Arkansas Legislature begins session in middle of pandemic

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks remotely to legislators on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 in Little...
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks remotely to legislators on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 in Little Rock, Ark., about his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Hutchinson is proposing $50 million in tax cuts in his budget plan. State lawmakers across the country will be convening in 2021 with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic rippling through much of their work — and even affecting the way they work. After 10 months of emergency orders and restrictions from governors and local executive officials, some state lawmakers are eager to reassert their power over statewide decisions shaping the way people shop, work, worship and attend school (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)(Andrew Demillo | AP)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 3:13 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Legislature on Monday began a session in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic that has prompted new safety measures and an effort by some Republicans to scale back the governor’s emergency powers.

The House and Senate convened for the 93rd General Assembly, with both chambers featuring plexiglass partitions between members. Gov. Asa Hutchinson planned to deliver his State of the State address to the Legislature on Tuesday.

More than 4,000 people in Arkansas have died from COVID-19 and Arkansas has had one of the biggest outbreaks in a state legislature. Hutchinson has faced pushback from some fellow Republicans over the restrictions imposed to combat the virus.

Other issues expected to come up during the session include a hate crimes bill, tax cuts and “stand your ground” legislation.

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