In about face, House OKs bill to standardize election dates


LITTLE ROCK — The House reversed itself Tuesday and passed legislation that would establish two dates, one in May and one in November, when most elections would have to be held.

Members expunged their previous vote by which House Bill 1357 failed Monday, then passed the bill in a 68-22 vote and sent it to the Senate.

The bill by Rep. Allen Kerr, R-Little Rock, is intended to increase voter turnout.

Kerr said he had agreed to let the bill be amended on the Senate side to allow school elections to be held in September. The Arkansas School Boards Association opposed the bill when it was in committee.

Rep. Mary Broadaway, D-Paragould, asked Kerr if the expected Senate amendment would address concerns that mayors have about the bill. Kerr said it would not.

“They’ve abused those privileges over the years, having elections on holidays, days after holidays, trying to time them in such a way to control the outcome of the elections, and in my opinion that’s completely un-American and just wrong,” he said.

The House also expunged its previous vote on HB 1329, which also failed Monday, then agreed in a voice vote to send it back to the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs at the request of the sponsor,by Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville.

The bill would reduce the fee to obtain a concealed handgun permit from $100 to $50.

Lea said she was considering amending the bill and wanted to hear testimony from the Arkansas State Police, which collects the revenue from concealed handgun permit fees.