LITTLE ROCK — Dairies in Arkansas could begin selling unpasteurized milk if a bill that won final legislative approval Wednesday in the Senate becomes law.
By a 19-11 vote, the Senate passed House Bill 1536, which would allow Arkansas milk producers to sell up to 500 gallons of raw milk a month at their facilities.
“This bill simply gives the farmer the freedom, the right, to sell milk from his cow to someone who wants to buy it,” said Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, who presented the bill on the Senate floor.
He said more than 30 states have laws allowing for the sale of unpasteurized milk.
The bill by Rep. Randy Alexander, R-Fayetteville, has no requirement for state health inspections but does require dairies that sell unpasteurized milk to display warnings at the point of sale and on milk containers informing consumers that the milk has not been pasteurized and that the milk and the farm have not been inspected by the state.
The state Health Department opposes the measure, which it says could expose consumers to dangerous pathogens. Supporters say duly warned adults who want raw milk should be able to buy it from producers that want to sell it.
Sen. David Burnett, D-Osceola, expressed concern about there not being any inspections on the milk to be sure it’s safe. A former prosecutor and circuit court judge, Burnett also suggested the farmer who sells the milk could be liable if someone becomes ill after drinking the milk.
The bill, which passed the House by 60-19 last week, now goes to the governor.
Other legislative issues
The House voted 82-1 to pass Senate Bill 630 by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, which would allow for the seizure of assets, including money, intended for acts of terrorism and would create a civil cause of action against terrorists by victims to allow them to recover damages and attorneys’ fees.
Some of the assets seized also would be used to offset the cost of the law enforcement investigation and the prosecution.
The bill is known as “Andy’s Law” in honor of U.S. Army Pvt. William “Andy” Long of Conway, who was shot and killed outside a west Little Rock recruiting center in 2009. Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula of Jacksonville was wounded in the shooting rampage.
Abdulhakim Muhammad, a Memphis, Tenn., native born Carlos Bledsoe who converted to Islam, pleaded guilty to capital murder and attempted capital murder in 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bledsoe, who identified himself as a terrorist carrying out an act of jihad, had traveled to Yemen and Somalia before the shooting.
Presenting the bill on the House floor, Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, said it is “designed to hit the terrorists where it hurts, and that’s in the pocketbook.”
The bill goes to the governor.
The House voted 80-1 to approve HB 1789 by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, which would allow home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic activities. The bill goes to the Senate.
In an 82-0 vote, the House approved SB 802 by Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, which would allow large trucking companies that contract with independent truckers to offer them worker’s compensation insurance. The bill goes to the governor.
The House decided in a voice vote to recall from the Senate HB 1357 by Rep. Allen Kerr, R-Little Rock, which would require most elections to be held in May or November. The bill passed in the House last month in a 68-22 vote but has been stalled in a Senate committee. Kerr told House members he has decided to request that legislators study his proposal during the interim between sessions.
Also in a voice vote, the House adopted House Resolution 1042 by David Meeks, remembering Conway Police Officer William McGary for his contributions to his community and the state. McGary died Feb. 1 after being hit by a car while directing traffic at the scene of an accident.
Meanwhile, the Senate approved HB 2211 by Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, which would prohibit the naming of a public building for a living person who has been an elected official or government employee within the previous 10 years.
The bill includes exceptions for a person who has been a prisoner of war, a person who is at least 75 years old and retired, or a building that is paid for with at least 50 percent private funds. The bill passed 32-2 and goes to the governor.
In a 33-1 vote, the Senate approved HB 2014 by Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, which would allow an employee of a detention facility to carry a firearm if the employee has received firearms training. The bill goes to governor.