Editor’s note: This report is the weekly column from the Arkansas House of Representatives. Rep. Davy Carter, R-Cabot, is the Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives during the 89th General Assembly.
The issues facing members on the House floor this week ranged from Medicaid reform to funding court assistants.
By the end of our 8th week in session, close to 900 bills had been filed by House members. Just over 300 bills were enacted into law.
One of the bills enacted this week, will help to fund over 100 trial court assistants across the state. Act 282 increases the fines for violating the seat belt law and failing to present proof of insurance during a traffic stop. The fund that has paid for the assistants over the years has seen a gradual decrease in revenue. This will help provide a long-term solution to employees who are needed in our state justice system.
We also saw Medicaid reform measures advancing this week. House bill 1486 removes the earned income limit on Medicaid eligibility for working individuals with disabilities. This bill is now making its way through the Senate.
And another bill now heading to the Senate addresses the health of our students. HB 1411 creates an advisory committee to study the health services provided in our public schools. The committee would spend a year looking not only at the need for school nurses in the 272 school districts across the state, but also at the facilities available to treat students with medical needs.
We are also passing measures aimed at reducing the amount of paperwork you need to carry with you. The Governor has signed one bill allowing you to use your electronic device to show proof of insurance to law enforcement. And the House passed another bill allowing for the electronic display of your hunting license. Similar measures could soon be making their way through the Capitol.
This week the House also voted to override the Governor’s veto on Senate Bill 134. This bill prohibits abortions after 12 weeks with a few exceptions. The House voted 56 to 33 in favor of the override.
We expect to see more discussion on tax reform in the next few weeks. The House has already passed a tax deduction for volunteer firefighters. Other deductions will be discussed in the Revenue and Taxation committee as members continue to go through the $2 billion dollars worth of cuts that have been proposed.
And on one final note this week, we want to remind you that the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee began hearing proposed Constitutional Amendments.
According to the Arkansas Constitution, either branch of the General Assembly, may propose amendments during a regular session. House members of the 89th General Assembly have filed 19 proposed amendments.
Since no more than three amendments are to be proposed at the same time, members of both the Senate and House State Agencies committees will begin the process of narrowing down the number of to be presented on the House and Senate floor. There are no rules stipulating how many amendments must originate in either chamber.
Proposed amendments that receive a majority vote in both chambers will appear on the ballot in the next general election for Senators and Representatives. You can find a link with a complete list of the proposed amendments on our website.
Remember you can also go there to watch live proceedings on the House floor and most committee meetings.
We will continue to keep you updated.