The news came late Friday afternoon. On the final day of their session, state reps stepped back from the precipice--and from possible headlines on Drudge--and killed a bill that would have prohibited employers from asking about their workers' vaccinations.
In short: The General Assembly done good.
The House rejected Senate Bill 731 with a 41-46 vote, and good riddance to it. Why private businesses shouldn't be able to ask for vaccination records from their own employees--but could still drug-test them, put them through background checks, etc.--was never sufficiently explained.
It seemed that a handful of our lawmakers just wanted to get to the right of Texas, and make enough news back home to get some publicity stills in the can. Common sense didn't seem to play much of a part in the push for SB731.
Thankfully, common sense re-appeared when the full House got to vote.
As our newsroom reported over the weekend, even Arkansas legislators thought such a bill would be a point too far. It wasn't just a reaction to President Biden's plan to mandate shots (or weekly tests) for employees of bigger businesses; it was an over-reaction. As the speaker of the Arkansas House, Matthew Shepherd, put it:
"One over-reach by the state does not eliminate the over-reach by the federal government, and this is an over-reach."
Reasonable people can debate if requiring shots at bigger stores (or weekly tests; don't forget that) is an over-reach, but SB731 surely was.
Arkansas business leaders came out against the bill. They know that such state-decreed orders tie their hands. And unforeseen circumstances can ruin a business, especially if the paying public has doubts about safety in this place or that.
Cooler heads don't just prevail. Sometimes cooler heads rescue.