posed legislative package, and 26 of them became law. We tracked 537 bills that had the potential to affect county gov- ernment — 263 of these were approved. Te 12-week session was a success for the counties of


Arkansas. I would like to thank all the county elected of- ficials and staff for coming to the state Capitol to support or oppose legislation. We sent you many legislative action alerts, and you should know that your phone calls, texts and emails to legislators did not go unnoticed. Now the hard work of implementing these new laws com- mences. If an act has an emergency clause attached to it, then it goes into effect at the time the Governor signs it. All other bills without an emergency clause will become law July 31 — 90 days after Sine Die (formal adjournment). Some acts have special effective dates — and maybe even expiration dates. Senate Bill 114 by Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Kim Ham- mer will have a positive financial impact for mineral produc- ing counties. Tese counties were required to publish delin- quent mineral parcels in the newspaper under Ark. Code Ann. § 26-37-102. Tis bill, now Act 514 of 2017, changed that requirement. Rather than publishing in a newspaper twice, those counties are now able to publish the delinquen- cies on a website that will reach more people and stay live for a year. Te AAC has agreed to host a statewide website for all mineral producing counties. Tis act also requires these parcels to be posted on the counties’ websites, as well. Tis should save these counties thousands of dollars. For example, it will save Van Buren County more than $30,000 and Columbia County more than $15,000 each year. We began work on this bill in 2015, and I think that is why we were successful. Good legislation doesn’t just happen; it takes a lot of work and many meetings with stakeholders. Te main opposition to this bill was the Arkansas Press As- sociation because publishing on a website would take mon- ey away from newspapers. However, our arguments about the website giving the public more access to delinquency information carried more water with the legislature. A second publication bill filed late in the session did not pass and was referred to interim study for the 2019 session. Rep. Karilyn Brown filed House Bill 1836, which would have allowed counties to post ordinances and other docu- ments on a website rather than in a newspaper. Tis bill will be studied over the next 18 months with input from mul- tiple stakeholders. Hopefully, the stakeholders can reach a consensus like we did on Senate Bill 114. House Bill 1866 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum attempted to


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A report on recent state legislation Governmental Affairs

he 91st General Assembly is in the books. Te legislature filed 2,069 bills, and the Governor signed 1,113 into law. Te Association of Ar- kansas Counties (AAC) had 28 bills in its pro-

remove law enforcement officers’ personal information from tax and land records posted on pub- lic websites. Te sponsor’s inten- tion was to help law enforcement officers protect their identity. Te idea has merit, but it would have been a wholesale change to the way many industries do business. We could not support this bill, but we supported the idea and agreed it should be studied in the interim. We worked with multiple groups to assert our opposition to this bill but expressed interest in working with the sponsor to try to find a workable solution before the 2019 session. House Bill 1260 by Rep. John Maddox and Sen. Jeremy

Josh Curtis

Governmental Affairs Director

Hutchinson regarding reimbursement for jurors was another bill that will benefit counties financially. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-34-103 mandates counties to pay a per diem compensa- tion of $15 to any prospective juror who is summoned and appears on location. If a juror is selected and seated in the box, then the state pays $50 each day from the Administra- tion of Justice Fund. Tis fund has grown due to the de- clining number of jury trials conducted across the state. Te Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and a few circuit clerks recognized this before the session started, so we wrote a bill that allowed the AOC to reimburse the counties $15 for the first time a prospective juror appears at the location to which he or she is summoned. Counties supplement the court system to the tune of $46 million. Our hope is that the state can provide more relief for our counties in the future — just like we did here with Act 276 of 2017. I wrote in the 2016 Fall County Lines issue about prob- lems surrounding our 911 system. In that issue, I men- tioned a bill placing a moratorium on Public Safety Answer- ing Points (PSAPs). House Bill 1553 by Reps. Scott Baltz and Tim Lemons and Sen. Blake Johnson is now Act 574 of 2017. Tis law restricts the creation of any new PSAPs un- less they are consolidated with an existing PSAP or replac- ing a current PSAP. Act 785 of 2017 allows the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to spend funds on a study of a statewide 911 system. We expect this study will recognize some of the shortcomings in Arkansas’s emergen- cy response system, and we can act on those recommenda- tions in the next legislative session. Tese are just a few bills that I followed closely this ses- sion. Tere were many more that the AAC influenced with the help of elected officials around the state.


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