From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
The governor has announced that he will not veto the legislation we passed in the recent extended session.
One bill mandates that employers create an exemption process if they require their workers to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.
The other bill draws new boundaries for the four Congressional districts in Arkansas.
They both go into effect in 90 days, because neither bill was passed with an emergency clause.
The governor said that the lack of an emergency clause was a factor in his decision to let the bills go into law without his signature, rather than veto them.
During the next 90 days, Arkansas health officials and business leaders will be able to further assess the impact of the legislation.
Also, it’s highly likely that the measure will be challenged in court as an unconstitutional intrusion into private business practices.
The governor predicted that the anti-vaccination bill would increase the number of claims for unemployment benefits.
That would raise the cost of doing business.
Also, the governor predicted that employees who choose to get tested weekly, rather than get a vaccination, would end up paying the high costs for increased testing.
Many business leaders have expressed concern that the bill jeopardizes our status as a right-to-work state, which has been an important tool in our efforts to recruit industry and create jobs.
I agree with the governor and with the people who own companies and create jobs. That’s why I voted against the measure when it came before the Senate last week.
The governor suggested that the redistricting bill is also probably going to be challenged in court, because it diminishes the voting strength of minority communities in Pulaski County.
He will let it become law out of deference to the legislature’s authority, he said.
With his announcement that he would not veto the bills, and instead would let their fate be decided in the judicial system, the 2021 regular session is about to officially adjourn.
At noon on Friday, October 15, the 93rd General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die.
However, we plan to convene in special session at the end of October to consider a package of income tax cuts.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.