Rep. Carol Dalby (R-Texarkana) is fielding criticism that she ducked a roll call vote and incorrectly passed SB 622 on to the House floor. Brian Chilson

Chair Carol Dalby banged the gavel so quickly after a voice vote on the “all lives matter” version of a hate crime bill Thursday that no one knows for sure if Senate Bill 622 passed or failed.

But Rep. Dalby’s (R-Texarkana) refusal to do a roll call vote and her quick getaway after declaring the controversial bill had passed continue to draw the ire of Arkansans.

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The bill now on the table is a watered-down-to-nothing version of Senate Bill 3, put forth by Little Rock Democrat Sen. Joyce Elliott and Gravette Sen. Jim Hendren, an independent and former Republican. The supermajority legislature blew off SB3, which included LGBTQ protections, in favor of this CYA version that’s been broadly panned for missing the point entirely. SB 622 is supported by the business community of Arkansas but so far has failed to garner support from any legislators who are members of minority groups.

On Friday, the ADL issued a statement calling the bill “a sham” and the process by which it passed the committee level “illegitimate.” The bill already cleared the state Senate, but ADL called on the Arkansas House of Representatives to vote it down.

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Said Aaron Ahlquist, ADL South Central Regional Director:

“Not only is SB 622 sham ‘hate crime’ legislation, but the process that got it to the House floor appears to be so as well.  At the end of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, despite vocal calls for a roll call vote by both Republican and Democratic members, the Committee Chair hastily declared passage of the bill on a voice vote alone and immediately adjourned the hearing.  The passage of the bill out of Committee is in doubt because of reports that there were insufficient votes for it.

The dubious hearing process is another reason why the House of Representatives should reject this worthless and harmful “hate crime” bill.  Proponents of SB 622 have repeatedly asked that it be judged on its “merits,” but it fails on all counts.  Let’s be clear, the legislation is not a hate crime bill, and if enacted, Arkansas will remain one of the last states without a hate crime law.

This bill is on the calendar to be voted on in the full Arkansas House on Monday.

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