Friday, April 29, 2016

Secret Code: A Jonesboro Nightmare That May Soon Be In Your Community

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing. Evil includes government preventing your free access to liberty and government  restricting your previous liberty, freedoms, and use of your own property. - The Editor paraphrasing others.

by Debbie Sitzes, Letter to Editor: I 'm writing in regard to the letter in the Sun titled Beware the Code. The writer warned businesses to beware the new Jonesboro Property Code because the city could use the fines on businesses as a revenue stream.

I want to also point out that the Code also includes churches as well since it includes "all existing residential and nonresidential structures and all existing premises."

Everyone knows the persecution of churches is increasing. This Code passed Dec, 2015 opens the door for the government to go after the churches financially through large fines, as well as the elderly and financially strapped Christians in the church. Our Mayor wouldn't allow the churches to be persecuted in this way now, but who knows who will follow? Whoever thought we would be facing a possible election of a Socialist for a President in 2016?

As for the church members, there will be many that face fines they can't pay. It was made clear at the city-sponsored educational meeting that there was no hardship clause in the Code for those that can't afford the fines. So what are they supposed to do? Have their property taken away?

And I don't see how any church building in Jonesboro could escape some of the all-inclusive so-called minimum requirements of the Code. Don't let the word minimum fool you. Minimum is a PR stunt because the 34 page Code covers anything you can imagine and some you couldn't. It covers equipment, all outer buildings, the size and type of street numbers required on all buildings, locks, interior doors, size of windows, cracks or fissures in concrete, deteriorated concrete, cracks in the glaze on your windows, updating electrical wiring, plumbing and on and on.

Proponents of the code have greatly misrepresented the Code. In the city's video promoting the Code, the city attorney is adamant that they can't enter your home without your permission, but she fails to point out that the code says, "If entry is refused, the code official shall have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry." However, she admitted the renter can allow the code official to enter the property for inspection without permission of the landowner. Since when did the owner of the property not have the authority over his own property?

Have you noticed that the link to the Property Code is never given in any of the city's promotional material? They don't want you to read the code, only listen to what they tell you.
Debbie Sitzes lives in Jonesboro, AR. Her letter to the editor was also submitted to the Jonesboro Sun. Also, check the following link to view the Jonesboro Property Code.

Tags: Letter to the Editor, Jonesborro, Arkansas, City Government, Craighead County, deceptive property code, nightmare, churches, meeting places, Debbie Sitzes To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Two Authored Provisions by Sen. Boozman Included in Bipartisan, Comprehensive Veterans Bill

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan, comprehensive veterans bill that includes two provisions authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) was unveiled during a news conference held by members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.

The Veterans First Act aims to change the culture at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by giving department leadership at VA the tools to fire bad actors, prohibiting bonuses for employees accused of wrongdoing and instituting protections for whistleblowers. It also seeks to improve the Veterans Choice Program, enhance education benefits and fight opioid abuse among our veterans.

“A lot of hard work and tireless effort went into crafting this bill, which really will help veterans by increasing accountability at VA, enhancing services and tackling some of the biggest issues facing the veterans’ community,” Boozman said. “The fact that we can produce such a wide-ranging bill in a bipartisan way truly is a testament to how well this committee works together to put veterans first.”

Boozman said he was extremely pleased that language to improve the Veterans Choice Program was included in the Veterans First Act.

“This will resolve some of the issues that I’ve heard from Arkansas veterans who rely on VA health care. The Choice program has helped a number of veterans, but there is room for improvements to be made. This is a critical step to eliminating the obstacles veterans face when accessing the healthcare services they need,” Boozman said.

During the press conference, Boozman expressed his appreciation for the Committee’s leadership, Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), for including provisions based off of two bills he introduced—the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) Clarification and Reauthorization Bill (S. 425) and the Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act of 2015 (S. 743).

The first of Boozman’s provisions clarifies that veterans who receive housing assistance remain eligible to receive job training under HVRP. Currently, if a veteran qualifies for housing under one of these programs VA no longer considers them “homeless,” and does not allow them to participate in HVRP.

We are trying to end the cycle of homelessness amongst our veteran population by eliminating the hurdles they face to getting the affordable housing and job training assistance they earned. Getting a veteran into housing is only one step in the process. They also need training and assistance to help them secure stable employment so that they never again return to being homeless,” Boozman said.

The other Boozman provision included in the bill honors as veterans, National Guard and Reserve retirees who served honorably for twenty or more years but do not have the active duty service time required to qualify them as veterans under existing law.

Our National Guard and Reserve forces have seen significant mobilizations and active duty service, but many National Guardsmen and Reservists who served faithfully for twenty or more years, ready to answer the call to active duty, are not considered veterans under the government’s definition because the call for active duty mobilization never came.

“National Guard and Reserve members who selflessly serve in defense of our country should be honored for their sacrifice. These men and women earned this recognition for their steadfast commitment to our national security and Armed Forces and rightfully deserve to be honored with the title of veteran,” Boozman said.

This provision honors as veterans these Guard and Reserve retirees but does not entitle them to any additional benefits.

Tags: Sen. John Boozman, provisions, Comprehensive Veterans Bill,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Hill and Carney Investment Research Bill Passes House

WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5019, the Fair Access to Investment Research Act of 2016>, by a vote of 411-6. H.R. 5019 was introduced last week by Congressman French Hill (AR-02) and Congressman John Carney (DE-At Large). H.R. 5019 is nearly identical to H.R. 2356, which passed the House last February as part of H.R. 1675, the Capital Markets Improvement Act of 2016.

The bill would address anomalies in securities laws and regulations that discourage broker-dealers from publishing research on exchange traded funds (ETF) by directing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide a safe harbor for research reports that cover ETFs. In recent decades, the popularity of ETFs has risen drastically, and along with their growth, ETFs have also become more complicated and require more analysis.

