Arkansas Legislative Council

October 21, 2022


Rice Members if you’ll move to your seat, we’ll get started. We apologize for the delay from the executive meeting this morning. First up, if you’ve had a chance to look at your minutes, I’d accept a motion and a second. I have a motion. Do I have a second? Second. All in favor aye. Minutes are adopted. Next up, Dr. Silva has our revenue report. Welcome this morning. If you will identify yourself for the record. You’re recognized. 


Silva Thank, Mr. Chairman. Carlos Silva, legislative economist, Bureau of Legislative Research. And today I have the September 2022 revenue report. On the first page, we are going to have our gross general revenues for this fiscal year up to now. So the first three months of the fiscal year, we have $2.83 million and then we have some deductions we got to make there and collected checks, EFT reversals, claims and tax erroneously paid. And we have an adjusted value there at $2.80 million. There’s an increase of $126 million or 6.4% above last fiscal year to date. As we take it out, the off the tops, we’re going to have $1.85 million available for distribution there. That’s 7.3% above last year up to this month. And in your second page, you’re going to see a cumulative deviation from the forecast. And in this month, we have $174 million there. Above forecast does not mean a surplus. It’s just above the forecast up to this month. And that’s something that’s been going on around our neighboring states. We have looked into in the neighboring states. And they’ve also been consistently have revenues above forecast. As we move forward to page 3, you’re going to see a comparison for September 2022 to 2021, percentage changes there on the third column. And the same thing you’re going to have for the first three months of fiscal year 2022 and 2023 and a percentage change in your last column. As we move through pages 3, 4, and 5, that’s going to be our general revenue. And from page 6 to page 10, we’re going to have the selected special revenues. And with that, I’ll take any questions. 


Rice Thank you, sir. Any questions for Dr. Silva? Senator Hester, you’re recognized. 


Hester Yeah. You know, we keep hearing things like we’re expecting a potential slowdown in the economy. Are you seeing any indications in our budget? I mean, seeing any indication– did I miss a question? No. Are you seeing any indications of any slowdowns in anything from the current collections? 


Silva Thanks for the question, Senator. So as we look right now, we are following the, as you can see on page 2, we are above forecasts. There’s not really a major slowdown. That’s something that we have seen throughout the neighboring states that there are some concerns that we have seen everywhere and that the reports that we follow regarding the slowdown, but we have not seen that in the current forecast and on the current numbers. We will keep a close look to it and we follow all the indicators closely to understand what’s going on. And I can keep you updated if we see any major changes. 


Hester And I’ve only been doing this 10 years, but like we’re $175 million above forecast and where are we are at year over year?


Silva I need to check with Kevin Anderson on that, on that number. I don’t have it in front of me. 


Hester Okay. I’ll get it from Kevin. 


Silva Yeah. So. Yeah, yeah. 


Hester Oh, Kevin’s got it? Yeah. I guess as far as the revenues, where we were at this time last year versus where we’re at this time this year. 


Anderson I don’t have the exact percentage, but we definitely have growth. Like, for example, we have $864 million forecasted above what we actually have in RSA. So that’s pretty telling in itself. 


Hester Pretty telling. 


Anderson Yes, sir. 


Hester Thank you. 


Rice Thank you. And Dr. Silva, is there any historical lag time? I mean, the figures are the figures, what’s coming in. But in industry, retail industry, I’m hearing and seeing across the region, across the country, constriction of consumer spending. Is there anything factored in your analysis that you’re seeing that? 


Silva Yes. So the numbers received come from direct from DFA. But we do follow those indicators and we do have some notes here regarding that at the national level, we have seen a change from goods to services, and that is that trend out there. We follow those indicators closely and I can get if there’s any specific that you want to take a look into one specific industry, I’ll be happy to look into it. But you are correct. There is some lag between information received and what we having to say. 


Rice Thank you for that. Seat 19. Representative Wooten, you’re recognized. 


Wooten Dr. Silva, on the report, is interest shown anywhere on here or do you calculate that quarterly, monthly, or is it shown? How is that shown, Kevin, or where is it? 


