State legislators react to SB724 passing Arkansas House of Representatives
Bill is expected to pass Senate without problem, head to governor’s desk by midday Friday
By Bart Pohlman
The Arkansas House of Representatives passed SB724, which would give state colleges and universities the option to prohibit enhanced concealed carry at sporting venues, by a 71-20 margin Thursday. The bill now heads back to the state Senate for approval before heading to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.
While the margin of victory for the vote is substantial, state Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, told Sports Talk on Thursday that had concerns about the outcome in the morning.
“Earlier in the day, the numbers had us closer to 50-to-55 (votes in favor of the bill), so I was cautiously optimistic,” Collins said.
When asked why there wasn’t foresight on potential issues with college sports events, Collins said there are no current policies in place that raised concerns.
“There is no SEC policy or law against concealed carry in a stadium,” Collins said. “There’s nothing written down somewhere that would say, ‘If a stadium does this, then we’re not going to give you a tournament,’ or whatever. It wasn’t like there was some pre-documented approach there was there to be in conflict with this law … That’s the type of trigger that really would have helped us investigate it further.”
State Sen. Bart Hester told Sports Talk he expects the Senate to move quickly in approving the bill.
“It only takes 18 votes to concur (with the bill),” Hester said. “I fully expect to get 18 votes, if not 25 or 30. I think it will concur quickly, and we’ll send it to the governor’s desk before lunch.”
Hester, who didn’t support SB724 the last time it was on the Senate floor, said he plans to vote in favor of it this time, thanks to the outcry from his constituents.
“I plan to be supportive of the amendment,” Hester said. “I didn’t vote for it on our floor last time, but it wasn’t as big of a deal last time. My position was that I felt like people could already carry in Razorback Stadium. It wasn’t a crime. All they could do was ask you to leave. It wasn’t that big of deal to me last time.
“But with the public outcry I’m hearing from the overwhelming majority of my constituents, I think it’s best to allow these universities to choose what they think is best at these sporting events.”
To listen to Sports Talk’s interviews with Collins and Hester, click below: