Financial safeguard bill for counties headed to House floor Monday

Bill filed in aftermath of Kade Holliday case, as legislature kicks off third week at state Capitol

Financial safeguard bill for counties headed to House floor Monday

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A bill that would require counties to provide proof of payroll tax payment and retirement system contributions will be heading to the state House this week, as lawmakers start their third week of the legislative session at the state Capitol.

The state House is expected to take up House Bill 1036 Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro) and Sen. David Wallace (R-Leachville), was filed Dec. 17 in the aftermath of the Kade Holliday criminal case in Craighead County.

Holliday, who served as county clerk, pleaded not guilty to wire fraud in federal court after being accused of taking more than $1.4 million in county funds and using it for his personal use. He is expected to appear in court this month.

Tosh said he worked with the Association of Arkansas Counties on the bill, which passed the House City, County and Local Affairs committee last week.

The AAC reported while there were several counties in good practice around the state, Tosh said he believed the bill will create necessary safeguards.

Wallace said that originally, documentation of the payroll tax payment and retirement system would go directly to the state from the county clerk, but now the county judge, county clerk, and county treasure will be required to review them for “more oversight”.

Craighead County officials also worked in 2020 to create “protocols for internal controls” when dealing with money.

The bill would amend state law to require the county official responsible for paying the payroll taxes and Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System contributions to provide evidence of the payment to the county judge, county clerk and county treasurer within 30 days of the payment.

The House passed the bill Monday afternoon with 96 “yeas”, 0 “nays” and 4 “non votes”, and will turn the bill over to the Senate.

Joint Budget continues budget process

The legislature’s Joint Budget Committee is also expected to meet over the next several weeks to start going over budget bills.

Several dozen budget bills have already been filed this session, including HB1221, which funds the Arkansas Department of Transportation; HB1127, which covers state turnback funding for cities and counties for projects like streets; and SB164, which covers the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

The state’s fiscal year starts July 1.

Resolution to honor Eddie Schmeckenbecher

A resolution was introduced last week to honor a familiar face at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 press conferences.

HR1007, sponsored by Rep. Charlene Fite (R-Van Buren), would honor Eddie Schmeckenbecher for his work in support of American Sign Language and educating the public about COVID-19.

“Mr. Schmeckenbecher has an easy smile, owns a vast wardrobe of colorful ties and uses expressiveness in his American Sign Language, all of which combined to create interest in learning American Sign Language across the state, making Mr. Schmeckenbecher an Arkansas favorite son,” Fite’s resolution read.

Eddie Schmeckenbecher illustrates American Sign Language as Gov. Asa Hutchinson discusses the state's COVID-19 policies at a recent media conference. A resolution has been filed to honor Schmeckenbecher for his work in support of American Sign Language.
Eddie Schmeckenbecher illustrates American Sign Language as Gov. Asa Hutchinson discusses the state's COVID-19 policies at a recent media conference. A resolution has been filed to honor Schmeckenbecher for his work in support of American Sign Language.

The resolution has been referred to the House Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee.

Rep. Hodges named President of Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus

A Mississippi County lawmaker was named last week as the president of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus.

Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville (District 55 includes Crittenden and Mississippi counties)
Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville (District 55 includes Crittenden and Mississippi counties) (Source: Arkansas Secretary of State)

Rep. Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville) was selected for the post. Hodges, who represents District 55 in Mississippi and Crittenden counties, works as a banker in Blytheville.

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