always been transgender girls, but it has never been a problem in girls’ sports. “Not one transgender girl is dominating. Not one is taking a scholarship.” She noted that the popular illustration, a girl in Connecticut who sued, defeated her transgender competitors and won a scholarship while they did not.
It’s hard to be a kid and even harder as a transgender kid, McCullough said. Sports are a place to be happy, she said. She said youth today could teach the legislature some lessons about tolerance and acceptance.
“Why do we need this?” she asked. She said sports organizations already have rules that cover the issue and the bill has constitutional problems, yet is being offered for a “non-existent problem.”
Rep. Deborah Ferguson lamented “another transgender bill” with more coming. It does nothing to improve Arkansas or education, she said. While others are undertaking serious issues, Arkansas is “perpetuating culture wars.”God
To those who cite religious justification, Ferguson said she was a Christian and a Sunday school teacher with a God of love. The other side is “weaponizing religion.” Don’t vote against such bills just because of fear of a lobbying group, she urged.
Rep. Sonia Barker, carrying the bill, said it was only about “biological differences” and wouldn’t prohibit anyone from participating in sports. She refuses to accept, as Irvin does, to see a problem in making a girl participate in a boys sport.
The House approved SB 85, 74-14, which requires a woman to be shown an ultrasound when seeking an abortion and receive a lecture about fetal development. The woman MAY look away, but it must be presented in a way that she can see it. No exception is provided for a victim of rape, McCullough pointed out. It’s one of many bills nibbling away at women’s reproductive rights.