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alert: help stop the great tax giveaway

Feb. 11, 2019

CALL TO ACTION: Please take action NOW to stop a tax giveaway that would hurt working Arkansans. We have grave concerns about SB211, the Governor’s proposed tax cut. 

Our first concern is that the benefits of this tax cut go almost exclusively to the people who need it the least in Arkansas. It will make our system even more unfair to working families. 

Our other concern is that we believe legislators should wait to take action on any tax measures until they have budget proposals and a comprehensive view of other tax-cutting proposals.  

Arkansas’ tax system is deeply broken. We tax our poorest individuals at nearly twice the overall tax rate that we tax our wealthiest. We believe this is morally wrong as well as bad public policy for the future growth and prosperity of Arkansas.  

We support efforts to adjust the Governor’s proposal to include an Earned Income Tax Credit and to pay for it by reducing the tax benefits that our wealthiest individuals will receive. That would be true structural reform that would begin to bring some balance to our tax system. 

Please CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS and tell them to prioritize making our tax system more fair by passing an Earned Income Tax Credit. Let them know you oppose more breaks for the wealthiest Arkansans, who already pay the lowest tax rates in the state. 

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#ARLeg Update: Let Them Eat Cake

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Feb. 4, 2019

Good news: Due to overwhelming opposition, the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee moved  SB115 to roll back the state minimum wage to their “deferred” list. The bill is not dead yet; in fact, Sen. Ballinger still vows to pass his bill, but it will remain on the deferred list while he tries to build support for it. Please help us get more people to sign our petition opposing SB115. Let’s protect Arkansas workers and respect the will of our voters!

THANK YOU!  We had a great Advocacy Day last week with hundreds of people coming to the Capitol last week to speak out for social justice!  See an update and link to photos below.

THE RICH GET RICHER

Last week Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented his “let them eat cake” plan for more tax cuts for the wealthy to the tune of $97 million, reducing the top marginal rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent — leaving other personal income tax brackets unchanged.

In layman’s terms, that means that Arkansans making more than $94,000 would receive 98 percent of the benefits of the tax cut, leaving the other four in five Arkansans with little to no tax relief.

The proposal will need a three-fourths vote of both chambers to pass.

At least $300 million in tax cuts have already been enacted in the state since 2013. An additional $97 million (or more) in cuts to the state budget means a dramatic decrease in funding for essential services like Pre-K and after-school programs, K-12 education, juvenile justice reform, state highways, social safety net programs and more.

BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

Rep. Aaron Pilkington is anticipated to run HB1059, a “Stand Your Ground” bill in the House Committee on Judiciary tomorrow! Ask your members of the House to VOTE NO on HB1059.

Domestic disputes are attributed to the top cause of homicide in the United States. According to the Violence Policy Center, which uses Bureau of Justice statistics in annual reports about female homicide victims, nearly three women are murdered every day in the U.S. by current or former romantic partners.

Based on this report, the crime rate in Arkansas for 2019 is expected to be higher than in 2016, when the state violent crime rate was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 38 percent and the state property crime rate was higher than the national property crime rate average by 33 percent. This “shoot first” law could contribute to the expected increase.

• We support SB145 to expand renewable energy in Arkansas, filed by Sen. David Wallace-R. It benefits both small consumers and large corporations by allowing them to lease net-metered solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal electricity-generating equipment, versus purchasing it. The bill will increase the maximum allowable size of a solar energy system to one megawatt, from the current low limit of 300 kilowatts. It is in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee.

• We’re concerned about any bill that would attempt to limit free speech, which is why we oppose SB118 and SB156, filed by Sen. Kim Hammer-R and Sen. Ballinger, respectively.


ICYMI

Our Jan. 30 Advocacy Day was a HUGE success! Thanks to everyone who drove long miles to be with us at the Capitol to make your voices heard. We have a long legislative session ahead with some tough battles, but we are making a difference because of so many people across the state who care. If you don't know what we’re talking about, find out more at www.citizensfirst.org. See a gallery of photos from the event here.


We had a GREAT turnout for our Millennial Movement youth event! Special thanks to the Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change, JBM and Associates, and Pulaski County Youth Services for co-sponsoring the event. We discussed the current legislative session, heard spoken word by Writeous Poets, talked about criminal justice reform with Roderick Talley, and prepared for our next meeting, Gen Z Movement, set for Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center. More details on the Gen Z event will follow soon.

