Custom Text

Legislative Update

Updated: March 2, 2018

From State Representative DeAnn Vaught

In the second week of the 2018 Fiscal Session, the House passed two measures aimed at addressing prison and county jail overcrowding.

One of the appropriations passed will help fund the crises stabilization units across the state. HB1128 is a supplemental appropriation for $1.4 million to fund the centers in Craighead, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Washington County.

Crises stabilization units are short term clinical facilities that provide treatment for individuals with behavioral health conditions. The primary goal of our investment in the units is to effectively treat the individual and reduce the number of people with behavioral health issues from being sent to jail.

The House also passed HB1134 which appropriates $4.5 million from surplus to the Department of Correction. The additional funds will be used to reimburse county jails for holding inmates when there is insufficient space in the prison.

Both HB1134 and HB1128 are supplemental appropriations. Supplemental appropriations are effective before July 1 and usually needed immediately for the current fiscal year.

Supplemental appropriations add to an existing authority or address a previously unforeseen need. If the agency also needs funding these funds usually come from a surplus.

Other supplemental appropriations passed this week include one directing $386 thousand dollars to the Arkansas Supreme Court for legal fees. Another directs $150 thousand in surplus to the Arkansas School for the Blind for renovation purposes.

In another development at the Capitol this week, we learned the Governor will soon be calling a special session to address two pressing issues.

In response to a letter from the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro-Tem, Governor Hutchinson announced he will call a special session to address the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers and an issue affecting highway funding as it relates to our laws concerning open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. The proposed special session is an effort to keep the fiscal session focused on budget bills.

While the legislature is making progress, there are still several significant funding decisions still ahead. We expect to be addressing funding for education, health care, and child case workers in the next several days.

You can watch all the House floor proceedings live and recorded sessions on our website