Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

classroom desks
http://www.nctq.org

Arkansas lawmakers have advanced a proposal to allow taxpayers with tax-deductible 529 college savings plans to withdraw funds for tuition at public, private and religious K-12 schools.

A legislative subcommittee on Wednesday recommended including the change in a budget bill for the state treasurer's office. The proposal now heads to the Joint Budget Committee.

Ten Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new Ten Commandments monument will likely be placed at the Arkansas State Capitol in April. It’s a replacement for one destroyed last June, less than 24 hours after it was unveiled, by a driver who intentionally crashed his car into it.

Chris Powell, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, says they’ve decided to wait until after the legislature wraps up the fiscal session, then a special session, so that the grounds won’t be as busy and heavy equipment can be brought in.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Monday he will call lawmakers back to the State Capitol shortly after the ongoing fiscal session to pass legislation to address growing concerns on rising health costs associated with so-called PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers.

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

All but a dozen Arkansas House members have gone through voluntary courses on sexual harassment that are being offered in response to a wave of high-profile misconduct cases nationwide.

Eighty-seven of the House's 99 members attended a course that was offered throughout the day on Wednesday, according to sign-in sheets released by the chamber. A spokeswoman for the House said the other 12 members of the chamber are scheduled to attend a make-up course being offered next week. There is one vacant seat in the 100-member House.

Trent Garner
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas lawmaker says he won't push for a measure easing a requirement for concealed handgun trainers during this year's session after the governor said he supports delaying the mandate's deadline so the issue can be addressed later.

Republican Sen. Trent Garner said Thursday he'll drop his proposal removing the requirement that concealed carry instructors offer both the regular training and the enhanced training under an expanded concealed handgun law approved last year.

Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After a day of special legislative elections, one race is final, one primary is decided, and a run-off will occur in a third match-up for three different legislative seats.

Voters in State Senate Districts 16 and 29 and State House District 83 turned out Tuesday to fill vacancies that have occurred in the last few months. The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office provided the following election results.

C-SPAN
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The television network C-SPAN is visiting Arkansas. The non-commercial network, best known for its uninterrupted gavel-to-gavel feeds of the U.S. House and Senate, is touting its educational resources and recording videos from visitors for its “Voices from the States” segment.

Its high-tech C-SPAN Bus is traveling the country on a 14 month “50 Capitals Tour” and Tuesday morning was parked in front of the Arkansas State Capitol. Gov. Asa Hutchinson boarded the bus for a live interview on the network’s Washington Journal call-in program.

As Arkansas lawmakers headed to Little Rock Monday for the fiscal session, former Rep. Eddie Wayne Cooper, D-Melbourne, pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million from a Springfield, Mo.-based health care charity.

Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Cooper, 51, waived his right Monday to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush to charges of one count of conspiracy to embezzle from the nonprofit organization.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called for a $180 million annual tax cut for the state’s biggest earners during his State of the State address Monday kicking off the 2018 fiscal session.

 

Hutchinson said the goal is to compete with other states for business investors. He said that at a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, he was asked how much top earners pay in Arkansas state taxes.

"And I said, ‘Well, it’s 6.9 percent, and they looked at me and responded, ‘That is worse than Connecticut.’ That story emphasizes the competitive nature of taxes in a mobile society.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson giving his State of the State address to Arkansas lawmakers at the start of the fiscal session Monday.
ArkansasHouse.org

Arkansas' governor says he wants to cut the income tax for the state's top earners by $180 million, and says his plan to set aside $48 million in surplus money will help set the stage for that reduction.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers Monday he'll push for cutting the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. Hutchinson issued the recommendation as lawmakers convened for an abbreviated session focused on the state's budget.

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