Bill Kopsky, Arkansas Public Policy Panel; and Neil Sealy, Arkansas Renters United, talked to KABF 88.3FM recently about tenant's rights, tax cuts and more. Listen here — http://www.citizensfirst.org/jan-23-kabf-883-interview/



MARK YOUR CALENDAR

SATURDAY, FEB. 9

We’re also co-hosting a town hall meeting on Public Education in Northwest Arkansas from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at The Jones Center, 922 E. Emma Ave., Springdale, AR 72764. More information is available here.

TUESDAY, FEB. 12

A fundraising party for the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Citizens First Congress will be held at the home of Jay Barth and Chuck Cliett from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12. More information is available on our Facebook page, and you can always make a contribution to support our work here.

SATURDAY, FEB. 23

Join us in Jonesboro for a town hall discussion on Arkansas’s terrible housing laws from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Jonesboro Public Library. Arkansas is the only state in the country that does not give renters any protections from unsafe housing conditions, so families are trapped in housing that is making them sick or likely to cause them injury. We are also the only state that still criminalizes late rent payments. It doesn’t have to be this way — help us right these regressive laws! More details on the event will be posted on our website as they become available.


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#ARLeg update: week 3

Jan. 29, 2019

Week three of the regular session of the 92nd General Assembly kicked off Monday, with nearly 500 bills already filed by state legislators.

Some are promising for the future of Arkansas, while others raise serious concerns.

We expect close to 2,000 more bills to be filed in the coming months that will impact nearly every aspect of your life, from public education to healthcare, and taxes to highways.

Your voice is the power that will push lawmakers to move Arkansas forward. Without you, lawmakers only hear from lobbyists about their own special interests.

We know that tracking events in the legislature can be time-consuming and overwhelming, so we have lots of tools to help you track and advocate for the issues that you care about this session quickly and efficiently.

You can download a directory of legislators with the photo and contact information of every Arkansas lawmaker, plus details on who is serving on the committees you care about most. Our Facebook page is another great place to follow what’s happening.

As always, our goal is to keep you informed about issues that are going to affect you and your community and let you know how you can make a difference!

KEY BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

• HANDS OFF THE MINIMUM WAGE - SAY NO TO SB115! SIGN OUR PETITION HERE. We oppose SB115 that would roll back the Arkansas minimum wage for a huge portion of the state’s workers.

• We oppose HB1059, a “Stand Your Ground” bill filed by Rep. Aaron Pilkington-R. These bills increase violent crime and racially-biased violence in other states. Arkansas law already protects citizens who need to defend themselves from violent criminals. This bill passed in the House Judiciary Committee this morning and is now headed to the House. Ask your members of the House to VOTE NO on HB1059.

• We support SB145 to expand renewable energy in Arkansas, Sen. David Wallace-R. It benefits both small consumers and large corporations by allowing them to lease net-metered solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal electricity-generating equipment, versus purchasing it. It has been referred to the House Insurance and Commerce Committee.

Please call your legislators or the governor about these issues. Contact us if you are concerned about a bill but aren't sure who to contact or what to do to address it.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30

Tomorrow is an important day for the CFC, and we hope you'll join us at the Capitol as we stand together and send a unified message to lawmakers that the voice of hard-working Arkansans will not be silenced by special interest groups.

SATURDAY, FEB. 9

We’re also co-hosting a town hall meeting on Public Education in Northwest Arkansas from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at The Jones Center, 922 E. Emma Ave., Springdale, AR 72764. More information is available here.

TUESDAY, FEB. 12

A fundraising party for the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Citizens First Congress will be held at the home of Jay Barth and Chuck Cliett from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12. More information is available on our Facebook page, and you can always make a contribution to support our work here.


SATURDAY, FEB. 23

Join us in Jonesboro for a town hall discussion on Arkansas’s terrible housing laws from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Jonesboro Public Library. Arkansas is the only state in the country that does not give renters any protections from unsafe housing conditions, so families are trapped in housing that is making them sick or likely to cause them injury. We are also the only state that still criminalizes late rent payments. It doesn’t have to be this way — help us right these regressive laws! More details on the event will be posted on our website as they become available.

Until next week!



