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Arkansas House of Representatives Week 13 2020

By the end of the 13th week of the 2021 Regular Session, more than 600 bills were signed into law. This week, the House voted in favor of a bill temporarily changing the deadline for filing and paying state income tax. SB593 extends the deadline this year to May 17, aligning the date with the recent extension issued for filing federal income tax. The also House voted in favor of the following bills addressing law enforcement, mental health, alcohol sales, and education:

Law Enforcement

HB1865-This bill requires all law enforcement officers in the state to complete annual training related to a law enforcement officer’s duty to intervene if the law enforcement officer observes the use of excessive force by another law enforcement officer. 

HB1680-This bill states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects. Mental Health

HB1689-This bill will create an Arkansas Legislative Study on Mental and Behavioral Health. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Week 12 2021

Close to 500 bills have been signed into law so far during the 2021 Regular Session. There are still several hundred bills making their way through the legislative process. In the 12th week of the session, the House passed the following bills regarding economic development, education, and elections:

Economic Development

HB1788-This bill would allow a municipal improvement district to enter a partnership with a private sector company to provide broadband internet service. SB163-This bill creates the Arkansas Military Affairs Council Act and establishes the Military Affairs Grant Program. The council will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to promote and support military installations for state and local economic development. Continue Reading →

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Senator Hughes’s Freedom From Censorship Act Passes Texas Senate

AUSTIN- The Freedom From Censorship Act (Senate Bill 12), filed by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) was passed by the Texas Senate today.  The bill will make sure that Texans have the right to free speech and the ability to exercise that right in the modern public square.  Senator Hughes issued the following statement on passage of the legislation:

“In Texas, we will defend our right to free speech against West Coast social media oligarchs. Senate Bill 12 holds these Big Tech companies accountable, protects Texans against social or political viewpoint discrimination, and empowers those who are wrongly silenced to get back online.   

We invited these companies to testify on the bill, but they decided not to show up.  Instead, they have engaged in a dishonest and coordinated media campaign to confuse the issues and derail this bill.  But the Texas Senate didn’t fall for it, and neither will the people of Texas. I am thankful for the strong support of Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, my House counterparts, and so many Texans who recognize the unprecedented power these companies have over public discourse.  Their power has not been subject to constitutional safeguards, and free speech has suffered.  Senate Bill 12 will serve as a safeguard for Texans and as a model for other states as they fight to safeguard free speech in America.”

Senate Bill 12 will now head to the Texas House of Representatives, where Representative Scott Sanford is sponsoring the legislation.  

To see this bill in its entirety, please access the following link [LINK HERE] 
Continue Reading →

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Senator Bryan Hughes’s Election Integrity Omnibus Bill Passes Texas Senate

AUSTIN- The Omnibus Election Integrity Bill (Senate Bill 7), filed by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) was passed by the Texas Senate today. This is the first major legislation tackling election integrity, a priority to Lt. Governor Patrick, and an emergency item for Governor Abbott. Senator Hughes issued the following statement regarding the passage of SB 7:

“The goal of Senate Bill 7 is simple: make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.  We want to make sure that Texans can cast their votes with confidence that they’ll be counted and that the results will be reported accurately.  It provides common sense integrity provisions for the election process, from voter registration through the counting of ballots. Senate Bill 7 will give Poll Watchers the access they need to meaningfully observe the election process, make mail ballots more secure, and verify the accuracy of voting machines. 

The bill also makes it clear that partisan county officials cannot artificially create a home field advantage when they designate polling places.”

Senate Bill 7 will now head to the Texas House of Representatives, where Chairman Briscoe Cain is sponsoring the legislation.  

To see this bill in its entirety, please access the following link [LINK HERE]. 
Continue Reading →

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Senator Bryan Hughes Passes SB 8, The Heartbeat Act Out of Texas Senate

AUSTIN – Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) passed SB 8, the Heartbeat Bill, with bipartisan support. The bill protects unborn children by prohibiting an abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Senator Hughes issued the following statement:

“As we approach the resurrection and celebration of Jesus Christ, we recognize that the greatest gifts God can give begin small and unexpected, yet so important. 

Nothing is more indicative of life than the sound of a baby’s heartbeat. From being held on your mother’s chest as an infant, to the sound of a heart monitor of a loved one in a hospital bed, Senate Bill 8 recognizes the beauty and significance of the heartbeat. 

With strong support from Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Phelan, I am excited to send this legislation to the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Shelby Slawson. We will work together to make it clear that if a Texan’s heartbeat is detected, his or her life will be protected.”

Senate Bill 8 supports a physician’s  oath to do no harm. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers Consider Ideas to Improve Children’s Lives

This week, I want to write about some of the great ideas for children being considered by Oklahoma’s representatives and senators. The job of a lawmaker is often tough; fortunately, there are many advocates and activists who are experts in their respective fields who provide input and ideas. It is the job of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) to offer data-driven suggestions on policy to help lawmakers make good decisions on the best path for state government to help children. OICA is watching 200 bills with potential impacts on children still alive for the 2021 session. Senate Bill 339 by Sens. Continue Reading →

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We Must End the Cycle of Racism by Remembering and Reckoning

Numerous incidents this past year have increased discussion over what constitutes a hate crime. Just about every minority community has endured violence throughout the world based upon this type of bias. A commitment is needed to help reverse what has been ingrained in so many for so long if we want to see better for the next generation. At the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, we hope a more serious discussion occurs about understanding and accepting racial cultures and differences. 

Why is a child advocacy group raising this issue? Because what adults say and do will impact children around them, including conversations that create bias and racism in the next generation. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Week 11 2021

The 11th week of the session was an abbreviated one as the General Assembly took a recess for Spring Break. Before members left the Capitol, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee advanced a new version of the Medicaid expansion program.SB 410 establishes the framework for a new program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me. Currently, more than 300,000 Arkansans receive services under the Arkansas Works program. However, the federal government is moving to end the work requirement, and the current waiver expires at the end of this year. ARHOME would continue to offer low-income families private insurance, with incentives for taking advantage of career and work opportunities, education and skill development, and health or other activities that will lead to long-term economic independence. Continue Reading →

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Child Advocacy Group’s Heroes Ball WinsNational Award for “Best Virtual Presentation”

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is the winner of a national award for Virtual Presentations for its 2020 Heroes Ball, OICA’s annual awards and fundraising banquet. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled countless events during 2020, including many nonprofit organizations’ fundraising events. As these cancellations reached epidemic proportions, OICA’s Board of Directors and staff realized their own annual event – the Heroes Ball – was at risk. The Heroes Ball normally hosts about 400 child advocates, state leaders, and award honorees in a traditional banquet hall. Proceeds from the event comprise almost one-quarter of OICA’s annual budget for child advocacy. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Week 10 3-21-21

In the 10th week of the 2021 Regular Session, the House passed several bills focusing on improved education. Once enacted, these bills would increase funding for our public schools, raise teacher salaries, and require every high school student to complete a computer science course. HB1677 raises the foundation funding amount for public schools from the current $6,899 per student to $7,182 per student for the next school year. It increases the amount for the 2022-2023 school year to $7,349 per student. The bill also outlines enhanced funding amounts for school districts where a large majority of students qualify for the national school lunch program. Continue Reading →

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