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Daily Legislative Update

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

17th Day of 89th General Assembly—Fiscal Session

Written by Kenny Hall, Angela DeLille and Andrew Parker of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, this Daily Update is provided by the Springdale Chamber to interested members.

 ACTIVE ISSUES

 SB 111 and HB 1150 – Private Option

The House did not vote on SB 111 or HB 1150, which contain the Department of Human Services appropriation for medical care that includes the so-called Private Option. SB 111 passed the Senate last week, but it and the identical HB 1150 remain a few votes short in the House of the required 75 percent majority for passage. The House did not vote on either bill yesterday. If you are interested and have not already checked news reports, below are some links that provide insight into the behind-the-scenes work going on:

 From the Arkansas News Bureau: http://arkansasnews.com/news/arkansas/update-carter-some-house-members-negotiated-private-option-bad-faith

 

 From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: bit.ly/1ejDACj 

 

SB 60 Workers’ Compensation Commission Appropriation

The Joint Budget Committee gave a Do Pass recommendation yesterday to SB 60, which is the appropriation for the Workers' Compensation Commission operations. Here is a brief summary of the appropriation: Sec. 1 Authorizes 146 regular employees for the Workers' Compensation Commission. Sec. 2 Authorizes two extra help employees. Sec. 3 Appropriates $28,041,892 to the Commission from the Worker's Compensation Fund for operations. Sec. 4 Appropriates $158,750,000 to the Commission from the Death and Permanent Total Disability Trust Fund for refund of taxes, payment of claims and investment of funds. Sec. 5 Appropriates $7,250,000 to the Commission from the Second Injury Trust Fund for refund of taxes and payment of claims. Sec. 6 Appropriates $140,000 to the Commission from cash funds for scholarships and conference expenses. Sec. 7 Appropriates $105,450 to the Commission from the Workers' Compensation Fund for the repair and maintenance of the Workers' Compensation Commission Building. Sec. 8 Special Language: Authorizes all funds to be invested and made available to the listed funds. Sec. 9 Compliance clause. Sec. 10 Legislative intent. Sec. 11 Emergency clause.

 

 

NATIONAL ISSUES

Energy and EPA Rules on Greenhouse Gas

The State Chamber/AIA is leading an effort in Arkansas to oppose proposed new rules by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently related to new power plants, soon-to-address existing power plants and eventually to address most business and even private sectors of our economy.

 The State Chamber/AIA has joined a coalition formed by the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers known as The Partnership for a Better Energy Future (PBEF). We encourage everyone to join this coalition as soon as possible.

 To expand knowledge and information about this issue, the State Chamber/AIA will host a meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5 in the State Chamber Bob Lamb Conference Room at 1200 W. Capitol in Little Rock. Please make plans to join this meeting. You can also get more information on the issue, PBEF, or join the Partnership for a Better Energy Future by clicking here.

 

 To kick off our efforts on these important issues, we invited Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, to speak in Little Rock yesterday. More than 100 State Chamber/AIA members, business leaders and legislators attended the event at the Heifer International Center in Little Rock. Below is a report on her remarks. Her PowerPoint presentation can be seen on our website by clicking here.

 

 Energy Sector Leading the U.S. Economy, Karen Harbert Says in Presentation

 

If not for the energy sector leading the way, the U.S. economy would be in a “world of hurt” right now. “We are now the largest energy producer in the world,” Harbert said. “America leads in recoverable fossil fuel supplies. Arkansas is now in the top 10 of gas-producing states in the U.S. and 31 states are now producing energy. This is not an opportunity for few. It is an opportunity for many.”

 As time moves forward, energy consumption will occur more in developing countries like China and India, Harbert said. “China is the fastest growing energy consumer in the world.” Conversely, U.S. energy demand is slowing and is predicted to only grow 11 percent in coming years: “We need to have policies to support that.” 

 

 By 2035, U.S. unconventional oil and natural gas could generate more than 4 million new jobs, $2.5 trillion in additional revenue, $5.1 trillion in investment and 10 million barrels of added daily oil and natural gas production, Harbert said. During the same time frame, 50,000 new jobs and $900 million in new revenue is projected in Arkansas: “It’s a no brainer.”

 

 All is not rosy on the horizon, however, Harbert noted. “We need to change the geopolitical balance in favor of the U.S.” She cited roadblocks ranging from 85 percent of our resources in the offshore drilling sector being closed to exploration to a decrease in natural gas exploration of 33 percent on federal lands. There have also been 375 actions across 20 states to prohibit fracking.

 

 The biggest roadblock to future energy exploration and prosperity in America is government regulation, specifically efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue rules that block and inhibit energy-related activities including oil and natural gas drilling, coal plants and nuclear plants. Harbert illustrated her point with a slide plastered full of regulations governing air quality, fuel, greenhouse gas, air toxics, pesticides, toxic substances, waste, water and other sectors.

 

 

To combat these onerous regulations that threaten our prosperity and future as a nation, Harbert asked attendees to become part of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future in order to secure the pathway to reliable and affordable energy. “I ask that you do two things: share this with other associations and spread the word.” For more information or to join the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, click here.

 CANDIDATE FILING

The candidate filing period continues until noon on Monday, March 3. Click on this link to see who has filed:  https://www.ark.org/arelections/index.php?ac:show:cand_search=1&elecid=344

  

CONTACT INFORMATION

State Senators: 501-682-2902

State Representatives: 501-682-6211

To view schedules, calendars, bill information and legislator information, visit:  www.arkleg.state.ar.us.

To view live stream video and audio from the Arkansas House of Representatives, visit www.arkansashouse.org.

 

State Chamber/AIA Staff:

Randy Zook, President/CEO: eat0@eau0eav0eaw0" target="_blank">eat0@eau0eav0eaw0

Kenny Hall, Executive Vice President: eat2@eau2eav2eaw2" target="_blank">eat2@eau2eav2eaw2  

Angela DeLille, Director of Governmental Affairs:

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Andrew Parker, Director of Governmental Affairs:

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State Chamber/AIA phone: (501) 372-2222

State Chamber/AIA web site: www.arkansasstatechamber.com

 

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