Joint Budget Committee Special Language Subcommittee
Feb. 28, 2022
Hester And I’m going to start with some, just some announcements. I know that Representative Cavenaugh is going to chair today. But while she’s on her way, I’m just going to start with some announcements. There are a few items not on the agenda that we will need to take up during this meeting. This requires a suspension of the rules, so I’ll need that motion and a second to take care of those when we get to those issues. Just a reminder, some items on today’s agenda, like the governor’s letters, have sections that include appropriations, personnel, and Special Language. The subcommittee will only discuss the Special Language. Personnel Subcommittee is meeting tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. in MAC B and will discuss the personnel sections. And the appropriations will be taken up in Joint Budget. Three, there will be at least one or more meetings of Special Language this week. So if you have language you’d like to present in the subcommittee, please get to staff as soon as possible today so it can be referred here. Things are moving quickly, so please keep an eye on the web. Meeting dates, times, agendas and documents will be posted here. It is likely– we expect to have Special Language tomorrow immediately following session just like we did today. So that is the current plan. Again, things are subject to change, but I suspect anything passed over today or referred tomorrow morning out of Joint Budget will be heard after session tomorrow. Give me one moment with my co-chair. OK, members, due to the length of the calendar today, we’re only going to recognize members of the committee for any purpose. If you’ve got something, a question you’d ask, find a member, have them ask the questions. Because if you’re a nonmember, you have a chance tomorrow in Joint Budget or on the floor to to voice your concerns, your concerns or support of, of any bills. And members, I will also say for brevity, we hope to– we hope to do a lot of voice votes today. There’s a lot of members in here that are not on Special Language. Please be courteous of that. Don’t make things awkward. If you’re not on the committee, don’t vote. If you’re on the committee, please do vote. All right, and I will hand it off to Representative Cavenaugh.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Senator Hester, for taking– for me being late. I apologize. I see a quorum. And so we’re going to go ahead and start with the agenda. We’re going to take up C1. Mildred, do you have anything to add?
Staff Good afternoon, members. Thank you, Madam Chair. First item on the agenda is HB 1018. This is an amendment, Governor’s Letter 7. It’s on page 1. All of the packet is labeled Item C, so we’re just going to go through all of the pages by number. This is for Department of Energy and Environment Division of Environmental Quality. This is an amendment by Representative Wardlaw. I’m going to give a brief summation of the governor’s letter. Currently, there is a $5 million federal appropriation for alternative fuels vehicle charging and infrastructure. It’s a program that they have. The governor’s letter changes the name of the program and then actually changes the source of funds to be used in the program. On page 3 you’ll see the actual amendment for Special Language. You’ll see that the program name is changed, and the language requires that prior to any expenditure of funds for the program, the expenditure has to be approved by Legislative Council, or if we’re in legislative session, the Joint Budget Committee.
Cavenaugh Representative Wardlaw, do you want to present your amendment?
Wardlaw Which one?
Cavenaugh Division of Environmental Control. You’re recognized, Representative Wardlaw.
Wardlaw Thank you, Madam Chair. So what this amendment does, if you guys remember the questioning we had the other day in Budget about where these charging stations would be located. This amendment just says that they have to come to council before they can expend any of those funds so that we’re aware so we can stand accountable to our constituents on where these charging stations are and that they’re strategically located throughout the state so that every public member has access to those charging stations. Madam Chair, I’d be happy to take any questions.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Representative Wardlaw. Anybody have any questions? Representative Payton, you’re recognized for your question.
Payton Thank you, Madam Chair. So my question is, [00:07:27]didn’t we do this recently with compressed natural gas? And do we have any data or outcome as to whether that had any return on investment? Because the way I remember it, we had grants to build natural, compressed natural gas stations and a lot of money went out. And everywhere I drive, it doesn’t look like anybody’s using those stations at all. [24.7s] So that’s one of the questions I would have.
Cavenaugh Representative Payton, I’m going to let Representative Wardlow answer the question since it’s his amendment.
Wardlaw Thank you, Madam Chair. So basically, what this does, to help you understand it– and this argument here is not whether we do the charging stations or not. This is just to dictate that we get to see how they spend the money. I think that argument’s to be had on the bill itself, but not this amendment. This amendment sets it up just like the ARP finds similar to the way we had CARES Act money where it has to come to council first. Because we’re thinking it’s upwards of about $700 million that can be brought through this. So we want to make sure that we have utmost control from the Legislature to make sure that money is spent correctly.
Payton Thank you. And so when you say we–
Wardlaw I’m talking about the Legislature.
Payton So will it go beyond the Executive Committee of ALC or–
Wardlaw Yes. It’ll go through Peer, actually, is where all that goes through.
Payton Appreciate that. I think that’s a good idea and definitely would be interested in who– if the government is going to be involved in this type of business, who’s going to set the prices for what it costs to charge a vehicle and things like that? So yeah, I’m glad here we have oversight. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Cavenaugh Seeing no other questions, I will take a motion. I have a motion. Second. All in favor say aye. OK, the amendment has passed. Let’s move on to SB 67. Item number 2.
