House approves bill to ban smoking marijuana in some places


LITTLE ROCK — The House voted 88-0 Friday to approve a bill to ban smoking medical marijuana in certain locations.


House Bill 1400 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum would ban smoking marijuana anywhere tobacco smoking is banned or in the presence of a person under age 14, in a vehicle, in the presence of a woman the smoker knows is pregnant, or in a place where a person not authorized to use marijuana likely would become under the influence of marijuana, such as a small, enclosed space.


The measure also would ban anyone under age 21 from smoking medical marijuana.


The bill goes to the Senate.


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Bill on domestic-violence shelters goes to governor


LITTLE ROCK — The House voted 86-0 Friday to concur in a Senate amendment to a bill to create a new funding mechanism for domestic-violence shelters.


House Bill 1420 by Rep. Charlene Fite, Van Buren, would require anyone who is convicted of domestic battery or is the subject of a permanent order of protection to pay a $25 fee that would go into a fund from which grants could be awarded to shelters around the state.


The concurrence was the final hurdle for the bill to go to the governor’s desk.


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House OKs bill to allow non-English languages in classroom


LITTLE ROCK — In a 54-16 vote, the House on Friday approved a bill to amend a law requiring the basic language of instruction in public schools to be English and setting a $25 fine for a teacher who violates the law.


House Bill 1611 by Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, would allow a teacher to communicate with a student in the student’s native language in order to facilitate the student’s ability to become proficient and learn in English.


The bill goes to the Senate.


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Bill to change admission rules for UA medical school fails


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Friday rejected a bill to repeal a law requiring the University of Arkansas College of Medicine to take geographic location into account when deciding which students to accept.


House Bill 2207 by Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, received 46 votes in support and 36 votes against, falling short of the 51 votes needed for passage in the 100-member House.


Under current law, the first 70 percent of the first 150 enrollment positions for freshmen at the school must be divided between applicants from each of the state’s four congressional districts, with the numbers accepted from each district being in proportion with the relative populations of the districts.


Boyd said the law is archaic. He urged House members to return local control to the college and let it decide who to admit.


Several legislators raised concerns that repealing the law would result in the college accepting a disproportionate number of students from Central Arkansas and that those students would be unlikely to practice in rural areas of the state after graduating.


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Bill to put boards, commissions under Agriculture Dept. fails


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Friday rejected a bill to put the state Plant Board, the state Livestock and Poultry Commission and the state Forestry Commission under the control of the state secretary of agriculture.


House Bill 1725 by Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, received 30 votes in support and 31 votes against.


Douglas said the transfer would improve government efficiency and save $600,000 a year. The Arkansas Farm Bureau opposes the bill.


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House OKs Entertainers Hall of Fame bill


LITTLE ROCK — In a 91-0 vote, the House on Friday approved a bill to transfer oversight of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission of the city of Pine Bluff.


House Bill 2169 by Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, goes to the Senate.