Arkansas Capitol Almanac

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Associated Press

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 6:04 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Ark. lawmakers propose repeal of wage standards for laborers on public construction projects

A group of Arkansas state lawmakers is seeking to repeal a law that sets wage requirements for laborers working on public construction projects.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas filed a bill Monday that eliminates a state law requiring contractors for certain public construction projects to pay their workers a rate that at least meets the "prevailing wage" in the area. That "prevailing wage" is set annually by the state Department of Labor based on surveys of contractors.

Douglas says that the wage requirements are too costly for taxpayers. A repeal of the law, he says, would lower labor and regulatory compliance costs for government contractors that would be passed along to taxpayers.

The proposal has 16 other co-sponsors in the House and five in the Senate.

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Arkansas senator proposes banning abortion if heartbeat detected

An Arkansas lawmaker has proposed banning abortion if doctors detect a fetal heartbeat, a move that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks.

Republican Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway on Monday filed legislation that would require doctors to test for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. Rapert's proposal would ban abortions if doctors detect a heartbeat.

The bill includes exemptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Similar proposals have come up in other states, but have faced complaints that it would violate the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Rapert's measure is sponsored by 19 of the Senate's 35 members.

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Ark. House approves Senate-backed bill to fund trial court assistants; measure heads to Gov.

The Arkansas House has approved a stopgap measure that will pay the salaries of trial court assistants for the next two months as lawmakers search for a permanent funding solution.

The House voted 96-0 Monday to transfer $150,000 from other parts of the budget to the Administration of Justice Fund, which pays the salaries of 122 trial court assistants in the state. The money comes partly from a juror reimbursement fund and a court education fund.

The money comes from an unobligated portion of a juror fund and a court education fund.

The proposal passed the Senate last week without opposition, and it now heads to Gov. Mike Beebe. A spokesman says the governor will sign the bill.

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Arkansas House approves nonbinding resolution asking government to not infringe on gun rights

The Arkansas House of Representatives has endorsed a nonbinding resolution urging the federal government to not infringe on the 2nd Amendment.

The measure passed on a voice vote Monday. The resolution does not require the governor's signature, but Gov. Mike Beebe said last week he supports the measure.

Republican Rep. Richard Womack said he filed the resolution to show his constituents that he hears their concerns about federal proposals to tighten regulations on firearms.

The resolution encourages federal, state and local governments to "respect and preserve" the right to keep and bear arms.

The resolution says a copy will be sent to President Barack Obama, leaders in Congress and other state legislatures.

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Top Republican in Ark. House says lawmakers are still working on Medicaid reform proposals

The Republican leader of the Arkansas House says his party is still working on legislation to change the state's Medicaid system.

Rep. Bruce Westerman told reporters Monday that he believes fraud and abuse are major problems in the system based on anecdotal evidence he has seen.

He declined to be more specific about the alleged fraud or about the reforms Republicans would be proposing to fix it. Westerman said Republican lawmakers would be releasing proposed reforms later this session.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said that while he believes the state already effectively combats Medicaid fraud, he would be open to any proposals to further reduce it.

Lawmakers are deciding how to solve a Medicaid budget shortfall and whether to expand the program under the federal health care law.

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