Friday, December 2, 2016

State Capitol Week in Review

From Senator Eddie Cheatham

December 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Businessmen and state economic development officials understand that Arkansas is part of a global market place, and that many of their customers and much of their competition is overseas.
Last year Arkansas companies exported $5.9 billion worth of products and services. Since 2010 the value of Arkansas exports has risen 12.5 percent. Over a three year period the average rate of growth in Arkansas exports was 2.8 percent a year.
People in foreign countries represent 95 percent of the world’s customers and 70 percent of its buying power.
Arkansas ranks 37th among the 50 states in the value of exports, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). Canada is our top trading partner. Canadian companies buy about a fifth of all Arkansas exports. Mexico is our second largest trading partner and buys about 14 percent of all Arkansas exports, valued at $837 million.

Farm Bureau Speaks on ADEQ Findings

Statement concerning ADEQ findings, independent drilling at C&H Hog Farm
From Randy Veach, president, Arkansas Farm Bureau

HOT SPRINGS – “Our environmental experts looked over the data released Thursday and they say it’s clear the team at C&H Hog Farms is doing the right things and are good stewards of the environment, as well as good neighbors to the Buffalo River watershed. We should rely on sound science on this issue, not emotion. That’s why we support the Department of Environmental Quality’s independent research team from the University of Arkansas and we support these farmers, who have demonstrated their environmental stewardship at every turn.

“Frankly, the cries of wolf from the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance are proving to be irrational.

“The Big Creek Research team, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and now yet another third-party scientific team have either studied or inspected the farming and environmental practices of C&H. C&H Hog Farm has been subjected to more scientific scrutiny than any other in the state and very likely the country, and it has all shown the farm’s efforts to be protective of the Buffalo River, Big Creek and the watershed.

“We have said all along that agriculture and environmental interests can coexist in the Buffalo River, as they have for decades. Farmers are the utmost conservationists and environmentalists because they make their living from the land.

“We all want to protect the Buffalo River, and particularly those who live around it.”

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization with almost 191,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

Rob Anderson
(501) 228-1640
rob.anderson@arfb.com

Friday, November 25, 2016

Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for December

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for December.

Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Last year, office hours were held in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State. Since January, 67 mobile offices have been held in an effort to once again travel to all 75 counties.

The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Eddie Cheatham

November 25, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Adding 228 employees is one of several strategies proposed by the Division of Children and Family Services to improve the state’s child welfare system, which division officials say is in crisis.
In a recent report, the Division outlined several problems and proposed solutions. High employee turnover, high caseloads and lack of experienced staff were factors in most of the critical areas.
The governor’s proposed budget would add 228 employees to the Division. Lawmakers are currently reviewing his proposals in legislative budget hearings, and they will make a final decision on spending requests during the 2017 regular session that begins in January.
Other proposals include streamlining the process of recruiting and training relatives so they can become foster parents. This has been a very controversial issue at the Capitol and Division officials have appeared before legislative committees to explain policies about placement of children with relatives.

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Eddie Cheatham

November 25, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Adding 228 employees is one of several strategies proposed by the Division of Children and Family Services to improve the state’s child welfare system, which division officials say is in crisis.
In a recent report, the Division outlined several problems and proposed solutions. High employee turnover, high caseloads and lack of experienced staff were factors in most of the critical areas.
The governor’s proposed budget would add 228 employees to the Division. Lawmakers are currently reviewing his proposals in legislative budget hearings, and they will make a final decision on spending requests during the 2017 regular session that begins in January.
Other proposals include streamlining the process of recruiting and training relatives so they can become foster parents. This has been a very controversial issue at the Capitol and Division officials have appeared before legislative committees to explain policies about placement of children with relatives.

Boozman Statement on Preliminary Injunction Against Overtime Rule

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after a federal judge halted the U.S. Department’s of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule that was set to take effect December 1, 2016:

“I’ve heard from people all over Arkansas who shared their concerns about this overreaching rule and the weakened flexibility for businesses, employees, nonprofits, colleges and universities. This injunction is great news for Arkansas and an important step to reining in the Obama administration’s abuse of the regulatory process. I look forward to working with the next administration to revise this rule in favor of polices that pursue a balanced and responsible approach to updating federal overtime rules,” Boozman said.

The DOL overtime rule would increase the salary threshold under which employees qualify for overtime pay ­from $23,660 to $47,476.

This summer, Boozman helped introduced legislation under the Congressional Review Act to block implementation of this rule.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From State Representative Jeff Wardlaw

In 2015, legislators filed more than 2,000 bills.  Before the session ended, more than a thousand amendments had also been filed.
Although Regular Sessions can be extended with a vote by ¾ of General Assembly, they are originally scheduled to last 60 days.
One of the ways we expedite the legislative process is to allow is bill pre-filing. The pre-filing process allows bills to be prepared and introduced before regular session convenes. It increases the efficiency of the legislative process in several ways:
• Legislative staff have more time to draft legislation.
• The paperwork that is necessary for a bill’s official introduction—for example, gathering sponsor signatures—can be completed early.
• Presiding officers have more time to consider to which committee a bill will be referred.
• Committees may begin work immediately when session convenes.
Arkansas is one of 35 states that allows bills to be filed in advance of the session.
Members began filing bills on November 15 for the 2017 Regular Session.  Since that time, more than 20 bills have been filed in the House.  The focus of the bills ranges from school bus safety to specific tax cuts.  We have provided a link to all of the legislation filed thus far at www.arkansashouse.org .  Once the bills are filed in the clerk’s office they are scanned into the system and available for review on the website within seconds.
The Speaker of the House assigns the bills to their appropriate committee.  He will send the bills that have been pre-filed to the appropriate committees on the first day of the session.  The Speaker will also his selection of committee chairs on that day.  The make-up of the committees was determined earlier this month and can also be found on our website.
The 2017 Regular Session begins on January 9.  The House streams all House committees held in the Capitol during session and all House floor sessions live.