Bill to cut unemployment benefits sent to governor


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Wednesday approved and sent to the governor’s desk a bill to reduce from 20 to 16 the maximum number of weeks for which people can be eligible for unemployment benefits.


House Bill 1405 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Springdale, also would reduce from $12,000 to $10,000 the taxable wage base of an employee, on which businesses pay unemployment taxes.


The House concurred in Senate amendments to the bill, which previously passed in both chambers. The concurrence was the final hurdle the bill had to clear to go to the governor.


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Bill on texting while driving sent to governor


LITTLE ROCK — The House voted 73-13 Thursday to approve and send to the governor’s desk a bill to increase the penalties for texting while driving.


Senate Bill 374 by Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, passed previously in the Senate. The measure would raise the fines to $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Currently, a motorist is given a warning for a first offense and fined $100 for a second or subsequent offense.


The fines would be doubled if a motorist is in a crash while texting and driving.


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Senate approves ‘stolen valor’ bill


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 34-0 Monday to approve a bill to make it illegal to make a false claim about a military record for the purpose of obtaining property, a service or a benefit.


House Bill 1466 by Rep. Trevor Drown, R-Dover, would create the offense of “stolen valor.” A violation would be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 for a first offense, unless the violation involves a false claim to have received a medal.


A second or subsequent violation, or a violation involving a false claim to have received a medal, would be a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.


The bill passed previously in the House. It now goes back to that chamber for concurrence in a Senate amendment.


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House nixes call for convention of states on balancing budget


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Wednesday rejected a bill proposing that Arkansas join other states in seeking a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget.


Under House Bill 1975 by Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, Arkansas would join a compact of states pledging that if three-fourths of the states join the compact by April 12, 2021, they will exercise their right under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution to ask Congress for a convention of the states. The convention would be devoted to passing a balanced-budget amendment.


The bill received 29 votes in support and 33 against.


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Lawmakers honor Bass Reeves


LITTLE ROCK — Lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to a resolution honoring Bass Reeves for his contributions to law enforcement.


In a voice vote, the House adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 by Sen. Bryan King, R- Green Forest. The Senate adopted the resolution last week.


Born a slave in Crawford County in 1838, Reeves became one of the first black law officers west of the Mississippi River when Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith named him a deputy U.S. marshal. Reeves arrested more 3,000 people before retiring after 32 years of service. He died in 1910.