PLEASE TAKE ACTION! HELP STOP "STAND YOUR GROUND" FROM ADVANCING!

April 7, 2019

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SB484, sponsored by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), will see some movement in the Senate on Monday, April 8, and we need your help to continue to fight to defeat it. 

WHAT WE KNOW

• Current self-defense law does NOT require that a person retreat from a situation if doing so would put them in danger. It only requires a person to avoid killing another person if there is a clear and safe way to do so.

• Laws like SB484 have been associated with clear increases in homicides.  Research shows that passage of “stand your ground” laws is associated with either a 7 percent or 9 percent increase in total homicides, depending on the statistical method used.

• In states that passed laws similar to SB484 in 2005-07, the “justifiable homicide” rate was on average 53 percent higher in the years after passage of the law than in the years preceding it. By contrast, in states that did not enact “stand your ground” laws during this period, the justifiable homicide rate fell by 5 percent on average over the same period.

• SB484 will disproportionately affect people of color. An analysis of demographic data shows that the increase in justifiable homicides has disproportionately affected African Americans. The racial disparities in justifiable homicides under “stand your ground” laws only support the notion that this law was designed to benefit white shooters.

• Despite the assertions of “stand your ground” supporters, researchers have found no evidence that these laws deter crime.

Please call the Senate message center on Monday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and leave a message for your Senator to vote NO on SB484.

The Senate message center is (501) 682-2902 and your message will be answered by a staff person.


LET’S INVEST IN WHAT WORKS

TELL YOUR LAWMAKERS NO TO SB539!

March 30, 2019

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Arkansas tax dollars should be spent on proven reforms that help all children learn. Our lawmakers need to hear from you to VOTE NO on SB539, a private school voucher scheme that has already failed in other states. Studies show that vouchers just don’t improve student outcomes.

Arkansas is already not investing enough in effective programs to help kids learn: quality early childhood education, after school and summer programs, improving reading instruction, improving teacher quality and providing services to kids struggling with poverty. These are all proven and powerful strategies we should invest in to boost learning opportunities for all children. Arkansas can’t invest in what works if we are wasting money on failed voucher schemes like SB539.

And our tax dollars should be spent on schools that are transparent, fair and accountable. But private schools who get vouchers under SB539 don’t disclose how they spend our tax money. They don’t follow state standards. They can discriminate against students based on their religion, gender, race or disabilities. Those are not Arkansas values.

And your local school district will lose over $6,000 in funding for each student who takes a voucher.  That’s funding your school needs to provide quality opportunities to every child in your district.

SB539 will likely be heard in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, April 2.

Call your lawmakers now and tell them NO on SB539.


Ark. house crushes $8.1B DHS BUdget

March 29, 2019

Moments ago, members of the Arkansas House of Representatives defeated the DHS budget for Arkansas Works. It failed on the House floor 52-8, following a federal judge’s decision to strike down the work requirement on Wednesday.

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The Arkansas Senate had approved the state budget just before the ruling was issued.

This action jeopardizes Arkansas’ entire state budget and the only viable access to healthcare for over 300,000 Arkansans, leaving a state deficit of at least $100 million overnight.

None of the tax cuts that have been passed in this legislative session can be implemented if this action stands. Rural health providers will be driven out of business because their customers will no longer have access to health insurance.

A poll conducted last month on behalf of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas Citizens First Congress showed that 74 percent of likely Arkansas voters oppose the reduction of access to healthcare insurance by eliminating the Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, an independent firm out of Jacksonville, Fla.,  polled likely Arkansas voters, asking the following question: “Would you support or oppose reducing access to healthcare by eliminating the Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program that currently is the only affordable health insurance available to over 300,000 Arkansans?”


Statewide, 48 percent of those polled strongly opposed such a change in the law, and 26 percent somewhat opposed the change. Only 19 percent of Arkansas voters supported eliminating the Arkansas Works program.

A total of 74 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats opposed the elimination of the program.

“What this poll finds is overwhelming, bipartisan support for continuing the Arkansas Medicaid expansion, and we are pleased to see the Governor and lawmakers moving in that direction,” said Scharmel Roussel, chair of the CFC. “The Arkansas work requirement was flawed from the start, kicking many eligible people out of access to life saving health care. We look forward to working with lawmakers to find more effective methods of strengthening employment in Arkansas using the data on what strategies actually help achieve that.”

