Around the South for Apr. 1: AR, NC & FL

Arkansas: House passes Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Despite protests in the State Capitol from opponents, the Arkansas state House of Representatives passed legislation potentially allowing businesses to refuse service to gays. The measure, which passed the House Tuesday, is similar to the Indiana law that has drawn nationwide protests. The measure already passed the Senate and Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has said he will sign it, now that it has been amended to be in compliance with federal civil rights laws, as its sponsors contend. Similar legislation is now law in Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas ……. North Carolina: Medical marijuana defeated in committee. In a unanimous vote, a state House committee last week defeated a proposal to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Similar proposals have been defeated in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Mississippi, and are pending in legislatures in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Medical marijuana is legal, in varying degrees, in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia ……. Florida: Bush, Rubio top poll of GOPers. Sunshine State Republicans gave the lion’s share of their votes to two favorite sons, former Gov. Jeb Bush and US Sen. Marco Rubio. In a St. Leo Universitysurvey of GOP voter preferences for the 2016 presidential race, taken last month, Bush led with 31% followed by Rubio with 16%. In third place was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 10%. Dr. Ben Carson, who is now a resident of Florida, got 9% and US Sen. Rand Paul 7%. Other contenders received 5% or less …….