This week is the 8th week and two-month mark since the Legislative Session began. We still have a lot to cover, and my colleagues and I have voted to extend our regular session to reflect the work we’ve yet to do. The Assembly has passed and advanced diverse bills and resolutions.
Reflective of that diversity, the House passed HB1620 which is a bill creating the Arkansas Cycling Activities Act assigning liability protections for business entities renting bicycles in Arkansas.
The House also passed HB1565 in order to provide funding for a national cancer institute-designated center at UAMS. The bill is designed to divert existing medical marijuana taxes to the institute trust fund from general revenue. The institute would also be entitled to new revenue from a 50 cents per pack tax on cigarette rolling papers.
Further, HB1565 raises the legal age to 21 for using or possessing vape tobacco. The age would remain the same for military personnel.
Additionally, The 92nd Assembly has been focusing on even more advances in Arkansas’s medical community. The House passed HB1440 establishing a committee to review the state’s high-ranking incidence of maternal mortality. Last year, almost 11 percent of infant births were preterm and Arkansas is an abysmal 46th for infant mortality. In response to these poor numbers, the House passed HB1441 directing the Health Department to establish a Maternal and Prenatal Outcome Quality Review Committee in hopes for improvement.
I previously shared my advancing education bill regarding digital courses for expelled students. This week in advancing bills, I would like to share that I am working on an act to establish John H. Johnson Day in Arkansas. A descendent of slave grandparents and native to Arkansas, John H. Johnson served as an American business icon. During the Great Depression, his family migrated to Chicago where he launched the world-renowned Johnson Publishing Company. Johnson Publishing provided recognizable periodical publications such as Ebony, Jet, and the Negro Digest. The company also owns and established the international cosmetics line Fashion Fair. This project was spear-headed by his wife Eunice to fill a need for a charitable cause. There is so much history wrapped into why it is important to celebrate the life and legacy of John H. Johnson. I will share more in the upcoming weeks as I work with others to, hopefully, make this important legislation a reality.
In community news, I attended the McGehee Chamber of Commerce annual dinner. I was pleased to host District 11 constituents Bobby Washington, Helen Polite, Samyra Polite, Brenda Hughes, and Kendra Beacham. The Chamber recognized educators, business, and community leaders. I was also honored to attend the Women Veterans Summit this past Saturday in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
Finally, I wish to keep you informed to the best of my ability. If you have questions about any legislation or the legislative process, feel free to contact me via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 501-682- 6211.