The House will have to reconsider this. The Citizens First Congress is urging everyone to call their members of the House of Representatives at 501-682-6211and tell them to vote FOR expanded Medicaid.


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The case against vouchers and SB620

March 27, 2019

The Arkansas Citizens First Congress opposes SB620, the Governor’s proposal to create a $3.5 million private school voucher program in Pulaski County.  We oppose other private school voucher proposals introduced this session as well, such as SB539, HB1726 and HB1511 for many of the same reasons, but our comments here are specific to SB620.

We believe we should invest in what works to improve the learning and opportunities of students. We believe students should have equal opportunities to learn regardless of their family income, race, gender, disabilities, or where they live in Arkansas. We believe our public schools are foundations of our society and democracy, and that they should be diverse, transparent and accountable. We believe our scarce public tax dollars should be invested on the most proven education strategies to help children learn.

Private school voucher schemes fail every one of these value propositions.

First and foremost, private school vouchers do not improve educational outcomes for students.  Recent studies found that even students who receive vouchers see significant losses in reading and math after transferring to a private school. Some studies show that their reading and math scores rebound after 4 or more years at a private school, but the research is muddled on whether they rebounded sufficiently to actually achieve at a higher level than would have been expected had they stayed in a traditional public school.

Education Week concludes: “Precious Little Evidence That Vouchers Improve Achievement” and “There Is No Oversight: Private-School Vouchers Can Leave Parents on Their Own” in recent articles summarizing the latest research.

Quoting Stanford University Graduate School of Education professor Martin Carnoy, who did one recent comprehensive study on the impact of voucher programs, “The evidence is very weak that vouchers produce significant gains in learning. They also carry hidden costs, and they’re distracting us from other solutions that could yield much higher returns.”

Our second major objection to private school voucher schemes is they distract policy attention, and more importantly divert precious tax dollars away from our students many other pressing needs. Many reforms that have mountains of evidence and near universal consensus that they would improve educational outcomes of all children are left unfunded or underfunded while voucher programs get special consideration because of their powerful political backers.  Some of the more promising reforms that Arkansas is not investing sufficiently in are:

  • Improving quality and access to early childhood education. We have not made significant investments in our early childhood system in over a decade despite it being one of the most powerful things proven to boost opportunities for all students.

  • Creating strong after-school and summer learning programs. The research is overwhelming that after-school and summer learning and help get and keep kids learning on grade level, as well as a host of other benefits. Arkansas created a template for a statewide after-school and summer learning program over a decade ago, but it remains unfunded and neglected despite overwhelming evidence that it would improve student outcomes.

  • Improving teacher quality and developing a new pipeline of educators. Training and retaining high quality teachers is a challenge in every school district in Arkansas, and it’s especially difficult in rural areas and for more specialized math and science courses. We still have large pay disparities between wealthier and poorer school districts in Arkansas, and teacher pay in Arkansas is still not nationally competitive. Further, our population of teachers is aging and leading to a pending critical shortfall of qualified teachers. Arkansas is responding meekly, with small bumps to minimum teacher pay, but failing to take bold action to strengthen the teachers we have and develop strong new ones.  

  • Improving special education. Arkansas’s own task force on special education found the state woefully underfunding special education programs and yet the state has not acted to better support some of our most vulnerable students.

  • Strengthening wrap around services to help low income students learn more.  61 percent, nearly 2 out of every 3 Arkansas students, qualify for a free or reduced lunch because they are low income. The single biggest indicator of student performance is parental income, which means that poverty in hurting our students academic opportunity. Research shows that programs to feed hungry kids and give them access to medical, vision and dental care dramatically improves their student learning.

  • There is so much more. Most recently Forward Arkansas, led by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the Walton Foundation and the Arkansas Department of Education developed a strategic plan for Arkansas education. Their recommendations are largely in line with research and other recommendations produced by the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, the Arkansas Education Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and many more. Most of these recommendations remain unfunded by Arkansas lawmakers, and no where in these recommendations are proposals for private school voucher programs because the research shows they simply do not work.

