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Monday, May 2, 2016
State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 26, at 1:05 PM
LITTLE ROCK - During the fiscal session of the legislature the focus of media attention has been on the budget of the state Human Services Department (DHS), which is the single largest state agency. Public attention focused specifically on the Medicaid program, which is administered by the Human Services Department. However, it's important to remember that DHS provides numerous other services apart from Medicaid...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 19, at 9:39 AM

LITTLE ROCK - As soon as this year's fiscal session of the legislature convened, the tension began to build. On the first day of the session the Joint Budget Committee endorsed the spending bill for the state Medicaid program, which has been the most politically controversial bill in the General Assembly for the past several sessions...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 12, at 9:15 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The conclusion of the three-day special session on Medicaid sets the stage for a dramatic vote in the fiscal legislative session that begins April 13. The fiscal session has been scheduled since last year. The legislature meets every year, but in even-numbered years such as 2016 it meets in fiscal session. That means it only considers budget bills to authorize spending for state agencies...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 5, at 8:53 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature begins several weeks of intense activity when it is scheduled to convene in special session on April 6, followed by a fiscal session that is scheduled to begin on April 13. The special session will be limited to health care issues. ...

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Unclaimed property can be found via Internet
Posted Tuesday, March 29, at 11:22 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Thousands of Arkansans have found lost valuables, money and keepsakes through the state Auditor's Office, which has the mission of trying to connect lost and unclaimed property with its rightful owners or their heirs. Sometimes the property is in the form of unpaid wages and commissions. Sometimes it is from old checking and savings accounts. It can be in the form of stocks and bonds, utility deposits, insurance payments, money orders or cashier's checks...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, March 22, at 1:11 PM

LITTLE ROCK - There are five available slots for new open-enrollment charter schools in Arkansas, according to the state Education Commissioner. The Education Department had received 12 letters of intent from organizations that are interested in applying for one of the open slots...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, March 15, at 11:09 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature began budget hearings in preparation for the fiscal session that convenes in April. Legislators focused on budget request from the "Big Six," which is a shorthand reference to institutions of higher education, the Public School Fund for schools that teach kindergarten through grade 12, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, the Department of Correction and the Department of Community Correction...

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Moving food stamp recipients into the work force
Posted Tuesday, March 8, at 11:39 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas is one of 10 states that will intensify efforts to move able-bodied food stamp recipients into the work force. The federal Agriculture Department operates the food stamp program, which is technically known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is commonly referred to as SNAP. According to the head of the department, Arkansas was chosen because "it does a pretty good job of using the resources they have."...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, March 1, at 11:49 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The governor announced that he would call a special session to begin April 6 for the legislature to consider changes to the state Medicaid program. Changes to Medicaid are usually difficult because it is such a large and expensive program. Changes are needed though, because it has been growing as a category in the state's overall budget...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, February 23, at 10:52 AM

LITTLE ROCK - In spite of objections from the state attorney general, the Arkansas Supreme Court allowed nine death row inmates more time to prepare legal arguments against the state's lethal injection procedures. The attorney general had asked the court to expedite the case. A strong reason for moving quickly is that in June one of the drugs used in Arkansas lethal injections will expire...

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State prison inmates continues to increase
Posted Tuesday, February 16, at 9:50 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The number of inmates in state prison units continues to increase, as does the number of parolees who are released early for reasons such as good behavior. As the Parole Board's workload has become greater, the legislature has enacted new laws to strengthen the credentials of the Board's members...

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Test scores improving
Posted Tuesday, February 9, at 2:29 PM

Arkansas students who are college bound continued to show improvement on tests that determine whether they need to take remedial courses in order to bring their academics up to college level. If high school graduates do not score 19 or better on the ACT standardized test, they must catch up their first year in college by enrolling in a remedial class. The ACT is the most commonly used college entrance exam for Arkansas schools, and it has components in math, English and reading...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, February 2, at 10:33 AM

January 29, 2016 LITTLE ROCK - According to the state Education Department, there are eight academic subject areas this school year in which Arkansas has a shortage of licensed teachers. That means qualified teachers and school administrators can take as many as six hours of college level courses to become licensed in those areas, and they will be eligible to receive reimbursements of up to $3,000 from the state Higher Education Department...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 26, at 9:15 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The governor announced his plans to increase highway funding with budget surpluses and transfers from other state sources of revenue. He is expected to call a special session for the legislature to consider the plan. The governor emphasized that the new highway proposal would not raise taxes...

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State Capitol Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 19, at 12:07 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The enormous Powerball prize generated record sales of lottery tickets in Arkansas and increased income for college scholarships. However, legislative leaders said they would take a long term view of the program's finances and be cautious about any attempt to raise scholarship amounts...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 12, at 2:43 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The Secretary of State's office has issued new rules for groups that want to place ballot issues before voters in the November general election. The rules reflect changes enacted by lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session. Not all the provisions were upheld when the Supreme Court ruled in a legal challenge of the 2013 law. The Supreme Court rulings and a few changes made by the legislature in 2015 are also reflected in the new rules...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, January 5, at 11:18 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature will convene in fiscal session on April 13 to approve budgets for state agencies. Traditionally, the Arkansas legislature holds its fiscal sessions in February of even-numbered years. However, in 2015 the legislature moved the 2016 fiscal session to the second Wednesday in April. It also moved the date of the Arkansas primary elections to March 1 of 2016...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 29, at 10:11 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The new year will begin with an extensive review of the single largest state agency, the Department of Human Services. The governor ordered the review, which will be headed by the lieutenant governor and which will examine the organizational structure of the department to determine if any areas lack resources or can be made more efficient. Assessors will keep an eye open for duplication of services...

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Legislature has extremely productive year
Posted Tuesday, December 22, at 9:14 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature had an extremely busy and productive year in 2015. During the regular session early in the year, lawmakers approved a $100 million income tax cut for middle class families. Taxpayers who earn between $21,000 and $75,000 a year will see their rates go down, beginning in 2016. The reduction will be from 6 percent to 5 percent on income between $21,000 and $35,099 and from 7 to 6 percent on income $35,100 and $75,000...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, December 15, at 2:11 PM

December 11, 2015 LITTLE ROCK - When Congress approved a federal highway funding bill, it was good news not only for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department but also for those in numerous states across the country. The measure guarantees federal transportation funding levels for the next five years, so state highway departments can budget for long-term projects. ...

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State Capital Week in Review
By Senator David Burnett
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State Capital Week in Review
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Unclaimed property can be found via Internet
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