LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – HB1014 is a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to desecrate the United States flag and carry a prison sentence of up to one year.
State Representative Johnny Rye is the sponsor of the bill and said he hopes to stop the burning of flags during protests mainly,
“This is for anyone for a demonstration anytime something to burn that flag is it’s going to be, it’s going to stop,” Rye said.
He says his constituents have echoed the same sentiment and he feels it’s a popular opinion not just here in Arkansas.
“It needs to stop and I think the majority of the people in our country wanted to stop,” Rye said.
Kerry McCoy is the president of FlagandBanner.com and thinks lawmakers dealing with these types of issues is a waste of time.
“You’re spending your time trying to pass laws that are not constitutional you are wasting the taxpayer’s money,” McCoy said.
McCoy believes the maximum sentence is a bit much considering the offense and the current state of corrections in the state.
“It would just clog up the judicial system cost the taxpayers more money put more people they don’t deserve to be in jail in jail,” McCoy said.
Rye believes now is the time to be able to pass something like this and is hopeful this bill could’ve challenged previous Supreme Court rulings such as Texas v. Johnson (1989) and U.S. v Eichman (1990) that upheld the burning of the flag as a First Amendment right.
“About any route you want in this country you can have but that’s a symbol for the United States of America and I think that you got a draw a line somewhere and I think that’s the line in the sand we’re gonna draw today”
McCoy thinks the payoff is not worth it and this idea of prohibiting free speech is not something that sets a precedence, “Nobody likes the idea of burning a flag there’s a lot of things this is called land of the free nobody likes the idea of burning a flag we’re not going to start enforcing our views on everybody else.”
This bill failed on a voice vote in the House Judiciary Committee. Rye has not yet said if he will run this bill again during the Session.