Staff Members, this is on page 7 in your packet. This is Governor’s Letter 10. This is for the Department of Commerce. You’ll see various items added in this amendment in this letter. But what we’re going to look at is on page 8 and page 9. Currently, there is a section of Special Language regarding county fair grants in the department’s budget. This program has been moved to the Department of Agriculture. It’s been transferred, so this governor’s letter would like to remove the appropriation and the special language for county fair grants. You’ll see on page 8, the prior page, that there was a $100,000 appropriation for rural services for the County Fair Improvement Grants. If we move to page 10, you’ll see there’s also another Special Language section that’s going to be amended. This deals with foreign office operations. Currently, the language does not have stipulations in it regarding the use of the operations of these offices. The language that’s being added specifies conditions under which these foreign offices can operate.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Is there anyone from the Department of Commerce that would like to present some information on this? If you don’t mind, please come down, introduce yourself for the record and you’re recognized.
Preston Thank you, Madam Chair. Mike Preston, Secretary of Commerce.
Hudson Jim Hudson, Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Y’all are recognized.
Preston Thank you, Madam Chair. I think the– the language transferring on the, to the Ag Department is probably not what everyone wants to hear about. It’s probably about the offices. So what this language does, it’s specification from the governor about what are office’s activities that they can support. So we heard the dialog last year, and this is in response to that, in response to ongoing current situations around the world that our foreign offices are to provide export assistance to Arkansas-based businesses to assist with the reshoring of jobs, of manufacturing business operations overseas, and encourage direct investment in Arkansas foreign companies that are not state owned or state controlled. That’s what the language does. So it really just specifies. It puts some strength, strengthens the language around our foreign offices, as there is concern about that in a previous legislative session, so we wanted to make sure that was addressed.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Secretary. Do I have any questions on this amendment? Representative Payton, you’re recognized for a question.
Payton Thank you, Madam Chair. So, so currently, the, the language has blocked the ability to have offices in certain foreign countries, is that true? Is that, is that what we’re on here? I may be on the wrong page.
Cavenaugh We’re on item Number 2, Representative Payton.
Payton OK, well, I was trying to listen to what he was saying, and I must have missed something. This is about how you can spend the money on maintaining offices in foreign countries. Is that correct?
Preston Yes, sir. It clarifies what the foreign offices can focus on, making sure it’s focused on export assistance, bringing– reshoring jobs and manufacturing to the U.S., and that it may not assist with any of the state owned or controlled companies.
Payton OK, so it does not restrict or change the landscape on where we maintain offices?
Preston Correct. Nothing on the whereabouts.
Payton OK, thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Preston Just the usage of funds.
Cavenaugh Any other questions? Seeing none, what is the will of committee? Do I have a motion? Motion do pass. Do I have a second? Second. All in favor say aye. All opposed say nay. Congratulations, the amendment’s passed. We’re going to pass over item number 3. So let’s move on to item number 4, HB 1055.
Hester It’s Page 18 in your package, members.
Staff I’m sorry. Page 24. That’s HB 1055.
Cavenaugh Yes, page 24.
Staff Arkansas Tech University.
Staff That’s fine. Sorry. This is an amendment by Representative Cloud and Senator Davis. They are both present. This amendment adds special language that amends the Arkansas Code to change the residency qualifications and eligibility of those who serve on the Board of Trustees for Arkansas Tech University. And it makes the language effective upon passage of–
Cavenaugh Thank you. Representative Hammer, you have a question? OK. You going to present? Representative Cloud, are you going to present? Go ahead, present your amendment, please.
Cloud Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, committee. This is simply to correct some outdated language. The second agricultural and mechanical districts actually no longer exist, so this will allow a broader pool of persons to be appointed by the governor for the Board of Trustees for Arkansas Tech University. Currently, there’s only 30 counties that can be done, and we want to expand that to the 75 counties. Be glad to take any questions.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Do you have any questions, committee members? Seeing none, thank you for your presentation. Do I have a motion? Motion do pass. A second? All in favor say aye. Opposed nay. Congratulations, your amendment has passed. Members, we’re going to pass over number 5, HB 1079. We’re going to go to SB 63, which is going to be in your package, page number 33.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. This is for Department of Education. There’s two parts of this amendment. We’re just going to deal with the special language, but it relates to an appropriation that has a $3 million increase. This is for increased appropriation for the Succeed scholarship program. It requires the Department of Ed to expand it annually for eligible students statewide.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Representative Ray, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Ray Thank you, Madam Chair. I think everybody just heard a description of the amendment. I’ll just say very briefly, there’s three primary reasons for the, for the amendment to add $3 million to the program. The first being that, that flat funding means fewer scholarships because the scholarship amounts for the program are based on the foundation funding. So if the Succeed scholarship funding remains flat, but foundation funding for education goes up, then that means there’s fewer scholarships that can be awarded with the same amount of funds. The second reason is that there’s $1.2 million in one time funding attached from the, from the previous year that’s going to be expiring. And so there’s approximately 179 families that are going to experience a tremendous disruption if that funding is not maintained. And so a portion of that would be to address that issue. The third is that there’s effectively a waiting list for the program. We know that the current levels of funding don’t meet the demand that currently exists. And so when the application process is turned on, it’s immediately filled in a 30 to 45 minute time span. So this would be to provide for the demand that we know already exists. But those families are currently waiting to receive those scholarships. And I’d be happy to take any questions.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Representative Ray, for presenting your amendment. Do I see any questions? Seeing none, do I have a motion? Motion do pass. Do I have a second? A second. All in favor say aye. Opposed, say nay. I think the ayes have it. So with that, your amendment has been passed. And then, let’s move on to item number 7, which is SB 54 and page 38 in your package.
