Courtesy / Evelyn Rios Stafford

Evelyn Rios Stafford, who is a Washington County Justice of the Peace and the first openly transgender elected official in Arkansas, met with Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday after the state legislature passed the SAFE Act, or House Bill 1570, the day before. The bill would ban minors from receiving gender-affirming healthcare and penalize doctors who attempt to provide it. The governor has not yet signed or vetoed the bill.

Courtesy / Arkansas Secretary of State

A bill that would put new restrictions on absentee voting in Arkansas has advanced to the full House for a vote. Among a number of changes to the current system, House Bill 1715 from Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, would lower the number of absentee ballot applications a person can obtain without opening them up to allegation of voter fraud. Opponents say the bill doesn't seek to fix any actual issues with absentee voting.

The Arkansas legislature can refer up to three constitutional amendments to Arkansas voters in the 2022 General Election. We talk to Kristin Higgins from the Arkansas Public Policy Center to learn more about the process for narrowing down proposals.

This week, Roby Brock, with Talk Business and Politics, and John Brummett, a political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, discuss the legislator-approved extension of the pandemic emergency for another 60 days and the new candidates entering races in the 2022 elections.

Arkansas Democrats are reducing filing fees for candidates for the third time since 2017. A spokesman for the Republican Party of Arkansas says the organization has no plans to follow suit. Arkansas has some of the most expensive filing fees in the country.

This week, Roby Brock, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, and John Brummett, a political columnist with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, discuss the conservative leanings of the Arkansas General Assembly and how Arkansas is faring when it comes to vaccinations.

Following some amendments, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 72 to 20 Monday to approve a bill that allows healthcare providers to decline certain non-emergency services based on moral objections. Supporters of Senate Bill 289 say it protects the rights of medical workers, while opponents say it will allow medical workers to discriminate against patients. The bill now heads back to a Senate committee for a vote.

Courtesy / Arkansas House

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, recipients are given legal work authorization; however, students pursuing a teaching career cannot gain licensure in Arkansas even though they take the same courses and undergo the same training as their classmates. House Bill 1594, sponsored by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio, aims to change that.

Courtesy / Springdale School District

House Bill 1451, which was filed by Arkansas Rep. Megan Godfrey, D-Springdale, would allow schools and districts to adopt bilingual and dual immersion programs in the languages of their choosing. Arkansas is one of two states that don't provide these types of teaching models, which Godfrey says are beneficial for both English learners and native English speakers.

Roby Brock, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, asks John Brummett, political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, about COVID-19 relief legislation in Washington, D.C. and about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's reactions to certain bills passed by the Arkansas Legislature.