Campus carry bill advances


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced an amended version of a bill to allow some people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.


The committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to House Bill 1249 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, with an amendment by Sen. Trent Garner, El Dorado.


As originally filed, the bill would allow faculty and staff of public colleges and universities to carry handguns on campus if they have concealed-carry permits. Last week, the Senate amended the bill to require a faculty or staff member to receive 16 hours of active-shooter training before carrying a gun at school.


The new amendment by Garner would allow any person age 25 or older with a concealed-carry permit to receive 16 hours of training and qualify for an endorsement allowing him or her to carry a handgun on a college campus. The person would not have to be employed by the school.


A 2013 law, also sponsored by Collins, allows faculty and staff of public colleges and universities to carry concealed handguns on campus if they have concealed-carry permits, but it also allows schools to opt out, and every school has done so. HB 1249 would eliminate the opt-out provision.


The bill goes to back to the Senate.


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Capitol monuments bill sent to governor


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 27-5 Tuesday to approve and send to the governor’s desk a bill to require an act of the Legislature before a monument or statue could be placed on or removed from the state Capitol grounds.


House Bill 1273 by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, passed in the House earlier this month in a 91-0 vote.


In 2015, the Legislature approved a measure 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 monuments at the Capitol in the likeness of the Satanic creature Baphomet, honoring separation of church and state, and honoring Gold Star families.


A bill to authorize a monument to Gold Star families has cleared the House and Senate and been sent to the governor. There are no bills to authorize the proposed Baphomet or separation of church and state monuments.


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Bill to require students to pass civics test advances


LITTLE ROCK — The House Education Committee on Tuesday endorsed a bill to require Arkansas high school students to pass a civics test as a condition for graduation.


The committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to House Bill 1539 by its chairman, Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs.


The bill would require students to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test given to immigrants by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Cozart told the panel he believes civics is a subject that is not taught enough in schools.


The bill goes to the House.