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Governor vetoes Voter ID legislation

The bill that would force the UA and ASU to meet in one football game in Little Rock failed to get out of a House Committee.

The Voter ID legislation was vetoed by the Governor but the Senate overroad the veto and the bill was sent to the house which will vote. If it overrides it also, then the bill will become law. The House should vote on the bill on Monday

The House and Senate met last week and held hearings on the proposed new Mississippi County steel mill. Nucor, the state’s largest steel manufacturer, warned that the new mill, which would be bolstered by tax credits and state funded bonds, would undermine the state’s existing steel industry and could lead to a cutback in jobs. Some said that many steel mills across the country are working at only partial capacity because of lack of work orders and that adding a new steel mill does not make sense. If there was a need these other mills would be picking up production. The new company would want Arkansas to sign off on a $125 million bond issue. The decision to go ahead will be the financial investment and the mills ability to deliver on its promises balanced with the potential for high wage new jobs. The Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate have both said they support the new mill.

The session is scheduled to be over about April 19th and some are saying that there is too much left to do on the Medicaid issue to get it resolved during the session. They think a special session to address Medicaid should be called later. Governor Beebe has rejected this idea and says it would be a waste of tax payers’ money and that the legislature should decide to go with the expansion or not. Under the Health act, states could choose to extend Medicaid coverage to those making up to 138% of the federal poverty line, or $15,145 annually for an individual. The Governor got a deal with the federal government saying that the federal government would pay premiums for private companies to provide health coverage through the state’s private insurance exchange to about 250,000 Arkansans. A report showed that without expansion the Arkansas Medicaid program faces a $61 million deficit next fiscal year and with expansion and the federal funds it will receive, Arkansas would see a $28 million surplus. Some say the surplus could help provide tax cuts in such things as taxes on income and capital gains .However, the Governor says that the tax cuts that are being brought forth in the legislature now would take affect before the money from the federal government would come and would not work. One of the tax cut bills would cut the state’s 7% income tax rate to 6.875% on taxable income of $44,000 and above. It would reduce general revenue by $28.6 million in 2014. Another bill would create a 70% exemption for any net capital gains from the sale of Arkansas real property and Arkansas based businesses if they were made after Jan 1, 2014. It also creates an additional exemption for assets acquired before Jan. 2014. The Senate leadership have said they are working on tax cuts of $100 million.

The Senate approved a bill that would require background checks for candidates seeking elected office.The Senate sent to the governor a bill that would remove the governor’s ability to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of firearms during a disaster emergency. The Senate approved a bill that would require teachers to allow students a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day The Bill now goes to the Governor.

A House panel passed a bill that states that if someone is medically and financially eligible to be in a long term care nursing facility based on eligibility criteria as of Jan 1, 2013, he cannot be denied service, removed from a facility or have payment to his provider reduced or denied in the future. The Dept. of Human Services opposes the bill because they said they are working on issues of eligibility and they should be able to determine if people are better served in a nursing institution or through a community provider and how those providing services are paid. He said they were still developing proposals. The bill sponsor said really all the bill does is to say the department has to come to the legislature or to the people for a vote if the rules are to be changed.

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

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