The Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Task Force has completed its work. This task force was created in 2017 in the same legislation that lowered the income tax rate for Arkansans making below $21,000 a year.
Since that time, the task force has been exploring everything from capital gains taxes to registration fees on electric and hybrid cars.
In its final meeting this week, the members were presented with fiscal impact estimates for several proposals. They also voted on their top preference for reform going into the 2019 Regular Session.
The top preference for the task force is to reduce the state’s top individual tax rate phased in over a 3 year period.
The Governor has submitted a proposal to reduce the rate over a 4 year period. It has been referred to as the “2-4-5.9” plan since the rates would ultimately be charged at those percentages depending on income.
Currently, Arkansas has six tax brackets, ranging from 0.9% to 6.9%. To offset the increase for the lowest tax bracket, the current proposals include an increase to the standard deduction.
The standard deduction would increase from $2,200 to $6,800 for single taxpayers and $4,400 to $13,600 for married taxpayers.
The second preference of the task force is to implement the governor’s income-tax cut plan within two years. The third preference would reduce the number of tax tables from three to one.
Any proposal will ultimately need final approval of the legislature. The first and second preference of the task force would require a ¾ majority. The third preference would require a simple majority for approval.
We have posted the economic impact of various proposals on our website www.arkansashouse.org.
The 2019 Regular Session begins on January 14, 2019.
12-14-18 4:52 p.m. kawx.org
Michelle L. Golkhajeh, 33, of Mena was in court this afternoon before Judge Danny Thrailkill. Golkhajeh was arrested Wednesday night in Mena after her four year old child was found dead in the home. Golkhajeh was charged with Murder in the 1st degree of a person under the age of 14, a class Y felony punishable up to 10 to 40 Years in prison. Bond was set at $1 million dollars. Arraignment is set for Monday, December 17th, at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Jerry Ryan. Golkhajeh is being held in the Polk County Jail.
12-14-18 4:46 p.m. kawx.org
Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Living Healthy, Being Well
LITTLE ROCK – I have always considered myself a Healthy Active Arkansan, and that is why I am pleased that my administration launched Healthy Active Arkansas, the 10-year campaign to reduce the rate of obesity in our state and to increase healthy lifestyles.
Healthy Active Arkansas offers encouragement for Arkansans to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise. Healthy Active Arkansas promotes a variety of good-health initiatives, from campaigns that encourage Arkansans to drink more water to support for private breast-feeding areas at public venues.
The Arkansas Department of Health is another partner in our effort to encourage healthy lifestyles.
The department recently announced a new program called Be Well Arkansas. This new initiative offers telephone counseling with a focus on tobacco use, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
The website offers specific guidelines to create plans to improve health, including a plan to quit smoking.
The counselors, who have been trained through an MD Anderson program, provide over-the-phone tobacco and nicotine cessation services. They also offer counseling for managing diabetes and controlling blood pressure.
Programs that help tobacco users stop using tobacco in any form are especially important as the number of teenagers who use e-cigarettes has increased from less than 2 percent in 2010 to almost 20 percent. E-cigarettes are not harmless, and experts have said that one risk is that e-cigarettes break down the fear of tobacco cigarettes.
Aside from the threat to the health of young Arkansans, the health-related illnesses cost Arkansas billions of dollars in medical bills and insurance payments.
Obesity and diabetes are two of the other conditions of most concern. The health department has a lifestyle counselor in every region of the state to answer questions and to help you create a plan to improve your health.
One aspect of good health is to stay active. No matter how busy you are with your job or your children, you ought to find time for physical activity. Anyone can make time for a brisk 20-minute walk three or four days a week.
My schedule doesn’t allow much time for exercise, so I have to make a serious effort to fit it in. My routine is 30 minutes of daily workout that includes 100 jumping jacks and sit ups. And I try to have some fun along the way, so I play full-court pickup basketball once a week. Even when I’ve traveled internationally, I’ve managed to work in some basketball.
The state of our health ultimately is up to each of us. But in Arkansas, we like to guide Arkansans to a healthy lifestyle. I commend the Department of Health for launching Be Well Arkansas.
New Farm Bill Will Bring Certainty and Predictability
This summer, I embarked on the #ARisAG tour, traveling the Natural State to highlight the importance of agriculture to Arkansas and to hear firsthand the concerns and ideas of our farmers and ranchers. During that tour, I heard one message over and over again–pass a meaningful farm bill.
