Revised RFRA Now Law In Arkansas

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A slightly-revised Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed the House and was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson today. State Rep. Bob Ballinger said in his speech in favor of the bill that the new RFRA would still accomplish his ultimate goal: protecting religious liberty in Arkansas. Ballinger said: Senate Bill 975 is essentially the federal RFRA. What we’ve done is we’ve ‘Arkansasnized’ it I guess. What we started with and what I said from the very beginning with (HB) 1228 is it … [Read more...]

Citizens Deserve Substance, Not Symbolism

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What’s more important: what a bill will actually do, or what the bill symbolizes in the larger culture? That’s the question at the heart of the debate over HB 1228, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As my previous post noted, the legislation is fairly modest: “The bill merely says that if the state substantially burdens someone’s religious beliefs, the state needs to have a good reason to do so.” You certainly wouldn’t think this given the rhetoric surrounding the … [Read more...]

Governor Changes Tune On Religious Freedom Bill

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As you’ve probably heard by now, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, announced earlier today that he wouldn’t sign State Rep. Bob Ballinger’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in its present form. Hutchinson said at a press conference at the Capitol today: I’ve said it very clear publicly. I think the language I’ve used is I’d support a RFRA that mirrors federal law and is similar to what has been passed in 20 some other states. This is surprising, because this bill is quite similar both to federal law … [Read more...]

Arkansas To Be First State in The Nation to Protect Photographers’ Rights

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Arkansas is poised to be the first state in the Union to establish a statutory right to take photographs in public. Given the increasing prevalence and use of smart phones (with videorecording capability) in American life, this issue’s importance continues to grow. Earlier today, the state House passed the final version of HB 1669 (which had previously been passed by the state Senate), sending it to Governor Hutchinson’s desk for his signature. State Rep. Richard Womack sponsored the measure and … [Read more...]

Voters Don’t Want State-Run O’Care Exchanges

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A new poll out by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) shows that setting up state-run Obamacare exchanges is deeply unpopular with voters. That choice -- whether to set up a state-run exchange -- will only become more important this summer, when the Supreme Court decides in King vs. Burwell whether enrollees in a state without a state exchange can still constitutionally receive federal Obamacare subsidies. Currently, Arkansas legislators are postponing a final decision about … [Read more...]

Regulation Freedom Amendment Passes House!

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We wrote earlier this month about the legislators who failed to release state Rep. Grant Hodges’ HR 1031, a resolution that would have urged Congress to pass a Regulation Freedom Amendment, from the House State Agencies Committee. Thankfully, legislators seem to have come to their senses; the bill passed out of the House almost unanimously earlier today. The bill says: WHEREAS, people throughout the country are concerned by the expansion of federal regulation which can endanger economic … [Read more...]

Pharmacy Benefits and the Free Market

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Who’s interested in the issues surrounding pharmacy reimbursements? I’m sure few of you raised your hands. You may not imagine it, but how pharmacy benefit managers reimburse pharmacies is a hot topic in the Arkansas legislature. However, the deeper debate is about regulation and the free market. A pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) does just what its name says – it manages pharmacy benefits. Health plans or corporations that provide their own health insurance use PBMs to manage the prescription … [Read more...]

Updates From The Capitol

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A quick Tuesday-Wednesday update: Rep. Womack's occupational deregulation bill was delayed -- the House Public Health Committee will likely hear it Tuesday the 24th. He had better luck with his open criminal records bill, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon. Also, his bill to protect the First Amendment rights of photographers was not heard in Senate State Agencies yesterday; it will likely be amended and heard during the Thursday Senate State Agencies … [Read more...]