EUREKA SPRINGS -- The message boards here heated up and the mayor fired off a sharp letter when a bill to outlaw the city's Domestic Partnership Registry appeared on the agenda for a committee meeting Wednesday.
It turned out to be a false alarm, however, although the bill could still come back before the committee.
Rep. Bryan King had introduced House Bill 2176 three weeks ago. The bill would have prevented DPRs anywhere in Arkansas. Eureka Springs is the only city in Arkansas with a registry.
The bill was passed twice in the house, and was then sent to a committee for further study. During a special session Friday morning, the House Committee on City, County, and Local Affairs did not vote to return the bill to the floor.
In an interview Wednesday, King said he had not intended to place HB 2176 on the agenda for Wednesday morning. "I don't know what happened, it was just up on the calendar," he said. "A bill stays on the active list for three meetings."
King has not ruled out taking another run at the committee, but he only has two chances left in this session, April 3 and April 8. He has not yet decided whether he will take that step.
"With a committee full of democrats, it's not going to pass," he said. "They're getting political pressure not to show up, even though their districts would vote for it."
The bill would need 11 "yes" votes out of the 20-member committee to pass and return to the floor for its final reading.
King continues to complain about the committee's actions last Friday. A voice vote was taken in haste, as committee members scrambled to adjourn and go to the 10 a.m. session of the House of Representatives.
"They trying to say because they jumped up and ran, they didn't have a quorum," he said, calling this a "calculated plan" to avoid taking responsibility for their votes.
Speaker of the House Robbie Wills wrote on his Web site that he thought King had a specific agenda if he brings the bill before the committee again.
"Bryan knows he doesn't have the votes to pass the bill, but he's bound and determined to get a roll call vote to use against people in the next election," he wrote.
Eureka Springs Mayor Dani Joy had attended the committee hearing March 27, and when she saw this item on the committee's agenda again, she quickly sent a letter reiterating her beliefs about the issues of home rule for municipalities throughout the state.
"This is a matter of home rule, and allowing each city the ability to dictate its own government within the confines of state law," she wrote. "Please do not allow an obvious attempt to use our city as an example set a dangerous precedent for the entire state."