Rep. Johnny Walker testifies for Civil Rights Commission.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- There is no state agency that is enforcing civil rights here in Arkansas. So, Wednesday, the Arkansas Advisory Council is taking up the issue if the state should form such an agency.
The committee published a report 11 years ago about the state's civil rights act. It found our state law is not "substantially equivalent to federal civil rights laws." Also, Arkansas is one of few states without a civil rights agency.
"I personally believe we need a civil rights commission," says UALR law professor Terry Beiner who makes her case to the Arkansas Advisory Committee on this issue.
Beiner believes Arkansans need a state agency that can handle discrimination cases in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
"It's very expensive taking a civil rights case and the chances for success are low," says Beiner.
Only two cases have been filed under the Arkansas Civil Rights Law of 1993 jurisdiction, both unsuccessful.
"For example it doesn't cover age discrimination," says Beiner.
Representative Johnny Walker also spoke and says housing and education issues often go hand-in-hand.
"If you have white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods, you will have white schools and black schools," says Rep. Walker.
Chairman Dr. Gary McHenry explores the issue if such an agency would be even used.
"The greatest difficulty is to make sure people are aware of the existence of such an agency," says McHenry.
"In Little Rock, we have an increasing Muslim community and I'm sure experiencing religious discrimination," says Beiner.
Arkansas does have a fair housing commission, but there is no agency that encompasses other civil rights issues.
You also have a chance to get involved in the discussion. There's another meeting Thursday at the Holiday Presidential Hotel from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public comments start at 4 p.m.
THV's Pam Baccam will have more on Today's THV at 5:00 and 6:00. You can follow her on Twitter @pbaccam.