LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson signed two bills and gave an update on others Tuesday afternoon.
The first bill the governor signed was House Bill 1343, which reduces the retirement for a member of Arkansas State Police from 30 years of service to 28 years of service.
“This is something that is much needed for state police to equalize them with the rest of state government,” Hutchinson said, adding that the move will help with recruitment.
The second bill signed Tuesday was Senate Bill 107, the Computer Science Advancement Act, which includes Computer Science as a requirement to graduate high school.
The governor said another bill that was already signed was the Task Force of the Future of Law Enforcement, a bill to increase training and accountability for police in Arkansas.
Hutchinson said the bills recently signed are three parts of his legislative package that has been signed into law.
According to the governor, a measure to increase teacher salaries, a priority of Hutchinson’s, has passed through the House and is heading to the Senate. The bill would raise the salary in school districts that are currently below the median salary for teachers.
Hutchinson said he feels there are two education different systems in Arkansas: one in which more prosperous districts have recruited teachers and paid them more and another in which less prosperous districts have been paying salaries below the median average. The governor said he hopes the measure will get through the House.
Hutchinson also announced an extension of the state’s emergency COVID-19 order for another 60 days, which will be presented Monday to the legislative council.
On Monday, Hutchinson vetoed legislation requiring the state to refund fines imposed on businesses violating coronavirus safety rules. The bill would have required the state to refund nearly $40,000 to bars and restaurants.
The sponsor of the refund legislation said he’ll seek an override Tuesday, which requires a simple majority of both chambers of the legislature.
House lawmakers passed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act Monday. The legislation prohibits schools, including public grade schools and colleges, from allowing transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.
Hutchinson said that legislation just got to his desk, and while he agrees with the purpose and intent the bill, he wants to make sure there’s no unintended consequences.
When asked about the Student Athlete Bill, which could provide a way for student athletes to be paid for the usage of their likeness and image, Hutchinson said he hasn’t studied the bill completely but is favorably disposed.
The governor said this could be used as a recruitment tool.