Arkansas Capitol Almanac

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Associated Press

Posted on March 28, 2013 at 5:03 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Beebe: Tax cuts would need to take effect later to be funded by insurance expansion savings

Gov. Mike Beebe says tax cuts being considered by Arkansas lawmakers would need to take effect later than proposed in order for them to be funded by savings from a proposed expansion of health insurance coverage.

Beebe told reporters Wednesday that a problem with the capital gains and income tax cuts backed by a House panel is they'd take effect before the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014. That's when Arkansas would see savings from the insurance proposal. Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would use federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents newly eligible for Medicaid under the health care law.

Beebe also said he prefers a competing income tax cut proposal by Democratic Rep. Warwick Sabin to the one approved by the panel Tuesday.

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Arkansas House lawmakers approve resolution opposing gay marriage

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers two gay marriage cases, The Arkansas House has passed a resolution reaffirming opposition to allowing same-sex couples to marry.

By a voice vote, lawmakers on Wednesday approved a resolution in support of the federal law that bars legally-married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits. The vote came several hours after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of that law.

Several lawmakers gave emotional presentations in urging a vote against the resolution.

The non-binding resolution doesn't change any law. Arkansas voters in 2004 approved an amendment to the state's constitution that prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Seventy-five percent of voters supported that measure.

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Arkansas Senate panel backs school choice law rewrite after sponsor agrees to changes

A Senate panel has endorsed a proposal to rewrite Arkansas' school choice law after the sponsor of the measure agreed to a change that would require the Legislature to revisit the issue in two years.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced the bill by Republican Sen. Johnny Key to rewrite a 1989 school choice law that a federal judge struck down last year as unconstitutional. The judge said race could not be the only factor considered in deciding whether students could transfer between districts.

Key's proposal would remove race as a consideration.

The panel approved Key's measure after he said he'd make several changes to it in the House. The changes include capping school choice transfers in each district and inserting a July 1, 2015 expiration date.

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Ark. House, Senate to send joint committee 37 proposed amendments for 2014 ballot

A joint committee of the Arkansas Legislature will be looking at all 37 proposals to amend Arkansas' constitution after the House and Senate decided to not whittle down their lists before advancing the measures.

The Senate on Wednesday agreed with its rules committee's ruling that all proposed constitutional amendments filed must be referred to a joint committee. The Legislature can refer up to three proposed amendments to put on the ballot next year.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday had advanced only six of the 18 amendments proposed in that chamber. The rules committee said that went against legislative rules.

House Speaker Davy Carter said earlier Wednesday the House will refer all 19 amendments proposed in that chamber to the joint panel as well.

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Arkansas House panel rejects bill requiring Arkansas-Arkansas State football game

The Arkansas Razorbacks and Arkansas State Red Wolves won't be meeting up on the football field any time soon now that a panel of state lawmakers shot down a proposal that would have required the matchup.

A proposal to require the two teams to face each other for a one-time game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock was rejected Wednesday by a House committee. Opponents of the measure said while they liked the idea, they didn't want to legislate a football rivalry.

The bill by Republican Rep. Andy Mayberry of Hensley and Democratic Rep. Harold Copenhaver of Jonesboro would have required at least $250,000 of the ticket sales from the game to go to charity.

Mayberry said Wednesday he had no plans to pursue the bill any further.

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