Usually, the busiest times of the year at the state Capitol are during regular or special sessions.
During the interim between sessions there are regular meetings, and each year there is a mock sessions held by Arkansas Boys State and Girls State and the Silver Haired Legislature.
This year, a unique gathering of legislators is scheduled for the last week of August and the first week of September. The standing committees are scheduled to meet, so every lawmaker has business at the Capitol.
We will be enforcing the provisions of Act 781, a law passed last year that requires all state agencies to justify the continuation of rules and regulations. Some rules have been in effect for decades, and a premise of Act 781 is that it is in the state’s best interest to evaluate the need for rules periodically.
If the governor or the legislature do not renew a rule, it will expire within a certain period of time unless the affected state agency justifies its renewal.
The Senate and House Judiciary Committees will evaluate long-standing regulations governing the training of police officers and public defenders. They also will evaluate rules governing detention facilities and parole officers.
The Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committees will review a long list of rules affecting the licensure of health professionals, workers’ compensation and waste management.
The Education Committees will go over rules that affect schools and colleges, as well as libraries and job training centers.
The Committees on City, County and Local Affairs will review regulations of local emergency management departments and telephone services.
Several agencies work in rural areas of Arkansas, including the Livestock and Poultry Commission, the Forestry Commission, the Plant Board, the Natural Resources Commission, the Game and Fish Commission, the Oil and Gas Commission and the Waterways Commission. They all have rules up for review by the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development.
The Insurance and Commerce Committees will evaluate the need for continued rules governing banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, utilities, funeral homes and burial associations.
Numerous regulatory commissions will have their rules evaluated by legislators on the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees. They include commissions that oversee real estate licensing, fair housing, contractors, home inspectors, accountants and collection agencies.
Lawmakers on the State Agencies Committees also will review regulations governing elections, ethics, fire departments, zoning and appraisals.
Rules governing the assessments of real and personal property will be evaluated by legislators on the Revenue and Taxation Committees.
Highway Matching Funds
The Legislative Council, which meets in the interim between sessions, approved the use of $21.9 million in surplus funds to match federal highway funds.
The decision means that the Arkansas Transportation Department will qualify for about $200 million in federal funding for highway and bridge maintenance.