The Assembly has officially wrapped our sixth week of legislative session. Almost 200 bills have been signed into law. We have also been busy passing legislation that has a record number of constituents engaged and acting.

One of the committees where I sit is focused on protecting the interest of children and youth. I also serve on the Judiciary Committee. Both committees have worked hard to present, advance, and pass legislation relevant to our constituents in District 11.

This week, the Arkansas House passed HB1403 allowing an additional 1 to 10 years on prison sentencing for offenders who commit crimes when a child is present. Such violent offenses include rape, murder, felony assault or battery, and aggravated robbery.

With a unanimous vote, the House passed SB152 reforming the juvenile justice systems requiring judges to use a validated risk assessment tool. As discussed in last week’s advancing bills, this legislation might help divert first-time juvenile offenders and might also aid in keeping prior offenders from re-entering the system.

Further, SB199 passed both chambers and will require school counselors to spend 90 percent of his or her worktime during contact days to provide indirect as well as direct services to students.

Finally, the Judiciary Committee advanced HB1437 mandating journalists to inform law enforcement if he or she holds a good faith belief that students or school officials might be at risk.

I supported all these bills because of what they mean for shaping our youth in a positive way.

In other legislative news, there are several advancing bills that are keeping some District 11 constituents highly engaged.

SB377 has been re-referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee. This bill would amend the law concerning solid waste collection, distribution, and transportation. The intent is to provide hazardous waste disposal and environmental assistance for public schools, a statewide recycling plan, and funding for unpaved roads. Landfill permittees would be required to submit a quarterly report accurately stating the total weight or volume of solid waste received at landfills or transported out of state. Permittees would also be required to pay applicable disposal and transportation fees.

In other advancing bill highlights, the House is expected to present parallel legislation on the highway initiative funding. These legislative topics have generated a lot of feedback and I will keep you posted on their progress as well as my position on each bill.

In community news, I have attended and will attend several events in support of constituents in District 11. As we come to the close of Black History Month, we are now entering Women’s History Month. Our country recognizes the contributions of women in contemporary society. If my schedule permits, I will attend the 2019 Arkansas Women Veterans’ Summit in celebration of women’s history and International Women’s Day. I sit on the Veteran Affairs Committee and I am pleased to support this event.

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.