Anderson That’s just collections. This is just money coming in. His report reflects our general revenue. 


Wooten Just tax collection? 


Anderson Yes, sir. 


Wooten Doesn’t have anything to do with internal earnings. 


Anderson It does not have to do with the investments the Treasury has in those interest earnings. This is just to show you what we’re collecting from other entities for general revenue and some specialty. 


Wooten Do you have any idea what that runs? 


Anderson Robert has and DFA have put together a report for you, sir. 


Wooten Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Kevin. Thank y’all. 


Rice Senator Hammer, you’re recognized. 


Hammer Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. On page 6, can you give an explanation about the big swing in the natural gas severance? 


Silva We don’t have any major understanding what that’s the difference there. We are going to have to take a look on that specific one and get back to you. 


Hammer Okay. If you don’t mind, please. Thank you. 


Rice Okay. Seeing no more questions, thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony. Members, next up, my Co-chair Representative Wardlaw has the executive committee report. 


Wardlaw The subcommittee met on Thursday, October 20, and adopted procedures for the Health Insurance Benefit Fiscal Impact Process in accordance with Act 112 of 2022. A copy of these procedures are attached to this report. The subcommittee also met again at 8:45 this morning and reviewed and adopted the emergency rule from the Office of Arkansas Lottery regarding their operational and retail rules. I move for the adoption of this report, Mr. Chairman, and would be happy to answer any questions. 


Rice Not seeing any questions, I have a motion. Do I have a second to adopt? Second. All in favor aye. Opposed. Report is adopted. Next we go to administrative rules. Representative Eaves, I believe you’re going to give that. You’re recognized. 


Eaves Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Administrative Rules Subcommittee met on Thursday, October 20. The subcommittee received agency updates on outstanding rulemaking pursuant to Act 595 of 2021. The subcommittee filed the October monthly written update pursuant to Act 595, and the subcommittee filed a written notification by the Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Bureau of Standards, providing an update on its rulemaking delayed by litigation that has now been resolved. All rules reviewed and approved, as noted in the report, and I move adoption of the report. 


Rice Seeing no questions, I have a motion. Do I have a second to adopt the Rules report? Second. All in favor aye. Opposed. Ayes have it. Report is adopted. Representative Gray, you are recognized to give a Peer report. 


Gray Thank you, Mr. Chair. There are four subcommittee reports on the agenda. The first three reports show the subcommittee gave final approval on ARP ESSER requests. The last report is from October 17, where the subcommittee received reports, reviewed items and approved requests for appropriation and fund transfers. Several of the items are held in the report. I move adoption of the report, and after adoption of the report, there are more items for consideration on a supplemental agenda. 


Rice Okay, members, I have a motion and a second from Senator Irvin. All in favor aye. Opposed. That is passed. Representative Gray, you’re recognized if you’ll hit your button again. You’re on. Okay, go ahead. 


Gray I move to suspend the rules to take up the supplemental agenda. 


Rice Members, you have a copy of a supplemental agenda in your packet. I have a motion to suspend the rules to take that up. All in favor, aye. Opposed. 


Gray The first item on the supplemental agenda, Item A is a request from the Department of Education for the authorization to begin the process of promulgating rules for the distribution of school safety set-aside funds as required in Act 3 of the 3rd Extraordinary Session of 2022. A representative from the Department is here to answer any questions. And at the proper time, I move to authorize the department to begin promulgating rules. 


Rice Okay. We’ve got a motion and second. All In favor aye. Opposed? Excuse me just one minute. Representative Wooten, do you have a question on that one? 


Wooten Accept the proposal or is the Department of Education here to answer a question? 


Rice  Okay. Representative Wooten, this is authorization to start the process. Do you want to bring the– 


Wooten Alright, thank you, Mr. Chairman. 


Rice Thank you. We’ll accept the approval on that. Representative Gray, you’re recognized for your next motion. 


