Arkansas’ 92nd General Assembly has been in regular session for just over a month, and the House has passed over 140 bills generated in both legislative chambers.

The House passed SB211 in an 82-14 vote with two members voting present. This bill cuts the top tax rate from 6.9 to 6.6 percent starting on January 1, 2020. The tax will decrease to 5.9 percent by 2021. The House passed SB151 unanimously.

SB151 establishes funds assisting the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in its ongoing efforts to gain a National Cancer Institute designation.

The House also passed SB149 in a vote of 72-20. This bill would prohibit abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade or if a constitutional amendment is adopted giving authority to the states to determine the right to legal abortion.

Also passed in the House was SB168 which adds 24-hour manned fire stations where parents will have the ability to relinquish infants. SB168 will also allow the use of a Safe Haven Baby Box at Safe Haven locations including a dual alarm system to notify authorities of infant presence.

Finally, the House passed HB1014 which mandates that high schools offer bleeding control training in health courses.

I voted yes on all bills except SB149.

House committees have also advanced several bills. I have included some of the highlights that I believe work in tandem for developing the youth in our district in a positive way. The House Judiciary Committee, where I currently sit, has passed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act or SB152. This act reforms the juvenile justice system by utilizing a validated risk assessment tool. Using this tool might help divert first-time juvenile offenders and might also aid in keeping prior offenders from re-entering the system. Further, the Revenue and Taxation Committee advanced SB196 providing tax incentives to businesses that invest in communities in economic distress or Opportunity Zones. Arkansas has 85 opportunity zones.

In other legislative news, Governor Hutchinson announced a $300 million highway plan which is the largest in state history. Additional taxes on gas and diesel, registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, and dedicated casino revenues will support funding. Over the next few weeks while legislators are in regular session, parallel legislation will be brought forth. I will keep you informed on this process as well as my position.

In community news, the Capitol hosted over 400 4-H students this past week. I had the pleasure of sharing the legislative process with four 9th grade students from Chicot County in District 11. {See photo below.]

Also, I confirmed my attendance to the Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) conference to be held on February 28. For the last 40 years, AGATE has supported educational excellence among children and youth in Arkansas.

Finally, if you have questions about any legislation or the legislative process, feel free to contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 501-682- 6211.