AG Opinions: From professional services to firearms in vehicles

AG OPINION NO. 2019-001 Te Attorney General long ago deter- mined that counties may engage certain types of construction management consultants as professional services under Ark Code § 19-11-801. However, use of construction managers by counties has limitations. In Arkansas construction contracts of public buildings and bridges by counties must use competitive bid- ding. Article 19, § 16, of the Arkansas Constitution explicitly prescribes: “All contracts for erecting or repairing public buildings or bridges in any county, or for materials therefore … shall be given to the lowest responsible bidder, under such regulations as may be provided by law.” Also, public works contracts under Ark Code § 22-9-201 et seq. require coun- ties to use competitive bidding of the actual construction work. Te AG has so concluded on many previous opinions. See: AG OP 2013-051; 2009-038 and 2009-033. Te recent opinion request seeks to ascertain whether a construc- tion manager selected by a county as a professional service may also serve as a contractor or general contractor for per- forming the work under the underlying construction project? Te answer is no. A construction manager is a professional service, and professional services in Arkansas may not be selected by com- petitive bidding (but are to be selected by comparative bidding). Also, the AG noted that award of construction con- tracts by counties to a contractor for the performance of the actual construction work must be made by competitive bid- ding (to the lowest responsible bidder) as provided by Ark. Const., Art. 19, § 16; and Ark Code § 22-9-201 et seq.

AG OPINION NO. 2018-142 Can the disabled veteran property

tax exemption be claimed and applied to two separate homesteads (where the married couple are each disabled veter- ans)? Te AG concluded that disabled veterans can own only one homestead for purposes of claiming a tax exemption under Ark. Code § 26-3-306. Te law plainly states that the disabled veteran shall be exempt from payment of all property taxes on the homestead owned by the disabled veteran. Te statute contemplates a veteran may claim their homestead property tax exemption on only one homestead, regardless if the dis- abled veteran spouses both have owner- ship in more than one homestead.

AG OPINION NO. 2018-137 Te AG opined that the disabled

veteran property tax exemption does not apply to assessment for local improve- ments such as suburban improvement districts. Te AG explained that it is well established that a constitutional or statu- tory exemption from taxation is to be taken as an exemption of ordinary taxes of state and local government. Such an exemption does not relieve obligations to pay special assessment of improvement districts, which are assessments charged upon property for the special benefit of the property. A disabled veteran is not exempt from payment of assessments upon their property by suburban im- provement districts.

AG OPINION NO. 2018-143 Te AG was asked whether a city,

by virtue of a city policy, can prevent a city employee from having a firearm in

their vehicles parked in parking lots for city build- ings. What if the employee has an en- hanced carry license? If the city prohibits firearms inside their city buildings, must notice be present at the entrances? Ark. Code § 5-73-122(a) generally prohibits persons from carrying or possessing a firearm in a publicly owned building or facility; and Ark. Code § 5-73-306 prohibits carrying by conceal carry licensees in certain public places. Te AG differenti- ated between a city policy and state law. AG noted that Ark. Code § 5-73-122(a) (3)(C) affirmatively provides that a conceal carry licensee may leave his or her firearm in his or her locked and unattended motor vehicle in a publicly owned and maintained parking lot. Te AG further noted that Ark. Code § 5-73-306(18) provides cities may post signs in entryways to public buildings to prevent carrying by employees with a conceal carry or enhanced carry license. Te AG noted that subject to these laws and other laws, the city is subject to Ark. Code § 14-54-1411 and Ark. Code § 14-16-504, which constrain the capacity of cities to adopt policies on firearms. Te AG referenced AG OPINION NO. 2018-079, which further outlines the AG’s opinion on the scope of law regarding enhance carry license hold- ers. In AG Opinion 2018-079 the AG opined that Ark. Code § 5-73-322(h) allows persons with an enhanced carry license to carry a concealed handgun into certain places without incurring criminal liability.

Mark Whitmore AAC Chief Counsel 14 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2019

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