Staff Members, this is an amendment to Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Services budget. This is special language that’s going to be added to their operating bill regarding medical services, community and employment supports and the Medicaid waiver. This is an amendment by Representative Ladyman.
Cavenaugh Representative Ladyman, are you here to present? Click your button. You’re approved, Representative Ladyman.
Ladyman Thank you, Madam Chair. Well, the amendment has been explained there, but I just want to give some detail. This special language– the purpose of it is to fund the clearing of the list of 3,000 people who are on Medicaid waiver waiting lists. Many of these people have been on the waiting list for 11 years. I’d like to, to thank Representative Josh Miller and Representative Julie Mayberry. They’ve worked on this for many years, as I have, to get this done. It’s very important, I believe, that we look at these folks and evaluate them to see what services they need, if they need any. And we have the funding to be able to provide those services. Eleven years is a long time to wait if you need those services. Also I want to thank Governor Hutchinson’s staff and Secretary Gillespie, who worked on how to implement this. So with that, I’d be happy to take any questions
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions. Do I have a motion? Motion do pass. A second? Second. All in favor, say aye. Any opposed? The ayes have it. Congratulations, your amendment has passed. With that, let’s move on to item number 7, which is going– sorry. Item number 8, which is going to be HB 1034. And it’s page 41 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. This is for the Department of Corrections Division of Correction Appropriation. This is special language that’s being added regarding the audit of firearms and ammunition, and this is an amendment by Representative Rye.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Representative Rye, can you hit your button so you can present your amendment? You are approved to present your amendment.
Rye OK, thank you very much, ma’am. Ma’am, what this basically is is we have heard that, you know, we’ve had problems through the years with guns and ammo in our prison systems, and this right here is actually going to cause an audit every three months, which would be from all the facilities. And they would forward that to Secretary Solomon. But we would have something in black and white on how, how this is going to be performed. So at this point right now, we don’t have anything.
Cavenaugh OK, thank you. Representative Wardlaw, do you have a question? You are approved for your question.
Wardlaw I think my question is for the sponsor, Madam Chair. Is that proper?
Wardlaw My question is is I was in Audit Committee on that Friday, and I was under the impression that the department had responded and accounted for that ammunition. So I’m lost in why we want to re-audit this process that’s already been audited. And I was wondering if Representative Rye had some insight or knew that they did or didn’t audit something they should have or what, what’s the reasoning.
Rye Representative Wardlaw, they are actually, from what I’m hearing, they are doing a certain audit right now, especially since this happened this past year when we were in here on that. But we do not have anything in black and white from us, and this right here would create something where we would know exactly where our guns and ammo were at within our prisons.
Wardlaw Thank you, Madam Chair.
Cavenaugh You’re welcome. Representative Tosh, you’re recognized for a question.
Tosh Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Rye, I just want to make sure I understand. You said that there would be an audit every three months? Are you talking about the Department of Correction would only audit the firearms and ammunition or are you talking about a complete audit of their entire inventory of everything in the possession of Department of Corrections? How far does–
Rye No, sir.
Tosh –the audit go?
Rye Thank you, Representative Tosh. It’s just the ammo and the, and the guns.
Rye Yes, sir.
Cavenaugh Representative Wardlaw, you’re recognized for a question.
Wardlaw Thank you, Madam Chair. My question is again for the sponsor. In consultation with my general over here, the military does this on an annual basis, not on a quart– not on a three month basis. Would you be amenable to an annual basis and then come back to Special Language with a annual?
Rye Yes, sir, I would, Representative Wardlaw. And that would at least get us going in the right direction.
Wardlaw Thank you.
Cavenaugh Representative– Speaker Shepard, you’re recognized for a question.
Shepherd Madam Chair, just a question for the chair. But I believe we could do a verbal amendment since we’re just, we’re just changing the timing. If that’s appropriate, then perhaps either Representative Rye or Representative Wardlaw would be willing to make that amendment so we could go ahead and vote out as amended.
Cavenaugh Representative Wardlaw, you’re recognized to make an amendment.
Wardlaw I make the amendment on an annual basis instead of three months.
Cavenaugh Thank you. There has been an amendment. Do I have a motion?
Cavenaugh Motion. Second? All in favor say aye. Opposed nay. The amendment has been adopted. So now the passage is going to be of the amendment as adopted, as amended. So what we’re going to be voting on is the new amended version of Representative Rye’s amendment.
Wardlaw Motion at the proper time.
Cavenaugh You’re recognized for your motion.
Wardlaw Motion to pass the Special Language as amended.