Gray All right, the next two items, B1 and B2, are requests from the Department of Energy and Environment. One, a fund transfer from the Restricted Reserve Fund for the Used Tire Recycling and Accountability Program, and two, for spending authority through a cash appropriation to distribute the funds. In August, ALC referred these two items to JPR and Legislative Audit for their review. Legislative Audit has informed us that their report will not be ready until the beginning of January. Given that time frame for receiving the report, along with the immediate need for these funds, the ALC co-chairs have placed these items on the supplemental agenda for consideration today. As part of my motions on these items, I will move that Legislative Audit continue its investigation as requested in August and provide its final report to the Joint Budget Committee in January. At the proper time, I have two motions. One is I move approval of B1, the restricted reserve fund transfer for Department of Energy and Environment. And I move review of B2, the cash appropriation for the Department of Energy and Environment and that Legislative Audit will continue its investigation and report to Joint Budget in January. 


Rice Okay. Members, we have a question. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized. 


Hammer Thank you, Mr. Chair. Appropriate to ask a question about it at this time or are we in discussion on the motion? 


Rice We are in discussion. I did have a second I heard, but I didn’t call that. Yes, we have motion and second. This motion is approved. 


Hammer Thank you. I may have just not heard it, but could we get an explanation from Representative Gray as to what was the dollar amount or is it in the report paperwork here somewhere that’s going to be appropriated and will it carry us all the way through? Is it sufficient to carry this all the way through to the general session when we can pick this up and address it then? 


Gray Yes. So this is a– I did not say. It is a $1 million appropriation. It’s my understanding with discussions with the DEQ that it is about $650,000 to catch us up for quarter two. And then the additional $300,000 we hope will fill the shortfall for the next quarter that they’re getting ready to pay the quarter that ended September 30 that they should pay end of October. So we are very hopeful that this will get us through until the legislative session, where you guys can address any issues in the tire program at that time. 


Hammer All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. 


Rice Okay. Seeing no more questions on the– I have a motion from Senator Chesterfield, second from Representative Wardlaw. All in favor aye. Opposed? That passes. Representative Gray, for your number two. You did the motion on number two?


Gray Yes. 


Rice Okay. 


Rice I need a second for the motion of number two. I have a motion and a second. All in favor, aye. Opposed? That is passed. Thank you, members. Next up, number 10 for review. Senator Flippo, you’re recognized. 


Flippo Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Review subcommittee met on Monday and reviewed methods of finance, discretionary grants and services contracts. All items were reviewed with two exceptions. First, the first, the ALC Review Subcommittee adopted a motion not to review the in-state contract for Department of Health with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care on page 16 of the attached packet. Additionally, an in-state contract for Arkansas Teacher Retirement with Arkansas Capital Corporation was held for later information and ATRS has since revised the contract to reflect a new total of $720,000. The newly revised contract is attached on page 29 of this packet. I move adoption of the report and review of the revised contract with Teacher Retirement and the Capital Corporation. 


Rice Okay, I have a motion. Do I have a second? I’ve got a question from Representative Cavenaugh. You’re recognized. 


Cavenaugh Mr. Chair, are we able to ask questions about the Arkansas teacher retirement contract at this time? 


Rice You can ask Senator Flippo. Is that who you requested or? 


Flippo I’m fine with that. I know you’ll keep it brief, Representative Cavenaugh. 


Cavenaugh My question is– 


Flippo No follow ups. 


Cavenaugh My question is this. On this contract, they’re taking it from four years to two years. But there was some questions about this administration taking away funding from a prior contract that our current leadership at teachers retirement was not aware of. And I’m just wondering if they did any more due diligence to find out whether or not, why that funding had been pulled prior. And on top of that, my question is, I understand that this is coming because of a law that we passed that said that they had to have a contract. But this contract has some concerns. So if we don’t review this, where does this put teachers requirement? 


Flippo Mr. Chairman, I recommend we get somebody from the Department of Health– or Teacher Retirement. Excuse me. Representative Cavenaugh, I know that question was not directed at me. Correct? 


Cavenaugh Correct. That was not directed at you.


Rice Just one minute. Teacher Retirement is going to be coming up later. Let me see if we need them up now or not. Senator Flippo, let me ask you to do this. Normally, we don’t bring people up after the motion. 


Flippo I understand. 


Rice Would you withdraw your motion temporarily? 