After passage of the bill, Congressman Hill and Congressman Carney released the following statements:

“This bill is very simple: it allows broker-dealers involved in a distribution to issue research reports on the rapidly growing ETF market. Since starting my most recent investment firm in the late 1990s, I have seen ETFs grow from about 100 funds with $100 billion in assets to over 1,400 funds with nearly $2 trillion in assets. I appreciate Congressman Carney’s partnership in the mission to promote capital formation, remove unnecessary burdens, and improve investor access to information, and I urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass this simple but practical legislation.” - Congressman French Hill

“It’s our job to make sure we’re providing investors with the information they need to make sound decisions. This bill reflects a year of collaboration, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to ensure the finished product is a clarified, more effective version of the bill. I want to thank Congressman Hill for his continued dedication to addressing this issue.” - Congressman John Carney,

Tags: Arkansas, French Hill, Deleware, John Carney, Investment Research Bill, paasses, U.S. House To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Hill Votes to Increase Email Privacy for the American People

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, sponsored by Congressman Kevin Yoder (KS-03). The bill would improve privacy protections under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) by no longer allowing law enforcement officials to access without a warrant private citizens’ emails that are more than six months old and that are being held third-party service providers. After the bill passed the House, original cosponsor Congressman French Hill (AR-02) released the following statement:
“There needs to be a balance between the rights of private citizens and the capabilities of law enforcement officials trying to protect our communities. The existing and outdated 1986 law doesn’t meet the standard of privacy the American people expect from their government. In fact, it is, by today’s standards and technology, a shocking loophole in privacy. Protecting the rights and the safety of the people is a paramount responsibility of Congress, and I am proud we were able to come together on a bipartisan basis to amend current law so that it respects the rights of private citizens without hindering law enforcement’s ability to carry out its critical responsibilities.”

Tags: French Hill, Arkansas, AR-02, Email Privacy Act To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

American Conservative Union Honors Sen. Boozman

ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp presents
U.S. Sen. John Boozman with
“Award for Conservative Excellence”
WASHINGTON – The nation’s oldest grassroots conservative organization honored U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) for adhering to conservative principles while voting on behalf of Arkansans in the U.S. Senate.

Boozman received the “Award for Conservative Excellence” from the American Conservative Union (ACU) for scoring in the 90-100 percentile for key votes graded by the organization. Boozman earned the distinction by voting to increase security at our borders, rein in the Obama Administration’s excessive regulations and protect the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans.

“I am grateful to be recognized by ACU, one of the country’s most highly respected grassroots organizations. Like the ACU, I believe the key to making our nation better is to govern through conservative principles. The people of Arkansas share this belief. The majority of Arkansans want to get our economy moving, rein in the expansive federal government and stop Washington’s wasteful spending. That can all be accomplished by embracing conservative solutions,” Boozman said.

For more than fifty years, ACU has advocated for Americans who are concerned with liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values and a strong national defense. ACU is known for hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials from across the country, which the organization has been putting on for over forty years.

Since 1971, the ACU has annually graded Members of Congress based on their votes on key conservative issues. The 2015 ACU Ratings of Congress includes scores for each individual member in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The full 2015 ACU Ratings of Congress guide is now available online at

Tags: ACU. American Conservative Union, Chairman Matt Schlapp award, Award for Conservative Excellence, U.S. Senator, John Boozman, Arkansas To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Obama Tactics In AR - Cooper & Asa

by by Debbie Pelley, Letter to Editor: Senator Cooper's editorial in the Sun on Sunday, was a good example of why people are so fed up with the GOP establishment's deceptive tactics.

I know many people saw right through his article and knew Cooper was simply defending his flip flop on the Private Option aka AR Works and being a shill for the Governor. But there are many voters who don't know the truth.

Cooper actually used his stand against the Private Option (PO) Medicaid Expansion to get elected. In every mailer, campaign card, and flyer (I still have them all as well as his emails) Cooper touted his stand against Obamacare, saying in one mailer in a three-way primary race, "John Cooper is the only candidate in this race to have a firm position against the Private Option, Arkansas' form of Obamacare."

That message was touted on his Facebook page, in his radio interviews, and in campaign speeches for other anti PO candidates. He was known across Arkansas for his stand against the PO (Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare). That's why Cooper had a historic win of 57% to 43% over his Democrat opponent in January, 2014, in a special election for Bookout's seat.

With most legislators it takes a couple of years or longer to lose their innocence, but Cooper was easy. In less than a year, to my dismay, Cooper was supporting one of the main architects of the Private Option for Senate leader instead of a true conservative who has repeatedly stood against the Private Option.

There were no hints leading up to this radical change in Cooper's PO stance except one. He switched his strong support for Asa's opponent to supporting Asa Hutchinson. And from the time Hutchinson was elected, Cooper switched his loyalty from the voters back home to the GOP leaders, something I have seen happen over and over in the legislature. Cooper has stood firmly with Governor Hutchinson in every way as they have rammed the PO aka Arkansas Works through the legislature when 70% of Arkansans oppose it.

Cooper pretends the ten senators representing their constituents back home (heroes) are trying to shut down funding for Medicaid services. The truth is Governor Hutchinson and Cooper are using Obama tactics to blame the shutdown on the true conservatives. The Governor couldn't get the PO funding passed (aka AR Works) so he rolled all the appropriation bills into one and said pass it or I will shut down the DHS budget and started bewailing all the things that would be cut.

The governor could have easily used the normal way of separating appropriation bills and taken a separate vote on AR Works (PO), but he couldn't get it passed that way so he had to come up with scheme after scheme to get it passed.

Sounds just like Obama, doesn't it?
Debbie Pelley lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas and also sent this letter to the Jonesboro Sun.

Tags: Debbie Pelley, letter to editor, Arkansas, Obama Tactics, Arkansas, State Senator, Sen. John Cooper, Gov. Asa Hutchinson To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Governor Hutchinson Announces Sun Paper to Open Bio-Products Mill in Arkadelphia

LITTLE ROCK – Today, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that Sun Paper will open a bio-refinery in Clark County. Hongxin Li, chairman and founder of Sun Paper, joined Governor Hutchinson for the announcement in the Governor’s Conference Room at the Arkansas State Capitol. Sun Paper will invest more than $1 billion in the bio-products mill and create 250 new jobs at an average salary of $52,000 a year.

This will be the company’s first facility in North America.

During Governor Asa Hutchinson’s trade mission to Asia in November, Governor Hutchinson and Chairman Li signed a letter of intent of investment cooperation in which Sun Paper committed to studying the feasibility of building the facility in South Arkansas.

“The fact Sun Paper is investing more than $1 billion in south Arkansas speaks volumes of their confidence in our workforce and pro-business environment,” said Governor Hutchinson. “This is among the largest private investments in the state’s history and the impact will be felt for generations. Thanks to Sun Paper for choosing Arkansas as the location for its first North American facility.”