We are also troubled by other negative impacts of private school voucher programs. They provide public tax dollars to private schools that do not need to meet state standards. Private schools who receive taxpayer financed vouchers do not follow state freedom of information laws so the public does not know how their tax dollars are used. Private schools in Arkansas are legally allowed to discriminate against students based on their race, religion, income, gender, ability and other factors. And public school districts will lose funding for students who use private school vouchers, when districts across the state are already making very tough budget decisions and cuts. The public ends up with a weaker public education system that harms our ability to meet the needs of our students.  

Why should the Governor and Legislature waste $3.5 million of tax money per year for 5 years in Little Rock and Pulaski County on a project already proven to not work, when students across Arkansas have major needs that remain unfunded?


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ALERT: SAY “NO” TO VOUCHERS AND “YES” TO PROVEN SOLUTIONS

March 21, 2019

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other lawmakers have a very tight state budget at the end of this legislative session, and a stark choice:

Do they spend the remaining budget on a wasteful return to the dark days of segregation, or on early childhood programs proven to dramatically improve the education of ALL students?

 While lawmakers say there’s no money for proven solutions like improving early childhood education or funding after-school and summer programs, three private voucher schemes have been introduced in the legislature that will cost Arkansas taxpayers up to $10 million. 

 Call Gov. Hutchinson and your lawmakers today! Tell them you oppose SB539SB620 and HB1726.

If all three of these bills pass, they could send 1,500 students to private schools with money that would otherwise go to public school districts statewide, amounting to a loss of about $10 available to every student enrolled in Arkansas' public schools.

ASK THEM TO SUPPORT SB618, which will put nearly $6 million into tax credit incentives to help early childhood educators improve the quality of their programs.


TAKE ACTION NOW!

• Please call Gov. Hutchinson at (501) 682-2345. Tell him NO TO VOUCHERS.

• Let him know that you oppose SB539, SB620 and HB1726, and ask him to fund proven education reform for ALL.


STATEMENT ON TUESDAY NIGHT’S HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, WELFARE AND LABOR MEETING, AND HB1751, HB1752, HB1753 TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS STATE MINIMUM WAGE ACT

March 12, 2019

The Citizens First Congress objects to legislative attempts to repeal and carve out exemptions in the Arkansas minimum wage just approved by Arkansas voters only months ago.

We are seeing an emerging pattern of policy makers pushing through controversial legislation after hours. Though committee meetings begin at 10 a.m. weekday mornings, several hot-button issues have been skipped over in committee all day, only to return again in the late afternoon hours.

After SB115 was deferred in committee over a month ago, the bill was replaced by three shorter bills with similar language last Thursday. These three bills were read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare late Monday.

All three bills to amend the state minimum wage were hastily shuffled and passed through committee in under eight minutes tonight after 6 p.m.

The bills’ sponsor, Rep. Robin Lundstrom (R-Elm Springs), began presenting these bills to the committee beginning around 6:13 p.m.; all three bills were passed before the committee adjourned at 6:21 p.m. with little to no discussion. In fact, only one question on clarification was submitted by a committee member during the consideration of House Bill 1753, and no one was present to testify for or against the bills.

No one spoke against these highly controversial bills because no one knew they would run. In fact, highly controversial bills like these should have been a special order of business to give the public ample time to contact lawmakers to share their views, and attend the hearing.

We are astonished that it took a mere eight minutes for some legislators to recommend stripping the new voter-approved minimum wage from so many hardworking Arkansans.

We thank the committee members who voted to oppose these measures to protect working Arkansans.

We are appalled at those who would ignore the will of 68 percent of Arkansas voters, and those who would discourage public participation in the lawmaking process through strategic deception.


Poll reveals majority favors minimum housing standardS

March 12, 2019

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A poll conducted this week on behalf of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas Citizens First Congress showed that nearly 91 percent of likely Arkansas voters would favor the enactment of a law that would create minimum housing standards for renters.

House Bill 1410, filed by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) requires minimum standards for health and safety in rental properties, allows tenants to either terminate their lease or sue for repairs if they are not made, and prevents landlords from retaliating against tenants who seek repairs. Arkansas is the only state that does not offer these protections to renters. The House Committee on Insurance and Commerce will vote on the bill tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, an independent firm out of Jacksonville, Fla.,  polled likely Arkansas voters, asking the following question: “Arkansas is the only state that does not require landlords to provide a minimum level of habitability for rental housing, such as fixing roof leaks, providing hot water and removing mold. Would you support or oppose changing state law to require landlords to do so?”

