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Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Capital Week in Review
Posted Monday, June 20, at 2:07 PM
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas is one of numerous states experiencing an alarming spike in deaths attributable to prescription pain killers. A physician with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in a presentation to a legislative committee, said that changes in state law are needed in response to the statewide epidemic of abuse of drugs known as opioids. ...

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DHS restructuring to be beneficial
Posted Tuesday, June 14, at 11:21 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The new director of the state Human Services Department presented to legislators the details of a restructuring plan that is designed to make business operations more efficient. The expectation is that the changes will save money and allow caseworkers more time to perform their duties helping people in need...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 7, at 11:02 AM

LITTLE ROCK - The state recently awarded Arkansas school districts about $44.5 million in funding for this year, to pay for new construction and renovation of existing facilities to make sure they are safe, warm and dry. Facilities funding is a vital part of state aid to local schools, and is distributed according to a formula that takes into account the local wealth of school districts...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Wednesday, June 1, at 10:14 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Of the 13 items on the governor's call for a special session, 12 were approved by the legislature. The top priority was legislation to increase state funding of the Highway and Transportation Department by about $50 million a year for five years, which will qualify Arkansas for an additional $200 million each year in federal highway funding...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 24, at 1:49 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature convened in a special session called by the governor to address highway funding needs. The governor's call has 12 items in addition to highway funding. Senate Bill 10, at 105 pages, is easily the longest bill under consideration. It would terminate a list of task forces, commissions and study groups that are no longer in operation and place the Arkansas History Commission under the state Heritage Department...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 10, at 10:19 AM

LITTLE ROCK - With the successful completion of the fiscal session, Arkansas will fulfill its obligation to provide matching funds to go along with federal funding of Medicaid and other services. Now, attention at the state Capitol will focus on a special session the governor wants to call to address highway maintenance and improvements. ...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 3, at 2:28 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The appropriation for Medicaid services was one of first three measures enacted by the legislature during the 2016 fiscal session. Not long after the spending bill became law the Senate approved funding for the Office of Medicaid Inspector General...

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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
By Senator David Burnett
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