With the company’s $1 billion investment, Sun Paper’s investment in Arkansas is comparable to Big River Steel’s investment in Mississippi County. At the time that project was announced, it was the largest investment ever in Arkansas.

Arkadelphia is located in the heart of Arkansas’ timber industry with easy access to Interstate 30. Forests cover about 18.8 million acres – about half of the state – mostly in South Arkansas.

Headquartered in China’s Shandong Province, Sun Paper ranks among the top 500 Chinese enterprises and one of the world’s top pulp and paper makers. The company employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide.

Scott Hardin, Communications Director
Arkansas Economic Development Commission
(501) 682-7306,

Tags: Governor, Asa Hutchinson, announces, Sun Paper, bio-products mill, Arkadelphi To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Fat Lady Has Sung - “It’s Arkansas Works”

by Dr. Jack Sternberg, Contributing Author: It’s over. Arkansas Works has passed and has been funded.

What else have I personally observed and learned from what has gone on over the last two weeks. And of course, my thoughts can’t include everything that has happened. There’s no way to be comprehensive. I anticipate and expect many to disagree with some or even many of my personal opinions but I have always tried to be honest in my personal opinion pieces.
  • I have learned that only a minority of our elected officials keep the promises they made while running for office. For most, politics gets in the way of integrity and principles. So sad, but considering what I have now witnessed over the vote for Arkansas Works, I believe my observation to be true.
  • Those that do keep their word will be attacked, misrepresented, maligned and threatened politically, materially and physically (and one actually had some of his personal property destroyed).
  • I’ve come to realize and accept that many of the newly elected Republicans are not really true conservatives Republicans but were masquerading as Republicans so as to get elected in a state that has turned red (Republican). Many of these legislators would have been Blue Dog Democrats (conservative Democrats) just a few years ago. In all fairness, maybe they should just be considered moderates (you decide what that means) since they are at least not fully liberal and left leaning as are today’s Democrats.
  • I’m not actually upset (but that doesn’t mean I’m happy) with Governor Hutchinson as many are over Arkansas Works and his method for getting it funded. (It’s obvious he really wants to keep 250,000 plus indigents insured while allowing $1.7 billion dollars to come into Arkansas). I remember very well during the time Asa was running for office. He never said that he would get rid of the Private Option (many I speak to seem to have forgotten this). He said he would study it and decide what he wanted to do. So his wanting to continue the Medicaid Expansion was not breaking his word or any promise. What he did was to have two advisory task forces (I personally was on one of them) and hired the Stephen’s Group to attempt to recommend ways to “fix the Private Option.” To be totally honest, we didn’t come up with much in the way of significant recommendations (outside of making it more efficient and getting rid of fraud and abuse – duh!). The governor came up with changing the name from Private Option to Arkansas Works and a few minor tweaks (a work requirement, a small monthly fee for some) and then the Federal Government refused to grant the necessary waivers. So essentially nothing changed. So, the Private Option = Arkansas Works.
  • At first I was angry, annoyed and disappointed with the governor when I heard the plan for amending the DHS funding bill with an amendment that would defund Arkansas Works on 12/31/2016. Why, because it was ploy known by all, that the governor has line item veto power and that he planned to veto that amendment thereby re-inserting funding for Arkansas Works after it passed. Then, it would no longer require 75% to vote for funding. It would then require 50% votes to override his veto and that would be impossible to get. So, the entire DHS funding bill would now pass. The more I thought about it, the more I had to admire his ingenuity (even though I didn’t like it) since all this was 100% legal and fully within the rules of the Arkansas government. It wasn’t even a secret trick since everyone knew his intention. Sadly, what it did do was to get two Senators to vote for the bill who had previously been against it (do they really think their constituents don’t know that they caved in?). Now, the bill could and did pass in both the Senate and House.
I also had to admit to myself that if the governor used a similar ploy to get a conservative piece of legislation passed (such as Pro-Life or Pro 2nd Amendment), we conservatives would probably be ecstatic and consider it brilliant and applaud him for his political savvy.
  • What I really found most objectionable was the scare tactics used by so many to try to convince the voters that the “sky would fall” and DHS would shut down (hurting the children and seniors, etc.) along with just about everything in Arkansas being underfunded. To those in the know, these claims seemed overstated and wildly exaggerated. They were reminiscent of the methods Governor Beebe and Democrats used in past to pass bills into law.
So, in conclusion, as of today, Saturday, April 23, 2016, Arkansas Works will continue to be funded. Over 250,000 indigent patients will continue to have medical insurance thereby allowing doctors, hospitals and others in the medical field to get paid for their services (and that’s a good thing). This year, the Federal government will pay 100% of the cost, 95% next year and then 90% in 2020 with Arkansas taxpayers covering the difference in the future. The money Arkansas receives will be printed by the Treasury and will further raise the out of control National debt. Those who have Arkansas Works, those who are between 18 and 65 and are healthy and capable of working, will now receive equal healthcare to those who work, pay taxes and also contribute to the cost of their health insurance. But, to those in poverty, their healthcare will be totally for free. No deductibles, no co-pays or co-insurance and all medications free (somehow that just doesn’t seem fair to those who work and pay taxes). And that’s bad.

Let me close with statement concerning my personal tension I have over all aspects of Arkansas Works:
Jack Sternberg, MD, is a retired medical doctor and  Chairman, Garland County TEA Party Patriots in Arkansas.

Tags: Jack Sternberg, Arkansas Works, fat lady has sung To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Boozman Provision in Appropriations Bill Paves Way for Interstate Status of U.S. 67

U.S. 67 in Arkansas
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill that would put Arkansas on path to add another highway to our nation’s interstate system.

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported the bill on Thursday containing Boozman’s language designating Highway 67 from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge as “Future I-57.” The bill would also give Arkansas the ability to request that any segment of the road that is built to interstate standards be officially added to the federal interstate system as “I-57.”

“Arkansas has worked for decades to build this road. The time has come to start calling it what it is — an interstate-quality highway that connects Arkansas farms, factories and travelers, to the rest of our country,” Boozman said. “New interstates take many years and support from the federal, state and local level to complete. As we work over the coming years to build future interstates in Arkansas, such as I-49, I-69 and a completed I-57, we will make Arkansas a better-connected state that is open for business."

