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Biggest controversy is Private Option

As you know we are in fiscal session. While debating the budget issues, the biggest controversy is the appropriation bill for the Arkansas Private Option. It passed the Senate last week but after several votes has not passed the House. According to reports, the House Speaker said they would vote every day on the legislation until passed. If this bill does not pass, the budget that the Governor submitted will have to be revamped.

SB139 passed the Senate that will give the option to the Governor to determine whether a special election for a vacancy in the office of Lt. Governor must occur if the vacancy occurs less than ten months before the next general election.

The state auditor reported that the amount of unclaimed property claims have gone up 84%. Every year the auditor administers the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt, a promotion designed to make people aware of any unclaimed property they may be entitled to. People claimed money and stocks from old safety deposit boxes, refunds from utilities, proceeds from mineral rights they had forgotten they owned and such. Now, claims can be filed online, rather than in paper forms. You can go to the state auditor’s website to see lists.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has revised downward its revenue estimates for the current year, from $89.5 million to $82.8 million. If the decline continues, the amounts of college scholarships may have to be lowered. The decline in sales has been in scratch off tickets. The legislature has twice had to restructure scholarships amounts in response to declining lottery sales, which used to be closer to $100 million a year. The Lottery Commissions studying possible methods to boost lottery sales, such as allowing consumers to use a debit card instead of cash.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved the expenditure of a down payment for an appraisal and other initial costs for a 42 acre tract of land north of Jasper. It is proposed to use the area as a new education and recreation facility. The property has a 3 acre spring fed lake and mountainous areas that could be used for hiking trails. The land also has several small cabins. If they do acquire the land, the administrators will likely move their centers of operations in Jasper to the new site. They currently rent a piece of property in Jasper.

If you would like to contact me, please email me at bruce.holland@senate.ar.gov or call the office at 479-650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387 Greenwood, AR. 72936.

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