It took some heavy lifting, but we have delivered for our farmers and ranchers. Congress has approved a final five-year reauthorization of the farm bill law. This is very good news for production agriculture and rural communities across our nation.
First and foremost, the farm bill will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers over the next five years. This is especially important given the intense pressure our agriculture producers are under.
If you look at the numbers across the nation, net farm income is approximately half of what it was when we passed the last farm bill. Farm bankruptcies are up by 39 percent since 2014, financing has become more expensive, commodity prices have plummeted, input costs are rising and the trade outlook is volatile and uncertain.
Farmers across the country—regardless of where they call home or which crops they grow—are hurting. The farm bill that Congress approved delivers meaningful and real relief for our farmers and ranchers in these difficult times.
Along with strengthening key risk management tools for our farmers, this legislation also helps our rural communities by authorizing crucial economic development and job creation programs along with provisions that range from combating the opioid crisis to home financing to high-speed internet access.
The farm bill is vital to our continued economic growth in Arkansas. Agriculture is a driving force of the Natural State’s economy, adding around $16 billion to our economy every year and accounting for approximately one in every six jobs. That’s why agriculture advocacy groups in Arkansas were very excited when we passed the final version.
The Arkansas Farm Bureau said it was “pleased that Congress has recognized how important a new farm bill is to the hard-working farmers and ranchers of this country” and expressed gratitude that we came together to pass “this critical legislation before the new year.”
The Agricultural Council of Arkansas said it “cannot stress enough the importance of the farm bill and the need for it among Arkansas farmers.” The Council went on to add, “a farm bill with meaningful support is critical in preventing significant harm to Arkansas farms.”
And the Arkansas Rice Federation said the farm bill will provide “certainty in such a variable agricultural climate.”
The farm bill would not have been as beneficial to Arkansas farmers and ranchers without the diligent efforts of the conference committee leadership who worked to ensure that harmful, arbitrary policy changes were excluded from the final conference report. As a result of these efforts, family farms are protected from additional regulations and unnecessary paperwork.
This would not have been possible without the steadfast leadership of the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Their commitment to making this bill fair and equitable to the diverse needs of producers across all regions of the country. They worked hard to make certain we would get this done before adjourning the 115th Congress. I look forward to ensuring its successful implementation.
12-14-18 3:45 p.m. kawx.org
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
December 14, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau had good news for Arkansas. The percentage of adults with a college degree has gone up by 2.9 percent.
In 2010 the percentage of adults in Arkansas with the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree was 19.1 percent, and last year it was 22 percent.
In spite of the improvement Arkansas is still below the national average. In 2017 the number of adults aged 22 or older who had a bachelor’s degree was 30.9 percent. In 2010 it was 27.9 percent.
Leaders in business, government and education have been working on policies that increase the rate of students who finish college with a degree, for the general prosperity of the state. On average, adults with a college degree earn more income over their lifetimes and they tend to lead healthier lifestyles.
Executives consistently say that we need a better-trained workforce in order to attract industries that are able to compete in the global economy. Knowledge-based industries, such as telecommunications and computer engineering, tend to pay more. Also, they tend to be more secure during economic disruptions.
A statewide policy change with the goal of improving college graduation rates was Act 148, which the legislature approved in 2017. It restructured the funding formula under which state aid is distributed to colleges and universities. Basically, it changed the formula so that retention and graduation rates drove the amount of state appropriations, rather than enrollment.
Three Arkansas counties are above the national average in their rates of adults with a college degree. They are Benton and Washington Counties in northwest Arkansas, with 31.7 and 31.9 percent. Pulaski County in central Arkansas has a rate of 33.7 percent.
According to the census report, more Arkansas high school students are graduating. Since 2010, the number of adults over 18 with a high school diploma has risen from 81.9 percent to 85.6 percent.
At the same time that a higher percentage of college students are finishing with a degree, fewer of our high school graduates are going on to college. Since 2013 the number of Arkansas high school graduates who go on to college has dropped, from 51.4 percent to 48.2 percent.
Enrollment in higher education is sensitive to the general state of the economy, especially at two-year colleges. When the economy is good and companies are hiring, people go to work. When the economy slackens and jobs become scarcer, people tend to enroll in college to improve their job skills.