After years of work and investment, Arkansas has built an interstate-quality road from Little Rock to northeast Arkansas. This road is naturally oriented to eventually connect with the existing I-57 in southeast Missouri. Currently I-57 extends from Chicago, Illinois to Sikesville, Missouri. The designation of Highway 67 from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge as “Future I-57” establishes in federal law that the region is on-track to officially add a direct interstate connection from the Little Rock region to Chicago as “Interstate 57.” While completing the interstate will take a number of years, this is a very important step in that direction.

The presence of an official interstate highway is one of the key factors that developers consider when determining where to make major investments, such as building new factories.

“The designation of U.S. 67 as a future interstate is an incredible milestone for all communities along and in proximity to this corridor,” Buck Layne, Executive Director for the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce said. “We have spent decades working toward the goal of completing this vital interstate connector to improve the transportation network and expand economic development opportunities for the state and region. While much work remains ahead, we are tremendously grateful to Senator Boozman for securing this language in the Senate version of the annual Transportation funding bill.”

Jon Chadwell, Executive Director for the Newport Economic Development Commission said, “The effort to have U.S. Highway 67 designated as the future I-57 corridor will bring new economic opportunity to both northeastern Arkansas and the state as a whole. The addition of an interstate corridor from Chicago to Little Rock will increase Arkansas’s position as the crossroads of America and give companies an even greater access to national and global markets, allowing communities along the corridor to compete more effectively for new industries and grow their existing industries.”

Resolutions of support for the I-57 Designation have been passed by the Newport Economic Development Commission as well as Chambers of Commerce in Bald Knob, Cabot, Jacksonville, Lawrence County, Newport, Sherwood and Searcy. Other expressions of support have been received from communities throughout the central Arkansas and northeast Arkansas regions.

Tags: designation, US 67, future interstate, I-57, Sen. John Boozman To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Tucker Carlson to be Keynote Speaker at Arkansas GOP Reagan-Rockefeller Dinner

Little Rock, Arkansas — Tucker Carlson, Fox News Anchor and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, will be in Hot Springs May 13 as a keynote speaker for the Republican Party of Arkansas.

Carlson, who began his career at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will be addressing leaders and supporters of the Arkansas GOP at The Reagan-Rockefeller Dinner, one of the party’s largest fundraising events of the year.

“We’re excited to welcome Tucker Carlson back to the state and listen to his insight on the outcome of the presidential election and the future of the Republican Party,” Arkansas GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said.

Webb said interest in the November election will add significance in supporting Republican candidates and unifying the party.

“We just saw the largest voter turnout in a Republican Primary during a presidential election and are experiencing huge growth within our party. Between the excitement of the presidential election and the growth in participation, we can expect a very large turnout at this year’s dinner.”

The dinner comes just one night before Republican leaders convene at the State Committee meeting to elect the remainder of the state’s delegates to the GOP Convention.

The Reagan-Rockefeller Dinner will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center and will also be attended by several state and federal officials. The event is open to the public and ticket sales have already begun through the party’s website, and via phone at 501-372-7301.

Tags: Arkansas Republican Party of Arkansas, GOP, Doyle Webb, Reagan-Rockefeller Dinner, Hot Springs, Tucker Calson, keynote speaker To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Castros Are Getting Everything They Want From Obama

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, left, and  President
Raul Castro at the Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.
by Mike Gonzalez: The White House decision to disinvite a Grammy-award winning jazz legend who is a strong defender of democracy in Cuba was nothing short of contemptible.

The fact that it has now embarrassingly backtracked and re-invited him proves it had acted like corporations that are only too happy to ignore human rights violations in exchange for future profits with Cuba until public pressure gets too intense.

 . . . Read More at the ARRA News Service

Tags: Cuba, The Castros, Getting Everything They Want, President Obama, Mike Gonzalez, The Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

President Obama Violates The Constitution By Not Submitting Climate Treaty to Senate

by Senator Mike Lee & Rep. Mike Kelly Today at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives of over 130 nations will sign the Framework Convention on Climate Change agreement that was negotiated in Paris last December.

According to President Obama, this “historic agreement” will “hold every country accountable” if they fail to meet its carbon emission targets.

The White House has also acknowledged that the agreement contains “legally binding” provisions designed to create a “long-term framework” that will force the United States and signatory countries to reduce carbon emissions for decades to come.

Despite these facts, President Obama has already announced he will not submit the Paris Climate Agreement to the Senate for advice and consent. Instead, the White House claims the signature environmental achievement of the president’s tenure is just an “international agreement” not meriting Senate attention.

If the stakes weren’t so high, this claim would be laughable on its face.

Not only was this agreement’s predecessor, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, submitted to the Senate and approved as a treaty, but when the Senate ratified that treaty, the Foreign Relations Committee specifically reported that any future emissions targets agreed to through the Convention “would have to be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent.”

President Obama has chosen to ignore this directive.

He has also chosen to ignore the State Department’s eight-factor test that is used to determine “whether any international agreement should be brought into force as a treaty or as an international agreement other than a treaty.”

Those eight factors are:1) The extent to which the agreement involves commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole (the agreement’s carbon reductions will inflict costs on every American who consumes energy).

2) Whether the agreement is intended to affect state laws (the agreement will force states to meet emission targets).

3) Whether the agreement can be given effect without the enactment of subsequent legislation by the Congress (Congress will have to appropriate money for the agreement’s Green Climate Fund).

4) Past U.S. practice as to similar agreements (the agreement’s predecessor was submitted as a treaty).

5) The preference of the Congress as to a particular type of agreement (Congress wants to vote on this agreement).

6) The degree of formality desired for an agreement (the agreement is a highly detailed 31-page document).

7) The proposed duration of the agreement, the need for prompt conclusion of an agreement, and the desirability of concluding a routine or short-term agreement (the agreement sets emissions targets decades in advance).

8) The general international practice as to similar agreements (there are many, but the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is just one example).
The only reason President Obama is not sending the Paris Climate Agreement to the Senate as a treaty is that he knows the Senate would handily reject it.

This is an unacceptable breach of Article II Section 2 of the Constitution, and Congress must do something about it.

That is why we have introduced a concurrent resolution in the House and Senate expressing the sense of Congress that the Paris Climate Agreement must be submitted to the Senate as a treaty for its advice and consent.

If President Obama fails to do so, then Congress must prevent its implementation by forbidding any payments to the agreement’s “Green Climate Fund,” an international slush fund included in the Paris agreement to induce developing nations to sign the agreement.

