Over the course of the last week, the House officially adjourned the Fiscal Session, elected the Speaker-designate, convened for a special session, and sent more than a dozen bills to the Governor’s desk.
On Monday, shortly after adjourning the 2018 Fiscal Session, members elected Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado as Speaker-designate. At the beginning of each Regular Session, a motion is made to confirm the Speaker-designate as the Speaker of the House. Rep. Shepherd is serving his 4th term in the House and currently chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
On Monday, we also received the official call from the Governor to convene for an Extraordinary Session (often referred to as a special session).
The Governor listed several items to be addressed including highway funding, environmental permits, and pharmaceutical benefits.
During the session, the following bills passed both chambers:
HB1001/SB4-Prevents Arkansas from losing millions in federal highway funding by aligning state law with federal law when it comes to open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.
HB1003/SB1- Addresses when the operator of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can use a public street or highway. This loosens restrictions when drivers are trying to get from one off-road trail to another or back to their property.
HB1005/SB7- This legislation concerns the design and construction of certain trail projects that are donated to and managed by the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission.
HB1007/SB8- Addresses liquid animal waste management system permits issued by ADEQ. The bill states an existing state permit that is in good standing is not subject to review or third-party appeal for location issues that were not raised during the review or appeal period at the time the permit was issued.
HB1008/SB6- Makes changes to the 529 savings plan in an effort to make it more compatible to the federal tax code. The new federal tax plan allows funds to be withdrawn for K-12 education in private schools.
HB1009/SB3-Amends the law concerning the limit on school choice transfers under the Public School Choice Act of 2015. This bill addresses confusion about how sibling groups are to be counted to avoid exceeding the maximum amount of transfers allowed.
HB1010/SB2- Creates a licensing process for pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) to do business in Arkansas. This bill allows the Arkansas Insurance Department to regulate the industry. PBMs process prescription claims for insurance companies and often determine the rate of reimbursements.
SB5 creates an avenue for lenders and borrowers to agree to waive their rights to a jury trial in the event of a lawsuit.
You can find a complete list of the bills and watch the debates on the House floor at arkansashouse.org.