Arkansas House OKs bill to block foreign laws


LITTLE ROCK — The House voted 63-24 Monday to approve a bill its sponsor says will protect people’s constitutional rights and its critics say will be seen by the public as anti-Muslim.


House Bill 1041 by Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, would prohibit the application of foreign laws in an Arkansas court when the application of a foreign law would result in the violation of a fundamental right guaranteed by the Arkansas or U.S. Constitution.


Smith has said the bill is needed as a precaution against the possible encroachment of foreign laws into the justice system in Arkansas.


The bill does not mention sharia law, or Islamic religious law, but opponents have said it is will be seen by the public as anti-Muslim legislation and that it targets a problem that does not exist.


The bill goes to the Senate.


House approves Capitol monuments bill


LITTLE ROCK — In a 91-0 vote, the House on Monday approved a bill to require an act of the Legislature before a monument could be placed on or removed from the state Capitol grounds.


House Bill 1273 by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, goes to the Senate.


In 2015, the Legislature approved a bill by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, calling for a Ten Commandments monument to be placed on Capitol grounds at private expense. Since then, groups have submitted applications to the state Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission for permission to place other monuments at the Capitol, including one in the likeness of the Satanic creature Baphomet, one honoring separation of church and state and one honoring Gold Star Families.