Mary Elizabeth Bentley (born December 26, 1961) is a businesswoman from Perryville, Arkansas, who is a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 73, which encompasses parts of Yell, Pope, Perry, and Conway counties in the central portion of her state.
Bentley's place of birth is Massachusetts, names of parents, and high school are missing. She holds a nursing degree from the Church of Christ-affiliated Harding College in Searcy in White County, Arkansas. A former registered nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital in the capital city of Little Rock, Bentley, with her ex-husband, has been, since 1983, the owner of Bentley Plastics in Perryville.
She filed for divorce from her husband after filing an order of protection against him. He was arrested in January 2018 for violating the protection order. She was also accused of making veiled threats to a Game and Fish Officer after her husband was caught on video illegally baiting wildlife in the Ouachita National Forest near their home.
She is a member of New Life Fellowship Church, a contemporary Southern Baptist rural congregation near Perryville. She and her ex-husband, Ted Alan Bentley (born c. 1956), have three children.
She ran without opposition in the Republican primary held on May 20, 2014, for the District 73 nomination to the state House. In the November 4 general election, she unseated the two-term Democrat John Catlett by 196 votes, 3,588 (51.4 percent) to 3,392 (48.6 percent), in an election year highly favorable in Arkansas to her party. In the 2012 general election, Catlett had defeated Bentley to gain his second term in the office.
Representative Bentley holds these committee assignments: (1) Public Health, Welfare, and Labor, (2) City, County, and Local Affairs, and (3) Legislative Joint Audit. In February 2015, Bentley joined dozens of her fellow Republicans and two Democrats in co-sponsoring legislation submitted by Representative Lane Jean of Magnolia, to reduce unemployment compensation benefits. The measure was promptly signed into law by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson.
That same month, Bentley supported House Bill 1228, sponsored by Republican Bob Ballinger of Carroll County, which sought to prohibit government from imposing a burden on the free exercise of religion. The measure passed the House, seventy-two to twenty. One of the opponents, Democratic Representative Camille Bennett, a former city attorney for Lonoke, Arkansas, called for a reworking of the legislation. Bennett claimed the Ballinger bill would establish a "type of religious litmus test" which could impact nearly any law under consideration by the legislature. The measure was subsequently passed by a large margin in the House and signed into law in revised form, SB 975, by Governor Hutchinson. In March 2017 she worked to eliminate The Department of Diversity and Inclusion at Arkansas Tech University which is located near her district.