HRC has been on high alert this year, tracking nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills across the nation. Even though some state legislatures have already adjourned, more than 80 anti-LGBT bills are still active and several state legislatures are still in session, including Arkansas’s state legislature, which begins this week.
Last year, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation that mirrored the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While this legislation replaced the horrific H.B. 1228, it fell short of providing needed non-discrimination protections to all Arkansans. Lawmakers in Arkansas last year also eliminated the power of municipal governments to protect their LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination.
This year, the Arkansas legislative session is restricted to fiscal matters and all eyes are on the fate of the medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which stands to impact over 200,000 Arkansans.
While it is highly unlikely that religious refusal legislation will be introduced in Arkansas this year, other types of legislation, varying from targeting the rights of transgender people, to eliminating local non-discrimination protections, to explicitly authorizing anti-LGBT discrimination by individuals, businesses and even taxpayer-funded agencies, have been introduced in the neighboring states of Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.
These bills are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed this year by anti-equality activists around the country.
To learn more about what lies ahead for equality in your backyard, visit HRC’s newest resource, “Preview 2016: Pro-Equality and Anti-LGBT State and Local Legislation.”