LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill moving through the Arkansas senate would end affirmative action in the state if it becomes law.
Proposed Senate Bill 71 would strike out large portions of the Arkansas code referring to the hiring and retaining minorities. The word “minority” would also be struck from teacher, administrator and university student retention programs.
The same elimination of language would take place for state hiring or procurement programs that had been structured to increase minority participation. The legislation would also change the name of the Department of Education’s Equity Assistance Center, to the Equality Assistance Center and eliminate its affirmative action role.
Any description of a minority would also be struck from Arkansas code such as Asian Americans, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.
The legislation would then add a new section of Arkansas code to prohibit discrimination, stating “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, an individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in matters of state employment, public education, or state procurement.”
The bill is moving through the legislative process. Titled “To Prohibit Discrimination or Preferential Treatment by The State of Arkansas and Other Public Entities,” it moved through the State Agencies & Government Affairs senate committee on Tuesday with a “do pass” recommendation.
It is not currently on the senate schedule for a vote.
If the bill becomes law, Arkansas will join nine other states which have ended affirmative action, beginning with California in 2020 and followed by Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) and co-sponsored by Rep. Marcus Richmond (R-Harvey).