Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

Arkansas's General Assembly has given initial approval to healthcare changes not possible under President Obama. 

The modifications would move about 60,000 out of the subsidized Medicaid expansion that took place after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and under the guidance of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. These recipients would become customers in the regular exchange. The changes also include new Medicaid work requirements.  

A final vote is expected Wednesday morning.

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

Arkansas lawmakers have given initial approval to moving 60,000 people off the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion program and to impose a work requirement on its participants.

The House on Tuesday voted 71-23 for the new restrictions by a 71-23, while the Senate approved an identical measure by a 23-9 vote.

Final votes on the bills are expected in both chambers on Wednesday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier this year proposed the restrictions, which must also be approved by the federal government.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
arkansashouse.org

An Arkansas House committee has advanced Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to make changes to the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion program.

Hutchinson called for a special legislative session for lawmakers to address Medicaid and other issues, including shoring up the state's long-term reserve fund.

More than 300,000 people are covered by Arkansas Works, the program that uses Medicaid money to buy private insurance for low-income residents. Hutchinson wants to move 60,000 people off the program, and put in place a work requirement for eligibility.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

State lawmakers are returning to Little Rock to adjourn their regular legislative session and begin a special session that's mainly focused on changes to the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to address lawmakers at 2 p.m. Monday, shortly after they begin the special session that is expected to wrap up this week.

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

For the first time in the history of polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, the Arkansas Legislature received a failing grade from state voters.

The latest survey of 550 Arkansas voters conducted on April 4, 2017, shows that more voters disapproved of the GOP-controlled legislature’s performance by a 12 percentage point margin. Voters were asked:

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Arkansas Legislature did during its recently completed session?

32% Approve 
44% Disapprove 
24% Don’t Know

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that appropriated $850,000 for school districts to pay for panic button alert systems.

Panic button systems are used during emergencies, such as an active shooter situation.

Hutchinson announced his veto Friday, saying it should be up to local school districts to decide whether to pay for the alert systems.

The governor's letter noted that the panic button system was originally presented to lawmakers as a pilot project that school districts would eventually fund.

Protesters in the Street
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that would have criminalized mass picketing, saying it would restrict free speech.

Hutchinson vetoed the bill on Thursday. It had been passed by both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Trent Garner, defines mass picketing as people assembling for demonstrations at or near a business, school or private facility.

Arkansas legislators have wrapped up the bulk of their work for the 2017 regular session. They'll come back in early May to tie up loose ends, and it is expected that they'll also have a special session in May to deal with changes in the state Medicaid program.The Legislature on Monday approved a $5.5 billion budget for the state.

The proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, which sets spending priorities based on expected revenue, was approved in the Senate on a 23-0 vote Monday. The House later approved an identical version of the bill by an 87-5 vote.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A beleaguered bid in the Arkansas Legislature to collect sales taxes from online purchases from companies without a physical presence in the state narrowly failed in the House on Monday. Representative Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, said it didn’t make sense to collect a tax on his blue jeans at a local store but not when he bought them online.

“They’re the same brand of blue jeans, the same style, the same size, used on the same fat body for the same purpose and they didn’t collect sales tax,” said Douglas. “Now is that fair?”

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill that allows for the prohibition of guns at collegiate sporting events, UAMS, the Arkansas State Hospital and public daycare facilities. The vote was 23-7. The bill was delivered to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he would sign it.

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