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Arkansas attorney general discusses focus as new legislative session begins

Attorney General Tim Griffin visited 5NEWS to discuss how he's prioritizing his duties as Attorney General. He shares thoughts on current issues in the legislature.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin explained that his office is focused on screening bills for constitutionality and in some cases, leaning in and taking a more active role.

Tim Griffin was sworn in as Arkansas' attorney general in January. The fifth-generation Arkansan is now the natural state's top law enforcement officer. 

"We just want to demonstrate energy and real responsiveness to the taxpayer," Griffin told 5NEWS. "When we get calls, for example, from a legislator, or an official for an opinion, we turn that around quickly, when we get consumer complaints, we turn that around quickly, so that people are getting the customer service culture that they that taxpayers deserve."

Handling legal matters for the state, Griffin already has a busy schedule as lawmakers introduce new bills. He explained that "when the session is over if the past is any indication, there will be well over 1000 bills signed into law."

Griffin expressed that one of his top priorities as attorney general is to assist lawmakers in writing their bills.

"We want to make sure that the laws are written as well as possible so that we can give it the best defense possible," Griffin explained.

Griffin says his experience as lieutenant governor helps him assist in the review process of a prospective bill. Griffin served two terms as the lieutenant general since 2018.

While mainly screening bills for constitutionality, he explained that the attorney general can lean in for some cases and take a more active role.

"A big part of my push is criminal justice reform. We have a serious violent crime problem in this state. And a lot of it is due to our failed parole system," said the attorney general.

He explained it's a problem that cascades down to the county level. He explained that with state prisons full, county jails are required to hold violent criminals they're not equipped for which forces leniency on misdemeanors.

Last year, Arkansas joined five other states in suing the Biden administration on student loan forgiveness. Although started by the former attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, Griffin continues the effort saying it's his job to monitor federal overreach. He mentioned reports show some justices may be leaning toward the states' argument.

"You're going, 'hey, I know you didn't take any student loans out. But guess what? You're going to pay for the kid who went to Harvard, you're going to pay some of his student loans for him.' That's just not fair," he said of the situation.

For educational matters in the natural state, he showed his support for the LEARNS act and applauds governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"Look, I think this is this gives us an opportunity to do something different so that we can get different outcomes. We've tried the same stale, old way of doing things for decades. And we're allowing two-thirds of our students to continue through school, not reading on grade level," said Griffin.

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