Statewide, 73 percent of those polled strongly supported such a change in the law, and 18 percent somewhat supported the change, for a total of 91 percent. Only 6 percent of Arkansas voters opposed improving minimum health and safety standards for rental housing.  A total of 86 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats supported such a law.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy has been conducting public opinion polls in Arkansas since 1986. The poll was conducted March 6-8 among 625 registered Arkansas voters. Those interviewed were randomly selected from a telephone-telephone-matched Arkansas voter registration list that included both landline and cell phone numbers. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county.

The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than +/- 4 percentage points, meaning there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as gender or age grouping.

“This poll shows broad, overwhelming support for providing the most basic health and safety standards to Arkansas renters," said Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. "It's time for Arkansas to protect our families from being forced to pay for unsafe living conditions by passing House Bill 1410.”

See full results here.


#ARLeg Update: Week 8

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You are not gonna silence me!” — Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff)

The eighth week of the 92nd General Assembly saw long hearings and heated debate on several hot-button issues, with over 1,400 bills filed since the session’s kickoff.

• SEN. FLOWERS STANDS HER GROUND: After nearly three hours of debate last Wednesday, SB484, a ‘stand your ground’ bill filed by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), failed in committee by a 4-3 vote, with Sen. John Cooper (R-Jonesboro) joining three other Democratic committee members in opposition. The bill would have expanded a person’s right to use deadly force in self-defense, eliminating their “duty to retreat” when feeling threatened.

It was standing room only in committee chambers, with several groups including the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, the Arkansas County Sheriff’s Association, Arkansas Moms Demand Action, and the Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign turning out to testify against the bill.

After a motion to limit debate was approved by committee members, Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff), the only woman and black legislator on the committee, launched an impassioned plea for more time for discussion that garnered national media attention and millions of views online.

"This is crazy! You don't have to worry about your children!" Flowers exclaimed during the hearing. "I worry about my son and I worry about other little black boys and girls and people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they have open carry rights.

"I am the only person here of color, OK. And I am a mother, too," she said. "I care as much for my son as y'all care for y'alls, but my son doesn't walk the same path as yours does."

Flowers cited the case of Trayvon Martin, a black unarmed teenager who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012 by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman used Florida's "stand your ground" law as a defense and was found not guilty. The case helped start what would become the Black Lives Matter movement.  

'Stand your ground' laws have been enacted in more than half of states across the U.S. A 2017 study examining the effects of the law in Florida found a surge in homicides after it went into effect in 2005. For years, experts have said the laws disproportionately affect people of color.

Video from the hearing can be found here: http://bit.ly/2XOjNFK

Sen. Ballinger told local media on Friday that he was working to gain the support of Sen. Cooper and intended to bring the bill back as early as this afternoon. A companion bill in the House remains deferred.

ACTION ALERT: Please contact Sen. Cooper and other members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary NOW and ask them to oppose any ‘stand your ground’ legislation.


• ERA Fails: A resolution sponsored by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution failed in a Senate committee Thursday morning. The ERA would establish an explicit guarantee for equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. The resolution failed to receive a second to a "do-pass" motion, effectively killing it.

"It's bothersome to me that people think women will get special treatment. I just want equal treatment under the law," Elliott said.

The resolution would have made Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the constitutional amendment, giving the amendment the three-fourths majority of states needed to become law.

• GUNS, GUNS EVERYWHERE: Rep. Richard Womack (R-Arkadelphia) filed a bill last week that would eliminate most of the state’s gun-free zones, including those at K-12 public or private schools, school buses, public and private universities and colleges, publicly owned facilities, and the Arkansas State Capitol grounds.

Exceptions in HB1694 include gun-free zones within the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, in-session courtrooms, sporting events at public colleges or universities, the Arkansas State Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The bill is a special order of business on the House Committee on Judiciary’s March 19 agenda. It will be heard in room 149 at 10 a.m. Please contact legislators and ask them to oppose this bill.


• RENTERS BILL AMENDED, AGAIN: HB1410, to establish minimum housing standards for Arkansas landlords and tenants, was pulled from committee Wednesday pending additional amendments by its sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould)  after receiving opposition in the hearing by an attorney representing the Arkansas Realtors Association. Gazaway said though he is unwavering in some of the bill’s language, he remains committed to working with tenants advocates and will  hear their concerns. The bill is expected to be heard again in the House Committee on Insurance and Commerce Wednesday, March 13.


