Editor’s note: Rep. Leslee Milam-Post, D-Ozark, provided the following commentary on the previous week of the 88th Arkansas General Assembly.
This week was a great refresher for me as to why I gave up precious time with my family, leisure time with my coffee cartel, working out and all of the other things I did before I committed myself back to public service.
The fire started on Monday with Senate Bill 119, an Act to Create the Commission on the Status of Women. This would allow for the appointment of a non-legislative committee to study gender issues, search and apply for outside funding, and make legislative recommendations.
This bi-partisan bill breezed through the Senate and House Public Health Welfare and Labor Committee, but to my shock was held up on the floor primarily by my female colleagues. I listened as women gave their male counterparts “permission” to vote against it, as if it was somehow not a vote against women, but somehow a vote for women.
We have 25 other task forces covering many illnesses and issues, but many legislators didn’t see a need for a Commission on Women. My list I gave them at the well — cervical cancer, breast cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease (#1 killer of women), immunizations, fibromyalgia, sexual assault, dating violence, unfair wages in the workforce, to name a few.
There is plenty of work to be done in this field. Arkansas is trailing in most areas. In the end, the House did not support to create a Commission on the Status of Women.
Another measure that saw extensive debate both in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee last week and on the House floor this week was House Bill 1315.
The measure would require insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Annual payments would be capped at $50,000, and coverage would apply to children under 18 years of age. Rep. Uvalde Lindsey, D-Fayetteville, sponsor of the legislation says it would increase early diagnosis of autism, and that early diagnosis helps the impact of treatment. We passed the bill by a vote of 72-13, and it has been sent to the Senate.
We expect to take up a proposal that would generate funding for our state's roads in the coming days. Also, we will be focused in coming weeks on the redistricting of our state's congressional districts, based on 2010 U.S. Census data.
Thanks to all of the students that have been visiting the Capitol recently! It's an extremely exciting time in our State Capitol.
You can now watch most committees and House proceedings via live stream at the Arkansas House website.
As always, please contact me at with questions or concerns at (479) 518-0331, or firstname.lastname@example.org