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The first week of the Arkansas General Assembly is over and there were 43 bills filed in the House and 82 in the Senate. 

Here are some issues of interest to the HR Community.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

***HB 1018 by Rep. Jim Nickels would increase the maximum potential unemployment benefits in a benefit year from 25 to 26 times the worker's weekly benefit amount. Rep. Nickels’ bill would reverse a key piece of Act 861 of 2011, the unemployment insurance legislation we worked with Sen. Jonathan Dismang and Rep. Davy Carter to pass during the last regular session. HB 1018 is on Tuesday’s Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda. We have spoken to Rep. Nickels and he did not indicate he would run the bill on Tuesday. This is a bill that is expected to move quickly.  Please look closely at this bill and express your concerns immediately to your local representatives as well as members of the House committee

 

***HB 1032 by Rep. Denny Altes would require the Department of Workforce Services to conduct bi-weekly interviews with persons making claims for unemployment benefits. This bill is also on the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee agenda.      

 

***HB 1033 by Rep. Denny Altes would require employees to contribute 0.5 percent of all wages to the Unemployment Compensation Fund. This bill has been referred to the House Insurance and Commerce Committee.                             

 

***SB 38 by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson would require applicants and recipients of unemployment benefits to be tested for illegal drug use. SB 38 has been referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.             

 

SCHOOL CHOICE

***SB 65 by Sen. Johnny Key amends the Public School Choice Act adding provisions limiting students to one school choice transfer per school year; deleting language prohibiting transfers based on racial percentages and more. In June, Federal District Judge Robert Dawson declared Arkansas’s school choice law unconstitutional. In his ruling, Dawson concluded that a racial component in the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, voiding the entire statute. Dawson’s ruling has been stayed pending appeal, which also would give the Legislature time to enact new legislation. SB 65 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.               

 

ETHICS REFORM

Although not an act of the General Assembly, it is important to note the Attorney General has approved a ballot title for the Regnat Populous group’s Campaign and Lobbying Reform Act of 2014. The proposed act will only reach the ballot in 2014 if the signature threshold is reached. A similar effort was attempted by Regnat Populous in 2012. The act would prohibit campaign contributions from corporations, though not from PACS formed by corporations, set a two-year cooling off period for legislators before they can become lobbyists, and prohibit gifts to legislators from lobbyists or anyone who employs a lobbyist.

 

Both Chambers will resume meetings tomorrow January 22, 2013.  You can reach them for comment at the following numbers. 

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.

* This information courtesy of the Arkansas State Chamber and the Arkansas Legislature.  

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