- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing / Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Worker's Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations and Events
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
Contact your elected officials:
- Governor, Asa Hutchison
- Secretary of State, Mark Martin
- Speaker of the House, Jeremy Gillam
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming Upcoming Events/Opportunities, as well as state and local events.
- 7/31/17 A federal judge filed a preliminary injunction, or ruling that prevents the law from moving forward, on four laws that would have gone into affect on August 1st. The laws would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure, known as "dilation and evacuation." A law would also rule that a woman's sexual partner, including her rapist, would have say on what to do with the fetal remains. This rule would allow a woman's sexual partner to block her ability to have an abortion. It would also expand requirements on reporting a minor's abortion to law enforcement, and require abortion providers to get records of a woman's entire history of pregnancy. The judge who ruled on the case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of abortion provider Dr. Frederick Hopkins, felt that the harm the law would bring to Dr. Hopkins and the women it would affect outweighed the harm blocking the law would bring. 
- 7/28/17 The Arkansas Attorney General asked a judge to block a Fayetteville ordinance protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, arguing that it violates the Arkansas law that bans local protections if they are not mentioned in state law. Arkansas state law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
To see past updates for Arkansas, click here.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Arkansas lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- HB 1797 would change the Arkansas Civil Rights Act to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Harmful bills proposed by Arkansas lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HB1405 would reduce the period laid-off employees could get unemployment benefits from 20 to 16 weeks. It would also lower the state's taxable wage base from $12,000 to $10,000, which would reduce employers' required contributions into the state's Unemployment Trust Fund. Passed the house 62-26.
- HB1047 would require voters to show voter ID to be able to vote, reducing turnout among people of color.
- HJR1016 and SJR 6 An amendment to the Arkansas constitution requiring voter ID to be able to vote.
- HB 1986/SB 774 would in effect ban transgender people from using the public bathroom matching their gender identity.
- HB 2232 would forbid government action against any person who acts according to their belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, or that the terms man and woman refer to the biological sex of a person as established at birth. This bill would effectively legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
- HB 1894 would prohibit changing a person's sex on their birth certificate. This would prevent transgender people from carrying IDs reflecting their gender identity.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote.
- Governor's Race in 2018; Republican incumbent (person in office now) 
- Arkansas will be especially hard-hit by an ACA repeal, partly because the ACA made a dramatic difference in their uninsured rate (from 24% to 14%).
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 413,000 people in Arkansas (or 13.9% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 361,000 people (or 12.1% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/24/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- Arkansas is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- People with disabilities and the elderly were able to choose community care instead of institutions under the expanded options of the ACA; that choice will be in danger under a repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Arkansas could pay up to 55% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, repeal could lead to the loss of 28,000 jobs in Arkansas. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- As of 1/19/17, all six congresspeople in Arkansas favor repeal, and none has offered an alternative plan.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Arkansas could pay $595 more in 2018.
- 49 people have been killed by police in the state of Arkansas from the years 2013 through 2016.
- 24% of the people killed by police were black.
- Black people are 1.5 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.
- The Pew Research Center estimated that Arkansas had 60,000 undocumented immigrants as of 2012. 45% of immigrants in the state were undocumented, making up 3.2% of the Arkansan labor force.
- A report released by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in 2013 indicated that immigrants provide Arkansas with $3.4 billion in net economic benefit every year.
- The same study stated that immigrants fill a specific and valuable role in the Arkansan economy. They make up a disproportionately large part of the young working population of Arkansas, while native-born Arkansans are reaching the 45–65 age bracket and increasingly retiring.
- The Winthrop Rockefeller report indicated that for every dollar the Arkansan government spends on providing basic resources or support to immigrants, a benefit of $7 is produced.
Impacts of Mass Deportation
- Were President Trump to pursue broad deportation policies, Arkansas could lose a significant portion of its working population and the economic benefits they provide. Moreover, as immigrants tend to fill economic roles that native-born workers are less likely to take, the removal of large numbers of immigrants from the economy would likely have extreme impacts in very specific areas, such as manufacturing and manual labor.