If Congress fails to specifically prohibit taxpayer money from being spent implementing the Paris Climate Agreement, then they will be complicit in President Obama’s subversion of the Constitution.
Mike Lee is a Republican U.S. Senator from Utah. Mike Kelly is a Republican U.S. Representative for the the third congressional district in Pennsylvania.

Tags: Obama, Violating the Constitution, Not Submitting Climate Treaty to Senate, Senator Mike Lee, Rep. Mike Kelly To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Senate Finance Comm. Clears Boozman-Warner Bill to Protect Combat-Injured Veterans’ Severance Payments

WASHINGTON — Legislation introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to ensure that veterans who suffer service-ending combat-related injuries are not taxed on the severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense (DOD) cleared a major hurdle when it was approved by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

Under federal law, veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and who are separated from the military are not supposed to be taxed on the one-time lump sum disability severance payment they receive from DOD.

Unfortunately, taxes on combat-related disability severance payments have nonetheless been withheld from qualifying veterans for a number of years due to the limitations of DOD’s automated payment system. Veterans are typically unaware that their benefits were improperly reduced as a result of DOD’s actions.

Boozman and Warner’s bill, the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016, corrects this problem by directing DOD to identify veterans who have been separated from service for combat-related injuries and received a severance payment. The bill instructs DOD to determine how much the combat-wounded veterans are owed and allow veterans who have been improperly taxed to recover the withheld amounts.

The bill language was added as an amendment to the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2016, which passed the Senate Finance Committee. The amendment was sponsored by Finance Committee members Sen. Warner, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

“Senator Warner and I introduced this bill to right a wrong at the Department of Defense. It is apparent that some combat-injured veterans have been deprived of their full severance upon separation by DOD despite federal law prohibiting this action. It is unjust and needs to be corrected. I am pleased that the Finance Committee cleared our bill today as that puts us one step closer to ensuring that our nation’s wounded veterans receive the benefits they are rightfully due,” Boozman said.

“The intent of Congress, federal law and Department of Defense policy are all very clear: Service members separated as a result of combat-related injuries are not to have their severance pay taxed,” Warner said. “It’s pretty unbelievable that Congress has to act in order to ensure that the law is followed and that veterans who have already sacrificed so much are able to recover every penny they’re owed, but I’m pleased that my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee agreed that we need to make this right.”

The problem was originally identified by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP estimates that over 13,800 veterans potentially have been denied full severance pay as a result of wrongful taxation, including 165 veterans in Arkansas and 720 veterans in Virginia.

Tags: Senate Finance Comm., Clears, Boozman-Warner Bill, Protect Combat-Injured, Veterans, Severance Payments To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boozman Hails Passage of Bill to Increase Consumer & Safety Protections for Air Travelers

Comprehensive bill includes Boozman-authored language to help general aviation pilots

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today joined his Senate colleagues to pass a comprehensive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that increases consumer protections, strengthens air traveler security and improves international competitiveness of aerospace manufacturing.

“This bill has been called ‘one of the most passenger-friendly’ FAA reauthorizations in years and it’s easy to see why. In an era when air travel has become increasingly frustrating, this bill will upgrade the experience from the moment a traveler books a flight on through to landing at his or her destination,” Boozman said.

Among the new consumer protections included in the FAA reauthorization are requirements that airlines disclose fees to consumers, provide refunds for delayed baggage and return fees for purchased services (like seat assignments and early boarding) that are not received. The bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to review how airlines provide information on decisions to delay or cancel flights that may be fully or only partially due to weather and it requires airlines to provide families with information about the availability of seats together at the time of booking.

The bill includes several measures to bolster airport security. It expands enrollment in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Pre-Check program so passengers can move through security lines more quickly, improves airport employee vetting to ensure dangerous individuals don’t have access to secure areas and enhances security for international flights bound for the United States. It also improves cybersecurity and furthers the modernization of the air traffic control system.

“The recent attack on the Belgium airport is a tragic reminder that radical Islamic terrorists remain committed to attacking our commercial airlines and our bustling transportation hubs. Passage of this bill shows that the Senate is committed to taking responsible steps to prevent these types of attacks from happening here at home,” Boozman said.

The bill also increases international competitiveness of aerospace manufacturing, including manufacturers in Arkansas, like Falcon Jet, by improving the certification process. It ensures strengthened funding for Arkansas airports, including an additional $400 million authorization for the nationwide airport improvement program (AIP). It also maintains access to our nation’s aviation system for millions of Americans in rural areas by reauthorizing the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program and the Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) Program.

Boozman noted that he is particularly pleased that the FAA reauthorization includes language he authored that allows pilots to fly many types of small, light aircraft without a third class medical certificate. The light-sport aircraft program has demonstrated that these changes can occur without compromising safety.

“Thousands of pilots, including many from Arkansas, have asked the FAA to expand the light sport aircraft medical exemption to cover additional small aircraft. I am pleased that my commonsense solution to this problem has been incorporated into the FAA reauthorization,”

Boozman’s language requires pilots to undergo a flight review by a certified flight instructor every two years. During these flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate each pilot’s physical and cognitive condition, as well as his or her ability to safely operate an aircraft. Small aircraft pilots would be required to maintain a valid driver’s license. Limited medical examinations by a personal physician will be required once every four years, but the requirements will be much less burdensome.

Boozman’s language provides limited medical examinations, but the requirements will be much less burdensome, and additional tools and training will be provided to ensure that pilots are safe to fly. Boozman’s efforts have garnered the support of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

Tags: Senator, John Boozman, bill, increase consumer saftey protection, air travelers To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tax Code is Fundamentally Flawed

LITTLE ROCK — Boozman for Arkansas today issued the following statement from U.S. Senator John Boozman regarding Tax Day:
I am honored to be named a Taxpayer Super Hero by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) for achieving a perfect score on CCAGW’s 2015 Congressional ratings. As your senator, I will continue to support legislation that cuts spending and does not place the burden of debt on future generations. I believe our current tax code is fundamentally flawed, unfair, and in need of significant reform. We must fix our broken system by simplifying our tax code and providing tax relief for hardworking Arkansans in order to foster an economy that grows more good-paying jobs.”

Tags: Senator, John Boozman, perfect score, Citizens Against Waster, CCAGW To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Executive Branch Employment Shrinks by Approximately 3%

Nearly 800 Fewer Positions from January 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Executive-branch state agencies ended March with almost 800 fewer positions than in January of 2015, according to data released Monday by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Salary savings resulting from these increased efficiencies are anticipated to save the State an estimated $7 million by June 30, the end of Fiscal 2016.