CFC Advocacy Day,  Jan. 30, 2019

CFC Advocacy Day, Jan. 30, 2019

TOMORROW is Advocacy Day!

Jan. 29, 2019

HUGE thank you to everyone who has registered for the Arkansas Citizens First Congress Advocacy Day tomorrow at AEA!

Attached is the agenda for the day's activities. We will begin with registration at 7:45 a.m., followed by breakfast at 8 a.m., and the full program beginning at 8:50 a.m.

As you may know, parking at the Capitol is very limited and packed during the legislative session. We ask that you please do not take any reserved parking spots at the Capitol or AEA building or you risk having your car towed. There is a large parking lot behind the Capitol building for visitors to park, several other lots surrounding the Capitol, and street parking available.

If you have any questions about CFC Advocacy Day, please let us know by emailing nick@arpanel.org. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow! 


2019 Arkansas Legislative Directory

2019 Arkansas Legislative Directory

NEW Legislative directory up; sign our petition!

Jan. 23, 2019

UPDATED LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORY IS AVAILABLE NOW!
Our Arkansas Citizens First Congress Directory of the 2019 Arkansas Legislature is now available on our website at www.citizensfirst.org/legislature.

Inside, you’ll find a comprehensive list of contact information for legislators in your Arkansas State Senate and House of Representatives, and their committee assignments. You’ll also have access to district maps, a list of our priorities for the 92nd General Assembly and information on how to contact your representatives.

Free copies are also available at our office, located at 1308 W. 2nd Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.

PROTECT THE ARKANSAS MINIMUM WAGE FROM ATTACK

Two months ago, over 68 percent of Arkansas voters approved an increase to the minimum wage.

Last week, State Senator Bob Ballinger of Berryville filed SB115 that rolls back that increase for a huge portion of Arkansas workers.

What’s worse, if SB115 passes, it will roll back all of the state minimum wage protections for those workers, leaving them at the Federal Minimum Wage of just $7.25 an hour. Here are some of the workers whose wages will drop under Ballinger’s bill:

• Anyone employed by a business with less than 50 employees.

• Anyone employed at a school, college, or nonprofit organization.

• Anyone under the age of 18.

This bill has been assigned to the Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee. It is co-sponsored by Representative Frances Cavenaugh of Walnut Ridge.

Read more about what you can do here: http://www.citizensfirst.org/alerts/

SAY NO TO SB115! SIGN OUR PETITION:  http://bit.ly/saynotoSB115


Say no to SB115: Protect Arkansas’ Minimum Wage!

Jan. 22, 2019

Call your legislators today and tell them that you oppose SB115 .

Call your legislators today and tell them that you oppose SB115.

Call your lawmakers to protect the Arkansas Minimum Wage from attack.

Some Arkansas lawmakers think they know better than Arkansas voters. Just two months ago Arkansas voters, by over 68 percent, approved an increase to the minimum wage. Just last week, Senator Bob Ballinger of Berryville filed SB115 that rolls back that increase for a huge portion of Arkansas workers.

What’s worse, if SB115 passes, it will roll back all of the state minimum wage protections for those workers, leaving them at the Federal Minimum Wage of just $7.25 an hour. Here are some of the workers whose wages will drop under Ballinger’s bill:

  • Anyone employed by a business with less than 50 employees.

  • Anyone employed at a school, college, or nonprofit organization.

  • Anyone under the age of 18.  

We don’t think the Arkansas legislature knows better than Arkansas voters what our minimum wage should be. We cannot allow this bill to gain support or momentum.  

This bill has been assigned to the Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee and will be scheduled to be heard in the next couple of weeks. It is co-sponsored by Representative Frances Cavenaugh of Walnut Ridge.

HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW TO HELP DEFEAT THIS FAULTY BILL

Call your state representative AND your state senator and tell them you oppose this bill, SB115. Both of your legislators need to hear from you. You can leave a message for them during in-session hours by calling switchboards for House members at 501-682-6211 and for Senate members at 501-682-2902. We can not assume certain legislators will oppose or certain ones will support this bill. Big special interests who opposed the minimum wage increase are pressing lawmakers to pass this. We need to apply pressure to make sure our legislators honor the will of the people and let the minimum wage we just approved take effect. We also are planning to poll the Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee and we will aggressively lobby against this bill.

Ready, set, go!


