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Legislative Report

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Hello! This is a busy time at the Arkansas Legislature during these days of budget hearings. As I stated earlier, Arkansas has about 220 commissions, boards, departments and agencies and each must provide reports on their present financial status and a summary of their budget requests for the next biennial to the Joint Budget Committees. (more…)

Legislative Report

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Greetings! Did you get enough rain over the weekend? We got 4.2 inches Friday night and a good shower Saturday! I hated that it rained most of the Wiggins Cabin Festival out though!
In our first week of pre-session budget hearings we heard reports, proposals and requests from over 30 state boards (of the approximately 220 total boards and agencies). These boards oversee everything from the medical profession to embalmers to vehicle towing operations.
(more…)

Legislative Report

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Greetings! We’ve had another issue-laden week at the Legislature.

Last week the joint education committees briefly discussed options for raising the minimum starting teacher salary in Arkansas public schools to $31,000. Figures of $2.35 to $6.86 million were the cost estimates given by the Bureau of Legislative Research (BLR). (The minimum starting salary for new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is currently $29, 244.)

(more…)

Legislative Report – Minimum Wage Vote Update

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Greetings! It was a quiet week in the Legislature this week, mostly due to the Labor Day holidays. Of course, much conversation is still ongoing regarding health care, broadband and education among other top issues under consideration.
In another context, Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin has announced that the proposed amendment to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage will be on the general election ballot in November.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Greetings! We have had some interesting “discussions” in the House this week, but first I want to share with you notes about the grain company failures in east Arkansas recently. The problems began when some farmers began to realize they would/had not received payments for the grain they had placed in some grain bins for sale later.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

This has been a truly interesting week filled with joy and headache and heartache, but that’s life, isn’t it? I’ll start with some good news and potential joyous news. Not only has Monticello acquired a new pellet plant, but rumors say more could be in store. Warren has had a new industry move into an old chicken processing plant with its 100 jobs and again there may be more to come there. (more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Greetings!! What a fun week I’ve had – most of it! My week began with an informational meeting to discuss a study of the broadband delivery system to Arkansas’ public schools (k-12).

(more…)

Monticello Memories – ECH Club History, Part 6, Northside EHC

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

This week continues our look at the history of each of the nine Extension Homemakers Clubs in Drew County with a glimpse into the history of the Northside EHC. The Extension Homemakers program in Arkansas is celebrating 100 years in 2012. The organization is made great contributions to the lives and welfare of Arkansans throughout the state n the past 100 years.

Northside Extension Club

(more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Our Arkansas state capitol celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. Although it is a beauty to behold, like any building 100+ years old, it has seen better times and better conditions. Last year the Capitol rotunda received an intensive restoration. This year the House Chamber will be given a $1 million restoration. In fact, architects and contractors began work on that restoration project June 2 of last week. The chandelier is down and has been shipped off for restoration, seats are gone, other furnishings are covered and the scaffolding is rising to the ceiling.
(more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

There is little news to report on the health insurance front this week except that the State and Public Life and Health Insurance Board decided that public school and state employees who get mammograms, blood-pressure tests and other preventive health screenings, or quit smoking and lose weight, or enter into other health-prevention programs by November 1 will receive a $75.00 discount on monthly insurance premiums next year.

(more…)

Legislative Report – 5 21 14

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Greetings! I’ll begin this week by hopefully allaying some of the teacher apprehensions relating to their insurance. You may recall that their insurance plans’ premiums were likely to increase another 35% for the next year unless the legislature intervenes and takes some corrective actions. The State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Program Legislative Task Force did hold a major meeting on May 14th to try to make some definite decisions on changes to the system and I think they have. (I do appreciate Dr. Max Dyson of Hamburg for his attendance and insight into the meeting.)
(more…)

Legislative Report

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Greetings!   We have finished a very stress-filled week at the legislature.   Three issues, and the pursuit of their solutions, filled most of our time.  These issues are teacher insurance, adequate broadband access in all our schools (and who will provide it), and other various and sundry items.  .

