The Arkansas economy is doing better than predicted. The administration’s economist increased its general revenue forecast by $34.2 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 over its November forecast and by $11.7 million in the next fiscal year, citing slightly stronger than expected economic growth. Arkansas experienced moderate job growth in the private sector over the past year, with additional gains expected in the near future they said. One potential drag on the American economy will be continued weakness in Europe. The success of economic recovery in Arkansas will depend heavily on a rebound in construction and manufacturing. The major sources of the state’s general revenue fund are individual income taxes and sales taxes. The third largest source is corporate income taxes and taxes on alcoholic beverages rank fourth. There is expected to be a large surplus this year but it will go down significantly next year as the Legislature enacted a package of tax cuts in the session that was just completed. They will begin taking effect next year.
The number of uninsured Arkansas children has dipped from 22% to just 6% since ARKids First was created in 1997. Arkansas ranked fourth in the country at enrolling eligible children in programs such as ARKids First and Medicaid in 2011.
During the session there were several pro life acts passed, some appealed to courts, Act 171 bans physicians from doing abortions 20 weeks after conception except to save the life of the mother, or to prevent serious and irreversible physical impairment of the mother or in the case of rape or incest. Act 301 prohibits abortions if the physician can detect a heartbeat in the baby except it has exceptions for medical emergencies and fetal anomalies. Act 72 bans health care exchanges from offering coverage for abortions.
There were several 2nd amendment acts passed. One allows churches and places of worship to decide whether they want to allow concealed carry permit holders on the premises. Another allows trained and licensed staff of colleges and universities to carry concealed firearms on campuses, if the institution’s board votes to allow it. Another waives the 90 day residency requirement to get a concealed carry permit for active duty military and their spouses. Another authorizes parole board members, parole board investigators and parole revocation judges to carry their concealed firearms into a building that a law enforcement officer is allowed to carry a gun into. The parole officers have to have a concealed carry permit. Another makes it a Class D felony to provide false information to a licensed gun dealer in order to buy a gun or ammunition. I passed Act 145 which protects the privacy of concealed carry permit holders, by exempting their names and zip codes from FOI requests so that they will not be published.
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