The data, compiled by the Department of Finance and Administration’s Office of Personnel Management, measures the number of people employed by agencies who answer directly to the governor as March 31st, the end of the first quarter of calendar 2016. At that time, executive-branch agencies employed 25,733 people, or 795 fewer than were employed in January 2015, a decline of about three percent.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:

“We are working hard to find efficiencies and to make our government more accountable to the taxpayer. So far, we are on the right track. But we are far from done, and I expect our State agencies to continue finding increased efficiencies and lowering the cost of operating State government.”Executive-branch agencies are those agencies, boards and commissions under the direct oversight of Governor Hutchinson. Data for the report was drawn from the state accounting system AASIS. The decline in total employment is largely the result of attrition and the governor’s statewide job-freeze, as well as an increased focus on efficiency in State operations.

Tags: Arkansas, Executive Branch, shrinks, 3% To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Boozman Applauds Decision by Mexico to Lift its Ban on Arkansas Poultry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the news that Mexico will lift its ban of Arkansas poultry:

“I’m pleased that Mexico lifted its ban on Arkansas poultry products. It is important that producers in Arkansas are treated fairly, and as a leading producer of poultry, having access to export markets is important to Arkansas’s economy. Mexico is an important market for the industry and I’m excited for the opportunity for Arkansas poultry producers and businesses,” Boozman said.

Mexico banned the import of Arkansas poultry after turkey at a Boone County farm tested positive for avian flu in March of 2015. Despite United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) tests showing the strain no longer exists in the region last year, Mexico wouldn’t reverse its ban.

Boozman led efforts urging the Mexican government to treat Arkansas poultry producers fairly and to lift the ban through meetings with the Ambassador of Mexico and USDA officials.

Tags: U.S. Senator, John Boozman, Mexico, lifts ban, Arkansas Poultry To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Column: Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena AR
by Gov. Asa Hutchinson: As governor, no day is typical. I work with the legislature, pursue economic development opportunities, listen to the concerns of citizens and meet people from every corner of the state. I love my job, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the office and enjoy the Natural State.

Last weekend, the First Lady and I spent two days at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The birds were singing, the flowers were blooming and the weather was just right for a hike down Lover’s Leap Trail. The mile-long loop near Mena is a great trail for hikers of all skill levels and offers some of the best views of the Ouachita Mountains.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park, named after the soon-to-be Queen of the Netherlands in 1898, originally hosted a luxurious mountain resort named “Castle in the Sky” on account of its grandeur. But soon after its opening, the Wilhelmina Inn faced financial hardships and fell into a state of disrepair. By the 1930’s, only pieces of the original stone fireplaces remained, which can still be seen on the park’s Reservoir Trail today.

In 1957, community leaders and legislators created a resolution to resurrect Arkansas’s “Castle in the Sky” and established the original site of the Wilhelmina Inn as an Arkansas State Park.

Since then, the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge has become the park’s crowning attraction. Since extensive renovations, the lodge is projected to finish its first year of operation with an occupancy rate of almost 76 percent – that’s a nearly twenty percent increase from before the renovations were made in 2011. Now, visitors get to enjoy larger rooms with modern amenities and even bigger windows to admire the view – I know Susan and I did!

Every year, Queen Wilhelmina State Park attracts over 160,000 visitors who stay in the lodge, enjoy a good meal, or hike one of the scenic trails. For someone who spends a lot of time in the office, getting outside and enjoying nature was just what I needed before starting our fiscal session.

Few experiences can compare to seeing and staying at Arkansas’s beautiful state parks in the springtime. As a lifelong Arkansan, I can attest there’s no better place for a fun, inexpensive, memorable getaway than visiting places like Queen Wilhelmina State Park. So as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, grab your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure.

Tags: Governor, Asa Hutchinson, weekly column, Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Mena AR To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

“Arkansas Works” Fails The Needy and Taxpayers

State Senator Linda Collins-Smith
by Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith: As a State Senator who campaigned for office and was elected on a promise to oppose Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, I was truly disappointed to see Governor Asa Hutchinson embrace the policy that began three years ago under Governor Beebe. In just a short time, Obamacare's Medicaid expansion has already led to larger than expected enrollments, higher than expected costs, and burdened future generations with billions of dollars in additional debt.

The people of Arkansas have spoken loudly and repeatedly on this issue: they don’t want any part of Obamacare or its Medicaid expansion. But Governor Hutchinson isn’t listening and now has reframed the failed program into the new but not improved “Arkansas Works.”

On April 7th, I was one of ten State Senators that voted against this program. It is wrong for Arkansas taxpayers and puts our state’s most needy at risk. In fact, expansion supporters, including the governor, are now proposing cutting funding for foster children and the elderly if they don’t get their way.

Arkansas Works will do lasting damage to our state – not only to our taxpayers but also to the enrollees themselves by trapping them in a new welfare program.

This plan would put able-bodied adults that already have insurance on Medicaid. Instead of paying their own way as they have been, taxpayers will now pickup the tab. Myself and my conservative colleagues cannot support this massive redistribution of wealth, especially while we have nearly 3,000 Arkansans with disabilities on waiting lists. Why should adultswho already have insurance take priority over the disabled, many of whom are children?

Our Medicaid program as a whole is already at a breaking point. We have already enrolled more people in our Medicaid expansion than the Beebe administration said would ever enroll or be eligible. As of last June, a report from the federal government showed that 41 percent of Arkansans are now on Medicaid. This is simply unsustainable.

But Arkansas Works would make this problem even worse – by giving Medicaid welfare to adults who already have insurance, the Foundation for Government Accountability estimates up to 80,000 new adults could enroll in our Medicaid expansion.
I cannot and will not support policies that increase dependency on government and saddle our kids with even more debt. Isn’t $20 trillion of national debt enough?

While we are currently gridlocked over funding for the program, this gridlock is by choice. Expansion supporters, including our current senate president Jonathan Dismang, have repeatedly promised that they would separate the expansion funding from the rest of the DHS budget so the truly needy can continue to get the services they need.

I’m calling on Senator Dismang to keep his word and separate the Obamacare funding from the DHS budget. We should not be forced to vote for Obamacare or against the truly needy.

