Week five of the 94th General Assembly did not disappoint! We mean drama, not policy, of course. Watch (with special guest Austin Bailey) or read on for the highlights.

Dan Sullivan takes anti-affirmative action bill to Black Caucus

You may recall that last week Sen. Dan Sullivan filed SB71, which would end public affirmative action programs in Arkansas. SB71 passed senate committee but has not run on the floor because Sullivan wants stakeholder feedback before putting it to a chamber vote. The bright idea was to explain the bill to the Black Caucus. Sen. Sullivan stated that his bill would end discrimination and asked the Legislative Black Caucus why they have not filed legislation to do the same. If this sounds unbelievable to you, we can relate. The meeting was not streamed but Andrew Epperson with KARK news filmed portions of the meeting, which is a must-watch.

Bill filed to politicize school board races 

Tucked into 7 pages about election date requirements, SB206 specifies that “a district school board member shall be elected at the general election,” and “the position of district school board member shall be elected at a partisan election.” Requiring partisan school board races is all about control at the state and local level. Some context: early on in the pandemic, savvy extremists realized school board races could be the new culture war battlegrounds. By tapping into parental frustrations, education issues became the new partisan weapon of choice. The bill is meant to insulate political power and divide our local communities. We’re not feeling it. 

Work Requirement for public Housing heads to Senate

Rep. Tippi McCullough spoke against the bill, noting it was likely unconstitutional to add state restrictions on a federal public housing program. Public housing programs receive funding from HUD, the federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs. 

From the Arkansas Advocate:

Public housing benefits are administered by local agencies that receive federal funding and must follow U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations. Housing authority directors told the Arkansas Advocate they do not believe the state has a place in the administration of housing assistance.

Maternity leave bill that bosses businesses heads to House 

Rep. Pilkington’s HB1006 made it out of House Public Health this week. The bill would require certain businesses that provide abortion coverage for employees to also provide 12 weeks of maternity leave. Pilkington said businesses he’s heard from support the bill (probably because employers who care about abortion access also care about paid parental leave). We’re watching to see if mandating policies for private business is legal and whether employers view the policy as retribution for supporting reproductive healthcare.

Much ado about The LEARNS Act 

The LEARNS act bill has yet to be filed, but that didn’t stop the governor from holding a big press conference about it this week. Legislators, school choice advocates, and lobbyists joined Governor Sanders at the Capitol to hear top line pieces of the LEARNS act, which include $50,000 base teacher salaries, universal voucher availability by 2025-2026, and zero tolerance for teachers indoctrinating students (🤔).

Teacher pay raises are excellent, as is 12 weeks paid maternity leave for staff. Vouchers… not so much. The bill is expected to be 125+ pages and will likely be filed next week. For AR People and many others are eager to get into the details of these proposed policies. Stay tuned. 

Spot the Mom’s For Liberty crowd 👀

Deadline for Constitutional Amendments

There was a flurry of filings for constitutional amendments on Wednesday — the last day for members to submit legislative ballot referrals. The House and Senate can refer up to 3 constitutional amendments for the upcoming general election. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension is an incredible resource for ballot-related issues and has a categorized list of every 2024 legislative proposed amendment here.


In case you missed it, we chatted with Rep. Jim Wooten (R-Beebe) this week about two of his education bills that address inequities for voucher programs and what schools and teachers in his district need most. Many thanks to Rep. Wooten for talking time to speak with us and share some of his education experience (go Beebe Badgers!) and dreams for Arkansas teachers.