Arkansas Follows Indiana's Move, Walmart Protests It

Walmart urges Gov. Hutchinson not to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2015 6:56 AM CDT
Updated Apr 1, 2015 7:47 AM CDT
The Arkansas Question: Will Governor Sign RFRA?
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson walks to a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, March 26, 2015.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

With Indiana still feeling the heat over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Arkansas inches up to the fire: State lawmakers yesterday approved House Bill 1228—its own RFRA—and sent it along to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is being called upon by many to veto the bill. Among that many: Bentonville-based Walmart, whose @WalmartNewsroom account last night tweeted a statement from CEO Doug McMillon urging a veto and noting the company's "core basic belief of respect for the individual." KTHV reports Walmart isn't the first to make such a request: Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, that city's Chamber of Commerce, and major employer Acxiom Corp. have all voiced their opposition.

So will Hutchinson sign? KTHV says yes. The New York Times reports he had been uneasy with a previous version but quotes him as later saying he would sign a bill into law should it hit his desk "in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states." Arkansas Online reports that his rep yesterday reported having no new comments; NBC News adds Hutchinson will make a statement today. The Times and the Washington Post take a look at the subtle ways Arkansas' law differs from Indiana's, and they call out one word that doesn't appear in Indiana's bill: "essential." As the Post explains, "At the federal level, the government can allow a law to trump the religious liberty standard if the state's interest is compelling—a looser standard that allows for things like occupational safety to trump religious exemptions." (More Arkansas stories.)

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