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Legislature entering the home stretch

By: 22 March 2011 No Comment

The Arkansas Legislature is still apparently on track to adjourn on April 1 — good news for those of us who dread what laws the state and money-flinging lobbyists will inflict on us next.

We’ve been watching some legislation here at First Arkansas News and figured it was about time for an update. No, we’ve never pretended to offer extensive legislative coverage as we simply don’t have the resources for it. Want in-depth legislative coverage by people who thrive on it? Head on over to TolbertReport.com or TalkBusiness.net.

That said, we’ve been following a few bills and here’s what’s gone on with them since the last time we wrote about them in our politics section.

Monkeys!

Monkeys are funny. They fling poo at people at the zoo and have been an integral part of some of the greatest duos popular entertainment has produced — B.J. and the Bear; Clint Eastwood and Clyde; Ronald Reagan and Bonzo; and Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat.

Ah, but if State Sen. Percy Malone (D-Arkadelphia) gets his way, those duos would be downright illegal in Arkansas. SB901, filed March 7, would restrict the private ownership of “nonhuman primates.” In other words, your dream of owning a pet monkey (or being guarded by monkeys) might be dashed should this bill pass.

Where is it now? It’s bounced from committee to the Senate floor and is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor on Wednesday (March 23).

Indeed, there’s a prime (primate?) example of our tax dollars at work. If that doesn’t make one proud to be an Arkansan, I’m not sure what will.

Mold!

HB1171 is all grown up and is now Act 518, having cleared both the Legislature and the Governor’s office. What does it do? Primarily, it repeals the requirement that all licensed mold inspectors must complete 20 hours of college-level microbiology.

Apparently, even people without a college degree know mold when they see it. Hard to argue with that.

What are the new requirements? Well, there aren’t many — a task force will study the issue and get back to us on that. Like, in a couple of years.

Illegal Labor

HB1013 is one that labor unions in Arkansas have been watching closely. The bill, if passed, would authorize the state Contractors Licensing Board to impose penalties on contractors who — directly or through a subcontractor — knowingly hire people who are not authorized to work in the United States.

I went ahead and emphasized the word knowingly because, well, some people don’t seem to know what it means. We’ve seen arguments flying all over the place on this one and a good number of them seem centered on the notion that a contractor that does not know that he or she is hiring illegals or working with a subcontractor that hires illegals could get in trouble.

Perhaps claiming to not understand what an elementary-level term such as “knowingly” means is a better PR move than saying “we hate this bill because it will deprive us of our cheap labor force” or “we’re against it because unions are (gasp!) for it.”

At any rate, HB1013 has passed the House and is on the Thursday (March 24) agenda before the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

Real Estate

SB636 — which would allow the Arkansas Real Estate Commission to discipline individuals who are in the real estate business but can’t be bothered with getting a license — has passed the Senate, was amended and passed in the house and is due to go back before the Senate on Wednesday (March 23).

And then there’s HB1615, a bill that establishes minimum services that real estate licensees must offer or at least give clients the option to waive. You can read a full report of this Real Estate Commission-backed bill here (you’ll get the scoop on HB1615 at that link, too).

HB1615 cleared the house and is set to be taken up by the Senate Committee on Insurance and Commerce Thursday (March 24).

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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