• Week 9 Session Update

    This week the House Committee on State Agencies narrowed down the number of proposed Constitutional Amendments which could appear on the November ballot in 2016.

    House members had filed 27 proposed amendments this session.  Now 5 of those will be presented to the Joint Committee of State Agencies where 16 proposals from the Senate will also be considered.  The constitution allows for only 3 amendments to be put forth by the General Assembly, so members will face many important decisions regarding the amendments over the next few weeks.

    One of the amendments advanced by the House committee this week would change the definition of “infamous crime” when it comes to our elected officials.  HJR1006 would prohibit anyone from being elected if they are convicted of a felony, have been charged with abuse of office, tampering, or convicted of a misdemeanor where it was found that the individual committed an act of deceit or fraud.

    HJR1012 addresses uncontested elections.  This amendment would allow the legislature to enact laws regarding uncontested candidates on the ballot.

    Another amendment now before the Joint Committee addresses Voter ID.  HJR1007 requires an individual to produce a government issued photo identification before receiving a ballot.

    The election of county offices is addressed in HJR1027.  Under this amendment, county judges, sheriffs, circuit clerks, county clerks, assessors, coroners, treasurers, surveyor, and tax collectors would be elected to 4 year terms instead of 2.

    And the final proposal from the House to be considered addresses the election of our Supreme Court Justices.  HJR1005 would provide for the formation a 15-member Judicial Nominating Committee. The Governor and the Arkansas Bar Association would choose six members each, two would be chosen by the House speaker and Senate president pro tem, and those members would fill the remaining seat through a vote. The commission would choose three people for each open court position for the governor to choose from for one initial term. Retention for subsequent terms would be decided by the voters in a yes-or-no vote.

    We encourage Arkansans to study the proposed amendments and we will continue to update you on the progress.

    We have just wrapped up our 9th week of the Regular Session.  Over 1,000 bills have been in filed by House members.  Our time in committee meetings and floor sessions is increasing as we continue to hear testimony and vote on bills.  Remember you can watch all House committee meetings held in the Capitol and all House floor proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org.

  • Rep. Hammer Appointed to Health Reform Task Force

    March 2, 2015 – Rep. Kim Hammer was appointed to the Arkansas Health Reform Legislative Task Force by House Speaker, Jeremy Gillam.  Earlier in the legislative session, lawmakers approved funding for the Private Option for the next two years and created a task force to develop a course of action for healthcare in Arkansas when the Private Option is set to expire at the end of 2016.

    Other House members appointed to the task force include Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, Rep. Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis, Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, Rep. Joe Farrer, R-Austin, and Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith.

    With Senate appointments, a total of 16 legislators will serve on the task force.  Legislation requires the task force to submit its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the legislature by the end of 2015.

    The members have a big job ahead over the next several months.  The law requires them to recommend an alternative health care coverage model to ensure the availability of services for people covered by the Health Care Independence Program, commonly referred to as the Private Option.  They will also explore and recommend options to modernize Medicaid.

    To achieve this they will identify necessary funding to ensure an effective transition from the Health Care Independence program while minimizing any need to raise General Revenue.  They will also be asked to make recommendations on ways to strengthen employer-sponsored health insurance, increase employment of able-bodies recipients, and encourage healthier behaviors.

    The task force recommendations will set the stage for healthcare legislation next year.