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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, February 24, at 2:47 PM
LITTLE ROCK - The governor outlined an ambitious plan to ease prison overcrowding through expansion of existing facilities, construction of regional re-entry centers and strengthening of probation and parole systems. He broke his plan into three parts: adding prison space, improving the parole and re-entry system and providing alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, February 17, at 1:36 PM

LITTLE ROCK - In each regular session the legislature may refer up to three proposed constitutional amendments to voters. This year 27 proposals were filed in the House of Representatives and 15 were filed in the Senate. The State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees of each chamber will begin the task of narrowing the list to three...

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Lower tax rates take effect in 2016
Posted Tuesday, February 10, at 1:28 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The Senate gave final approval to a broad income tax reduction proposed by the governor, which will save middle class wage earners about $102 million a year when it takes full effect. Considering it will benefit an estimated 600,000 people, it is likely to be the signature accomplishment of the 2015 legislative session...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, February 3, at 9:43 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The Senate approved the governor's bill to initiate broad reforms of the Medicaid system. It was the second major victory for the governor in the Senate, which earlier had passed his bill to cut income taxes on middle class wage earners...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 27, at 1:34 PM

LITTLE ROCK - In a unique and historic vote the Arkansas Senate approved a middle class tax cut in the opening days of the legislative session. In living memory, the Senate has never passed one of the signature bills so early in a session. Important fiscal legislation usually will not be considered for a final vote in the Senate until the final weeks of a session in March, because of the ramifications throughout the entire state government budget...

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Proposed tax break, spending cuts considered
Posted Tuesday, January 20, at 10:09 AM

LITTLE ROCK -About half a million Arkansas taxpayers will save more than $100 million a year under Senate Bill 6, sponsored by the President Pro Tempore and supported by the governor. SB 6 would lower state income tax rates, beginning with wages earned Jan. 1, 2016, for Arkansas taxpayers who earn between $21,000 and $75,000 a year...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 13, at 12:05 PM

LITTLE ROCK - When the 90th General Assembly of the Arkansas legislature officially convenes at the state Capitol, it will be noted for the historic changes in leadership of state government. However, the new leaders of Arkansas will face many old, familiar challenges. They will have to vote on ways to pay for improvements to school facilities and methods of efficiently operating prisons...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 6, at 11:28 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Legislators have begun pre-filing bills in anticipation of the regular session that begins Jan. 12. Measures filed in the Senate include a bill to restructure lottery scholarships, in order to maintain the long-term financial viability of the system. Changes to the lottery system are Senate Bills 3 and 5...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Monday, December 29, at 4:52 PM

LITTLE ROCK - When the legislature convenes in regular session on January 12, Arkansas will have a new governor for the first time in eight years. Asa Hutchinson is replacing Mike Beebe. The Senate will have four new members - Senator Scott Flippo of Bulls Shoals will represent District 17, Senator Terry Rice of Waldron, District 9, Blake Johnson of Corning, District 20 and Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas, District 19...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 23, at 9:51 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature held two sessions in 2014. The first was a fiscal session that began in February to approve a $5 billion state general revenue budget. The second was a three-day special session in June and July to expand the capacity of state prisons and cut costs of the teacher health insurance system...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 16, at 12:31 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas trauma system has been a tremendous success, not only when measured by the number of lives it has saved but also by the improved quality of life of survivors. Before the legislature created the trauma system in 2009, it took several hours for medical officials to arrange for trauma patients to be accepted at a higher level facility that had the resources to provide proper care. Now, the average time of acceptance for all trauma patients is seven minutes and 17 seconds...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 9, at 9:32 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas must move quickly to take advantage of available federal grants worth up to $30 million, according to a non-profit organization that is working with the state Education Department to expand broadband access in public schools. In order to keep schools competitive and to provide Arkansas students with better opportunities in the modern economy, educators, elected officials and business leaders have been working to make the Internet more readily available to every student...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 2, at 1:16 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program has awarded monetary grants to 215 schools that have been deemed "high performing" based on test results and other criteria from last school year. The awards were made to 109 schools that placed in the top 10 percent and 106 schools that were ranked in the top 20 percent. Arkansas has more than 1,100 schools from kindergarten through grade 12...

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Firm accepted to process Medicaid claims
Posted Tuesday, November 25, at 10:52 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The Legislative Council's Review Committee signed off on a long-term contract with a computer technology firm to process claims for the state Medicaid system. The value of the contract is an estimated $203 million. It is with HP Enterprise Services LLC, which is part of Hewlett Packard of Palo Alto, Calif...

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New boot camp rules
Posted Tuesday, November 18, at 1:59 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Lawmakers and Correction officials signed off on a new set of rules to reduce overcrowding and the number of paroled inmates who get in trouble and return to prison. One new policy changes the eligibility requirements for the boot camp, an intensive and physically demanding program for first time, non-violent offenders. It lasts 105 days...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, November 4, at 11:29 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The state Correction Department received 16 applications from communities wanting to be the location of a proposed new $100 million prison unit. The unit would hire 250 people and the average salary would be $12.50 an hour, and in the future it could expand...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, October 28, at 1:40 PM

LITTLE ROCK - When Arkansas voters go to the polls, they will receive lengthy ballots that include four proposed constitutional amendments. Three of the proposed amendments were referred by the legislature during last year's regular session. They would change current laws on ethics, ballot issues, term limits and the procedures for implementing rules and regulations...

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Education top priority in budget requests
Posted Tuesday, October 14, at 1:02 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Legislators began a lengthy and detailed review of all state agency spending requests, in preparation for the regular session that begins in January. Setting a balanced budget for state government every year is the most time-consuming duty of the legislature. ...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, September 23, at 11:47 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department opened bids for 46 projects totaling $231.5 million. After a review of the bids, if the Commission accepts all of them as submitted they would comprise the largest single bid opening in Arkansas history. It would surpass the previous high bid opening in November of 2012, when bids for $222.5 million of projects were opened...

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Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, September 16, at 11:56 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas did more than any other state last year to strengthen laws against human trafficking, according to a national advocacy group called the Polaris Project. The legislature will build on those accomplishments, judging from the response of the Senate Committee on Children and Youth to recommendations presented by the Attorney General's State Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking...

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State Capital Week in Review
By Senator David Burnett
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