Flippo Be happy to, Mr. Chair. 


Rice Okay. That motion’s withdrawn. Do I have a second to withdraw that? Second. Okay. ATRS will come up now. We’ll let questions go ahead and be asked. Again, members, normally with a motion on the table, we don’t call agencies up. But with the motion being withdrawn, we’ll do that at this time. If you gentlemen will introduce yourself. And then, Representative Cavenaugh, you are recognized. 


Roden Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Clint Roden, Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. 


Graves Rod Graves, Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. 


Cavenaugh Way over here to your right. Thank you, Mr. Chair. You heard my question. When we had talked about this earlier in the week, we had brought about this contract had been de-funded at a prior earlier time in this administration but y’all were unaware of that. And I didn’t know if y’all had had time to look into that and find out why we chose to defund the contract with someone we’re about to contract with. 


Roden Yes, Representative. We have had a chance to do some more digging into that situation. And I’m going to let Rod go into a little bit more detail. 


Cavenaugh Okay. Thank you. 


Graves Yes, thank you, Representative. We had a little time to look into that. We found no instance of a contract being defunded. We did determine that, I think around eight years ago or so, the company had a loan of some type out from the state for some projects and that loan was repaid to the state in full is our understanding. We have not been able to determine any prior contracts that were defunded. We’ve attempted to look there, if there’s something out there that maybe we need to be looking in a different spot, we can certainly do that. But we haven’t come across anything yet. 


Cavenaugh Okay, follow up, Mr. Chair? From what I’ve understood is that in 2015, there was some issues that arose and the administration had asked to get their money back and to wind down the state’s relationship with them. Are you aware of that? 


Graves Again, Representative, the only thing I’m aware of, and I don’t know if that’s a similar item of what we’re talking about, again there, I think, as I understand, around eight years ago, there was a loan from the state to the company. The company paid the loan back. Now, as far as what drove that, if that was the normal repayment time or if there were other circumstances, I can’t speak to that. I don’t have knowledge of the 2015 transaction. 


Cavenaugh Okay. I will just say this contract, I have real concerns with it with our history with this organization. And I realize you all put it out through a RFQ rather than an RFP. That also brings up some concerns. And I realize you’re responding to that because of a law that we passed that says that you have to have somebody to overlook these– I won’t say more risky, but they are more risky investments. And that these are the only company that actually responded to this RFQ. And so if we chose not to review this contract, where would that put y’all at? 


Graves Well, from Monday’s meeting– and let me apologize, Representative. I misspoke. This initially, I think, I mentioned this is our third attempt at a solicitation. The initial attempt was an RFP, and I did not recall the difference in RFP and RFQ at the time. But we did try this first off through an RFP. Zero response. Then so it sort of evolved into an RFQ, a little bit different. Second time, no response. We continued to work with OSP trying to get some interest in the solicitation. And again, after, you know, this third attempt, we received one applicant. As far as, I’m not familiar with the law that requires– I know that, you know, we worked with Legislative Audit. Legislative Audit counsel and our board all worked together trying to fill this determined need for the system. So as far as if this does not get reviewed, we would continue to try to work through the issue and come up with a solution acceptable to everyone. 


Cavenaugh Okay. Follow up. On this contract, what are the terms for termination? What are the grounds for termination on this contract? 


Graves I believe it’s a standard state contract where the contract can be terminated by either party with written notice at any time. 


Cavenaugh Okay. And for staff, this is just a question. If we chose not to review this contract, where would that put teacher retirement? 


Graves I think, again, we would, you know, there is a need there. So we would continue to work with all parties, OSP, our board, this body and try to come up with an acceptable solution for everyone. 


Cavenaugh Okay. I’d like to see if our staff could answer my question. 


Anderson Representative Cavenaugh, I would defer to the agency on that one. But if you do not approve, the agency would have to resubmit that request to Legislative Council. It wouldn’t be referred back to the Review subcommittee. They’d need to start back over the process with Legislative Council. 


Cavenaugh Okay. Thank you. I just want to say, I know that y’all reduced it to two years, but that still leaves me some little concern with our history with this particular organization with our other contracts. So I appreciate it. Thank you.  