Cavenaugh I got a second? Second. All in favor say aye. Opposed? All right. Congratulations, the amendment has passed. Thank you, members. And we’re going to be moving down to number 9, which is SB 64 and it’s page 44 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. This is for the Department of Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Public School Fund. This is language that’s being added to require the Department of Education to review and approve the proposed curriculum for the Arkansas Governor’s School prior to the beginning of the program each year and then to maintain oversight of the program. This is a Representative Dotson amendment.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Representative Dotson. You’re recognized to present your amendment.
Dotson Thank you, Madam Chair. It was explained pretty well. The one thing that the department– I’d originally, when I was talking to them about this, I’d put in there the Secretary of Education, and they asked to make it the Department– Arkansas Department of Education review and approve the curriculum and maintain the oversight of the implementation and for consistency and accuracy. And so, just so there’s no question on who has the authority over the Governor’s School. That’s what this amendment is for. More than happy to try to answer any questions.
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions from the members, I would take a motion do pass. Motion. Second. All in favor, say aye. Opposed, nay. Congratulations, the amendment has passed. Members, we’re going to move down to item number 10, SB 58. It’s going to be page 47 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. This is again for the Department of Education, but this is for the Division of Higher Education. This amendment does add Special Language, but it also has a new $2 million appropriation for the governor’s Higher Education Transition Scholarship program that’s being added to the bill. So the Special Language is adding language. This is going to be over that appropriation. And this is an amendment by Representative Evans.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Representative Evans, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Evans Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, staff, for the description of this. Members, one thing that she felt that was not mentioned. This is actually, this is an unfunded appropriation. There’s currently no revenue in place for this. This is strictly just a vehicle that we’re putting in place in case the revenue becomes available. And also, the purpose of the special language is to establish guidelines through the Department of Higher Ed on how they would administrate those funds in the event that funding becomes available. Appreciate a good vote.
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions, I have a motion. Second. All in favor say aye. Nay. Okay. Congratulations, the amendment has passed. We’re going to move down to HB 1070. It’s going to be 52 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman, this is an addition to the Department of Finance and Administration Disbursing Officer Appropriation Bill. This amends the special language within the Administration of Justice Fund Allocation section of the bill, and it’s an amendment by Representative Jean and Senator Hickey.
Cavenaugh Senator Hickey, are you going to be presenting? Representative Jean is not back yet.
Hickey Yes. Yes, I can.
Cavenaugh You’re recognized to present.
Hickey Thank you, Madam Chair. Members, what this does is, a lot of you know, we have a bunch of items that come out of the AOJ fund. Within the AOJ fund, the court reporters and the trial court administrator assistants, they’re also included within that fund. However, they don’t come out as a percentage. They come out as a set amount. So what we’re doing is we’re just going to do a transfer of that money every year, which is a little over 6 million for the court reporters. It’s 8.3 million for the trial court administrators. We’re going to transfer that and we’re going to have this where it’s going to be coming– well, where any increases in their salary will then come out of state central services. The next amendment that’s going to be on the list, we’ve actually done some additional type language that will require them to bring some things before us that they normally wouldn’t do. So you’ll be seeing that in a moment.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Senator Hickey. Seeing no questions, I’d take a motion do pass. Motion. Second. All in favor say aye. Opposed say nay. Congratulations. The amendment has passed. Members, we’re going to move down to number 11. Sorry, yeah, number 12, which is going to be SB 23. And it’s number 56 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. Senator Hickey indicated this is an amendment to Administrative Office of the Courts. This is for the court personnel. So there are changes that will be taking place within their operating bill, and this is an amendment by Senator Hickey and Representative Jean.
Cavenaugh Senator Hickey, you’re recognized.
Hickey Yes, members, if you look on page 2, about halfway down, this is where the meat of this amendment is going to be at. What we’ve done is a lot of times whenever you hear that there’s just an appropriation, you think, well, that’s just the appropriation. We’ll have to provide the funding later. Whenever you hear that something comes out of state central services that can, can be immediate. So what we’ve done is we’ve taken this and, and we’re going to require that, although that that’s going to come out of state central services that for the Legislature to have the proper oversight, such as it would through Personnel, that there will be certain things that will have to be brought before us. And as you can see there, you can read a list of those that are right up above section 9. So again, this is basically just to help the Legislature to provide a little bit more oversight.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Senator Hickey. Representative– okay. Seeing no questions, motion do pass? Second. All in favor, say aye. Nay, against. Alright, it is passed. Let’s move down to SB 67, item number 13. And there is a handout on this one.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair. As the Chair indicated, this is for Department of Commerce. There is a handout that is coming around that the sponsor would like in place of what is in your packet. I believe this is going to be presented by Senator Hester. This is for Department of Commerce and it deals with their Foreign Office Operations Special Language.
Cavenaugh Representative Hester, you’re recognized.
Hester Thank you, members. Senator Ballinger was held up out of state with a family member that’s ill and he’s just simply not able to be here today. So we discussed this. We’re going to pass over number 14, which is the next one for the day. But I told him I would present SB 67. And it’s just, I think it’s what we’ve all had plenty of discussion about. The Department of Commerce has presented the governor’s letter to start this meeting that addressed some of this concern. But but the reality is every reason that you would have for not passing this amendment, I would argue, is the reason to pass the amendment. The concern is, well, China may not be friendly with us if we don’t pass this. Well, I would, I would argue that that is, that is influence on us as a legislature and us as a people group. China is not our friend. They are not friendly people. And I shouldn’t say China. I will say the Communist Party of China, right? And it’s not if they’re going to do something atrocious, it’s when. We all know it. We’ve known that about Russia. We’ve heard, we’ve heard that going on for years. So China is not a friend of ours. They are not an ally of ours. They will not be a friend of ours in the future. And any reason you would have to vote against this, I would argue, is a reason to pass it.
