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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, July 22, at 10:15 AM
LITTLE ROCK - Under new immunization requirements being considered by the state Board of Health, children who will be 11 or older on Sept. 1 must have a Tdap shot in order to attend a public or a private school. The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis...

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State ends fiscal year with surplus money
Posted Tuesday, July 15, at 9:57 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Thanks to very conservative budgeting by the Arkansas legislature, state government ended Fiscal Year 2014 with a surplus of almost $79 million. The state already had almost $96 million in unobligated funds left over from previous surpluses. ...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, July 8, at 9:41 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature wrapped up a three-day special session after approving bills to increase the capacity of state prisons, to hold down anticipated costs for public school health insurance and to impose a moratorium on fast-paced computerized lottery games...

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Education, prison insurance addressed
Posted Tuesday, July 1, at 1:22 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The problems being addressed by the legislature in this summer's special session have been building for years. Consistent and sharp increases in health insurance costs have been a growing problem for public school employees for more than a decade. For even longer, dramatic increases in the inmate population have caused budget problems for lawmakers and officials of the state Correction Department, which operates state prisons...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 17, at 1:21 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Last year Arkansas saw record growth in its programs to feed hungry children over the summer, and the same state agencies and non-profits are hoping to build on that success again this summer. Arkansas had the largest increase in summer meals served to children, of all the states in the country. ...

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EPA proposes new restrictions
Posted Tuesday, June 10, at 11:47 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The big news in government last week, at both the federal and local levels, was the announcement by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of proposed new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions by power plants that burn coal...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 3, at 3:39 PM

LITTLE ROCK - It can take several years before the effects of legislation is fully appreciated, and that has been the case with the package of energy bills approved last year by the legislature. For example, Arkansas now has a handful of stations that sell compressed natural gas (CNG), and thanks to rebates and incentives in Act 532 of 2013 there likely will be more in the near future. ...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 13, at 9:43 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas citizens who go to the polls on May 20 to vote in the preferential primary elections must present a government-issued photo ID in order to get a ballot. People who vote early between now and election day will also have to show a photo ID...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Wednesday, May 7, at 9:08 AM

LITTLE ROCK - A legislative task force is working on structural changes to the public school employees' health insurance system, in an effort to keep it financially sound and to prevent dramatic increases in premiums for teachers and school staff. The changes under consideration include higher deductibles and increased employee contributions. ...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 29, at 11:04 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The Legislative Council approved dipping into a rainy day fund to pay for an additional 193 Governor's Distinguished Scholarships next fall. The state had enough funding for 300 scholarships, but more students were eligible this year and decided to attend an Arkansas university. Usually about 20 percent of eligible students leave the state, or the country, for college. If they don't study in Arkansas they forego the scholarship, which can be worth up to $10,000...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 22, at 2:42 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas lottery sales, which finance college scholarships, have steadily declined since the first tickets were sold in 2009. Lottery officials and legislators expected a drop off because other states with lotteries experienced the same reduction in sales after the initial excitement wore off. In the past couple of years, revenue for scholarships in Arkansas has declined from almost $100 million annually to an estimated $82.7 million this year...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Wednesday, April 16, at 2:21 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Absentee voters would get a grace period in which they can present election officials with a copy of their photo ID, under a new rule approved by the state Board of Election Commissioners. However, the procedure by which the rule was issued is under legal challenge. The Board voted on the rule to clarify provisions of Act 595 of 2013, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to get a ballot...

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State promotes Arkansas grown products
Posted Tuesday, April 8, at 11:57 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The state Agriculture Department promotes Arkansas products in domestic and international markets, and helps ensure that farm, fiber and forestry products are safe. A relatively new effort of the Department promotes products grown in Arkansas. ...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 1, at 10:34 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The numerous severe winter storms in Arkansas caused the state Education Department and the Highway and Transportation Department to rethink long-standing policies. The state Board of Education approved waivers for 75 school districts that had canceled classes because of snow, sleet and ice. The waivers allow them to hold classes for fewer than the 178 days of instruction that are required under state law...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, March 11, at 3:18 PM

LITTLE ROCK - If the legislature gives the measure final approval during the fiscal session, public schools could apply for grants to expand their broadband capacity with new fiber optic cables. The grants would come from a $10 million appropriation from the state surplus. The authorization to spend surplus funds on improved broadband for schools is in Senate Bill 146, sponsored by the Joint Budget Committee...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Wednesday, February 5, at 4:23 PM

LITTLE ROCK - A recent report by the Arkansas Higher Education Department indicates that incoming students are better prepared for college level courses than they were in the past several years. According to records compiled by the state-supported colleges and universities, 43.2 percent of students had to take remedial classes last year. That is the best that Arkansas students have done since 2009...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 28, at 1:27 PM

LITTLE ROCK - In addition to approving budgets for state government operations next year, during the fiscal session the legislature will allocate unspent surplus funds that have built up in the state treasury over the previous year. Traditionally, surplus funds are spent on "one time" projects, while recurring expenses such as salaries and maintenance are paid for with tax revenues that are collected every year...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 21, at 11:56 AM

LITTLE ROCK - During legislative budget hearings in preparation for the 2014 fiscal session, the governor presented a balanced budget proposal for next year that projects more than $5 billion in general revenue spending. The proposed budget calls for an increase in spending next year of $105.8 million. Public schools would receive an additional $65.4 million over the amount of education funding this year. That would bring the Arkansas Public School Fund to $2.11 billion...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 14, at 12:51 PM

LITTLE ROCK - State education funding in Arkansas is based on enrollment, with local school districts receiving extra money for each pupil in attendance from a low-income family. The legislature established the bonus funding for poor students during the 2003-2004 special session that was devoted almost entirely to improving Arkansas public schools. ...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 7, at 3:31 PM

LITTLE ROCK - A package of tax cuts took effect at the new year that over time will save Arkansas more than $161 million a year. The major tax reductions are Act 1459 to reduce state income tax rates, Act 1488 to lower state taxes on capital gains and Act 1411 to reduce the sales tax paid by manufacturers on utility bills...

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State Capital Week in Review
By Senator David Burnett
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Capitol Week in Review
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State ends fiscal year with surplus money
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Capitol Week in Review
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Education, prison insurance addressed
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State Capitol Week in Review
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