• ON PRISON SLAVERY: We support HJR1007, filed by Rep. Vivian Flowers, which would require that inmates be paid for their labor. The intent of the amendment is to repeal the portion of Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, §27, allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Arkansas and Alabama are the only two states that still make prisoners work without pay. The bill is on the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee agenda for Wednesday, March 13. Contact your legislators and ask them to support this resolution!

GET INVOLVED

See the full list of bills we are monitoring, sorted by caucus, at www.citizensfirst.org.

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 here. Our Facebook page is another great place to follow what’s happening; or join in the conversation by following us on Twitter @Citizens_First.

Please call your legislators or the governor about these issues, and feel free to contact us if you are concerned about a bill but aren't sure of what to do to address it. You can view recently filed bills at arkleg.state.ar.us.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

TUESDAY, MARCH 12: Join us from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff for a legislative briefing and advocacy session. Come hear about what's happening at the 92nd General Legislative Assembly and the impact it will have on you and your community. This event is sponsored by Arkansas Citizens First Congress in partnership with Pine Bluff Branch NAACP & Pine Bluff Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Local and state elected officials have been invited. Light dinner provided.

SATURDAY, MARCH 16: The Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change, in partnership with the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, will host GEN Z Saturday from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center, 3805 W. 12th Street, Little Rock. Lunch will be served, with a special guest performance by Writeous Poets. For more information, contact Osyrus Bolly at osyrus@arpanel.org.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19: It’s Youth Advocacy Day at the Arkansas State Capitol! From 9:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m., Arkansas Citizens First Congress and the Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change present ARKANSAS YOUTH ADVOCACY DAY 2019 in partnership with JBM & Associates at the Arkansas Education Association Building Auditorium and Arkansas State Capitol, 1500 West 4th St. Little Rock, AR. Lunch will be served, with a special guest performance by Writeous Poets. This event is free and open to the public. Register online at https://arpanel.dm.networkforgood.com/forms/youth-and-education-advocacy-day-2019. For more information, contact Osyrus Bolly at osyrus@arpanel.org

TUESDAY, MARCH 26: Join us from 6-8 p.m. at First Community Bank, 321 Main Street in downtown Batesville, for an Education Town Hall. We will be discussing some of the current issues in education, potential education legislation during this session, and hearing from the Batesville community on what is working in their schools. This town hall is open to the public and we encourage everyone to attend. Come out and show your support for strengthening public schools!

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ALERT: Dangerous "Stand Your Ground" companion bill emerges in Arkansas Senate

March 5, 2019

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Yesterday, Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, along with Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, and Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Clarksville, filed SB484, a "Stand Your Ground" companion bill to Rep. Pilkington's deferred HB1059.

It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and IS ON THE COMMITTEE AGENDA TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. in Room 171.

We need your help to keep HB1059 deferred and to stay ahead of SB484.

These proposed “open season” bills are reckless, and grant individuals a license to shoot first and ask questions later, even when safe retreat is an option. Right now, the gun lobby is putting pressure on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to sign this legislation into law if it reaches his desk. 

We need to make it CLEAR to legislators that “Stand Your Ground” law is dangerous — and we need all of the support we can rally to urge them to oppose any measures that would enact this legislation in Arkansas. 

The disastrous effects of these laws have been seen in states like Florida, where they have impacted a disproportionate number of people of color, and have done nothing to deter crime. 

Please sign this petition by Everytown for Gun Safety telling lawmakers that you oppose the adoption of any dangerous "Stand Your Ground" law in Arkansas. 

Let’s keep our communities safe by opposing unnecessary gun violence.

Help us defeat this legislation by CONTACTING YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY!

Tell them you OPPOSE HB1059 and SB484, and ask them to do the same.


#ARLeg Update: Week 6

Feb. 27, 2018

Join us in Little Rock on Thursday for an update on the legislative session and pizza on us!

Join us in Little Rock on Thursday for an update on the legislative session and pizza on us!

GREAT NEWS! Support for HB1410, sponsored by Jimmy Gazaway, R-Paragould, is gaining momentum. A tele-town hall hosted by the CFC was live-streamed on Facebook last week, with a large number of concerned citizens tuning in to discuss the bill and Arkansas’ need for an implied warranty of habitability for residential renters.

