Arkansas bill would exempt legislators from long arm of the law

| 2/15/2005

Arkansas legislators would get special treatment from law enforcement during and between sessions under a bill filed in the state House Feb. 8.

Rep. Charles Ormond, D-Morrilton, has introduced legislation that would exempt lawmakers from being taken into custody for misdemeanors during session – regular or special. The leniency would extend to the two days before and after that session begins and ends.

The bill – HB1492 – also would prevent lawmakers from being taken into custody on misdemeanors while traveling back and forth to Little Rock for committee meetings between sessions.

According to the Arkansas News Bureau, two years ago, Ormond asked the state attorney general whether lawmakers can be ticketed and arrested when traveling to and from legislative sessions. The attorney general said lawmakers lacked special privileges and they could be ticketed and arrested like everyone else.

Ormond said at the time he asked for the opinion because he and his counterparts in the Capitol thought they were immune from speeding tickets during the session.

Any member of law enforcement who fails to abide by the provision would face a fine of $100.

HB1492 has been referred to the House Rules Committee.