- The Arkansas House approved a plan Tuesday, 1/31/2017, to reinstate a voter ID law that was struck down more than two years ago, with Republicans counting on a new state Supreme Court makeup to uphold the measure this time.
- Arkansas is considering strict voter ID legislation.
- Arkansas allows for electronic voter registration at DMV locations. A bill to enact automatic voter registration failed in April 2015.
- There were 26,429 incarcerated individuals in Arkansas in 2014. 17,819 individuals were in prison, with the remaining 8,610 in jail.
- 9.6% of the prison population is serving life sentences, while 3.6% of the prison population is serving life sentences without parole.
- Black imprisonment rates (per 100,000 individuals) was 1,665, compared to the white rate of 443 and the Hispanic rate of 251.
- 2.93% of the Arkansas population cannot vote due to felony disenfranchisement, while 7.83% of the black population is disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
- Arkansas spent $473 million on corrections in 2014.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Arkansas residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 85,000
- Adults and children: 268,000
- Children: 157,000
- In 2015, an average of 214,056 households and 468,904 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in any given month in Arkansas. In 2011, approximately 17% of the population of Arkansas was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per AK household was $249 per household and $112 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 8,142 households received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in any given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Arkansas was $204 in 2014. Average benefits in Arkansas have fallen in value by 34.4% since 1996.
- In December 2015, there were 5,370 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received an average of $233.33 per person, for a total of $1,253,000.
Housing / Infrastructure
- 77,900 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Arkansas had 41 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of the area median income.)
- In Arkansas, there were 2,463 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 191 families, 222 veterans, 152 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 503 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Arkansas received $241 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Arkansas, more than 53,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Arkansas households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Arkansas’s infrastructure received a score of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2014.
- This study gave the state no “good” scores identified levees, dams, roads, transit, and drinking water as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 22.7% of Arkansas’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 39% of Arkansas’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $308 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice
- Arkansas has two Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, no centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 288,500 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were four abortion providers in Arkansas in 2015.
- In 2014, 9.8 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Arkansas had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 48-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Mandated counseling includes misleading information.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
In January 2017, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act. The Act bans most second-trimester pregnancies, as physicians are no longer legally allowed to use surgical tools to dilate and remove a fetus from the womb. A clause was also included that allows the husband of a woman seeking an abortion to sue the operating physician for monetary damages and prevent the abortion procedure altogether. The ACLU of Arkansas plans to challenge the law.
Paid Maternity Leave
In February 2017, Gov. Hutchinson signed SB 125 into law, granting paid maternity leave to female state employees. Those who have been employed for at least a year are granted four weeks of paid leave within the first 12 weeks after either giving birth or adopting a child. 
Women and Wages
- In Arkansas, 18.6% of women live in poverty. The national average is 13.4%. 46.2% are single mothers and 12.1% are women age 65 and older. These figures are above the national averages of 36.5% and 12.1%, respectively.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.79, which is one cent below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.65 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.53 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Arkansas
- Arkansas has the fifth highest rate of rape in the United States.
- Over half of domestic violence femicides in Arkansas are committed with guns.
- 453 victims in Arkansas were served by domestic violence shelters and programs in one day.
- An estimated 18.6% of Arkansas women will experience stalking in their lifetime.
Religious Freedom Law
Religious Freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities.  A State Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as restrictions on municipal protections in 2015.were enacted in Arkansas in 2015 for that purpose, but they have been recently used to say the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people.
Arkansas lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit, jury selection and state employment. On 23rd February 2017 the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a local law protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in Fayetteville, in accordance with a 2015 Arkansas law making it illegal to adopt local laws creating a protected classification or prohibiting discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.
Arkansas lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in some aspects of parenting laws, including second-parent adoption, foster care and parental presumption, but has passed a bill on consent to inseminate (meaning that in case of the insemination of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is officially recognized as parent), as well as surrogacy laws.
In June 2017 the US Supreme Court said Arkansas cannot refuse to list both names of same-sex married parents on a child's birth certificate.
