As we approach the 4th week of the 2018 Fiscal Session, the Governor has signed nearly 200 budget bills into law. The legislature could vote on all remaining bills over the next several days.
This week, the House addressed budget items impacting public safety.
The House approved an increase of $3.5 million in general revenue for the Department of Correction. This increase is part of the Governor’s balanced budget proposal.
The House also approved an amendment to the appropriation for the Department of Community Correction which adds $203,000 to their appropriation for 3 new positions and a drug court in Franklin County.
Members approved a reappropriation for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission which includes $800,500 to fund the panic button system in public schools. The system provides classroom teachers, principals and other school personnel with a console enabling them to alert first responders to crises including an active shooter, medical emergency, fire or on-site disruption. It can also guide designated emergency personnel to the precise location of the event. The funds we approved for the panic button are provided by general improvement funds.
In other developments this week, members approved a supplemental appropriation of $17,000 for the University of Arkansas Monticello and a supplemental appropriation of $13,000 for Arkansas State University in Beebe. The funds for both of these supplemental appropriations come from the Educational Excellence Trust Fund to fulfill scholarship obligations for this fiscal year. The House has approved several appropriations for state offices including those for the State Board of Election Commissioners, the Office of Attorney General, Department of Information Services, and the Department of Health. Those appropriations do not include any increases in funding.
Upon adjournment of the fiscal session, the House will vote to determine the Speaker of the next General Assembly. In Arkansas, the Speaker of the House contributes greatly to shaping the agenda for legislative sessions. The Speaker decides which committee will vote a on a particular bill. He or she also assigns members to standing and select committees. Other duties include recognizing members to speak on the House floor, preserving order in the House, and certifying all measures passed.
Each candidate for Speaker will be given 15 minutes to address the members on the House floor. Members will then vote by secret ballot.
When the final day of session is determined (known as Sine Die) it will be posted on our website. You can also watch the Speaker-designate election and all House proceedings live at www.arkansashouse.org.