Rice Senator Hammer, you’re recognized. 


Hammer Thank you. Over here to your left. Good morning. On that subject matter, let me ask you, if we don’t review this, are there any current contracts, are there any current investments that would be placed on hold or jeopardized because you didn’t have what the law required to move forward? 


Graves Thank you, Senator. We do have a, I’ll call it, temporary vendor in place to sort of– that was put in place basically under a sole source type procurement. It was intended initially to be about a six month contract. So we do have some coverage in that area right now. However, you know, we have been seeking a longer term solution. The vendor working right now to fill that role was initially hired under a six month contract. We had to come back and extend it as we’ve continued to have to go through additional RFQ processes. But we do have some coverage there now. However, we are hoping to find a long term solution for at least a couple of year period without having to keep extending the current relationship a few months at a time. 


Hammer The current temporary fix that you have vendor, did they not bid on the contract? And if they didn’t, you know why not? 


Graves No, sir. They did not bid on the contract. It’s a lot of the reasons we were hearing, not just from this vendor, but from other vendors, even nationally. We even during the second RFQ attempt, we attempted some national advertising to try to generate interest. And, you know, some of the issues we were hearing from potential vendors were basically just the scope of the mandate involves a wide array of potential opportunities, right? It could be– I’m just throwing out some examples so people may be aware– you know, it could be a steel mill in one part of the state one week and maybe a parking deck somewhere else the next. So, and oftentimes, these deals have some sort of– the Arkansas related deals will have some sort of other Arkansas involvement, right? I think we’re all familiar with Big River Steel. And there was a lot of other Arkansas incentives in play. So we were really hoping for somebody that had some understanding and experience in Arkansas related opportunities and investments. However, that was not a limitation to any potential bidder and anyone across the country could have put in a bid for this. But I think to answer that question, Senator, it really is just the scope and sometimes the localized expertise that might be needed. 


Hammer Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, can I have latitude to to ask him one question relevant to teacher retirement but not on the subject. It’ll be short, but I think it would be important for them to make a statement for all of our interest, if you would, please. 


Rice Short, yes. 


Hammer Thank you. It recently came out in the paper that y’all had, like, I forgot, a billion a half dollar loss. The reality is in that statement that was made, that amount comprised also, I think, roughly $700 million in regular monthly distribution to our retirees. So the image of the teacher retirement system potentially having such a significant loss was not actually an accurate depiction. Is that a fair statement or not? 


Roden Yes, senator, I’d say that’s a fair statement. I have actually recently responded to that type of question in a newsletter to all of our members, explaining that any time you see a headline, it requires a little bit more explanation. And your explanation is right on. Only half of that deduction or reduction in assets was due to investment loss, which resulted in about a -4% reduction. And in this down market, that was actually a very good performing performance. That put the ATRS’s position in the top 20 percentile of investment returns, even though it was a loss, because most pension systems lost something in the double digits. 


Hammer All right. 


Roden So, correct. Thank you. 


Hammer Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. 


Rice Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Cavenaugh I have a motion at the proper time, Mr. Chair. 


Rice Let’s hear your motion. 


Cavenaugh I make a motion that we refer the ATRS contract to review in subcommittee and then adopt the rest of the report. 


Rice Okay. I have a motion. You understand that? And a second? Have discussion on the motion in just a minute. Senator Hickey, you’re recognized. 


Hickey Just a question for staff. Did I not understand you to say that we couldn’t refer that back to review without them having to go back through the process? 


Garrity No, I’m sorry, Senator Hickey. If the committee chose not to approve the contract, then they’d have to start. But this committee can revert back to review. 


Hickey Okay. And there’s no deadline or anything like that? They’re going to be able to bring it back next month if they need to? 


Garrity Yes, sir. It would automatically be on the agenda for review next month. 


Hickey Thank you, ma’am. 


Rice Okay. I have Representative Cavenaugh’s motion to send this back to review with the– Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized for a question. 


Chesterfield May I see the paperwork that the Representative keeps referring to. I’m unfamiliar with that. And if Representative Cavenagh would be so kind as to share her research with the rest of the committee, I think it would be helpful. Before, you know, I’m not going to vote against the motion, but I need to see what she’s seeing. 


