Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

TOP STORY > > Child-wedding bill is repealed

The special legislative session Gov. Mike Beebe called this week to pass a $100-million-a year gas severance tax has proven a gift to state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville.

First, the session allowed legislators to repeal an ordinance sponsored by Bond during the regular 2007 session of the General Assembly that had the unintended consequence of technically allowing marriage ofminors of any age with parental consent.

Just as important locally, the special session allowed legislators to change the reimbursement deadline for North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School District lawyers to seek reimbursement and court costs for filing for unitary status.

“The deseg thing is a big blessing,” said Bond, “moving the date back for reimbursement of attorney fees and costs.”

Originally, Fed. Dist. Judge Bill Wilson had to have ruled the schools unitary by June 14 if the districts were to qualify for up to $250,000 in reimbursement, but Wilson said he was waiting for a higher court decision and could not rule on unitary status for North Little Rock School District and Pulaski County Special School District by that date.

The new bill moves the cutoff date for reimbursement to Dec. 31, 2008.

Bond said he believed this would restore the incentive for the districts to move forward.

The school bill was approved 95-2 in the House and heads for the Senate, according to DeCample.

As for the badly worded bill that had allowed even toddlers to marry with parental consent, Bond pleaded good humoredly to his fellow lawmakers, “Throw me a rope and bail me out.”

They laughed and cheered.

Bond had originally sponsored that bill as a favor to the Judicial Council, but it arrived badly worded and Bond later took responsibility, saying he should have given it scrutiny before sponsoring it.

The bill now allows males 17 and females 16 to marry with parental consent, or anyone 18 to marry without parental consent.
Fortunately, nothing bad has happened as a result of the wording adopted last session, Bond said.

All three bills were greased before calling the session, Bond said. “The governor was making sure he had a consensus before having both beet in the circle,” he added. —John Hofheimer