LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill looking to end affirmative action in Arkansas made national headlines Friday after passing through the Senate.
SB71 was filed by State Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro), who introduced it on the Senate floor Thursday.
Sullivan said the point of his bill is to ensure state agencies provide funding for everyone. He said this does not take money away from any programs, rather it allows any Arkansan to receive the resources based on their need.
“If we are ever going to solve discrimination in this state, it will not be by further discrimination,” Sullivan said.
Despite some questions and comments on the Senator floor from lawmakers, the legislation narrowly passed through the Senate with an 18-12 vote. Votes show there was some opposition from both parties on this issue.
This is who voted for and against in the Senate:
Anna Beth Gorman is the CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She has been following the bill from day one, because she said it could directly impact her non-profit.
“I am even hopeful yesterday from the vote in the Senate, because it did not sail through,” Gorman said. “This is not a partisan issue.”
Gorman said this legislation would overwhelm her WFA with more responsibility, without the state’s help to respond to needs of its citizens.
“I think everyone agrees that we wish there were not inequities but, what we are saying is the state no longer has a role to solve those,” she said.
Sullivan, on the other hand, said this bill would ensure the state provides resources for those most in need.
“The process that we are going through will end up vetting people who really qualify for the services that we render,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said if the bill passes, nothing would be impacted for two years because the bill has a phased-in approach.
It will go to the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on the House side on Monday.