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County Lines


County Lines [(ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the AAC. It is published quarterly. For advertising inqui- ries, subscriptions or other information, please contact Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550.


Executive Director/Publisher Chris Villines


Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith


Communications Coordinator/ Editor


Holland Doran AAC Executive Board:


Debbie Wise – President Brandon Ellison – Vice President Jimmy Hart – Secretary-Treasurer


Tommy Young Debra Buckner Kevin Cleghorn Debbie Cross Ellen Foote


Gerone Hobbs


John Montgomery David Thompson


Terri Harrison Dana Baker Terry McNatt


Brenda DeShields Doug Curtis Marty Boyd


Heather Stevens


National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations


Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is Randolph County Circuit Clerk and presi- dent of the AAC Board of Directors.


Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is Polk County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors.


Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Af- fairs Steering Committee. He is a member of the Jefferson County Quorum Court.


David Hudson: Chair of Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is Sebastian Co. Judge and member of Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee and IT Standing Committee.


Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.


Rusty McMillon: Justice and Public Safety Steer- ing Committee. He is Greene County Judge


Joseph Wood: Community, Economic and Workforce Development Steering Commit- tee. He is Washington County Judge.


Kevin Smith: IT Standing Committee. He is the Sebastian County Director of Information Technology Services.


Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner.


Paul Ellliot: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee,


vice-chair of law enforcement


subcommittee. He is a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court.


Ellen Foote: Community, Economic & Work- force Development Steering Committee. She is the Crittenden County Tax Collector.


Tawanna Brown: Telecommunications & Technol- ogy Steering Committe. She is Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator.


COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2021


Update on legislative session, American


Rescue Plan money AAC


ably a combination of the second and third, which means we will be close to wrapping up but still awaiting critical census numbers required for congressional redistricting. I am asked often during a session how the counties are faring, and to be honest it is only after the dust settles that you can take a broad view of where we really stand. I can tell you that our legislative package is proceeding along nicely. Tis package of legislation is put together by you at a county level — a true grassroots effort. Many people don’t realize that the vast majority of the legislative package we put


W


hen this issue hits your hands, we will either have adjourned the 93rd General Assembly, recessed awaiting census figures or be in the process of rushing to completion. Very prob-


Chris Villines AAC


Executive Director


DIRECTOR’S DESK


forth at the AAC is actually voted on three times before it even reaches the Capi- tol. Your individual association will vote and send it on to the statewide legislative committee. Tey will then vote to send it on to the AAC Board of Directors. Te final vote by the AAC Board puts forth the roughly 25 to 30 bills we regularly adopt as our goal for the session. With only a couple of exceptions the AAC legislative package is moving through the chambers, with many of our ideas already signed into law. By my count, as of this writing, 16 acts have been signed by the Governor already that came directly from you. I am very proud of the efforts of our policy team, which includes Mark Whitmore, Lindsey French, Josh Curtis and Eddie Jones, and their magnificent efforts to plant, water and raise these bills to maturity. Tere is no finer team to work with. I can’t imagine tracking 500 bills with anyone else in the world. In the meanwhile, COVID is taking a continued toll on the legislative process.


Many of you would have been testifying more but this session is, shall we say, unwieldy when it comes to this. Te good news is case counts continue to drop and vaccinations appear to be making a substantial impact. I suspect things will be opening up a bit more. Te rotunda is usually hard to move through — not true this session. Echoes of laughter and deep conversations have been replaced with the sound of occasional footsteps. Many of the same bills we see session after session have been filed again with a new


twist. We are watching them closely for all of you. As we progress to the end you will all continue to be informed of these bills and given an increasing opportunity to dis- cuss with committees and legislators. Unfortunately, the end of a session lends itself to quickly introduced and run bills, so please stay tuned in to our updates — and please feel free to call with questions if you see a bill you don’t understand. Believe me when I tell you we see a lot of bills that are head-scratchers for us too. I do want to share a couple of specific issues that we continue to deal with. As many of you know, I cover retirement bills for you and have done what I can to keep you all up to speed on what changes would be proposed this session. As expected, the APERS Board of Trustees package of bills has passed. Tese three bills (now acts) will take effect July 1, 2022. Te Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for retirees will drop to the lesser of 3 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI) moving forward — but ONLY for people first hired into an APERS cov-


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