CFC Weekly Update - Calling On Legislators to put Arkansas Families First

Dear Friend,

Four weeks into the 2015 legislative session, the 90th General Assembly has already tackled the two biggest issues it faced this year -- but the work is not done and your voice is critical to moving Arkansas forward.

Please THANK your lawmakers who voted for the Private Option extension in both the House (https://t.e2ma.net/click/ac8ti/68243d/64r16b) and Senate (https://t.e2ma.net/click/ac8ti/68243d/mxs16b).  The Private Option ensures access to high quality healthcare to more than 200,000 low-income Arkansans, and was renewed through 2016. It saves lives, creates a healthier Arkansas, creates jobs, saves the state money and keeps many rural and public health care facilities in Arkansas open.

A task force will now consider changes to the Private Option ahead of the 2017 legislative session and we will be monitoring that process closely. It’s important for your legislator to know that you support the Private Option.

We also need your help telling legislators that Arkansas families have unmet priorities that we need to be prosperous.  First and foremost, please ask your lawmakers to support a cost of living increase for Arkansas’s award winning pre-K program.  The Governor said he supports pre-K funding but left it out of his budget.  Call Governor Hutchinson’s office at 501-682-2345 and ask him to make sure pre-K keeps up with inflation!

Last week Governor Hutchinson signed his promised $100 million income tax cut into law. Unfortunately the tax break will have little effect on those truly in the middle. People earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year will receive an average break of just $39, and the cut completely ignores the 40 percent of Arkansans making less than $21,000. Meanwhile, other tax cuts focused on the wealthiest 1% of Arkansans are being introduced at the legislature.

Arkansas cannot cut our way to prosperity.  Tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 10th) at 11:30 the Arkansas Citizens First Congress will gather on the Capitol steps to highlight these unmet needs, and ask lawmakers to spend the rest of this session focusing on legislation that improves lives of hard working Arkansans. The event is part of the South Arkansas Legislative Advocacy Day, and you can find more information and sign up for our Facebook event by clicking here (https://t.e2ma.net/click/ac8ti/68243d/2pt16b).  

The session is still in full swing, and many important and potentially controversial bills remain to be considered.

We have several upcoming advocacy days where you can join us at the State Capitol to highlight the issues you care about.  Our schedule of dates is:

February 25 -- Environmental Advocacy Day focused on Clean Energy, Clean Water and Green Jobs

March 10 -- Education Advocacy Day focused on the proven reforms like pre-k and improved teacher quality that we need to improve education for every student

March 25 -- Youth Advocacy Day where youth from across Arkansas come together to make sure Arkansas lawmakers are paying attention to the needs of the next generation of Arkansans

You can follow the action at the legislature on our website.  Here are the bills the CFC is working on to Support or Oppose, arranged by issue areas. Click here to read the full bills, or find out where they are in the legislative process. (https://t.e2ma.net/click/ac8ti/68243d/iiu16b)

Please let us know if you’d like more information on how you can make a difference.

Bills to Support

Public Health

--HB 1147 Joint Budget Committee‐House

AN ACT TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE MEDICAID EXPANSION PROGRAM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2016

Appropriates funds to the DHS ‐ Medicaid Expansion Program.

Civil Rights

--SB 148 Judiciary Committee Senate

AN ACT TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR DRUG COURTS

Provides additional sources of funding for Drug Courts through establishment of a $250 fee for a person appointed an attorney and a $125 fee for each conviction and participation in various Drug Court programs.

--HB 1119 State Agencies & Governmental Affairs‐House

AN ACT CONCERNING OFFICIAL STATE HOLIDAYS; TO ELIMINATE THE DUAL STATUS OF THE STATE HOLIDAY CELEBRATING ROBERT E. LEE'S BIRTHDAY ON THE SAME DAY AS THE STATE HOLIDAY CELEBRATING THE BIRTHDAY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

Removes the state holiday observing Robert E. Lee's birthday.

--HB 1197 Judiciary Committee‐House

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SENTENCING OF A PERSON UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE; ESTABLISHING THE FAIR SENTENCING FOR MINORS ACT OF 2015

Eliminates the sentence of life without possibility of parole for homicides committed while the defendant was under 18; changes the parole eligibility guidelines for such persons.

--HR 1007 Aging, Children, and Youth, Legislative &Military Affairs‐ House

HOUSE RESOLUTION CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2015

Celebrates February as Black History Month and applauds the contributions and sacrifices of African‐Americans throughout history.

Education

--HB 1255 Education Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE BUILDING BETTER FUTURES PROGRAM; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Establishes the Building Better Futures Program, which allows individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate in comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs at nonprofit public or private institutions of higher education.

--HB 1256 Education Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE BUILDING BETTER FUTURES HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Establishes the Building Better Futures High School Program, which allows current high school students with intellectual disabilities to participate in comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs at institutions of higher education.

--SB 212 Education Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A STATEWIDE REENGAGEMENT PROGRAM; TO INCREASE HIGH SCHOOL COMPLETION THROUGH THE ALTERNATIVE PATHWAY TO A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA PROGRAM; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Implements a statewide Reengagement System and Alternative Pathway to a High School Diploma Program, which allows instruction for high school credit or two‐year certificates to be offered through various alternative means to underachieving students.

