The legislative session is moving quickly, and lawmakers are now busy working in their assigned committees to sort through relevant bills and resolutions. I am pleased to say that our legislators have filed many bills that seek to directly impact and improve child well-being. In fact, two of those bills have been the result of a collaboration between elected officials and one of our OICA advocates, a young man who is an alumnus of the foster care system in Oklahoma.The first of those is House Bill 2331, which proposes the creation of the Families Actively Made for Independent-Living-Aged Youth (FAMILY) Act. The FAMILY Act would help keep siblings in foster care together by assisting with the additional pay for those with therapeutic needs and providing the same payment for those without the need for additional support. The bill would also create the Children Belong with Families Act, which creates a division under the Department of Human Services (DHS) to aid in decreasing the amount of homeless youth in the state. This has become a growing problem in recent years and the hope is that early intervention will help reduce the percentages with homelessness.The second bill, House Bill 2332, creates the Model Successful Future Alumni Act, which provides the opportunity for current foster children to work as advocates within the child welfare system under the guidance of DHS. In addition, DHS would coordinate with the Commissioner of Labor to provide opportunities for gainful employment of program participants, giving preference to program participants with disabilities.Both bills were authored by Rep. Chelsey Branham, D-Oklahoma City. We appreciate her willingness to listen to the ideas and experiences of our advocates and to use those to help guide her policy-making.We would also like to highlight the work of Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa with House Bill 1022, which improves upon the Trauma-informed Care Task Force created last year. HB 1022 codifies the effort in making recommendations on the development of a statewide approach to preventing adverse childhood experiences and to identify interventions and supports for children who have, or are at risk of, experiencing trauma. Continue Reading →
More than 140 bills have been signed into law during this session. There are hundreds of bills still to be heard in committee and we expect many more to be filed in the weeks ahead. As we head into our 6th week of the session, we’d like to update you on the legislature’s progress. On Thursday, with a vote of 82-14 and 2 members voting present, the House passed SB211. This bill cuts the top tax rate from 6.9 to 6.6 percent on Jan. Continue Reading →
This week, the House voted to raise teacher salaries, increase a tax credit, and increase fines for distracted driving in school zones. HB1145, titled the Teacher Salary Enhancement Act, would raise the minimum teacher salary by $4,000 over the next 4 years. The House voted 91-0 in favor the legislation. The bill now heads to the Senate Education Committee.
The House also voted in favor of increasing the Homestead Property Tax Credit. HB1321 raises the credit from $350 to $375 a year. In a vote of 89-7, the House voted in favor of HB1182. This bill makes it a primary offense to use a handheld wireless device in a school zone. Continue Reading →
House members are now preparing for the fourth week of the 2019 Regular Session. We are expecting to review and possibly vote on big issues such as tax cuts and teacher salaries. The Governor’s tax cut proposal has now been filed. This bill will start in the Senate. SB211 would cut the state’s top individual income tax rate from 6.9% to 5.9%. The reduction would be phased-in over a two year period.
Other tax cut proposals are expected to be filed. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee will hear details of any tax proposal and vote on the matter before legislation goes to the House floor for a vote. Meanwhile, the House Public Transportation Committee recently heard testimony on the needs for our state highway system. The director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation told the committee that the agency maintains more than 16,000 miles of highway and more than 7,300 bridges. Arkansas has the 12th largest highway system in the country. However, our state comes in 42nd in highway revenue per mile.
Various proposals addressing funding have been filed and more are expected.
We have posted the presentation to the Transportation committee on our website. The presentation breaks down how much additional revenue could be gained through various proposals such as increases in gasoline tax, registration fees, and extensions of existing sales tax. Another big issue to be addressed in the 4th week of the session will be teacher salaries. Continue Reading →
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Little Rock, AR- The 21 Arkansas Republican Women Legislators announced that they have officially formed the Arkansas Republican Women’s Legislative Caucus (RWLC). Members of the RWLC will focus their
efforts on a legislative package which contains
‘Bold Initiatives for the Good of Arkansas, as part of their ‘Dream B.I.G.
Arkansas’ campaign. The initial legislative package includes
bills that will assist Arkansas’s families and will move the needle. These bills include improving access to cancer
treatment and research for Arkansans; training teachers and provision of
structured literacy curricula based on brain science for our public schools; increasing
rural broadband deployment and access; expanding childcare accessibility for
working families through increased entrepreneurship; and reforming juvenile
justice. The purpose of the caucus’s initial
package is to make a game-changing mark on Arkansas. The caucus said of its goals:
“We are all excited about this opportunity to work together as twenty-one
women strong in the Arkansas Legislature. We will have a great package of bills
that we are proposing for our Dream B.I.G. AR campaign and we are excited to
get to hit the ground running during legislative session.”
Continue Reading →
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WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) released the following statement on President Trump’s national address about securing the Southern Border:
“I strongly support President Trump’s call for Democrats to stop playing politics with America’s safety by refusing to fund border security. This is the sole reason our federal government remains shut down. It’s time to end this game and address the crisis at our Southern Border. We must equip our law enforcement professionals and border agents with the resources they’ve requested – including a physical barrier – so they can properly perform their mission to protect us from the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers seeping into our country.”
