A House committee on Monday tabled a bill that would end affirmative action programs and practices in state and local governments, state colleges and universities and public schools. That means it’s unlikely to come back for consideration this session.
Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro), would criminalize consideration of gender, race and national origin by public officials. The bill squeaked through Senate last week with 18 white men voting to pass it.
It’s a terrible bill with far-reaching impacts.
Rep. Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro), the chairman of the House Committee on State Agencies, proposed to place the bill on the committees deferred list, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. That would have meant that it could have come up for consideration at the bill sponsor’s request. But Rep. Marcus Richmond (R-Harvey), the House majority leader, successfully moved to table the bill.
From the Democrat-Gazette:
“I think something like an interim study would be a better way to approach it [with] everyone coming in having the discussion,” Richmond said. “I’d rather have the discussion and have buy-in from all parties that may be affected.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, said he was surprised to see the committee table his bill, saying on the morning of the meeting he spoke with Tosh and told him he wanted the bill to be deferred for further discussion.
[It] seems odd to have a majority Republican committee unwilling to debate or even discuss moving [Arkansas] closer to our constitutional principles,” Sullivan said in a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Asked last week about the bill, Gov. Sarah Sanders was very circumspect, saying she was closely monitoring it and wouldn’t weigh in until she saw a final product.