My conservative colleagues and I in the senate will continue to stand strong against this massive welfare expansion that puts the needy and our children at risk.

Tags: Senator, Linda Collins-Smith, Arkansas Works, fails theneedy, taxpaers To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Hill Statement on Passage of Border Security Bills in the House

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman French Hill (AR-02) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 3586, the Border and Maritime Coordination Improvement Act and H.R. 4482, the Southwest Border Security Threat Assessment Act of 2016:

“Our national security starts with our ability to protect our own borders from the flow of illegal traffic. I have made it a priority to be a positive voice on the issue of border security in the Congress, and I believe utilizing all the technologies at our disposal is vital to reducing potential threats at our border. Being able to listen to those on the ground, as well as immigration and border security experts, is why I have already made two trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in my first year in Congress. It is important to see the unique aspects of each part of our Southern Border, and it is why I will continue making these trips. The two bills we passed today are good steps towards better enhancing our border security, and I look forward to continuing to work on this important national security issue.”
KARK: Rep. French Hill Talks Border Security
THV 11: US Rep. French Hill visits Mexican border

Tags: French Hill, passage, Border Security bills,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Governor Gets It Wrong on Fundamental Principles and Protections.

Governor Asa Hutchinson thinks legislators who oppose his Obamacare “Arkansas Works” program should bow to his wishes, instead of following their consciences and voting “No,” which would keep the Governor from getting the required three-fourths vote to spend money on the program. The Governor claims legislators who would block the funding are violating fundamental principles of government.

Governor Hutchinson said:

There’s a fundamental principle of government that we need to deal with, and that is that the minority should not derail the expressed will of the majority. And, that has not happened in Arkansas’ history.

He is wrong. He should know he is wrong. And, we think most people are glad he is wrong.

The requirement he complains about is part of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, adopted by the people, which is designed to help control spending and to make it harder for liberals to increase taxes, such as the state income tax, by requiring a higher vote on these issues!

He got it wrong
FOUNDING FATHERS: As the Governor of the state of Arkansas, a former U.S. Congressman, former federal bureaucrat, and attorney, the Governor should be well aware that our founding fathers included fundamental protections against what is called the “tyranny of the majority”. They did this by requiring more than a majority vote in a number of instances.

U.S. CONSTITUTION: The U.S. Constitution requires more than a majority vote on various issues such as: impeachment of federal officials, expelling members of congress, overriding the President’s veto, amending the Constitution, calling a Constitutional Convention, ratifying an amendment to the Constitution, ratifying a Treaty, and removal of the President. Governor Hutchinson served as the Congressional prosecutor in the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton and should know very well the two-thirds supermajority needed to impeach a President.

CONGRESS: The U.S. Congress has its own supermajority rules. Such as the rule requiring a three-fifths vote to end a filibuster. (Remember the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: starring Jimmy Stewart.)

ARKANSAS: The Arkansas Constitution and the rules of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Arkansas Senate include supermajority rules.

Arkansas’ protection against uncontrolled spending and taxation
The Governor is complaining about the requirement that spending bills must receive a three-fourths vote in each house. This fundamental protection is part of the Arkansas Constitution and was approved by the people in 1934. The requirement has deterred spending. Just because a legislator passes enabling legislation for some new program or requirement does not mean the idea got funded. State agencies know this too and sometimes protect themselves by insisting on language being added to legislation, something to the effect of “This act is contingent on an appropriation and funding being made available for that purpose.” State agencies know it is relatively easy to pass legislation but not so easy to pass legislation to spend money.

The 1934 constitutional amendment included another three-fourths vote requirement that we bet the Governor would not like to talk about. For taxes in existence in 1934, the amendment requires a three-fourths vote before there can be a tax increase.

A prime target for liberals is the three-fourths vote requirement to increase your state income tax rate. Liberals want to be able to increase the income tax with only a majority. If the Governor really believes what he said in his speech, then he would also be saying the legislature should be able to increase the Arkansas income tax by a majority vote because the 3/4ths vote requirement “derails the express will of the majority.Would you like for it to be easier for big government bureaucrats to raise your income tax rate?

Bottom line?
To browbeat his opponents, the Governor made an obviously incorrect statement about the fundamental principles of government. And the press let him get away with it.

In matters of money, you want not just a majority, who may be swayed by Governors, lobbyists and special interests, that is why the Arkansas Constitution requires a three-fourths vote.

Whether a legislator is conservative, lukewarm, or liberal, the one thing we are in short supply of is legislators who will vote their conscience.

Tags: Conduit for action, Governor, Asa Hutchinson, Gets it Wrong, fundamental principles and protection,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Says Highway Plan in Jeopardy if Arkansas Works Funding Not Passed -

No General Revenues to Fund Highways & No Highway Special Session

LITTLE ROCK – In a news conference this afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson warned of the consequences to any new highway program if funding for Arkansas Works was not passed.

The governor’s recommendation, announced earlier this year, provides the use of $40 million from accumulated and unused surplus to meet the state match for new federal highway funds. This transfer is designed to meet the 9/30/16 deadline so that the state will not lose available federal funding for Arkansas highways. If Arkansas Works does not pass then there will be substantial cuts in state services as a result of the budget hole in excess of $100 million. As a result, in addition to the cuts indicated by the House’s alternative budget released Monday, conservative budgeting will require the surplus funds to be retained for emergency needs of the state and to fill other gaps in budget shortfalls from prisons to education to foster care needs.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:“The legislative decision on Arkansas Works funding comes at a critical time for our state’s highway program. From much needed improvements to existing roadways to new and necessary projects around the state – a lot of work is left to be done. If we fail to provide the state’s match by September 30, 2016, we will lose hundreds of millions in federal highway dollars. Part of my proposed plan, in year one, calls for the one-time use of $40 million from accumulated and unused surplus in order for the state to meet the required match. However, that proposal becomes impossible without the funding for Arkansas Works due to the extraordinary budget gap that will result. Highway infrastructure is important to any state, but it is especially important to Arkansas. Our economy has momentum. The private sector is outgrowing the public sector, and the state’s unemployment is the lowest it’s been in decades. A hit to our highways now would be devastating for future economic growth.”Mike Preston, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) issued the following statement:"Success in economic development starts with a solid infrastructure base. Highways are an extremely important component of that infrastructure. If we start utilizing highway funds to cover cost gaps in other programs, Arkansas then becomes less attractive to companies considering expanding or locating here."
Tags: Governor, Asa Hutchinson, Highway Plan in Jeopardy, if Arkansas Works Funding, Not Passed To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Asa Presents … Budget Hole Scare 2

If Arkansas’ Obamacare Expansion debates were movies….