Continue Reading →
Tuesday morning will bring in January first of a New Year and it will also mark a historic event in Miller County, Arkansas. There has been a lot of talk about the new County Judge, Cathy Hardin-Harrison. She will be the first female County Judge in Miller County, but there is much more going on for the county history. The county will have a first-ever female County Judge and it will see a Courthouse with all major positions held by women for the first time in history. The Tax Collector, Assessor, Treasurer, County Clerk, and Circuit Clerk will all have positions filled by women. On a county level, only the Sheriff and the Coroner offices will be held by men. As far as the day-to-day operations at the Miller County Courthouse go, women will be running each office held.
The swearing in ceremony will be held at the Miller County Courthouse, on the second floor at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. While the Courthouse and offices are closed for the holiday, elected officials are expected to be sworn in during the first day of the new year. Some judges have chosen to be sworn in earlier so they can conduct the ceremony for the County Judge and other major officials for the county. It is currently unclear if the Sheriff will be sworn in at the Courthouse or not, but major courthouse held offices will start the process at 10:00 a.m. With the historic event, those wishing to attend should arrive early. An interesting side note to the fact that the county will have the first female county judge is the fact that all major offices in the county will be held by Republican representatives. Until January 1, the office of Assessor has been held by an appointed person since the retirement of Democrat Mary Stuart. As of January 1, Miller County will also be served by nine Republican Justices of the Peace (JP), one Democrat JP and one Independent JP. It is the first time so many Republicans have held major offices in the county since Reconstruction.
For those unable to attend the ceremony Tuesday, you may also catch it live-streamed on the Facebook Page “The ‘Whose Who’ of Our Miller County”. The page is maintained as a community service by Ronnie Dancer, Sr. of Fouke, Arkansas. The last election cycle, candidates and outcomes, may be viewed online at Election Cycle 2018. Continue Reading →
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Miller County, AR: As early voting gets started, one candidate in Miller County is still hard at work. Janet Green, a candidate for Miller County JP 2, has the only contested race on a county level for this election. Green has lived in the area for 57 years and reports that she is not only qualified to serve, but she is ready to serve. Janet Green holds an Associates Degree in Applied Science and is a nurse. She currently works for the Fouke School District as a nurse. Janet has also been active in the community as a volunteer and has worked with children who have special needs. Janet said she decided to run because she felt her community, the JP 2 district, needed to be heard. She has a focus of bringing industry and jobs not only to the Texarkana immediate area but also to the county as a whole. Janet has stated that the county must balance the budget without a focus on new taxes and that she believes industry and jobs can meet that need. Green has been busy visiting various organizations and groups around the area. She stated that running for office has allowed her to meet a lot of people and to hear what people want and need in a JP. Janet Green said she’s ready to fill that role and meet the needs of her community and the county. Early voting started Monday and will run until the election on November 6. The polls will be open to 7:30 p.m. and Janet encourages everyone to get out and vote. More information about Janet Green can be found on her Facebook Page. Continue Reading →
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Miller County, AR: The Miller County Republican Women will host Arkansas Supreme Court Candidate David Sterling at their next meeting on October 23. The meeting will be held at Big Jake’s BBQ at 1521 Arkansas Blvd. The meeting will start at 6:00 p.m.
David Sterling currently serves as Chief Counsel for the Arkansas Department of Human Services. He was appointed to this position in 2015. Prior to the appointment, David was in private practice in North Little Rock. He has also served as the Assistant City Manager for Hope, holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a law degree from UALR. David is a graduate of Arkansas High in Texarkana and has been married to his wife, Deeni, for twenty-six years. Deeni and David have one child together and are active members of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock
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Miller County, AR: A group of supporters and friends turned out this evening despite the rain to hear Congressman Bruce Westerman and others speak at the Miller County Republican Committee Meeting. Wayne Smith, the committee chairman, welcomed the group and made announcements before recognizing public figures present.
Among the guest was former State Representative Prissy Hickerson, State Representative Carol Dalby, and State Senator Jimmy Hickey. Several county officials were present including JP Earnest Pender, County Assessor Elect Nancy Herron, and County Judge-Elect Cathy Hardin-Harrison. Several officials spoke before the congressman’s arrival and answered questions with the people present. Congressman Westerman brought the group up-to-date on a growing economy and attributed that growth directly to tax cuts supported and passed by himself and fellow Republicans in Congress. He noted that there has been an increase in job growth with a tremendous decrease in the unemployment rate. He also noted that the women’s unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been in years. According to the Congressman, he has been amazed by some of the statements regarding the economic growth made by opponents. He said that those same people have stated that Republicans did not make the tax breaks permanent; however, those making the statements failed to point out that they blocked a Republican-supported bill that would have made the cuts permanent. Now Democrats are openly stating that if they can take back the majority in Congress, they will repeal the tax cuts and in fact place new taxes on the American people. Westerman noted that the trade deficit is down to 43 billion which is a 2 billion dollar drop from where it had been. Westerman attributed this positive for American industry to the tariffs put in place. He said that we are currently seeing a 4.2% growth in the economy. Continue Reading →