One-third of Arkansans rent homes, and Arkansas is the only state that does not require landlords to maintain a safe structure for renters, leaving many tenants stuck in poor housing with no legal recourse.

Under the bill, a landlord would be required to comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, fire and health codes; ensure common areas such as stairways and landings are safe, provide waterproof and weatherproof roofs, doors, and windows, structurally sound walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, and railings; locks or security devices on all exterior doors and windows that can be opened and closed.

The bill would also provide requirements for access to hot and cold water, adequate ventilation and heating systems, access to electricity; operating air conditioning, if provided, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in homes where the gas may be present. These rights would not apply in situations where the condition of the premises was caused by tenant negligence.

It is expected to be heard in the House Committee on Insurance and Commerce next Wednesday, March 6. Please contact committee members and tell them you support a minimum standard of habitability for Arkansas’ renters.

TWEET STORM ALERT: Join the conversation on Twitter from 1-1:30 p.m. next Tuesday, March 5 by following us @Citizens_First, “loving” and re-tweeting our tweets along with your comments to legislators, and using the following hashtags: #showARrentersomelove, #HB1410, #arpx, and #arleg.

Our report on Arkansas' need for an implied warranty of habitablity is up online now. Copies are also available at the Panel office.

BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

• We support HJR1007, filed by Rep. Vivian Flowers, to require that inmates be paid for their labor. The intent of the amendment is to repeal the portion of Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, §27, allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Arkansas and Alabama are the only two states that still make prisoners work without pay.

• We support SB145, filed by Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, 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. It is in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee.

• We have serious concerns about SB336, the Governor’s highway tax bill. Arkansas does not need barriers to energy conservation. Section 7 of the bill  dramatically increases the registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, adding an extra $200 and $100 in fees, respectively. The stated purpose for this bill is to recoup fuel taxes that are avoided by electric vehicle owners who don't use gas at all — and hybrid vehicle owners, who use less gas. Fuel taxes are the primary funding source for highway construction and repair.

GET INVOLVED

See the full list of bills we are monitoring, sorted by caucus, at www.citizensfirst.org.

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 here. Our Facebook page is another great place to follow what’s happening; or join in the conversation by following us on Twitter @Citizens_First.

Please call your legislators or the governor about these issues, and feel free to contact us if you are concerned about a bill but aren't sure of what to do to address it. You can view recently filed bills at arkleg.state.ar.us.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

THURSDAY, FEB. 28: We’re hosting another update on the legislative session from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Vino’s Brewpub in Little Rock. Eat pizza, have a beverage, learn about the big issues moving at the Capitol and take some action to move Arkansas forward! There is no cost for admission and the pizza is on us!

TUESDAY, MARCH 5: Join us as we unite for a Day of Empathy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Capitol. Day of Empathy highlights the need for justice system reform, sharing the perspectives of impacted Americans, including survivors of violent crime, incarcerated individuals working to transform themselves, those with a criminal record seeking a second chance, and all community members impacted by crime, public safety, and violence.

SATURDAY, MARCH 16: The Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change, in partnership with the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, will host GEN Z Saturday from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center, 3805 W. 12th Street, Little Rock. Lunch will be served, with a special guest performance by Writeous Poets. For more information, contact Osyrus Bolly at osyrus@arpanel.org.


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#ARLeg Update: Week 5

Feb. 18, 2019

“This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue, this is a basic human right.”

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Friends,

We’ve a love-hate relationship with week five of the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly, which saw both great progress in some areas and a number of controversial actions in others.

We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout for Thursday’s press conference supporting HB1410. Thank you to our speakers, Tamika Edwards, Lynn Foster, Jennifer Hammel, Dr. Carrie Brown, Lakinda Williams, Teresa Beck, and Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, Arkansas House of Representatives; and a huge thank you to everyone who spent part of their Valentine’s Day supporting Arkansas tenants’ rights.

Arkansas renters deserve a minimum standard of habitability. We think Rep. Gazaway said it best this week when he said, “This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue, this is a basic human right.”

Our report on Arkansas' need for an implied warranty of habitablity is up online now — click here to read it.

Links to stories on the event by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and KATV are here and here.

