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Fiscal Session Preview

By law, Fiscal Sessions can only last 30 days (45 days with a ¾ vote to extend), so members work weeks in advance drafting appropriation measures in order to ensure our sessions are brief. 
That preparation begins in budget hearings.  Beginning January 9, the Joint Budget Committee will hold a series of meetings designed to begin the process of outlining a budget for the next fiscal year.  The Fiscal Session begins February 12. Budget hearings will begin with the Department of Finance and Administration presenting its annual forecast and recommendations for a balanced budget by the Governor. Over the course of the next few days, the committee will hear budget requests for Higher Education Institutions, Department of Education, the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Correction and the Department of Community Correction, commonly referred to the “Big 6”. In the following weeks, members will review budgets for all state boards, commissions, and agencies. Six mo…
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Here is the Week 11 update! Things are gaining steam as we rapidly move through the calendar.  We estimate just about two weeks left in this 2017 Session.  Each day dozens of bills are considered and as I have mentioned before most are not controversial and are very bipartisan. Here is an issue we are facing right now… How are we going to pay for our highway needs? Our infrastructure is essential for a growth oriented Arkansas.  Our roads must be able to deliver the goods we want and send out the wonderful products we produce.
I am committed to finding the funding for our highways.  I have had several conversations with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and am working closely to help the AHTD in several ways.  
Perhaps you heard of the gas tax proposal.  This would have placed a gas tax on the wholesale level of 6.5% on the ballot for the voters to approve in November of 2018. I feel we should look at a variety of options before choosing a Gas Tax.  We have alternative avenu…
Hello everyone here is the Week 10 report… A lot is happening at this point in the Session.  We anticipate two more weeks before conclusion so a lot of bills are trying to get through the process so they don’t end up stranded and have to start over in 2019. Speaking of stranded, my son, Clark, was able to Page for us at the Capitol.  He looks mighty comfortable at the desk!

The bill filing deadline passed on March 6th.  With over 500 bills filed that day, you may think we are on a record pace.  I sure did.  But actually our bill total is the 2nd lowest since 1997.  In all, 2069 bills were filed.  Many of those 500+ were "shell bills" meaning they were given a title and no details.  This is a way lawmakers can file a general topic and then amend with details later (typically within a week or so).  Many of those bills never saw the light of day, but we still have very full agendas in committees and on the floor of the House.  Friday we were in session from 10am to 4 pm.  That'…