Training for Computer Teachers
The governor announced the expansion of a program that provides stipends to teachers studying to be licensed in computer science. The governor approved the addition of $200,000 to the program, bringing the total available for stipends to $1 million.
Under the program, teachers from kindergarten through eighth grade can qualify for $2,000 in stipends.
In the summer of 2018, which was the first full year of the program, 301 teachers enrolled in the program and completed it. There is enough funding for another 200 teachers to take the training in the summer of 2019.
12-14-18 8:29 a.m. kawx.org
The News Release below was issued late Thursday afternoon by Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin.
On 12/12/18 Officers of the Mena Police Department responded to a residence in Mena, the nature of the call was the death of a four year old child.
Officers arrived and a short time later took Michelle Golkhajeh 33 of Mena into custody. Michelle Golkhejah is being held at the Polk County Jail awaiting formal charges of First Degree Murder.
This is an ongoing investigation with the Mena Police Department, Arkansas State Police and the Polk County Sheriffs Office working the case and we ask that everyone please respect the privacy of the family.
12-13-18 5:27 p.m. kawx.org
The bridge on Polk County Road 34 near Hatfield is temporarily closed while maintenance is performed, the County Judge - County Road Department announced today. Alternate routes will need to be used until the work is completed.
UPDATE-Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin has not released any information and there has been no comment from other agencies in the murder investigation as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Martin did say that due to the nature of the case that he could say nothing at this time other than his department, along with the Polk County Sheriff's Department and Arkansas State Police, were investigating and that formal charges were pending. The suspect is expected to be in Polk County Court Friday afternoon. (Original story below.)
Mena Police arrested 33 year old Michelle Leann Golkhajeh of 70 Evans Circle Wednesday night. Golkhajeh was booked into the Polk County Jail around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and according to the Polk County Inmate web site charged with First Degree Murder, but no formal charges have been filed. No other details are available at this time, but Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin is expected to release more information today.
12-13-18 8:16 a.m. kawx.org
All criminal information is merely an accusation and the Defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner, within and for the 18th-West Judicial District of the State of Arkansas, of which Polk County is a part, in the name and by the authority of the State of Arkansas, on oath, do hereby accuse the defendants of committing in Polk County, Arkansas the following crimes:
Staet of Arkansas Vs. Francine Sanders W/F, age 48 Count 1: Probation Violation (original offense Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver. Bond set at $5,000.00.
State of Arkansas Vs. Logan E. Pitts W/M, age 39 Count 1: Failure To Appear, a Class "D" Felony.
State of Arkansas Vs. Jeff Allen White W/M, age 38 Count 1: Failure To Appear, a class "C" Felony .
12-12-18 3:59 p.m. kawx.org
The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of December 3, 2018 – December 9, 2018. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.
December 3, 2018
Report from a 16-year-old female of the theft of a wallet containing $250.00 cash and personal documents. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Woodland Lane near Mena of damage done to a vehicle by a falling tree. Deputy responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 24 near Cove of being harassed by an acquaintance. Suspect was advised to cease all contact with complainant.
Arrested was Michael D. Rogers, 35, of Mena, on a Warrant for Probation Violation and Non-Payment of Child Support.
December 4, 2018
Report from complainant on Polk 286 near Hatfield of being harassed via social media by an unknown individual. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on McLaughlin Lane near Wickes of the theft of prescription medication, valued at $20.00. Investigation continues.
Arrested was Russell G. Corbell, 37, of Van Buren, on a Body Attachment Warrant.
Arrested was Sarah M. Mitchell, 25, of Mena, on three Warrants for Failure to Comply with a Court Order.
December 5, 2018
Report from a Mena man that his adult daughter was missing. Investigation determined that the individual was, in fact, not missing.
Report from a business on Highway 71 South in Cove of a shoplifter led to the arrest of Elizabeth A. Seman, 49, of Cove, on a Charge of Shoplifting.
Arrested was Brennan D. McMillan, 18, of Mena, on a Drug Court Sanction.
December 6, 2018
Report of a disturbance on Polk 178 near Mena led to the arrest of Randy L. Cranfield, 21; Jennifer E. Cranfield, 22; and Tyler L. Kamm, 21, all of Mena, each on a Charge of Disorderly Conduct.
