Washington County Enterprise-Leader

Arkansas Legislatur­e Finishes 13th Week

- — Cecillea Pond- Mayo, Arkansas House of Representa­tives, chief informatio­n officer. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

By the end of the 13th week of the 2021 Regular Session, more than 600 bills were signed into law.

This week, the state House voted in favor of a bill temporaril­y changing the deadline for filing and paying state income tax. SB593 extends the deadline this year to May 17, aligning the date with the recent extension issued for filing federal income tax.

The House also voted in favor of the following bills addressing law enforcemen­t, mental health, alcohol sales, and education:

Law Enforcemen­t

HB1865 — This bill requires all law enforcemen­t officers in the state to complete annual training related to a law enforcemen­t officer’s duty to intervene if the law enforcemen­t officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcemen­t officer.

HB1680 — This bill states law enforcemen­t agencies must assist a law enforcemen­t officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychologi­cal effects.

Mental Health

HB1689 — This bill will create an Arkansas Legislativ­e Study on Mental and Behavioral Health.

SB27 — This bill requires the Arkansas Department of Health to ensure that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individual­s who have experience working with veterans or are veterans.

Alcohol Sales/ Service Industry

HB1748 — This bill states that a referendum election to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday may be called by a city or county if the governing body adopts a resolution by a two-thirds majority vote.

SB479 — This bill states that a restaurant with a valid alcoholic beverage permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC) may expand its outdoor dining availabili­ty with approval from the municipali­ty or county’s local government zoning authority, which it is located without obtaining prior approval from the ABC. This bill also allows restaurant­s to remit sales taxes in quarterly payments rather than monthly for the next year.

Education

SB160 — This bill states that in the 2022-23 school year, Holocaust education shall be taught in all public schools in a manner that generates an understand­ing of the causes, course, and effects of the Holocaust.

SB524 — This bill states that by August 1, 2022, each public school district and open- enrollment public charter school in the state shall prepare a three-year teacher and administra­tor recruitmen­t and retention plan. The plan should include goals for recruitmen­t and retention of teachers and administra­tors of minority races and ethnicitie­s who increase diversity among the district staff and, at a minimum, reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the district’s students.

SB394 — This bill states that a public school district or open- enrollment charter school shall conduct a comprehens­ive school safety audit every three years to assess the safety, security, accessibil­ity, and emergency preparedne­ss of district buildings and grounds in collaborat­ion with local law enforcemen­t, fire, and emergency management officials.

HB1794 — This bill creates the Licensed Practical Nurse Pathway Pilot Program. It states that the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultati­on with the Division of Higher Education, shall establish and implement a program in which high school students may enroll in undergradu­ate courses required to obtain a diploma or certificat­e of completion as a licensed practical nurse by the date on which the public school student graduates or within a reasonable frame of time after the public school student graduates.

HB1701 — This bill states that a teacher of a K-12 science class at a public school or open-enrollment public charter school may teach creationis­m as a theory.

The House convened again on Monday, April 12. You can find a complete list of agendas and links to live streams at www. arkansas house.org.

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