Rice Representative Cavenaugh, see if she understands what your request is. Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Cavenaugh Yes, I’ll be glad to forward it to the staff so committee can have it. 


Chesterfield Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Cavenaugh You’re welcome. 


Rice Members, I’ve got a motion. Do I have a second? Motion and a second. We referred this part only back to the committee. All in favor aye. Opposed? The ayes have it. Senator Flippo, if you will– your motion included the adoption of your report, Senator Flippo? Okay. Senator Flippo, I’m told that we’re good on that. One of my hearing aids is bad today, and it’s a little harder to hear for me. Okay. Members, the Personnel committee did not meet because of the budget hearings. We’re going to ask Mr. Tony Robinson come up and give the report if you’ll give him your attention. Thank you other gentlemen for being here. Mr. Robinson, you’re recognized to give the report on personnel issue. 


Robinson Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you said, the Personnel committee did not meet. This is a request from the University of Central Arkansas. They request to pay over a 2% salary adjustment in order to pay a $700 one-time bonus to all of their employees at the university. Mr. Chairman, that’s the only request. 


Rice Okay, Members, any questions for Mr. Robinson? Seeing none, I’ll take Senator Chesterfield’s motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. All in favor aye. Opposed? The Personnel report is approved. Thank you, Mr. Robinson. We have a report from Representative Stephen Meeks on the committee’s State Agency Governmental Affairs. Representative Meeks, you’re recognized. 


Meeks Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees met on Thursday, August 19, 2021, and Tuesday, September 20, 2022, to discuss the Election Technology Study pursuant to Act 421 of 2021. The committees heard testimony regarding the feasibility of biometric technology and ballot tracking, as well as concerns from the Secretary of State’s office. I move acceptance of this report. 


Rice We have a motion and a second. All in favor aye. Opposed? That report is adopted. Okay, members, we’re going to the report on the Arkansas teacher retirement system. Mr. Roden, if you want to come back up. You’re recognized, Senator Chesterfield. 


Chesterfield Thank you. Is this something that will require a motion and a second or we just accepting the report? 


Rice This will require– we’ve got on Teacher retirement. We’ve got A and B in your packet. Those require motions. 


Chesterfield It will. Thank you so much. 


Rice You’re recognized, gentlemen. Please identify yourself again just for the record. 


Roden Clint Roden, Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. 


Graves Rod Graves. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. 


Rice Do you have a presentation? 


Graves No, sir. These are–, I have some information I can present and then try to answer any questions following, if that’s okay. 


Rice You just give us a brief presentation will be fine. 


Graves Sure. These two investments were reviewed and approved at the September 26 regular  ATRS board meeting. 2(a)1 is Greenbriar 6. That’s a private equity investment of up to $30 million. They focus primarily on logistics, aerospace, defense and transportation companies. Should I pause there for questions on that or present the summary for the– 


Rice Go ahead and present B2, and if we’ve got questions, we’ll cover both of them. 


Graves Okay. Thank you. So 2(b)I is JFL 6, another private equity investment of up to $30 million. This company too also focuses on a similar focus with defense, aerospace and maritime companies. Again, both these were recommended by ATRS’s investment private equity consultants and approved at the last board meeting. 


Rice Okay, I have a question from Senator Hammer. You’re recognized. 


Hammer Thank you. Tie in the conversation we had previously with what we’re doing right here. Would that firm that we would have been hiring had any jurisdiction to review these investments? Or are they totally unrelated? 


Roden Senator, no, that prior circumstance was only for direct investment of Arkansas related companies. This is private equity, and we have a separate investment consultant for that asset class. 


Hammer So the consultant that you used to oversee these, is there a larger pool to select from as far as companies that would do the same thing and we’re under contract with them to review these? Is it a similar situation just not, you know, not apple to apple comparison?  


Roden Correct, we have a contract with a one particular vendor that reviews all of our private equity investment decisions. 


Hammer Okay. Thanks. 


