Hutchinson vetoes coronavirus bill to refund business fines | Govt-and-politics

Desy Papper

FILE – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine distributions during a news conference at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Responding to concerns from state officials, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday, March 17, 2021 that states can cut […]



FILE – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine distributions during a news conference at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Responding to concerns from state officials, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday, March 17, 2021 that states can cut taxes without penalty under a new federal pandemic relief law — so long as they use their own funds to do so. Gov. Hutchinson said formal guidance from the Treasury Department will be critical in determining how much flexibility exists for states.




LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed legislation requiring the state to refund fines imposed on businesses violating coronavirus safety rules, as the state’s virus cases and hospitalizations continued to drop.

The sponsor of the refund legislation said he’ll seek an override Tuesday, which only requires a simple majority of both chambers of the Legislature. The bill would have required the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Division to refund about $38,000 to bars and restaurants for violating the state’s rules, which included capacity limits.

“The only message sent by this bill is that the rule of law does not matter,” Hutchinson said in a letter to legislative leaders. “It is an affront to those citizens who diligently followed health and safety directives to protect themselves and their fellow Arkansans.”

Hutchinson last month lifted most of the state’s virus restrictions and over the weekend said he believed the state is on track to end its mask mandate on March 31.

The override fight comes as Hutchinson has faced pushback from some fellow Republicans in the Legislature over the state’s virus rules.

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