With Gov. Mike Beebe out of the state, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr signed a bill into law Friday (Feb. 22) prohibiting the release of records about Arkansans who have concealed-carry handgun permits.
The news release from the lieutenant governor’s office on the signing states that “Governor Mark Darr” signed the bill. Darr is serving as acting governor with Beebe out of state.
Beebe is attending the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. Beebe also met with U.S.Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the potential expansion in Arkansas of Medicaid health services.
In the governor’s absence, the lieutenant governor presides over state business.
Generally when a governor is out of the state, lieutenant governors do not address significant matters that might clash with what the governor would have done. Beebe is a Democrat, while Darr is a Republican.
Earlier this week, Beebe said he would allow the bill to go into law without his signature, indicating he preferred a previous legislative compromise allowing just the names and zip codes of permit holders to be released. Without the governor’s signature, the law would have become effective Monday.
Matt DeCample, the governor’s spokesman, said Beebe has concerns about this kind of thing setting a precedent, but given the circumstances, in which the governor was out of town and the bill was have become law anyway, Beebe is not going to “raise an objection.”
Senate Bill 131, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, stipulates that the state of Arkansas can no longer publicly release records concerning persons licensed to carry a concealed handgun or those applying for such a license.
It says the release of such records is an invasion of privacy and threatens the safety and property of the persons identified.
“Having been an outspoken advocate for Second Amendment rights, I felt passionately that there should be no delays in signing this bill into law,” Darr said in a statement.
Holland has said he introduced the bill after a newspaper in New York released information about concealed-carry permit holders in that state.