March 22, 2023

Household Council, Arkansas Advocates for Kids & Households define legislative priorities

The Arkansas Legislature is gearing up for its common session initially of the 12 months, and lots of teams and organizations shall be pushing modifications in state legal guidelines. Household Council President Jerry Cox and Laura Kellams, NWA Director for Arkansas Advocates for Kids & Households, mentioned with Discuss Enterprise & Politics what their teams’ legislative priorities shall be through the subsequent session.

Arkansas is a pro-life state and Cox mentioned he doesn’t suppose there shall be any main modifications to the state’s restrictive abortion legal guidelines. There is perhaps a push to increase the legislation to permit for abortions in instances of rape or incest, however he doesn’t suppose there shall be sufficient votes on that entrance. Few Republican lawmakers will wish to cope with that problem in a main, he added.

“It’s just about been taken care of,” Cox mentioned of the state’s abortion legal guidelines.

There’s one abortion-related problem he may see being addressed, nonetheless. A legislation is perhaps handed to limit companies and organizations that make referrals for abortions, he mentioned.

About half of all girls who give delivery in Arkansas obtain Medicaid protection and the system must be tweaked, Kellams mentioned. When a newly expectant mom applies for Medicaid, she is bunched in with all the opposite candidates. Pregnant girls must be quick tracked, she mentioned. Her group additionally needs protection prolonged for the mom one 12 months after delivery, not the everyday 60 days.

“We have to get them that prenatal protection as shortly as attainable,” she mentioned.

Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders has mentioned {that a} precedence for her shall be to enhance the state’s schooling system, particularly studying scores. Kellams mentioned one confirmed methodology of bettering scores is after college and summer season packages. Funding and increasing these packages could possibly be a key to fulfilling Sanders’ aim, she mentioned.

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“The state hasn’t made an effort to spend money on these packages,” she mentioned.

One other drawback the legislature will cope with is human trafficking. Arkansas is woefully behind different states in the case of coping with this drawback, and Cox believes there may be common assist amongst lawmakers to make modifications.

“Arkansas will get an F in the case of coping with human trafficking,” he mentioned.

Cox expects the statute of limitations for each legal and civil offenses to be prolonged in the case of human trafficking. He additionally thinks that companies equivalent to lodges or motels that “flip a blind eye” to those actions could also be held extra culpable.

Cox expects extra funding to be allotted to companies and organizations that help moms who’re pregnant or have simply given delivery. He thinks that grants shall be created for organizations that assist present housing, method, diapers and different companies and merchandise utilized by moms.

Librarians have been exempt from the state’s obscenity statutes however that might change throughout this session, he mentioned. He mentioned that libraries are publicly funded establishments and legislators might wish to discover a option to train extra management over the content material of the supplies which might be carried in libraries.

Lastly, the Arkansas Fee on the Standing of Girls launched a report final week that outlined issues for ladies within the state. One of many prime issues listed was childcare.

Kellams mentioned she was happy that childcare was on the listing. There must be coordination between private and non-private entities to sort out this drawback, she mentioned. The difficulty impacts enterprise, the economic system and has a direct influence on kids’s growth. Being uncovered to raised packages in early childhood will result in increased check scores when these kids get into common college, she added.

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You may watch Cox’s and Kellams’ interviews within the movies beneath.