Arkansas Legislative special session to be held in Old State House

story by Roby Brock, with Talk Business & Politics, a content partner with The City Wire
roby@talkbusiness.net

Talk Business & Politics has confirmed that Arkansas House members will meet in the historic Old State House during a special session, which Gov. Mike Beebe has officially called for Monday, June 30 at 4 p.m.

The current House chamber at the state capitol is undergoing a massive renovation and cannot be used for legislative business.

The Old State House in Little Rock was the state capitol before the current capitol location. It was also the iconic background on Election Night 1992 when Bill Clinton was first elected U.S. President. House leaders say they will live-stream their proceedings from the Old State House while in session.

Lawmakers will be called into session Monday afternoon for what is expected to be a short three-day session to deal with fixes to the public school employees insurance fund and freeing up potential prison money.

Gov. Mike Beebe spoke on the issue on this weekend’s Talk Business & Politics program.

Beebe’s special session call includes:
• Providing ongoing revenue to open about 600 additional beds in Department of Correction facilities and the Pulaski County Jail;

• Eliminating part-time employees from eligibility to participate in the Public School Employee Life and Health Insurance Program; and

• Adjusting the composition of the State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Board and its subcommittees, modifying the definition of and require verification of “dependents,” requiring that some participants establish health savings accounts, requiring the Board to identify FICA savings within districts for potential employee premium assistance, and limiting coverage for the treatment of morbid obesity and bariatric surgeries.

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The prison funding is expected to free up $6.3 million to open up state prison beds that are underfunded. There is presently a backlog in county jails of state prisoners.

The public school employees insurance fund is looking at a $36 million funding shortfall.  Lawmakers contend that the changes outlined will lead to increases in premiums for bronze level insurance plans, restrict part-time insurance participation and spouses of public school workers who have other insurance options, eliminate certain non-mandatory surgeries, such as gastric bypasses.

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