CALL TO ACTION: Please contact members of the House Committee on Insurance and Commerce and tell them to support HB1410.

On Wednesday, Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, filed HJR1007, to require that inmates be paid for their labor. The intent of the amendment is to repeal the portion of Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, §27, allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Arkansas and Alabama are the only two states that still make prisoners work without pay.

Rep. Flowers said she hopes that instituting a pay scale for prison work programs will decrease extraordinarily high rates of recidivism, allow inmates to purchase supplies while in prison, and save for their release to ease the transition from prison to community. Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, is the Senate sponsor for the resolution.

See media coverage of the event here, here, and here.

Among the more controversial action was the passing of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s tax giveaway to Arkansas’ top 1 percent, SB211. Low and middle-income families will see not a single cent in tax relief, even though they pay the highest rates in the state. The wealthiest 1 percent of Arkansans, or those making more than $422,400 a year, will get an average of $8,000 in annual tax relief.

With its enactment, we anticipate that many other legislative attacks on the state’s working citizens will follow.

Wednesday’s deadline for filing proposed constitutional amendments saw the rush of a large number of filings, with little to support, other than the previously mentioned HJR1007. Read more on what the Arkansas Times described as “a basket full of deplorable amendments” here.

BILLS WE’RE WATCHING

• We have serious concerns about SB336, the Governor’s highway tax bill. Arkansas does not need barriers to energy conservation. Section 7 of the bill  dramatically increases the registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, adding an extra $200 and $100 respectively. The stated purpose for this bill is to recoup fuel taxes that are avoided by electric vehicle owners, who don't use gas at all; and hybrid vehicle owners, who use less gas. Fuel taxes are the primary funding source for highway construction and repair.  We are concerned that this is an attempt to kill the EV and hybrid industry in Arkansas. This bill could be heard in committee as early as Wednesday. More on this from the Sierra Club is available here and here.

HB1059, a “Stand Your Ground” bill filed by Rep. Aaron Pilkington-R, Clarksville, was deferred in the House Committee on Judiciary pending amendments. The CFC, along with Decarcerate Arkansas and Arkansas Moms Demand Action oppose this legislation. This “open season” bill could be heard by members of the House Committee on Judiciary as early as tomorrow. Ask them to VOTE NO on HB1059.

• We support SB145, filed by Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, to expand renewable energy in Arkansas. 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 is in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee.

• We oppose oppose SB109, by Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, which extends first-degree battery law to include the battery of correctional officers. While their protection is certainly important, conviction of the Class Y felony could mean an additional 10-40 years in jail for incarcerated juveniles.

Please call your legislators or the governor about these issues, and feel free to contact us if you are concerned about a bill but aren't sure of what to do to address it. You can view recently filed bills at arkleg.state.ar.us.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Video from our Saturday, Feb. 9 Northwest Arkansas town hall on public education is up on our YouTube channel now. The panel discussion included state Rep. Megan Godfrey of Springdale; Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay, former charter school teacher and blogger; John L. Colbert, superintendent of Fayetteville Public Schools; Anna Beaulieu, president of the Fayetteville Education Association and teacher, and Arisbeth Johnson of Arkansas United and was moderated by Bill Kopsky, executive director of Arkansas Public Policy Panel.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR

TUESDAY, FEB. 19: Arkansans for a Container Deposit Law is hosting “Keep the Natural State Natural,” at Black Apple Crossing, 321 E Emma Ave., Springdale, AR 72764. Come sip on some cider while learning about the positive impacts associated with Arkansas passing a Container Deposit Law. Soup and snacks will be provided. An auction and raffle will be held with prizes to be announced. This is a waste-free event. Bring your own soup bowl for a free raffle ticket! Suggested donation $5.

THURSDAY, FEB. 28: We’re hosting another update on the legislative session from 5:30-8 p.m. at Vino’s Brewpub in Little Rock. Details are being finalized and are forthcoming. Eat pizza, have a beverage, learn about the big issues moving at the Capitol and take some action to move Arkansas forward!

TUESDAY, MARCH 5: Join us as we unite for a Day of Empathy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Capitol. Day of Empathy highlights the need for justice system reform, sharing the perspectives of impacted Americans, including survivors of violent crime, incarcerated individuals working to transform themselves, those with a criminal record seeking a second chance, and all community members impacted by crime, public safety, and violence.


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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.