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we should after every election in our state and our country and quickly tend to any wounds incurred and collectively pull our heads up out of the trenches and focus on serving Arkansans to the best of our ability. It was an historic campaign and election for the GOP. Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson has already begun his transition, and his first hire was a great one. Arkansas legislature veteran and former state Senate Pro Tempe Michael Lameureux joined the governor’s staff as chief. Te 90th Arkansas General Assembly will be here before we know it, and there is much work to be done. Much adversity and many challenges await the 100 (64 Republicans, 36 Democrats) House members and 35 (24 Re- publicans, 11 Democrats) senators who will soon announce their chambers are open for the state’s business. I believe the 90th will be etched in stone as one of the most critical general assemblies in modern history as Arkansas finds itself at a paramount crossroad with a new majority party from the top down. We are at an inter- section of increasing costs versus decreasing revenues while major issues stand on the corners hoping to cross the street to find the funding and solutions they desperately need. Arkansas’ crafted private option might be in the balance while ensuing tax cuts and decreased revenue seem to be the most sig- nificant hurdle for the state’s challenges, and those needs are sub- stantial. Remember the private option has about $80 million in state savings tied to it in the budget. And many Republicans ran on the fact they would demolish the private option. Other crises exist, as well, including jail overcrowding, county reimbursement and broadband infrastructure needs for education and economic development and many more. In this pre-session time period, associations and organizations


are busy planning and prepping for success for their stakeholders while weighing and projecting what the atmosphere will be in the legislature. One aspect of the atmosphere is clear — there’s not enough funding to go around and everybody ran on tax cuts. Sound so- lutions and modernization will be necessary for us to move in a positive direction for the state. Every fall members of the Association of Arkansas Counties

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Onward to the session

he November General election is in the books. Most voters grew wary of the negative images and mes- sages we endured on various media throughout the campaign this year in several races. So let’s do what

Legislative Committee take part in the process of finalizing the AAC legisla- tive package. Te AAC board of direc- tors ultimately approves the legislative package before it is presented to the world so to speak. We then tradition- ally present it to City, County & Lo- cal Affairs committee of both chambers and begin working toward the end of recruiting sponsors, submitting drafts to the Bureau of Legislative Research and devising strategies aimed at suc- cessful passage of AAC’s proposed bills. Even with the general election be-

hind us, there remains some uncer- tainty in what Arkansas lawmakers will

Legislative lines

Scott perkins Communications Director

focus upon and what hot topics will rise on their agendas. Speaker Designate of the House Jeremy Gillam told the Society

of Professional Lobbyists this fall that amidst the uncertainty the House will be open for business and ready to lead in January. He mentioned increased training for new House members and alluded that transportation will be one of the focuses of the 90th General Assembly. We expect a general revenue sharing piece of legislation to once again emerge, however, probably in different attire this time. Gillam also touched on several budgetary factors and challenges in revenue that he expects to face come 2015. Te AAC legislative package has been approved and policy staff has worked the plan since the beginning of the fall. We have about 25 bills in our package. County jail reimbursement rate for housing state inmates and

the responsibility of the county to bear medical expenses for those inmates in the first 30 days are two of AAC’s hot-button issues. AAC has also identified a burden that was intended to be temporary in 1999 as a major priority. At this time, counties continue to pay about $5 million a year for deputy prosecuting attorney salaries out of county turn back funds. We have several other goals and proposed pieces of legislation to make county government better in the 90th, and we look forward to the rest of the year as we continue to build a coalition in support of tackling Arkansans’ needs head on. Enjoy the holidays, and we’ll see you at the Capitol.

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, FALL 2014 19

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