Cavenaugh Thank you, Senator Hester. Do I have any questions? Seeing none, do I– all right, Senator Hickey, you’re recognized.
Hickey I would like to have just a little bit, a little bit more time since this body just passed out Governor’s Letter 10. I want to make 100 percent sure that we don’t have conflicting language within those. That’s– we need to just take a little more time if that’s okay.
Hester Senator Hickey, I, I will take that, and since I know that we’re going to have Special Language tomorrow and maybe Senator Ballinger will be here at that time as well, I’ll pass over till tomorrow.
Hickey Thank you, sir.
Hester You’re welcome.
Cavenaugh Thank you. We’ll put this back on and we’ll discuss it at the next one. Let’s move over– as has been prior said, we are passing over, number 14, SB 67. Let’s move on to Item 15, which is HB 1070. It’s Page 70 in your packet.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman. This is an amendment to the Department of Finance Administration Disbursing Officer Appropriation Bill. This is our operating bill. There’s going to be some special language added that deals with the appropriation you see before you for $5.8 million for senior citizen relief grants. And this is an amendment by Senator Ballinger. Don’t know if Senator Hester is–
Hester We’ll pass it over until tomorrow.
Staff Yeah, OK.
Cavenaugh We’ll pass over this one until tomorrow until Senator Ballinger can be here. That– we’re going to move on to SB 64, which is going to be on page 75 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman, this is an amendment to Department of Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Public School Fund. This is a section of Special Language that amends the code to update the fiscal year and language concerning the first day of the school year for elementary and secondary schools. And this is an amendment by Representative Wardlaw.
Cavenaugh Representative Wardlaw, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Wardlaw Thank you, Madam Chair. It was brought to my attention at the beginning of the fiscal session that semester tests were going to have to be given after the school Christmas holiday break. Now, let’s think through that really hard. How many of these kids, even our straight-A kids, are going to remember everything they learned after they took a two and a half week break? I think it was an unintended consequence of the bill. I looked back at the code to see if this was a proper way to delay this, and it is. There’s been court law that has been set in statute– or court laws, not set in statute, but been set in precedents that says that we can amend start dates of legislation in Special Language. So therefore, I want to delay the start date for one school year to give us more time to work with our school districts and to give them time to figure out how to better fit semester tests into the same semester in which that test is for. So with that, Madam Chair, I’d be happy to take any questions.
Cavenaugh Representative Payton, you’re recognized for a question.
Payton Thank you, Madam Chair. And I guess I’d just like to understand some of these logistics a little better. I don’t know whether we’re doing this to prevent confusion or if doing this is going to create confusion. So could I ask Secretary Key to come give us the logistics on implementing this or not implementing it?
Cavenaugh Sure. Is Secretary Key in the room? If you can, come down and introduce yourself for the record.
Wardlaw Madam Chair, I have a question for you, please.
Wardlaw Can I have a moment to close at the end, please?
Wardlaw Thank you.
Key Johnny Key, Department of Education.
Cavenaugh You’re recognized.
Key OK, thank you. Representative Wardlaw did approach us a couple of weeks ago about this. We got language from BLR to help provide them some feedback on how this would work. And we, and we did so. The net effect of this, in addition to delaying the start date for this legislation by a year: one, a number of districts have already adopted calendars for this year, according to the law that y’all passed. So there could be some confusion, and districts may want to come back and change it based on if y’all pass this or not. The other thing, though, that I think is something just to observe– and again, the department does not have a position on this– but for the 22-23 school year, in effect, any time after July 1, schools could, could start. So they could adopt calendars that start, you know, all over the board. It could be messy. And that’s, that’s simply the reality of the implementation factor on this. But I’m happy to take any other questions that you might have.
Cavenaugh Representative Payton, you’re recognized. Do you have a question to ask?
Payton Well, I think he answered my question. It is doable?
Key It’s doable, yes.
Payton OK, thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Cavenaugh You’re welcome. Senator English, you’re recognized for a question.
English Thank you, Madam Chairman. I guess I’m confused. So what is it about the testing? Right now, I think in my district, schools are starting August 13th. That means, this means that they– or the law, the new law we passed means that they can’t start then, that they have to wait until the end of August? So how does that throw off the the testing? Is that–
Key Well, Senator–
English –have to have so many, so many days between the start of school and the testing? Or what?
Key Well, it’s– semester testing is– it’s governed by each district as far as whether they administered semester test. I mean, there’s no state requirement for that. So that is done at the local level. The scheduling is also done at the local level for the rest of the calendar. So the, the law now says the second– you know, two Mondays before Labor Day would be the initial start date. And when you look at other scheduling decisions that districts may make, they like to finish the semester before the Christmas break. Some, I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of flexibility within the first semester, you know, how many days are off at Thanksgiving, how many other days they take for in-service or parent-teacher conference. So really, it’s hard for us to say clearly that, that, you know, from a state perspective that there’s a problem with it because so much of it is driven by local decision making.
