State Representative Karilyn Brown (Dist. 41) of Sherwood has worked diligently on a range of issues in 2019 that we are proud to acknowledge. From legislation that shows our Veterans tremendous appreciation to a Sanctity of Life bill that draws a clear line against tax payer funded abortions, her work deserves the fanfare of Arkansans across our state.
In the spirit of Military Appreciation Month, it is fitting to celebrate Rep. Brown’s Act 66 which simplifies a prior-service member’s ability to have a Veteran designation on their license. This can be used to easily receive veteran discounts at local businesses and prove possible eligibility for health benefits at a Veterans Administration facility just by showing their driver’s license.
Rep. Brown took her appreciation for Veterans a step further by passing Act 729. Now, Veterans with a service-connected disability can enjoy all that our Natural State has to offer by receiving an exclusive and highly discounted lifetime fishing and hunting licenses. For only $52.50 our disabled Veterans can enjoy the best duck hunting and trout fishing the Southern United States has to offer for the rest of their lives!
On the front lines of the Sanctity of Life Movement, Rep. Brown passed legislation that prevents taxpayer dollars from funding human cloning and destructive embryo research. While this has been a banned practice in Arkansas, a loophole existed where taxpayer money could go to related research outside of Arkansas. With Act 799 now signed into law, embryos that are farmed and used as disposable research cannot be funded by Arkansas taxpayers whatsoever.
Rep. Brown has promoted the Republican Party platform through these pieces of legislation and did so in a manner that is compassionate and impactful for our state.
Rural Arkansas has benefitted tremendously this last session due to Rep. DeAnn Vaught (Dist. 4) of Horatio. Specifically, our farming communities are now better served as laws recently passed protect their property rights and ability to earn a living. Many other issues were on her radar this session to include school counseling and firearm preservation bills.
Farmers can rest easy after the passage of Act 518 which creates civil immunity for Farmers in certain circumstances. Prior to this law, if a person illegally enters onto a farmer’s property to steal farm equipment and is accidentally injured or killed on that property, the farmer may in many cases could be held legally responsible.
Rep. Vaught also worked closely with Governor Hutchinson and Sen. Breanne Davis to pass Act 190: “The School Counseling Improvement Act of 2019.” This legislation brings a renewed focus to planned goal-setting and post-secondary opportunities, behavioral and mental health counseling, and much more for our students. This bill alone is a transformative measure that dramatically improves counseling services in schools across our state.
On the Second Amendment front, Rep. Vaught passed a wildly popular firearm preservation bill that allows law enforcement agencies to trade confiscated firearms with federally licensed firearm dealers for credit toward their future agency purchases. This is a smart way to help fund our agencies at no cost to the taxpayer while not destroying firearms that hold significant value that would otherwise be wasted by their destruction.
Republican Representative Justin Boyd (Dist. 77) of Fort Smith has taken the lead on significant issues that have harmed Arkansas families for years. He dedicated his time during the 2019 Regular Session to combat the Opioid Crisis and brought regulatory reform to our criminal justice system. Taking on these issues can be a tall order, yet, Rep. Boyd was more than capable of passing meaningful legislation that improves the quality of life for Arkansans across the state.
Relating to Criminal Justice Reform, Republicans including Rep. Boyd have championed new beginnings for rehabilitated prior-offenders. In many cases, after a person has served their debt to society, they face many challenges that limit their ability to move forward. Act 680 is a helping hand to those who truly deserve a second chance. First, it eliminates a fifty dollar fee imposed on those looking to file a petition to seal an offense or violation. It also eliminates a five-year waiting period before a petition can be filed to seal a nonviolent felony after they served their time. Ultimately, the most important benefit of this legislation is that it lowers the barrier for those seeking employment and housing, ensuring that they have the means to become productive members of society.