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Wednesday, Mar. 29, 2017

House takes steps to eliminate waiting list

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2017, at 9:07 AM

Currently there are 3,000 Arkansans with intellectual or developmental disabilities waiting for community-based or in home services. The needs range from adaptive equipment at home to day treatment programs.

This week the House took the first step in an effort to eliminate this waiting list.

In a vote of 93-0, we approved HB1033. This legislation calls for the diversion of $8.5 million from the tobacco settlement fund to fund the needs of the waiting list. This money is currently not being used on any other program. The state funds would be then matched by $20 million in federal funds.

It is expected the funds will assist 500-900 of those on the list. This bill is now heading to the Senate.

Meanwhile, heading to the Governor's desk is a bill that allows the Medical Marijuana Commission more time to implement rules for growers and dispensaries.

The Medical Marijuana Amendment passed by voters in November, gave the commission 120 days to be appointed and create all rules and regulations regarding growing and dispensing.

The sponsor of the bill said while rules can be passed quickly, 120 days did not allow enough time for public input and participation in the process.

HB1026 gives the commission 180 days. And it requires the commission to begin accepting application by July 1, which aligns with the start of the fiscal year. The date in the amendment approved by voters in November was June 1.

It has passed both the House and the Senate and is now waiting on the Governor's signature.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee has advanced two tax cut proposals. HB1159 targets tax cuts to those making under $21,000 a year. HB1161 provides an earned income tax credit for those who already qualify for the federal credit.

The full House will be considering these proposals in the third week of the session.

We will continue to keep you updated. Remember you can watch all House proceedings and committee meetings held inside the Capitol on our website.



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Johnny Rye of Trumann is the Representative of District 54.
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