Region & State

SESSION SPOTLIGHT: Rep. Justin Gonzales

Rep. Justin Gonzales

House of Representatives District 89 is carved out of parts of Clark, Pike, Hot Spring and Nevada counties. The district has been represented by Justin Gonzales (R) Okolona since 2015, which places him 20th in seniority in the House of Representatives.

Gonzales serves a large rural, sparsely populated area that includes over 30 small communities and the larger towns of Glenwood, Prescott, Gurdon and Murfreesboro. The district extends east of Arkadelphia past the Joan area but skirts around the City of Arkadelphia. District 89 also includes parts of DeGray Lake and all of Lake Greeson.

Gonzales’ legislative profile lists his occupation as a farmer. Information on Gonzales’ early legislative history is limited because the legislature’s online archives begin with the 2019 regular session. Since that time records indicate that Gonzales has been the primary sponsor of nine bills in the House that were passed into law and the primary House sponsor of eight successful Senate bills. He has co-sponsored 14 House bills and 14 Senate bills that are now state law. Forty-one bills he has sponsored or co-sponsored since 2019 have died in committee.

In the current session Gonzales has submitted HB 1041 titled To Authorize Local Officials to Provide for the Operation of All-Terrain Vehicles on Designated Public Streets and Highways. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Public Transportation, which may take up the bill at its next meeting Thursday, Jan. 26.

Gonzales is a co-sponsor of HB 1123, submitted by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R) of Horatio which was passed by the House during the afternoon session on Tuesday. The bill’s title is To Amend Laws Concerning Concealed Carry Permits; and to Authorize an Individual who has Sought Voluntary Mental Health Treatment to Obtain a Concealed Carry Permit After a Certain Time Period. The bill received no opposition in committee or from the full House.

Senate Bill 81 is likely to be the most controversial measure Gonzales is involved with at this point in the session. He is the primary House sponsor of SB81 proposed by Senator Dan Sullivan (R) Jonesboro. SB81 is titled To Amend the Law Concerning Obscene Materials; To Create the Offense of Furnishing a Harmful Item to a Minor; And to Amend the Law Concerning Obscene Materials Loaned by a Library. The bill establishes the possibility of misdemeanor and Class D felony charges for convicted violators and removes the exemption that exists under current law for employees, directors or trustees of a bona fide school or public library, acting within the scope of their regular employment.

The bill also creates the possibility of civil action by a person or the parent or legal guardian of a person under the age of 18, against the state, county or city found in violation of existing statues. Under SB81 successful civil actions can yield damages to the plaintiff of $50 per day of violation up to $10,000 in the case of repeated or reckless violations. Currently SB81 has not been assigned to a committee and no action is currently scheduled on the bill.

Senate Bill 88 is also being sponsored in the House by Gonzales for Sen. Mark Johnson (R) of Little Rock. The bill is titled To Define Healthcare Provider Regarding Student Athlete Concussion Education. It has been referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

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