Economic

--HB 1276 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO CREATE THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR PAY ACT; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Requires employers of 4 or more employees to provide a detailed pay stub to each employee at least once per month.

--HB 1277 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO CREATE THE RIGHT TO WAGES EARNED ACT; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Requires employers to pay without condition the entire amount of wages that they concede to be due to an employee in a dispute over wages; provides the acceptance of such pay by an employee does not constitute a release of their claim to wages.

Government

--HB 1233 State Agencies & Governmental Affairs‐ House

AN ACT TO AMEND ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING THE FILING OF CERTAIN REPORTS WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

Requires campaign contributions and expenditure reports, including carryover fund reports, to be filed electronically; requires the Secretary of State to make reports searchable on the official Secretary of State website.

Bills to Oppose

Public Health

--HB 1181 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO CREATE THE HEALTH CARE INDEPENDENCE ACT EXPANSION REPEAL AND PHASE‐OUT ACT OF 2015

Repeals the Health Care Independence Act of 2013 and provides for a phase‐out period in which individuals may be eligible for temporary coverage using federal funds.

--SB144 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO TERMINATE THE MEDICAID EXPANSION DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM OR THE HEALTH CARE INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM.

Terminates the Health Care Independence Program and Arkansas' participation in Medicaid Expansion; repeals the Health Care Independence Act of 2013.

--HB 1262 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO TERMINATE THE MEDICAID EXPANSION PROGRAM OR THE HEALTH CARE INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM, COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE "PRIVATE OPTION"

Terminates the Medicaid Expansion program and creates the Arkansas Health Reform Legislative Task Force to recommend alternative healthcare coverage models.

--SB178 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO END ENROLLMENT IN THE HEALTH CARE INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM; TO TERMINATE COVERAGE UNDER THE HEALTH CARE INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM ON DECEMBER 31, 2016

Directs the DHS to terminate coverage under the Health Care Independence Act and restore the Medicaid waivers that were in place before October 1, 2013.

Civil Rights

--HB 1228 Judiciary Committee House

AN ACT TO ENACT THE CONSCIENCE PROTECTION ACT

Prohibits state actions that burden a person's right to exercise of religion, unless the burden is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; entitles persons to relief against political subdivisions for violations.

--SB 202 City, County, Local Affairs Committee‐ House

AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING ORDINANCES OF CITIES AND COUNTIES BY CREATING THE INTRASTATE COMMERCE IMPROVEMENT ACT

Prohibits counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions from adopting anti‐ discrimination ordinances on a basis not also contained within state law.

Education

--SB 76 Education Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO ALLOW A PUBLIC SCHOOL TO EXCEED THE MAXIMUM CLASS SIZE AS ADOPTED BY THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES

Allows a public school to exceed the state‐mandated maximum class size for one semester per year if the class began the semester in compliance and does not exceed the maximum by more than 10 percent.

--SB 205 Education Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO ENSURE THAT A SCHOOL DISTRICT CAN DONATE BUILDINGS OR REAL PROPERTY TO AN INCORPORATED TOWN

Allows school districts to donate real property to incorporated towns, the Department of Correction, or the Department of Community Corrections.

--SB 3 Education Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO MODIFY THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ACADEMIC CHALLENGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM ‐ PART 2; TO CLARIFY FUNDING AMOUNTS AND PROVISIONS

Holds the award of scholarship money under the Academic Challenge (lottery) Scholarship until after completion of freshman year, unless the student's initial application meets higher GPA and test score requirements; more.

--SB 5 Education Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO MODIFY THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ACADEMIC CHALLENGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM ‐ PART 2; TO CLARIFY FUNDING AMOUNTS AND PROVISIONS

Holds the award of scholarship money under the Academic Challenge (lottery) Scholarship until after completion of freshman year, unless the student's initial application meets higher ACT test score requirements.

Government

--HJR 1002 Joint Committee on Constitutional Affairs

AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO ABOLISH THE FISCAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to eliminate the even‐year fiscal session of the General Assembly.

Environment

--SB 183 Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee‐ Senate

AN ACT TO CREATE PROCEDURES FOR OVERSIGHT OF FOSSIL‐FUEL‐FIRED ELECTRIC GENERATING UNITS; TO REQUIRE THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY TO PERFORM STUDIES RELATED TO A STATE PLAN TO REGULATE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS; TO CREATE PROCEDURES FOR APPROVAL OF THE STATE PLAN BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Creates procedures for the creation of a state plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants; requires approval by the Legislative Council before submission to the EPA; limits the plan's rate impacts and other effects.

The Arkansas Citizens First Congress is a  grassroots coalition of 54 community groups from across Arkansas that works on progressive reform at the Arkansas Legislature.

The Ten Priorities for A Better Arkansas:

Opportunities to learn for all students

A sound state budget, fair taxes and Reauthorize the Private Option Health Insurance

Energy efficiency and renewable energy

Arkansas State Water Plan

Oppose state-level or punitive immigration reform

Prison Reform & Judicial Equality for Mental Health

Fair Election Reform

Worker fairness and safety

Create an Arkansas Civil & Human Rights Commission

Reform eminent domain to protect citizens

1308 West Second Street | Little Rock, AR 72201 US

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