REPLAY: Gov. Hutchinson establishes women’s commission on workforce participation

From the state Capitol in Little Rock
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:00 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2022 at 6:44 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - With 2023 marking the 50th year since the 1973 Women’s Commission in Arkansas, Governor Hutchinson announced at his weekly briefing Thursday, Feb. 17, that he will reinstate the commission and has appointed his Chief of Staff Alison Williams as chair.

“In my administration, women are an essential part of my leadership team,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I have relied upon women in leadership positions to bring success to my administration.”

Arkansas has had four commissions that focus on women, starting with the one Governor Orval Faubus created in 1964 to focus on the social, political, and economic status of women.

Governor Winthrop Rockefeller established the next commission to focus on state employment laws and differences in the legal treatment of men and women.

In 1973, Governor Dale Bumpers reinstated the commission to find ways to enlarge the role of women in economic, political, and social institutions.

In 1975, Governor David Pryor instituted the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women to focus, in part, on Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment. This committee did not file a report.

Governor Hutchinson and the leadership of the General Assembly will appoint 14 members to the commission. The Commission’s work will include the analysis of:

  • The participation of Arkansas women in the state’s labor force.
  • The participation of Arkansas women in entrepreneurial pursuits and in emerging and high-demand career paths such as STEM.
  • Barriers for Arkansas women to enter the labor force.

The committee will submit its report to Governor Hutchinson by Dec. 1, 2022.

The Governor announced he will disburse $6 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funding (GEER) for the Arkansas School for the Deaf and Arkansas School for the Blind.

$2 million will pay for the replacement of water lines and the power grid across both campuses. The schools currently maintain their own power grids.

This project is scheduled to be done by Fall 2022.

The other $4 million will pay for the construction of a new health services building to serve both campuses. This facility will house services for wellness, audiology, ophthalmology/optometry, and mental health.

This project is scheduled to be completed by September 2023.

Additionally, the Governor announced a 2 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) in pay for state employees and state agencies.

The Classification and Compensation Act allows the Governor to award up to 2% each fiscal year.

“I have never awarded this particular COLA increase,” Governor Hutchinson said. “The last award was in 2012. I see this as absolutely necessary in light of the inflationary pressures that we are all experiencing.”

This 2% increase is effective on Feb. 6 and will show up in the Feb. 25 paychecks.

Regarding Covid-19, Thursday’s report stated that active cases in Arkansas had decreased by more than half from 33,000 to 13,000.

There were 1,149 new cases in the past 24 hours and 45 more deaths.

Governor Hutchinson stated that within the past month, there have been 619 deaths due to Covid-19, including 467 patients who were older than 65.

Hospitalizations also decreased by 73, and the number of patients on ventilators decreased by 13.

The Governor announced he will be moving to weekly COVID-19 updates after the hospitalizations dropped below 1,000.

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