LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — House Bill 1342, which would allow Marshallese Arkansans to serve as law enforcement officers, failed in committee on Monday, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Megan Godfrey.
Godfrey, a Democrat representing the 89th District, which includes much of Springdale, said the bill passed via voice vote but failed on roll call.
The bill would have extended the eligibility for serving as a law enforcement officer to include those who live in Arkansas under the Compact of Free Association, which allows Marshallese to live in the United States freely after the U.S. government used their islands as a testing site for nuclear bombs, displacing thousands.
Godfrey said the bill was supported by law enforcement, the Arkansas Coalition of the Marshallese, Governor Asa Hutchinson, and legislators on both sides of the aisle.
“I can’t get comfortable with it because I heard the testimony at the end of the table, ‘this community doesn’t trust outsiders,’ and yet we’re asked to trust them with police powers,” said Republican Rep. John Payton of the 64th District before announcing his ‘no’ vote.