English So a school could– a school district could decide that they’re going to have their semester tests in November, and that’s going to be okay.
Key Well, it’s more a factor of, of when they end their semester and when they schedule. I mean, semester tests could be done any– at any point. But obviously they want to try to do that as close to the end of the semester as they can because of the material they’re trying to cover. Also know that it is not unheard of that districts have administered semester tests after they come back. I mean, I’ve got on my staff members who have been high school principals and different folks that said that that has happened in the past. So really, it’s, it’s all about the local timing of when they schedule these things.
English Okay, thank you.
Cavenaugh Seeing no other questions– Representative– Representative Payton, you’re recognized for a question.
Payton Thank you, Madam Chair. Can you address– I don’t know that Arkansas has any schools trying to do this, but I’ve heard about some schools trying to go to four-day weeks. How does this affect an effort to go to a four-day week or not affect it?
Key Four day week is allowed under a different section of the code. And so it’s not affected by this at all.
Payton So, so going to a four-day week doesn’t change their semester test at the end?
Key Well, it could. But again, that’s, that– those are things that have to be lined up with their local scheduling. It’s not something driven at the state level.
Payton Thank you.
Cavenaugh Representative Wardlaw, you’re recognized to close for your amendment.
Wardlaw So out of full disclosure, my mother is a, is a school administrator, and that’s where this came to my attention from. But the big deal here is, I was in very much consultation with Dr. Hernandez as well, over the administrators association, and those guys– I have gotten emails from all over the state, from superintendents and teachers thanking me for bringing up this amendment. This amendment brings it back to being good for kids and teachers. This amendment allows local control for those schools to set their start date to when they can fill out a calendar that hits their semesters by the semester. This amendment’s not to help the hospitality association. It’s to help our kids and our teachers. With that, Madam Chair, I’d make a motion do pass and appreciate a good vote.
Cavenaugh I have a motion do pass. Second. All in favor say aye. Opposed. Congratulations, your amendment has passed. With that, members, we’re going to move on to SB 64, which is going to be on page 78 of your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair, this is another amendment to Department of Education, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Public School Fund. It amends the language concerning the disbursement of enhanced student achievement funding, and states that any school district that’s entitled to the funding shall not receive less than they did in fiscal year 2022. This is an amendment by Senator Irvin and Representative Cozart.
Cavenaugh Senator Irvin, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Irvin Thank you, Madam Chair, members of the committee. What you have before you is an amendment just to keep in place the current level of funding under the ESA funding. The reason being is because of the interruption of this program and the waivers that were granted under the federal government. The data is not correct. And so we need to stabilize this funding source for many, many schools because it’s nothing that they did. It was just because of the waivers that were enacted during the COVID pandemic from the federal government. And this keeps that funding steady. There’s no increase. The Department of Education has this money. So I’d be happy to answer any other additional questions.
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions, do I have a motion? I see a motion. Do I have a second? All in favor say aye. Opposed? The amendment has passed.
Irvin Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, members of the committee.
Cavenaugh With that, we’re going to pass over item number 18. We’re going to go down to item number 19, which is HB 1070. It is page 87 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chair, this is an amendment to Department of Finance and Administration Disbursing Officer Appropriation. This is our operations bill. As you can see in the amendment, there are two new appropriation sections being added for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, one for 110 million, and the other for 550 million. There is special language being added that governs the transfer procedures for these appropriations, and this is an amendment by Representative Wardlaw and Senator Hickey.
Cavenaugh Senator Hickey, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Hickey OK. Yes, this is this between myself and Representative Wardlaw. What this is, members, if you all remember correctly, we’ve had– this will be our third pot of money that’s come from the, from the feds. The first part was the CARES funding. The second part was the rescue funds, which we call ARPA, and these are going to be the infrastructure funds. Whenever we had set up the– whenever the CARES funding was set up, there were not as many legislative oversights within the statute. So whenever the ARPA funds came, what we did is we set that up so that, you know, as this money was– it would have to come through Peer and then have to come through ALC for approval. Plans would have to be submitted, things to that nature. Everyone seems like they’ve been great with the way that our procedures have been with the ARPA funds. These infrastructure funds, which I referred to as I Funds. These I Funds, they’re going to be a separate pot of money. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to have that same structure in place. The only thing really that’s going to be different is within the other, within the other language we had, we had that a possibility could exist, that we could pay off our, any of our, some of our bonded indebtedness. That would not be an option through this. So we did remove that one small piece of that. So with that, I’ll attempt to answer any questions.
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions. We have a motion do pass. Second. All in favor, say aye. All opposed, say nay. Congratulations, the amendment has passed. With that, we’re going to move down to SB 102, which is going to be on Page 94. And there will be a handout for this one also.
Staff Members, this is a Senate Bill by Senator Hickey. It’s an appropriation for the Department of Finance Administration Disbursing Officer for Pregnancy Resource Center grants. There’ll be a $1 million appropriation added to their department’s bill and some special language. It deals with some funding transfers. Senator Hickey is here to present the bill and there, as the chair indicated, there is an amendment to some language that’s on Page 95, Line 17 and 18.
