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Arkansas' First Extraordinary Session Completed
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:00 AM

The Arkansas 91st General Assembly completed the First Extraordinary Session on May 3, 2017. Ron Harrod, Arkansas Credit Union Association lobbyist, provided the following legislative update.

The Assembly approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to limit eligibility in the Arkansas Works health coverage program. These changes must receive federal approval. Lawmakers want to reduce income limits from 138 percent of the federal poverty level to incomes less than 100 percent of the poverty level. This action would reduce the rolls by 60,000 Arkansans. Currently, 320,000 people take part in the program.

Also, legislators are requesting a provision to set up a work requirement for recipients. The work requirement would be similar to those in the food stamps and welfare program. Arkansas Works recipients would pay 2 percent of the cost of premiums, which could be up to $19 a month.

The legislation directs the Arkansas Human Service Department to apply with federal officials to designate Arkansas as an assessment state. The state would determine people’s eligibility for Medicaid services.

The legislature had a bill that incorporated 23 medical marijuana bills into the state Constitution in a legal, coherent method.

Also, the legislature approved transferring $105 million from the Healthy Century Trust Fund (funded by tobacco settlement proceeds) to create a long-term reserve fund. The legislation states that a two-thirds vote of either the Arkansas Legislative Council or the Joint Budget Committee is required before these funds can be spent. This was done to improve the state’s bond rating.

For additional information, please contact Ron Harrod at rharrod@sbcglobal.net or call 501-944-3068.