“Local control” is an issue that I’ve been very vocal about during my two terms on Fayetteville City Council and even before. What does this phrase mean? Simply put, it’s the ability of a municipal government like the City of Fayetteville to make it’s own decisions locally rather than being controlled by a distant state legislature that may not have our best interests at heart.
The issue touches on nearly everything. If you live here in District 86, which includes the University of Arkansas, you’re probably aware that last year the State Legislature passed a new gun law, sponsored by Fayetteville Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, that now allows anyone who has completed and received an enhanced training permit to bring concealed guns onto campus. This pre-emptive legislation took away local control from our universities, who had previously been allowed to decide this issue by themselves. There are also many holes and flaws in this legislation. For example, the gun doesn’t even have to be holstered. It could be in a backpack or a purse. I’m opposed to the entire concept of guns on campus. But as a city government, we looked into whether we could at least require these weapons to be in a holster – common sense gun legislation. We found out we could not. City governments have very little say over gun control in Arkansas due to the “local control” issue.
Another example I’ll give is Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Ordinance, 5781, which was passed by the voters in 2015. I was a co-sponsor of that ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But the Ordinance is bumping up against Arkansas Act 137. This pre-emptive legislation tries to prohibit cities from passing such protections on their own. Fayetteville is challenging the Constitutionality of Act 137, and the issue is currently before the Arkansas Supreme Court. Again, this is an issue of “local control”.
There are a lot of folks in our city that are desperate for change in Little Rock when it comes to issues like gun control and civil rights. Instead of debating with each other over which issue is more pressing, we should be uniting around issues like Local Control, so we can give back Power to our People. It may not sound as sexy, but it’s one of the bedrock issues that has the ability to improve all of our lives. It’s an issue that I pledge to tackle if elected on May 22 as your State Representative for District 86.