Hate crime laws
Arkansas does not include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and does not have required reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Arkansas does mention LGBTQ+ equality in its anti-bullying laws, including cyberbullying, but it does not require school suicide prevention policies and does not have laws promoting the inclusion of transgender youth in sports. It does not have laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy or addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. The state does not have LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies and does not require LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education. It has, however, passed school laws criminalizing youth.
Health and Safety
The state does include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges and collects data on LGBTQ+ health, but it has passed laws criminalizing HIV/AIDS patients. In March 2017, Arkansas passed a law requiring that birth certificates list the biological sex of an individual and prohibits any change to the document, prohibiting transgender from having birth certificates matching their gender identity.
- Arkansas is ranked 37th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $5,319 per student.
- As of 2013, Arkansas ranked 44th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $46,632 per year.
- 91% of students in Arkansas attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 84% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 3.5% of total public school enrollment.
- The overall graduation rate for Arkansas is 87%, which is above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 89%
- Latino: 85%
- Black: 81%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 85%
- American Indian: 86%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 83%
- Limited English Proficient: 84%
- Students with Disabilities: 83%
Consumer Protections / Worker's Rights
- Arkansas’s minimum wage is $8.50, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, but this is lower than Arkansas’s living wage of $9.50.
- Arkansas has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Arkansas has no state law for paid family leave.
- Arkansas has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions, that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers, from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Arkansas is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Arkansas also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Arkansas does allow for implied contract exemptions. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Arkansas does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- More than 37% of Arkansas' electricity generation is from Natural Gas while just over 38% comes from coal.
- Arkansas has 9 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 7 percent of Arkansas' land is federally owned.
- In 2014, Black and other People of Color populations broke the exposure index of 70 (with Black reaching 72), compared to an overall index of 64 and a White index of 62..
- 2012, Mixed/other and Native American Adults were most likely to have asthma at 18.3% and 17.1% respectively compared to an average of 8.4%.
- EPA Region 6 (South Central) serves Arkansas.
- The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is the state's main environmental agency.
- Regulations created by ADEQ are then brought to and possibly approved by the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology (APC&E) Commission.
In November 2016, the EPA awarded $277,359 to the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) to implement pesticide programs. The ASPB has authority from EPA to regulate pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.  The grant will fund regulatory and enforcement programs, applicator certification and training, worker protection, water preservation, protection of endangered species, and enforcement of the container/containment rule.
In July 2016, the ADEQ received a $564,000 EPA grant to support air monitoring programs, with a concentration on fine particulate pollution. 
In May 2016, EPA announced two Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) grants to help Arkansas assess and clean up contaminated sites. These grants go to “communities that are underserved and economically disadvantaged, including neighborhoods where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed.” The Western Arkansas Planning and Redevelopment District received $400,000 to assess potentially contaminated sites in area communities. Pulaski County received $820,000 toward its revolving loan fund for cleanup activities.  ARC grants are part of EPA’s Brownfield program. 
- Arkansas has the second-highest percentage of disabled people in America: 17.1% of Arkansas's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Arkansans with disabilities have an employment rate of 30.7%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Arkansas have a 73.7% employment rate.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 21.1% of eligible voters in Arkansas have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Arkansas, 30.4% live in poverty, as opposed to 16.0% of nondisabled adults.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 46.6%, as opposed to 31.7% for nondisabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130)
- In Arkansas, 7.0% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Organizations and Events
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- Save Our Schools is an organization opposing the state takeover of Little Rock Public Schools. From their Facebook profile: "Our campaign's mission is to restore local control of the Little Rock School District and to ensure that parents, caregivers, and the local community have a voice in determining the future of our city's public schools. We believe free and equitable public education is a foundation of democracy and essential to the success of our communities."
- Arkansas Progressives
- Arkansas Progressive Christians
- Arkansas Progressive Push
- Central Arkansas Liberal Squad
- Progressive Arkansas
- Progressive Arkansas Youth PAC
Environmental Justice Groups
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- Arkansas Progressives events