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Arkansas General Assembly Enters Interim

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –

Last Wednesday we convened in the House Chamber for a brief time to officially adjourn for the 90th Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly

The pace of my legislative work will be slowing down a bit but legislative service is far from complete when the session adjourns.

We are now in the period of time that we refer to as the interim.  A total 114 bills from this session were referred to interim study.  Topics for interim studies include everything from taxing e-cigarettes to expanding the use of telemedicine in the state.

Committee chairs will decide which of those topics will receive thorough study during the interim. 10 standing committees will be meeting jointly with the corresponding Senate committees once a month during the interim.

This session we also passed several pieces of legislation creating task forces to look closely at specific issues.  The Health Reform Task Force is one example.  You can also expect to see task forces created to look at highway funding, computer science, and prison reform measures just to name a few.

The Governor has also created a council of educators, parents and concerned citizens from across the state to study the Common Core standards and make recommendations to the legislature.  We will be closely following the ongoing research in this series of hearings.

In addition, joint committees, like the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) and the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, along with their multiple subcommittees, meet frequently.  ALC and its subcommittees review matters like approving changes to rules and regulations of state agencies, in addition to deciding issues pertaining to the financial operations of state agencies, departments, and institutions.

As its name suggests, the Joint Auditing Committee and subcommittees audit state departments, boards, commissions and agencies, in addition to counties and cities, helping legislators gather information needed to aid in their decision making, and to increase government transparency and accountability.

But the part of our job that has the greatest impact in our communities is perhaps the one that is discussed the least.  Our service to constituents continues whether we are in session or not.  Daily, we assist those in our district who may have difficulty arising from government regulations or just need information about legislation.  We also work hard to maintain contact with the mayors and county officials from our district to find ways to improve the quality of life for our area.

It’s a privilege to work for you. Please feel free to send me suggestions, feedback or request assistance at nate.bell@arkansashouse.org.

 

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