Welcome to the Arkansas Legislative Spotlight on Liberty, Blog Post Series.
This is the first in a series of blog posts we plan to post over the course of the legislative session in which we highlight some bills that are currently being considered in our State legislature. While big media tends to cover the flashiest high profile bills, we are aiming in this series to shine a spotlight on bills that may be getting less coverage and attention, with an emphasis on bills that directly affect personal and economic liberty. We hope to show a few active bills each post, links to the full text of the bills, and specific contact info for the elected officials in the best spot to take action on the bill, so you can quickly and easily contact them and voice your opinion where it counts.
Bills that Increase Liberty:
HB1177, TO CREATE THE NATURAL HAIR BRAIDING PROTECTION ACT is a bill that would eliminate the ridiculous requirement to have a pricey Cosmetologist license to legally braid hair. While Libertarians would ultimately like to see an end to all government professional licensing requirements, the Hair Braiding Protection Act would be a big step in the right direction. In addition to being pro-liberty, it would open up more opportunity for Arkansas entrepreneurs, especially for African-American entrepreneurs.
This bill is currently in the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare And Labor. Please call or email the committee members and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Bob Ballinger and let them know you support HB1177.
SB77, TO PROVIDE THAT BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS UNDER ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS DO NOT REQUIRE AN OWNER TO SECURE THE SERVICES OF A LICENSED ARCHITECT AND DO NOT REQUIRE AN OWNER TO SECURE THE SERVICES OF A LICENSED ARCHITECT is a bill that would allow for construction projects under $125,000 to no longer be required to pay for and use the services of a licensed architect. Private buildings (dwellings, garages, etc., not buildings that would open to the public like businesses or schools) could be constructed using plans deemed safe by the Fire Marshall and up to building code without having to also pay for a licensed architect. Freeing builders and homeowners to design the structure themselves or use plans available from sources like the internet is a step in the pro-liberty direction.
The bill has been referred to Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. Please call or email the committee members and the bill’s sponsor Sen. Hester and let them know you support SB77.
SB4, CONCERNING TERMINALLY ILL PATIENT ACCESS TO INVESTIGATIONAL DRUGS, BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS, OR DEVICES; AND TO CREATE THE RIGHT TO TRY ACT is a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe treatments that have completed phase I of FDA clinical trials but have not yet received full approval from the FDA to terminally ill patients. This is a big pro-liberty step toward allowing doctors and patients to decide what’s best for the patient’s individual health themselves rather than forcing them to wait for the government to decide.
This one is currently in the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor. Please call or email the committee members and the bill’s sponsor Senator Cooper and let them know you support the Right to Try Act.
Bills That Decrease Liberty:
HB1156, TO IMPOSE A TAX ON E-CIGARETTES; AND TO CREATE THE E-CIGARETTES TAX ACT is an act that would tax electronic cigarettes. Aside from the idea that we’re taxed more than enough already, this particular tax is particularly lousy. It’s tough on small businesses. Lots of small local businesses have cropped up recently to make and sell vaporizers and juices. Alongside, targeting one particular item as a revenue source is unfair. Taxes should be neutral, not just on a product that some people don’t care for.
Libertarians believe the decision of whether something is healthy or right for them to use and spend their money is one to be made by the individual consumers, not by the government. Even if we were going to concede to the State playing “momma” in terms of public health, we were going to use taxation to encourage healthy behavior. Vaping appears to possibly be a somewhat healthier alternative to smoking. So, it would be something that public policy should be encouraging, not making more expensive. Plus, if the government is truly concerned about public health issues from use of a product, they shouldn’t be looking to use it as an additional revenue source. You can’t both discourage use of and increase dependence on the income from a product.
This one is currently in the House Rules Committee. Please call or email the committee members and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Blake and let them know you oppose the E-cigarette Tax Act.
HB1079, CONCERNING THE USE OF AN UNMANNED VEHICLE OR AIRCRAFT THAT CAPTURES IMAGES; TO CREATE THE CRIMINAL OFFENSE; TO PROVIDE FOR CIVIL LIABILITY is a bill that would criminalize drone photography and impose hefty fines for pictures taken with the unmanned drones. Under this law, if you were wanting to capture pictures (be it of something as innocuous as a concert, or something as noteworthy and politically charged as a protest) using a drone higher than 6 feet in the air (and of course, the purpose of using a drone would be to get aerial shots that would by nature need to be shot from higher than that), you could be charged with a misdemeanor, and if a person who was photographed by your drone or had their property photographed by your drone wanted to pursue a civil case against you they could be entitled to $1000 per image.
While Libertarians are big defenders of individual privacy, this law is another law that does nothing to offer us better privacy than what existing laws dealing with traditionally shot photography and privacy already offer us. It only effectively seeks to prohibit kinds of photography that would be legal if taken with a traditional hand held camera.
This one is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. Please call or email the committee members and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Harris and encourage them to oppose HB1079.
Spending on Select Private Industries:
Beef, Wheat, Corn, Soybeans, Sorghum, Catfish, and Rice. Does that sound like your grocery list? Well, it’s a list of things that the State of Arkansas wants to force you to pay for.
Several bills have been introduced, a couple even passed already, that are blatant use of public tax money to support select private industries. Libertarians stand firmly against the government taking money from taxpayers and using it to increase the profits of for-profit businesses. If businesses want to enhance or promote their own industry, they need to do it on their own dime.
So far, the state has already given $11,895,066 of our money to the Soybean Promotion Board with HB1018. Here are some other bills with wasteful spending,
SB16, a bill giving $1,100,000 of our money to the Beef Council has been delivered to the Governor to be signed into law.
HB1019 that would give $6,980,696 to the Rice Research and Promotion Board.
HB1017 that would give the Wheat Promotion board $450,895.
HB1020 that would give the Corn and Grain Sorghum Promotion Board $1,200,000
SB17 that would give the Catfish Promotion board $120,000
While it’s too late to get the citizens our $11,895,066 back from the Soybean Board, we still have a chance to stand up for responsible spending and tell the State to say NO on the others. For the SB16 Beef Council appropriation bill, please contact Governor Asa Hutchinson. For the rice, corn, and wheat appropriation bills, please contact your own Arkansas House Representative. For the catfish appropriation bill, please contact your own Arkansas Senator.
Need help finding your Senator or Representative? Visit http://gis.arkansas.gov/g6/viewer.html and simply type in your address.