Happy New Year! I pray 2024 brings health, happiness and joy to you and your family.
As 2024 begins I want to look back at some of the things that happened in 2023. Our family welcomed another wonderful granddaughter Louane Ruth. She’s such a happy baby and joy to be around. We are blessed to have her in the Cavenaugh Clan. Our family has been blessed to be happy and healthy during 2023 and I want to send prayers to those who have had health issues or lost loved ones in 2023.
2023 started out for me serving my 4th term as a State Representative for District 30. It was a very busy session but a lot got accomplished. As much as we got accomplished, we still have much to do in many different areas.
Here are some of the highlights from the 2023 session for me.
I was honored to sponsor ACT 199, the Vincent Parks Law. This law was in response to the tragic loss of Officer Vincet Parks during training. This law will now require instructors to know the signs of certain medical conditions and know how to respond the them. The loss of Officer Parks was a tragedy and we must learn from it. I was honored to work with Officer Parks’ family on this legislation.
I also sponsored ACT 41 that extended the time allowed for people to license their vehicles after purchase from 30 days to 60 days. What has been happing is as vehicles are being paid off by dealers the banks and finance sources have not been getting titles to them in a timely manner. Many times, the title would not be returned to the dealer until around 45 days. This made the customer already late on licensing their vehicle. It also triggered a late penalty that was not the fault of the tax payer. The extra 30 days will allow those taxpayers not to have to pay a penalty for something not in their control. And for those hard-working Arkansans that may be experiencing a harder time paying the sales tax on the vehicle it gives them an extra 30 days to pay the tax.
In addition, I was the sponsor of ACT 114 that requires the Secretaries of State Agencies to look at the fund balances that Boards and Commissions have and if they have more than 3 years worth of fund balance, they must reduce the fees they charge the licensees. This will lessen the burden on those licensees as they get their licenses required by the State.
Act 365, which I was the House Sponsor on establishes a Earn to Learn Program for Nurses. This will allow those studying to be Nurses to earn while they finish their training.
ACT 365, sponsored by Senator English and myself Abolishes Inactive State Boards and Commissions.
As many of you may know Mental Health has been a big concern of mine. Working along with Representative Vaught we have been able to make many changes to help address the Mental Health Crisis we are facing in Arkansas. We worked with DHS and made changes that allowed more workers to be able to reimbursed for the work they provide clients. This allowed us to have more workers to address the massive workforce shortage we are facing in Mental Health. It is just the beginning with lots of more hard work ahead. One thing that has been a real issue for Arkansas has been the number of beds available for children that need help. I sponsored ACT 806 that will allow more beds for Arkansas children in addition to allowing oversight of quality of care for the facilities providing these services. As we move forward, we will continue the work to address the Mental Health Crisis in Arkansas. We must provide early intervention and support after accomplishing a program. If we don’t intervene early then the outcomes are much worse. In the same manner if we don’t provide support, like transitional housing and support after completion of a program we are setting them up for failure. We also need to address how we help those that find themselves in legal trouble because of drugs. We all agree an addict doesn’t need to be in jail or prison but needs the treatment to overcome their addiction and underlying mental health issues. Our Mental Health Workgroup is meeting now working to find solutions to those issues we are facing.
I have filed an Interim Study to look at the burning of crop residue. The first meeting on this study will be January 11th. The work continues.
I have been humbled and honored to receive several awards during the year. I received Family Council Stateman’s Award, Distinguished Legislator Award by the Arkansas Municipal League, A+ Award winner with American for Prosperity and Champion of Trucking from the Arkansas Truck Association. These are all great honors but the one I believe I cherish the most is being voted Best of NEA 2023 as Best Politician. It was voted on by those who I represent and I really appreciate this honor.
The best part of my job as a State Representative is helping my constituents that need assistance. Helping them overcome issues they are facing is what makes the job so rewarding.
Again, just come of the highlights of 2023. Come on 2024 let’s see what we can accomplish together.