#ArLeg update: week 1

Jan. 17, 2019

Arkansas State Capitol, 2019

Arkansas State Capitol, 2019

Last week, Governor Asa Hutchinson predicted this legislative session will be "one of the most historic and transformative" of his lifetime. On Monday, 76 Republicans and 24 Democrats in the House of Representatives and 29 Republicans and nine Democrats in the Arkansas Senate took the oath of office at the State Capitol to open the 92nd General Assembly.

This session, let’s hold our leaders accountable for historic and transformative progress for ALL Arkansans.

Already the shenanigans have begun. Arkansas State Senator Ballinger and Representative Cavenaugh propose usurping the will of Arkansas voters to attack living wages for Arkansas workers. SB115 would undo major parts of the minimum wage increase that Arkansas voters approved by over 68 percent of the vote just two months ago. And it’s only the fourth day of the legislative session.

We are working with all hands on deck to read and monitor the thousands of bills that will be filed in the coming two months and give you information on how to take action on the issues that will impact you and your community. Our volunteer leaders, staff and interns are inside the halls of the Capitol, advocating for good, sound policy. We are in the field igniting meaningful dialogue with legislators and constituents across the state. Make sure you are getting the latest information by signing up for alerts at our website www.CitizensFirst.org and by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

This year, our priorities include improving education, protecting renters from dangerous housing conditions, ensuring a sound state budget and fair taxes, promoting green energy and water quality, criminal justice reform, improving voter registration systems, stopping wage theft, creating juvenile diversion programs to keep nonviolent kids out of jail, and making sure that professional licensing is available to all Arkansans.

And of course, we monitor the legislature for opportunities and threats related to civil rights, economic opportunity, education, the environment, open elections and government, and public health.

You can see our complete “10 Priorities for a Better Arkansas” here.

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Your voice, your time, and your involvement are vital to the outcome of the legislative session and Arkansas’s future. Stay engaged and informed!

TAKE ACTION

Visit www.citizensfirst.org to sign up for important alerts on legislative issues that we are tracking and ways that you can help. By joining CFC, you’ll also gain access to training to develop your advocacy skills for the issues you care about, and invitations to CFC events.

• Starting next week, our website will also include updated links to our 2019 Legislative Directory — a comprehensive list of state representatives and senators, their contact information, district maps, committees and more — and an updated list of bills that we’ll be watching and scoring throughout the session.

• Follow us on Twitter @Citizens_First for real-time alerts from the Capitol floor.

• Can’t make it to the Capitol? Watch the action unfold live every weekday at https://www.arkansashouse.org/watch-live and http://www.arkansas.gov/senate. An updated list of committee meetings can be found at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/.

• Make a donation! Your support helps us monitor the legislature, engage Arkansans on the issues that matter and take action to defend our rights and values. You can give online here.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

• Join the People’s Day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Capitol. The day will be jam-packed with opportunities to meet and lobby your legislators, updates on the session, and Senate and House committee meetings. We’ll hold a press conference and rally on the People’s Agenda for the legislature. Your presence really makes a difference. Click here for more information and to register.

• Also Jan. 30, right after our advocacy day, Arkansas Census 2020 is holding a meeting to inform us about the critical issues in the upcoming 2020 census and get our input on how to make sure our communities get fully counted. It’s from 3-4 p.m. at Red & Blue Arkansas, 1415 West 7th Street, Little Rock, AR 72201 (right across the street from the Capitol). The 2020 Census count will impact federal dollars flowing into the state for the next decade for health, education, workforce, and other key services. The meeting is a collaboration of several Arkansas foundations and organizations. Space is limited so please find more information on the event and register here.

• CFC staff and allies will be talking about the big issues facing the Arkansas legislature on KABF 88.3FM from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22. Tune in, call in and join the discussion. Listen live here.

• To engage youth we are co-hosting “MILLENNIAL MOVEMENT” from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center, 3805 West 12th Street, Little Rock, AR 72204. The event is open to those ages 12-25 and will focus on engaging youth in the process of political transformation. Lunch will be provided, with a special performance by Writeous Poets. Find out more here.

• In Northwest Arkansas we are co-hosting a Town Hall meeting on Public Education from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at The Jones Center, 922 E. Emma Ave., Springdale, AR 72764. The event is free and open to the public. More information is available here.

There’s a lot at stake, but together, we can build a stronger social justice movement in Arkansas and a better future for all.