Cavenaugh Senator Hickey, you’re recognized to present.
Hickey Do I need to present the, the amendment today first? Is that the way I need to do that? And then we vote on it and approve it? How does that process work?
Cavenaugh We need to suspend the rules first. So we need a motion to suspend the rules.
Hickey I’ll make that motion.
Cavenaugh All in favor say aye. OK. The motion is passed. Now you can present.
Hickey OK members, what the amendment that you got today is, is I had– there was some talk that there could have possibly been some type of deal that went on on this million dollars, which there was not. But I had some members that they had asked me if I would, because the bill that I’m fixing that give you, it has a grant has a grant process set up through DFA. What this says is that if you all pass this next, this bill that we’re going to have, that any grant funds that come from DFA, there will not be a third party intermediary. It’ll go straight to the pregnancy resource centers so that there won’t be a middleman or anything like that. That never was the intent or whatever. But as it was pointed out to me, it’s best to make that clear.
Cavenaugh Thank you. Senator English, you’re recognized for a question.
English So I just need to ask a question about this. I don’t have a problem with it, except I’m wondering, does this actually meet the fiscal session parameters? Because we’re starting a new program here. Is that something that we have to do during the legislative regular legislative session or can we do that during a fiscal session?
Hickey From, from my standpoint, yes. It will meet it because it does tie back to an appropriation bill with funds, with funds that are attached.
English Thank you.
Cavenaugh Senator Hester, you’re recognized for a question.
Hester Yes, Senator Hickey, some of the questions I’ve got from different pregnancy resource centers are what are the strings that are attached? And because we’re just now seeing some of this, can you– and I understand money’s coming from the government. But also most of these, if not all of these, are going to be faith based organizations that are not interested in a strings attached type grant. Can you describe any strings that are going to be attached on this? I understand we’re dealing with government money. There has to be something, but could you just–
Hickey That’s, that’s going to be part of the bill. Do you all want me to go ahead and explain the bill before we pass the amendment that attaches to it?
Hester I can wait on my question.
Hickey I mean, I’m good either way–
Hester I’m, I’m good with–
Hickey Okay. And then I’ll answer that question, Senator.
Cavenaugh Representative Payton, you’re recognized for a question.
Payton Thank you. And I think my question is specifically toward the amendment because if we’re saying that the funds are going to go direct from DFA to the pregnancy resource centers, have we defined the pregnancy resource centers? Is there a list?
Hickey Yes, sir. That’s going to be in the bill.
Payton Okay, thank you.
Hickey There’s not going to be a list specifically because it’s my understanding that we couldn’t do that. But again, I’ll get into all that in just, just a moment.
Payton So, it is defined in the bill?
Hickey Yes, sir.
Payton Thank you.
Cavenaugh Senator Rice, you’re recognized for a question.
Rice Thank you. I just move adoption of the amendment so we can hear the bill.
Cavenaugh That’s a proper motion. All in favor say aye. Opposed? The bill has been adopted.
Hickey Okay thank you, members.
Cavenaugh I mean, the amendment has been adopted.
Hickey Thank you. OK, now I’ll present the bill. As we just said, what this is, is there, there is a request being made that a million dollars will come out of rainy day funds, not surplus. This will be current money that is sitting in rainy day funds. And the way it would be structured is we’re going to, we’re going to ask DFA to be the mediator for lack of a better word for this program. So what, what, what we would do is we would set them up so we would have a grant program for these pregnancy resource centers and we tried to come up with a name of those and we come up with pregnancy resource centers, pregnancy crisis centers. But those organizations, and Representative Payton, the– it starts on– it starts on page 2 as who’s defined with that. But what– they have to be in existence as of January 1, 2022. So DFA will be authorized, or they will be tasked to set up a grant program from this and then they’ll have to promulgate rules. And those rules, of course, will have to come through the Legislature, according to, you know, the statute, guidelines that are in place. So that’s about the extent of it. I mean, of course, whenever they set up these guidelines, and that was the reason that I did the amendment, somebody wanted to make 100 percent sure that the funds would not go to a third party, that, that the rules would be structured– again, which have to be approved by us– but they wanted to make sure in statute that those funds would, would go straight from DFA to the centers.
Cavenaugh Representative Love, you’re recognized for a question.
Love Thank you, Madam Chair, because, I’m scanning the bill. I’m still trying to find a definition of a pregnancy resource center. So let me just ask you directly, is Planned Parenthood a pregnancy resource center?
Hickey Not that I know of.
Love OK, thank you.
Cavenaugh Seeing no other questions, do I have a motion to, to pass as amended? First and second. All in favor, say aye. Opposed say nay. Congratulations, your amendment has passed. That’s going to move us down to item number 21, which is SB 103. It’s going to be page 58– I mean, 98. And it also is going to have a handout for you.
Staff Members, this is a bill to Department of Finance and Administration disbursing officer. This is for law enforcement stipend grants. It’s approximately $100 million appropriation that’s being added to the bill as well as additional language governing those grants. This is a bill by Senator Hickey and Representative Shephard.
Cavenaugh Senator Hickey, if you just want to introduce yourself and you’ll be recognized, and Speaker Shepherd also.
