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State Capitol Week in Review

Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at 10:56 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas has a citizen legislature and the membership of the Senate reflects a variety of occupations.

Five senators are farmers or cattlemen, and five work in real estate development, property management or real estate development. One senator is an executive at a concrete company and one is a utility contractor.

Seven senators are attorneys, although not all of them practice law for a living. One is a retired circuit and chancery judge.

Two senators have experience in health care administration. One is a former manager of a surgical clinic and the other currently is an executive for a hospital and health care network.

One senator has experience in the timber industry, another owns a building supply and decorating center and another owns a hardware store.

Two senators are former teachers and one senator operates a child care center. One senator is a banker, one is in the insurance business and one is a railroad engineer. One senator has a pest control business and another a financial services business. One senator has experience as a journalist and writer. Another senator is a marketing director.

Three senators work in community development or economic development.

All 35 senators have experience in elected office, or in civic affairs. Twenty-six are former members of the state House of Representatives.

The Senate has two former mayors and a former prosecuting attorney.

Four have served on city councils and four have served on their county quorum courts. One senator served on his local Farm Services Commission.

Four have also served on school boards, one of them for 26 years. One senator was a county judge for 26 years.

The youngest senator is 33 years old and the oldest will turn 73 on the fourth day of the 2013 regular session.

There are 21 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the Arkansas Senate. Six members are women and three are African-Americans. Each senator represents a district of about 83,000 people.

Drought Losses

Arkansas cattle farmers sustained an estimated $128 million in losses from the 2012 drought, according to a report by the Cooperative Extension Service. It is based on a survey of 545 producers in 58 Arkansas counties.

About 73 percent of producers had to sell calves earlier than usual and 41 percent had to sell mature cows and replacement heifers. Also, 40 percent applied extra weed control to improve pastures and 76 percent had to feed extra hay and supplement. Of the producers who responded to the survey, 3 percent had to sell all their livestock and 18 percent had to bring in water from off their farm.

The short term impact affects not only cattle growers but farm workers and related businesses, such as equipment dealers. Long term impacts will likely occur over time as pastures recover. Expected problems from this summer's drought include increased breeding failures and increased

costs to recover the quality of pastures.

An estimated 85 percent of all pasture land in Arkansas is categorized as being in poor or very poor condition. Hay production this year is likely to be the lowest since 1983 and yields will be the lowest since 1954.

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