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Arkansas Gov. Sanders’ legislative push to restrict public access to her records receives no progress

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ proposal to restrict the public’s access to records about her administration, travel and security stumbled at the outset of a special legislative session that convened Monday, with lawmakers trying to rework the legislation in the face of growing criticism that it erodes the state’s open records law.

The House and Senate ended the day without any action on the legislation, one of several items Sanders placed on the agenda for the special session she announced Friday. The Senate scuttled plans to hold a committee hearing Monday night on the bill, as lawmakers worked on revising the proposed changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

“We’ve made amendment after amendment after amendment today. It’s just not ready,” Senate President Bart Hester told a committee room packed mostly with opponents of the legislation who had been waiting to to testify on the measure for most of the day. Hester said they expected to have a new bill filed later Monday night or Tuesday.

The open records law changes have drawn far more opposition than other items on the special session agenda, including a tax cut proposal that followed the state reporting its second-largest budget surplus in history.

A Senate committee on Monday endorsed the tax cut legislation, which calls for cutting the top individual and corporate income tax rates by .3%. It also would create a one-time nonrefundable tax credit for taxpayers making less than $90,000 a year. The full Senate is expected to take up the measure on Tuesday.

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