Hickey Jimmy Hickey.
Cavenaugh You’re recognized to present the amendment.
Hickey OK, members, I want to try to go through this–
Cavenaugh Real quick. We forgot to suspend the rules, so we need to suspend the rules because we do have an amendment. You need to present the amendment first. Motion. All in favor say aye. If you could present your amendment first.
Hickey Okay members, what it is, we had put a placeholder in, on the original amendment. It just had $100 million. What we’re going to do is we’re going to back that down to $50 million. The actual cost of the thing is estimated. And I do have to say estimated is right is right at 40.5 million. The reason that we’re going to put the, the 50 million, we’re going to set that up in a different account under what’s called the miscellaneous agency funds. We’re going to put the 50 million there because the way we’ve structured this, which I will get into detail in a second, is that officers as of record as of July 1 can receive it. And then officers that come in by January 31 of the next year could also be eligible if they do it. So there’s going to be a little bit of an unknown. There is going to be a little bit of an unknown on how much the cost will be. In no way, shape or fashion do we expect it to be to the 50 million. And the way we have this structured is it has to be for that specific use. And if it’s not used for that, then what it will do is it will automatically roll back to our General, General Revenue Reserve Allotment Fund, which takes an act of the Legislature to get out. And there’s no– checked into it, too– there’s not going to be any loss of interest or anything like that by having it under the miscellaneous agency funds as, as opposed to that other, that other account.
Cavenaugh Do I have a motion, members, for adoption of the amendment? Motion. Second. All in favor, say aye. And you can continue presenting the bill.
Hickey OK, I’ll present this. Members, this is the law enforcement one-time stipend bill which we’ve all been discussing over the few weeks. These– the salary stipends within this bill are authorized to be paid out to our state troopers, our deputy county sheriffs, our city and municipal police officers, and parole and probation officers. It’s been a very tedious and challenging bill because anyone who provides security and safety to our constituency is beyond worthy. However, from a fiscal policy aspect, priorities and limits had to be established and set out in writing. We’ve tried to be very thorough with very many details. The, the macro aspects of the bill, they’re as follows: the stipend will only be paid to certified full-time. The officer must remain in law enforcement within the state for a minimum of 180 days after receiving it. A limited exception has been made in regards to the 180 days if an officer is scheduled and approved to retire through one of our applicable retirement systems and those, and those plans. Disbursements of this will be made to the, to the employing entity. Their written request and certification is also required. The stipends will be paid out as follows: $5,000 for city and municipal municipality, $5,000 for parole and probation officers, and $2,000 for our state troopers. This reduction to 2,000 was derived by factoring in the increase in salaries of the troopers, which is also being requested during this fiscal session. In addition to the above amounts, a disbursement will be made to the requesting entity to cover the matching share of the employer’s Social Security and Medicare taxes. Again, this is the employer shares– employer’s share of that. Don’t quote me, but I think that 7.625% extra that, that we’ll have for that. The money needed to fund this project, as I said earlier, it’ll come from surplus funds at the end of this fiscal year. The cost is expected to be 40.5 million. Again, although I’ve said that’s been estimated. We’re going to pay 50 million, like I said, into an account used solely for the, for this purpose of the stipends. All of that will also have to be paid out in FY 23. The remaining funds will then be transferred back to the general revenue allotment reserve fund at the end of the fiscal year. I’ll try to answer any questions.
Cavenaugh Members, do we have any questions? Whoever was sitting in seat number 20, you’re recognized for a question. Representative Rye, you’re recognized.
Rye Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Hickey, the folks that are working here at the Capitol, will they receive the $5,000 also, sir?
Hickey No, sir, they will not.
Cavenaugh Seeing no other questions, motion. Are you closed? Motion?
Cavenaugh Motion do pass. Second. All in favor, say aye. Opposed say nay. Congratulations, the amendment’s passed. With that, members, we’re going to move to Item number 22, which is HB 1026 and Page 111 in your package.
Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman. This is an appropriation for the Department of Public Safety operating bill. There’s an increase appropriation, approximately 7.4 million that’s payable from the Arkansas State Police Fund. And the amendment and special language, it’s language and code that concerns a salary administration grid for the Arkansas State Police. It adds some language for a new starting salary grid, and then includes stipulations for the grid. This is an amendment by Senator Dismang and Representative Jean.
Cavenaugh Senator Dismang, if you’ll, you’re recognized to present your amendment.
Dismang Thank you. I’ll just present it as she kind of outlined there. The parameter is 20 percent– no more than 20 percent of, you know, for any affected or impacted employee. And also, just we understand this is all subject to review by ALC or JBC, whatever’s here. Happy to take any questions.
Cavenaugh Seeing no questions, have a motion? Motion do pass. Second. All in favor say aye. Nay. The bill has passed. Thank you, members. That’s everything on the calendar today. Just want to make sure that we understand that tomorrow we will have to meet and we’ll meet again at the adjournment of both chambers and release these bills, SB 102, SB 103, 102, 103, HB 1018, HB 67, HB 1055, SB 63, SB 54, HB 1034, SB 64, SB 58, HB 1070, SB 23, and HB 1026. We are adjourned.