Legislative Roundup: House Committee Votes Down Increase to Minimum Wage

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Mar. 11, 2013 12:00 am  

David Johnson

The bill, by Sen. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia, would create the Asbestos Abatement Grant Program, fund it from the state’s Asbestos Control Fund and allow the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to award grants with the money.

The proposal was scheduled to be heard on Friday in the Senate Public Health Committee. If passed, it would take $500,000 from the Asbestos Control Fund in year one and $150,000 per year thereafter to fund grants to cities with a population under 30,000 for asbestos cleanup.

The bill does not stipulate how the money would be replaced. Business leaders fear the bill would lead to increased fees from ADEQ.

Elsewhere at the Capital

• The Senate last week approved a 5-cent hike on the state's timberland tax, taking it from 15 to 20 cents per acre, with proceeds (estimated at $700,000 annually) benefiting the beleaguered Arkansas Forestry Commission. Senate Bill 5, by Rep. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, now heads to the House.

• Bryan King's voter ID bill passed through committee on its way to the full House. The Green Forest Republican wants to require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union has promised to challenge the measure in court if passed, and that challenge is likely. The bill has passed the Senate and House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, expects it to be approved in the House.

• Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed another bill restricting abortions, and again his veto was overridden. The Senate by a 20-14 count overrode Beebe's veto of a bill from Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, that would restrict most abortions after 12 weeks. The measure awaits an expected House override. If sent through, it would become the nation's most restrictive abortion law.

• A bill by Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, to cap the growth of state government fell two votes shy of passing the full House. Opponents feared it would lead to cuts in key state services. Currently, the state government can spend as much as it receives per year. Westerman's bill would have limited annual growth to the five-year average of the state's personal disposable income.

• A Senate committee advanced a measure to exempt all active-duty military personnel from Arkansas state income tax. The move would affect about 6,300 Arkansans who now pay roughly $7 million annually in state taxes.



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