2021 Legislative Session

Courtesy / Massage Envy

Arkansas is among the first states to strictly regulate licensed professional massage therapy education to protect public health. Over the past decade, the commercialization of massage spas, by franchises such as Massage Envy, has created high demand for skilled therapists. An Arkansas legislator is sponsoring a bill that he claims will facilitate easier access to massage therapy licensure.

Jennifer Steel's oldest son is transgender. She says the last couple of months have left her family hurt, sad, angry, disgusted and confused as the Arkansas legislature has passed several laws trans advocates say unfairly target the trans community. But Steel says, she still has hope and there are ways Arkansans can step up to show trans children they have their support.

Courtesy / InTRANSitive Arkansas

A proposed Arkansas law to protect teachers and school administrators who misgender public school and college students is expected to be approved by the state legislature. House Bill 1749, which prohibits requiring public school and college employees from identifying students by genders inconsistent with a student’s biological sex, was approved by the House and is now being considered by the Senate.

Courtesy / Instagram

Professional cycling athletes put their support for Arkansas's transgender community on display this weekend at the first round of the U.S. Cup Olympic qualifier events in Fayetteville. Ellen Noble, who races for Trek Bikes and Red Bull, donned temporary tattoos of the LGBTQ and trans flags on her legs during the short track race. She says she wanted to make it clear she opposes the laws that have been passed in Arkansas.

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed two bills Monday that will raise the median teacher salary by $2,000 to $51,822 across the state. Senate Bill 504 and House Bill 1614 also create the Teacher Salary Equalization Fund, which dedicates $25 million in state funding to provide $185 dollars per student to districts that are below the median salary and can't meet the goal otherwise. 

A new law will require Arkansas insurance companies to cover diagnostic breast cancer exams just like they cover screening mammograms. Advocates say many women skip important follow-up exams because they cannot afford them.

Courtesy / Anya Bruhin

Experience Fayetteville, the city's tourism bureau, as well as cycling event organizers and organizations say they're concerned about the recent calls for boycotts and venue changes after the Arkansas legislature passed several bills they say unfairly target the state's transgender community. A representative of NWA Equality says the LGBTQ is not endorsing boycotts at this time, but is encouraging donations to organizations like the ACLU and Human Rights Campaign, which plan to fight the laws in court.

Senate Bill 3, a hate crimes bill filed in November and presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, aims to enhance sentencing for offenses committed because of certain attributes such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

Courtesy / Instagram

Professional and amateur cyclists from around the world are making statements regarding the several national and international level events that will be taking place in Fayetteville over the next few months. The reaction comes after the state legislature passed several bills that some racers say unfairly target transgender athletes and children. Some of the athletes have called for boycotts, while others are calling on cycling governing bodies to change venues for the races.

Courtesy / Arkansas General Assembly

By a simple majority, Republican members of the Arkansas House and Senate voted Tuesday to overturn a veto issued the previous day by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth. The governor said the law is extreme and places children at risk. Arkansas is now the first state in the nation to enact such a ban.

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