Medicaid expansion, constitutional amendments, law enforcement barracks project on agenda this week in legislature

Medicaid expansion, constitutional amendments, law enforcement barracks project on agenda this week in legislature
A proposal for the state’s new Medicaid expansion program and a $4.6 million proposal to build barracks at the Law Enforcement Training Academy at BRTC will be among several items on the agenda this week as lawmakers head back to the capital. (Source: ABC/NBC)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A proposal for the state’s new Medicaid expansion program and a $4.6 million proposal to build barracks at the Law Enforcement Training Academy at BRTC will be among several items on the agenda this week as lawmakers head back to the capital.

Also, key committees will start hearing over 40 proposals for constitutional amendments that could be on the Nov. 2022 ballot.

Floor

The Senate is scheduled to take up SB410 Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) and Rep. Michelle Gray (R-Melbourne), deals with the Medicaid expansion program which will be called ARHOME.

Officials have said the bill will help nearly 300,000 low-income people in the Natural State who make at least 138% below the federal poverty level.

The bill received approval from a Senate committee last week.

The Senate will also take up a bill to require counties to provide proof of payroll tax payment and retirement system contributions.

The bill, HB1036, was created in the aftermath of the Kade Holliday criminal case in Craighead County. The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro) and Sen. Dave Wallace (R-Leachville) have said the bill will help provide necessary safeguards of taxpayer money.

The $4.6 million project is also part of the budget calendar Monday.

College officials have said the barracks are needed due to the college spending nearly $100,000 a year on room and board at the academy as well as construction would help to increase the number of students in the academy.

Committees

The Senate Education Committee is expected to take up SB354 Monday.

The bill is called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”

According to content partner KATV, the bill would prohibit biological males who identify as female from playing in women’s sports. Supporters of the bill said it would protect women’s sports and address concerns over biological male athletes playing in women’s sports.

“Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports shatters their dreams and steals their opportunities,” Sen. Irvin told KATV. “When school and societies ignore those differences, it’s girls that are paying the price.”

President Biden signed an executive order Jan. 20, seeking to enforce prohibitions on sex discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Constitutional Amendments

Lawmakers will also start taking up the 43 proposals for constitutional amendments for next year’s general election ballot.

The process starts Monday in the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The House committee and its Senate counterpart typically hear the requests.

Among the proposals on the agenda Monday is HJR1006 from Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R-Walnut Ridge).

The proposal would allow for the recall of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Auditor, Land Commissioner, State House member, State Senator, Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Judge of the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Judge on the Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge and District Judge.

The 43 House and Senate proposals have to be narrowed down to three proposals for the Nov. 2022 ballot.

Lottery bill

A bill that would allow a person who won more than $500,000 in a lottery to remain anonymous heads to a Senate committee Tuesday.

SB355, from Sen. Larry Teague (D-Nashville), would exempt the person’s name from the state’s Freedom of Information Act, if the person requests it.

However, the records and information on a lottery winner would remain confidential only for six months if the lottery winner is an elected official or is an individual who is “related in the second degree of consanguinity to an elected official.”

The bill would also make any records or information filed with the Lottery public after three years.

Hate Crimes bills in committees

A pair of bills dealing with Hate Crimes legislation in the state of Arkansas is still in committee, with a House leader saying work is being done behind the scenes.

According to content partner Talk Business & Politics, lawmakers are working on SB3 and HB1020.

The bills were filed Jan. 11 and currently are in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) told Talk Business & Politics that very little has changed on the bills and that he was not certain if the bills could be approved in committee.

As for the discussion on the bills, Shepherd said he was not certain if there could be movement on the bills.

“It’s difficult to say ... I don’t know if there is one thing or another,” Shepherd told Talk Business & Politics. “I don’t think anything has changed.”

Copyright 2021 KAIT. All rights reserved.