Legislators finished the calendar year with a final round of recommendations for spending federal relief funds and reserve funds. The recommendations include using another $93.8 million for broadband projects and $20 million to upgrade computerized case management for the state court system. Also, $6.25 million was recommended to help cover the expenses of opening the new Sevier County Medical Center.
State Awards $270 Million For Water and Wastewater Projects
The state Natural Resources Commission has awarded $270 million in grants for 157 drinking water and wastewater projects in 58 counties. Work will begin in 2023 on the projects and they must be completed before the end of 2026.
Legislature Responds to Growing Alzheimer's Crisis
Arkansas has been developing a statewide response to the growing health crisis created by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. During the 2023 session the legislature will consider a series of proposals brought by the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council, which was created by Act 319 of 2021.
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.