Rice Okay. Seeing no more questions, members, I’ll take a motion. Motion to approve. A second? Motion and second to approve. All in favor on A and B say aye. Opposed? Those are approved. Thank you, gentlemen, again for being here. 


Roden Thank you. 


Rice Members, moving on down to 4C, if there’s any of these others that you have questions on, we can bring those up. The next one that requires a motion is Division of Rural Services. If the director would come up. Is Miss Caldwell here? Is somebody here for them? Welcome. If you’ll hit your mic and recognize, give us your name. You’re recognized to present. 


Hudson Jim Hudson, Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce. 


Caldwell Becca Caldwell, Director of Rural Services. 


Rice Thank you. 


Hudson Mr. Chairman, you just want us to give an overview of the grants? 


Rice Just give us a brief overview will be good. We’ll see if members have any questions. 


Hudson Alright, Miss Caldwell will do that. 


Caldwell So for the Rural Community Grant program, we are recommending 23 grants be approved. And for the Rural Services Block Grant program, we’re only recommending that one is approved. We only received three applications this cycle, two of which were not eligible for funding. One, their LMI was too low. And then the other one, the application was incomplete. 


Hudson Happy to take any questions, Mr. Chair. 


Rice Okay, Representative Lanny Fite, you’re recognized. 


L Fite No question. 


Rice Representative Meeks, you’re recognized. 


Meeks I’ll throw one out to you real quick. You said one of the applications was incomplete. Had it been completed, would it have been eligible for a grant recipient? And is that something you could work with that entity to try to get that taken care of? 


Caldwell Yes, we did actually reach out directly to them. It was missing several resolutions that are required for that grant. And it was just a matter of time of getting everything in. But we have spoken with them and have encouraged them to apply for the next cycle. 


Meeks Okay. So you didn’t just brush them aside, you are working with them to try to get that taken care of. Excellent. Thank you. 


Hudson Just as a general comment to Representative Meeks and for all the members. For this grant program along with our CDBG grant program, we work real hard to do outreach to the counties, to the local planning development districts to encourage applications, give them technical assistance. We do webinars to train on it. It’s a little bit of a pushing string sort of thing at times, but we are committed to do whatever we can do to get the communities to apply because these are great grant programs. 


Rice Thank you, Representative Meeks. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized for a question. 


Hammer Thank you. Just refresh my memory on the volunteer fire departments that you give grants to. Do you request their ISO rating in the grant application? 


Caldwell We do. Yes, sir. 


Hammer And do you get that? 


Caldwell I do. 


Hammer Is there any reason you can’t release that to the legislative branch under any restrictions imposed upon you by ISO? 


Caldwell Not at all. I could. I could produce a report and send it to you. It has just not been reported previously or included on the report. But I would be happy to supply that to you. 


Hammer All right. I’d like to get that, please. Thank you. 


Caldwell You’re welcome. 


Rice If you will send that to the staff at the Bureau and we’ll get it out to members. 


Caldwell Certainly. 


Rice Not seeing any more questions, members, do I have a motion? I have a motion.I have a second to approve. Second. All in favor aye. Opposed? Thank you all for being here today. 


Hudson Thank you. 


Caldwell Thank you. 


Rice Members, not seeing any others, we have one more item on 7A. Secretary White, if you’ll come on up for Department of Human Services, we’ll listen to your report. Thank you for being here today and you’re recognized. 


White Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mark White, Department of Human Services. We have our monthly report on the status of the rate increase for assisted living facilities. That rate increase, part of what was required to implement that is an amendment to the waiver. That is a promulgated document. So we do have to run a rule promulgation to do that. We’re in the public comment period right now. That ends Monday. At last report, we had not received any public comments, but we’ll proceed with that. The next steps will be, we expect the rule will come to you all for review in December. And then, of course, we’ll be awaiting approval from CMS for the waiver amendment itself. And with that, be happy to answer any questions. 


Rice Members, you have any questions for Secretary White? I don’t think I’ve seen him sitting at a table that the board wasn’t lit up before. Just such a good job. Thank you for being here today and we appreciate your report. 


White It’s my pleasure. 


Rice Members, thank you for being here. Seeing no more business, we are adjourned.