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Lawmakers Pre-File Bills in Advance of 2023 Legislative Session

Arkansas lawmakers have begun pre-filing bills in advance of the 2023 legislative session, which begins on January 9.

Interest in Record Powerball Jackpot Drives Sales of Lottery Tickets

A record prize in the Powerball lottery generated increased ticket sales in Arkansas in October. Increased sales of lottery tickets generated an additional $2.1 million for college scholarships, compared to the same month last year.

Grants Now Available for Prevention, Treatment of Opioid Abuse

Funds are now available from the settlement of a massive lawsuit against opioid distributors, and will be awarded to projects that have demonstrated effectiveness in combating the abuse of painkillers.

Federal Authorities Allow Arkansas Medicaid to Focus on Vulnerable Groups

Arkansas received good news from federal regulators that allows the state Medicaid program to better help women during at-risk pregnancies and other at-risk populations. Last year Medicaid provided medical services to 12,500 Arkansas women with high-risk pregnancies. The availability of more benefits will extend also to veterans aged 19 through 30, and to people in rural areas who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness or a substance abuse disorder.

Federal Judges Uphold Portions of New Congressional District Map

A panel of three federal judges dismissed portions of a lawsuit filed against state officials, in which plaintiffs argue that the legislature violated the federal Voting Rights Act last year when it drew new maps for the state’s four Congressional districts.

Legislative Budget Hearings Begin

Legislators have begun budget hearings in preparation for the 2023 regular session. Members of the Joint Budget Committee and the Legislative Council will review in detail all spending requests by state agencies.

Arkansas Voters to Decide on Four Proposed Constitutional Amendments

When Arkansas voters go to the polls on November 8 they will determine the fate of four proposed amendments to the state Constitution.

Family Services Division Continues to Struggle with Employee Turnover, High Case Loads

The state Division of Children and Family Services continues to struggle with high staff turnover and high caseloads for family service workers. The two problems are closely related.

State Begins Awarding Grants to Pregnancy Resource Centers

In the fiscal session earlier this year the legislature appropriated a million dollars for pregnancy resource centers. The state has awarded grants totaling about $455,000 to 14 centers. Because $545,000 has still not been awarded, the Department of Finance and Administration will open a second round of applications in October.

Legislative Council Moves to Eliminate Waiting List for Home-Based Services for People with Developmental Disabilities

Over the next three years about 3,200 Arkansans with disabilities will be able to get Medicaid services at home or in their community, rather than in an institution. The Legislative Council approved the expansion of eligibility, submitted by the state Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.