LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers are expected to begin paring down a long slate of proposed constitutional amendments this week, the seventh week of the legislative session.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers are expected to begin paring down a long slate of proposed constitutional amendments this week, the seventh week of the legislative session.


Lawmakers also could consider bills to allow concealed handguns on college campuses and end the dual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day, among other things.


Constitutional amendments


Legislators have filed 40 proposed constitutional amendments, of which they can refer no more than three to voters. This week, the House and Senate committees on state agencies and governmental affairs plan to begin the process of narrowing down the bills to a more manageable number, probably five or six in each committee, that will then be considered by a joint House and Senate committee on constitutional amendments.


The joint committee met briefly last week and decided to meet on Monday afternoons, starting next week.


Among the proposed amendments are measures to abolish the office of lieutenant governor, abolish fiscal sessions, revise legislative term limits, require voters to show photo identification at the polls, limit what courts can do in civil cases, choose Supreme Court justices through a merit selection process instead of elections, and limit education funding to a certain percentage of the state budget.


Guns on campus


Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, said he plans to present House Bill 1077 on the House floor this week. The bill would require state colleges and universities to allow employees who have concealed-carry permits to carry concealed handguns on campus.


Collins was unsuccessful in his first attempt to get the bill through the House Education Committee, but that panel endorsed the bill last week with an amendment that allows the institutions to require that employees receive active shooter training before carrying guns on campus.


In 2o13, lawmakers enacted legislation by Collins that allowed college employees to carry concealed weapons on campus but allowed the institutions to opt out, which all of them did. HB 1077 would remove the opt-out provision for state schools but would leave it in place for private schools.


"I’m expecting a positive vote" in the House, Collins said Friday.


King-Lee holiday


Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock, said he intends to present HB 1119 in the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would end the state’s current practice of observing both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day on the third Monday in January, which some critics say is disrespectful to the slain civil rights leader.


Earlier in the session, Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena was unable to win support in the committee for a bill that would have made the third Monday in January Martin Luther King Jr. Day only and would have declared Nov. 30 to be Patrick Cleburne-Robert E. Lee Southern Heritage Day, which would not be a state holiday but would be observed by proclamation.


As originally filed, Love’s bill simply would have ended the observance of Robert E. Lee Day. He said in an interview last week that he hopes to win support for the measure with an amendment calling for the second Friday in January to be observed as Robert E. Lee’s Birthday.


The day would not be a state holiday, but Love said the proposal may be more successful than Bell’s because Lee’s birthday sometimes falls on the second Friday in January.


Prison overcrowding


Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Benton, said he plans to present Senate Bill 472, which contains key portions of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to address prison overcrowding, on the Senate floor this week. Jeremy Hutchinson is the governor’s nephew.


Among other things, the bill would require a person on probation or parole to be referred to a mental-health or substance-abuse treatment provider, or both; create a process for establishing new drug courts and other alternative sentencing courts; and create a process for the state to contract with private groups, including faith-based groups, for services for offenders.


The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill last week. Hutchinson said Democratic senators have raised a number of concerns, but he said the bill will be amended in the House to address those concerns.


One area of concern was a provision to give law enforcement officers authority to enter the home of a person on probation or parole without a search warrant. Hutchinson said the bill will be amended to require law enforcement agencies to give guidance to officers to ensure they do not abuse the authority.


Highway funding


Rep. Dan Douglas, D-Bentonville, said he had planned to present HB 1346, a bill proposing a funding boost for highways, on the House floor last week but held off because Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director Scott Bennett was in Washington, D.C.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson opposes HB 1346, which would divert a portion of sales-tax revenue from the sale of vehicles and vehicle-related items to highways. Douglas said he plans to meet Monday with Bennett and representatives of the governor’s office, the Department of Higher Education and other agencies.


"We’ll see … if we can reach some compromises," Douglas said, adding that for now the bill is in "a holding pattern."


Health care task force


Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, and House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, are expected to announce their appointments to the Arkansas Health Reform Legislative Task Force on Monday.


The task force will be established under Act 46 of 2015, which contains the governor’s proposal to end the Medicaid expansion program known as the private option on Dec. 31, 2016, and in the meantime have a task force look for an alternative model that could replace it.


Dismang and Gillam can serve on the task force or designate one legislator each to serve on their behalf. They also are to appoint five members from each of their respective chambers.


The House and Senate majority and minority leaders also can serve on the task force or designate one legislator each to serve on their behalf. State Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe will serve as a non-voting member.