Following the success of former Governor Beebe’s 2012 blockbuster Budget Hole Scare”, Governor Asa Hutchinson has released his sequelBudget Hole Scare 2.

The plot of the original “Budget Hole Scare” was impending doom from a $400 million Medicaid shortfall, unless the state adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion. Although the original “Budget Hole” was successful at the box office it was highly panned because: 1) No one other than Governor Mike Beebe and the DHS Director ever saw the monster; and 2) Despite no federal money showing up for another year, the legislature was even able to spend hundreds of millions on discretionary projects “($300M-GIF)”.

In “Budget Hole Scare 2” we are shown a blurry picture of a $100 million monster in the form of a report by the Stephen Group. Unfortunately for movie goers, the Stephen Group report numbers are less believable than a Saturday matinee featuring Godzilla with the costume’s zipper showing.

A liberal movie fan described the sequel using his favorite X-Files quote, “I want to believe.

Conduit for Action does not believe the “budget hole” scare and finds the Stephen Group numbers flawed.

Even if there was a budget hole, here are three reasons not to worry about it.
  1. Arkansas Premium Tax – Arkansas has been skimming money from the federal government in the form of the insurance premium tax on Private Option policies and putting the money in a trust fund. By the end of the 2016 calendar year the trust fund may be approaching $90 million or more (three years of PO). If the Private Option/Arkansas Works version of Obamacare expansion goes away there is no reason to hold back the money from covering the alleged shortfall next fiscal year.
  2. General Improvement Funds – Quit spending hundreds of millions of dollars on discretionary spending of surplus (General Improvement Funds) or at least cut out the $20 million that is divided among individual legislators, the $20 million for the Governor, and the millions in Rainy Day funds given away by the Governor for items such Taekwondo headquarters. There is no need for all those “discretionary” funds especially when the budget is considered every year. (Note: the discretionary funds for legislators is being challenged in court as unconstitutional.)
  3. State Revenue Forecast – State Revenues are expected to grow by $100 million this year.
Obamacare supporters are trying every scare tactic they can imagine. House Speaker Jeremy Gilliam was given the task of spreading the education cut scare.
House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, said House leaders are developing an alternative general revenue budget for fiscal 2017, factoring in an estimated $100 million and $122 million budget shortfall, “if you stop” the Medicaid expansion on June 30.
He said the budget plan in the works envisions roughly $30 million in cuts to discretionary state funds for public schools and a 3 percent to 5 percent reduction to other agency budgets.[i]

These scare tactics are reminiscent of President Obama having barricades erected to keep citizens off the lawns of public monuments in order to try to make the federal shutdown look worse.

Take a look at CFA’s assessment of the Stephen Group’s wild estimates. Their estimates include such things as the liberal philosophy that bigger government is always better and the more you spend on big government the more the economy will grow and bring in more taxes. (By the way, the Stephens Group was required to be supportive of the Private Option). See CFA articles: 1. Claimed Private Option savings doesn’t withstand scrutiny 2. Private Option Budget Hole & Other Mythical Creatures

[i] Medicaid plan funds fiscal session’s target, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 4/10/2016

Tags: Conduitforaction, Commentary, PO News, Commentaries, Private Option News Budget Hole Scare 2 To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Responds to Potential Cuts to Foster Care System if Arkansas Works Funding Not Passed

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson warns that if Arkansas Works funding is not passed, a $10.9 million funding cut to the state’s foster care system is possible as indicated by the House’s proposed alternative budget released today.

In order to achieve a $10.9 million reduction, the Department of Human Services (DHS) would be forced to cut the current number of Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) staff by approximately 255 positions – 168 caseworkers and investigators, 31 supervisors and 56 program assistants. Those cuts would cause average caseloads to go from 29 to 48.

It’s important to note that DCFS was sued in the early 1990s, in part because of the high caseloads. That suit resulted in the state being under court-ordered monitoring for several years.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement
“Today House leadership released an alternative budget in the event that funding for Arkansas Works is not passed in the upcoming fiscal session. To say I am concerned with some of these reductions is an understatement. One such reduction includes a proposed $10 million cut to our state’s foster care system.

“The consequences of this cut alone is devastating and will directly impact the resources available for our foster families, our social workers and nearly 5,000 children in our state’s foster care system. Adequate funding and handling of our state’s foster care community is an important initiative of my administration. To further cut funding for DCFS is a disservice to the foster care community and to the children who so desperately need our help.”
DHS Director Cindy Gillespie issued the following statement:“The staff who investigate child abuse and work with those children and families are already stretched too thin. Their caseloads are double that of the recommended national average and they work very long hours and give up time with their own families just to get their work done. Cuts to the Governor’s budget request would force us to reduce the current number of staff working in DCFS. If that happens, caseloads will skyrocket and, frankly, that puts children at risk.”

Tags: Asa Hutchinson, Governor, Arkansas, potential Cuts, Foster Care, Arkansas Works To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

“Arkansas Works” – You Work So Others Don’t Have To!

by Conduit For Action: Governor Asa Hutchinson is pushing the legislature to continue and to expand the Obamacare Private Option program as “Arkansas Works”.

As soon as the Obamacare Private Option program began, supporters started saying the state can’t stop the program because thousands of people would lose coverage. But if the Private Option/ Arkansas Works ended, what would it take for an enrollee to instead qualify for subsidized Obamacare under an Obamacare Exchange?

To remain eligible for the Private Option/ Arkansas Works, a person cannot exceed income above 138% of the federal poverty level. A person with income above the poverty level are eligible for federally subsidized insurance on the Obamacare Exchange.

If the Private Option/ Arkansas Works goes away, how hard would it be for enrollees to qualify for the federally subsidized insurance? A person becomes eligible for federally subsidized insurance on the Obamacare Exchange by working about 28.1 hours a week at the current Arkansas minimum wage of $8.00 an hour. Next year the Arkansas minimum wage increases to $8.50 per hour and a person would only have to work 26.4 hours of per week per week to be eligible.[i] The number of hours also falls as the person’s salary increases above minimum wage. . .. [Read More]

Tags: Arkansas Works, you work, so others don't, Conduit for Action To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.