(more…)

Legislative Report

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Legislative Re  Greetings!  Teacher insurance has once again been the subject of many sessions held by insurers, consultants and legislators.  This week’s meetings brought up several possible changes to the insurance plans to ease the increased costs of those plansand remain  sound.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Some good economic news for the state has been released by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. For the first time in 5 years Arkansas’ unemployment rate has dropped below 7%. It has been dropping for the 6th consecutive month. In a separate jobs report released with labor statistics, Arkansas also saw eight industry sectors achieve gains compared to one year ago. Notably, construction jobs have experienced a healthy rebound with an estimated 1,600 new jobs created in that sector in the last year.
(more…)

Tribute to Homer Pace

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Homer PaceDrew County lost another great native son this weekend with the passing of Mr. Homer Pace.  This narrative begins with his military service among the “greatest generation” during WWII and continues until about 10 years ago.  Like most of his generation, he didn’t feel like a hero and was rather modest about his war experiences.  Yet he was as were they all.  Here is Mr. Homer’s story as he related it to me.  May it serve as a tribute to a great American.

(more…)

Legislative Report – Fiscal Session- Week 5

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

In the final days of the third Fiscal Session the House of Representatives at last passed the Revenue Stabilization Act, also known as Arkansas’ $5 billion balanced budget. This budget included a 2% growth in spending, the majority of which was a $65 million increase in funding for education. The new budget also took into account the tax breaks passed by the General Assembly during the regular session in 2013.

(more…)

Legislative Report – Fiscal Session – Wk 4

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The fourth week of the fiscal session began with another Arkansas ice storm! The storm set in Sunday night and created a real quagmire in some areas, including Little Rock and much of the state north, east and west of there. Only the south was spared the misery. When the session continued on Monday only 71 of the House membership were able to make it to work.
(more…)

Legislative Report – Fiscal Session – Wek 2

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Greetings!! We have now completed our second week of this fiscal deadlock/ gridlock session. (I hope it doesn’t become a marathon!) I am reminded of an old song that says “You can bet as sure as you live! Something’s got to give!” I just hope reason isn’t the biggest loser in this stalemate over the Private Option. For two weeks every day has been “Same song; second verse; a little bit louder, a little bit worse!” I hope the end to gridlock is in sight!

(more…)

Legislative Report

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The third annual fiscal session in Arkansas history began on February 10, 2014, and, even though activities for the first day (Monday) were mostly ceremonial, our job to work/ rework/ balance Arkansas’ $5 billion budget began. You may recall that the vote of the people created this special session to study and address fiscal matters only every second year and we are trying to limit the session to these same fiscal matters only. One hundred forty-nine (149) appropriation bills had been filed in the House as of the first day of the session, but there are “boo coodles” to come.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Friday, February 14th, 2014

I hope all have had their fill of snow for 2014! Last week at the legislature began with the Joint Education Committees. The meetings first heard a statement from Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell that he was no longer interested in seeking the superintendent’s position at Fayetteville, but would stay with the state department.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Greetings! We are now one week from the fiscal session and the hatches are being “battened down”!! Seriously we have still been hearing reports and requests from the “Big Six” agencies in anticipation of the 4th fiscal session of the Arkansas legislature.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Greetings! What a week!! My head almost throbs with the mass of numbers, periods and dollar signs we’ve seen on budgets during this pre-fiscal session week!! Tuesday – Thursday we have dealt with pages and pages of budget reports and requests, discussions and debate. It has been quite thorough to the point that we did not get finished with our work. We will reassemble next Tuesday, January 21, in hopes of finishing that task. I think this might indicate a lengthy fiscal session in February.
(more…)

Legislative Report

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Happy New Year!  I hope and trust it will be a happier, healthier, more profitable and wiser year for all Americans.  It will surely go quickly!

I want to start this week by trying to clarify a question several of you have asked the past couple of weeks about your health coverage under the new private option healthcare program.

(more…)

Legislative Report

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!  Last week the Arkansas legislature was quite busy trying to tie up loose ends in anticipation of the two-week holiday break to celebrate the Christmas season and the New Year.

A major topic both Monday and Tuesday was site selection for the new veterans’ home.   (more…)

Legislative Report

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

One week until the big day! Just think! In two weeks Christmas 2013 will be mostly history! By next year we’ll be remembering the extremely cold winter weather (for south Arkansas) that came before Christmas 2013! I’m getting hopeful for an early spring!

Because of the earlier extreme weather in some parts of Arkansas, things were still running slowly at the capital last week. Work resumed officially on Wednesday and several minor Medicaid expansion rules and regulations cleared a legislative subcommittee. They will go before the Arkansas Legislative Council on December 20.

(more…)

WEATHER FORECAST

Weather in Monticello
Today Thursday
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on October 22, 2014
Partly Cloudy
73°/46°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on October 23, 2014
Partly Cloudy
70°/46°

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