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Judge Rules New Appointment Process for Plant Board Unconstitutional

On Tuesday, May 17th, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chip Welch issued a ruling stating that the appointment process for certain members of the Arkansas State Plant Board remains unconstitutional despite changes to the law made in 2021 by the General Assembly in response to previous legal challenges and court rulings on the matter. The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the State Supreme Court. A written opinion by Judge Welch is expected in the coming days.

In 2021, three days following the enactment of the new law governing the appointment process, the State Supreme Court issued a similar ruling on the previous version of the section of the law that set forth the appointment process. It's not clear yet how quickly the Supreme Court will consider this case. The legislature would have the opportunity to amend the law if needed in 2023 when they reconvene for a legislative session or before if a special session is called by Governor Hutchinson.

The ruling by Judge Welch was issued in regards to a lawsuit filed in August of 2021 after the enactment of the new law governing the appointment process and after the Supreme Court ruling on the old law governing the appointment process.

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