Report of a disturbance on Highway 71 South near Cove led to the arrest of Shirley Sanders, 54, of Cove, on a Charge of Battery 3rd Degree.
December 7, 2018
Report from complainant on Polk 141 near Cove of the theft of a firearm. Investigation continues.
Report of an unattended death on Polk 61 near Board Camp. Deputies responded.
Report from complainant on Polk 93 near Rocky of an assault that had occurred earlier in the year.
Reports from the cities of Grannis, Cove and Hatfield of forged checks. Investigation continues.
Report from complainant on Highway 71 South near Cove of a fictitious email scam. Investigation continues.
December 8, 2018
Report from complainant on Polk 26 near Hatfield of the theft of several firearms and a safe. Investigation continues.
Report of a disturbance on Polk 24 near Cove led to the arrest of Neisha F. Wikel, 26, of Cove, on a Charge of Violation of a No Contact Order.
December 9, 2018
Traffic stop on Highway 246 West near Hatfield led to the arrest of Jerry L. Walters, 46, of Mena, on a Charge of DWI.
Traffic stop on Polk 37 near Potter led to the arrest of Colby J. Campbell, 32, of Cove, on a Charge of DWI.
Arrested was Tory B. Wilson, 27, of Watson, OK, on a Charge of DWI.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked three vehicle accidents this week.
Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 19 Incarcerated Inmates, with 4 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.
12-11-18 12:18 p.m. kawx.org
To listen to the online Mena - Polk County, Arkansas Police and Fire radio scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the police scanner below. Please listen respopnisbly!
Arkansans spent $37,641,715.00 on lottery tickets in November of 2018 according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Of the 75 counties, Pulaski County sales were by far the highest in the state at $7,018,185.50, while Montgomery County sales were the lowest at $30,349.00.
Polk County sales were $148,557.50.
The numbers are for purchases of various lottery products for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, also called the Arkansas Education Lottery, between November 1st and November 30th.
Mena Police Department Reports for the Week of December 2, 2018 through December 8, 2018
December 2, 2018
Alton Roy Self, 40, of Mena was charged with theft of property (shoplifting) after officers responded to a call at a local retail store.
Carlos Gonzales, 61 of Mena was arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear.
A local woman reported that her purse had been stolen. It was later returned to her, but her wallet was still missing. No suspects at this time.
December 3 & 4, 2018
Two separate reports were made of a couple harassing employees at a local fast food restaurant. Case is pending location and interview of suspects.
A local woman reported that she and her family have been harassed by a neighbor for quite some time. Case is pending.
December 5 & 6, 2018
Report was taken of a gasoline hose being accidentally damaged at a local convenience store. The party responsible has agreed to pay for damages and no charges are pending.
A Mena man reported that he was missing a substantial amount of cash. It was found on a local street and has been returned to the owner.
December 7 & 8, 2018
A complaint was filed regarding a local man being harassed by his brother’s girlfriend. Case is pending.
Van Holman, 26, of Mena was charged with possession a schedule VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The arrest followed a routine traffic stop.
Officers worked eight traffic accidents.
12-10-18 9:46 a.m. kawx.org
To listen to the online Mena - Polk County, AR Police and Fire radio scanner, click anywhere on this line or on the police scanner below.
Arkansas State Troopers will be joined by city and county law enforcement officers in the coming days in a unified effort to remove impaired drivers from local streets and roads as well as state and U.S. highways. The special enforcement operation begins Friday, December 14th and continues through New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019.
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled-Over” is a national campaign organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Participating law enforcement agencies will have no tolerance for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes during 2017 which equates to one person killed every 48 minutes. On average, 10,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes each year from 2013 to 2017. During December 2017, 885 people lost their lives across the country in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.
“Impaired driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Drivers should remember it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober, not just during the holidays, but every time they’re behind the wheel.”
Colonel Bryant stated that impaired driving is a growing problem in our country. “In addition to drivers impaired by alcohol, we’re also seeing an increase in drivers who are under the influence of drugs.”
NHTSA statistics from 2017 also indicate that motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment compared to other motor vehicle drivers (27% for motorcycle riders, 21% for passenger car drivers, 20% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for drivers of large trucks). Nearly one in five children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office offers the following tips for a safe holiday season:
- If you plan on drinking, do not drive. Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before you get in the vehicle. Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving, or worse, risk injury or death to someone by causing a crash.
- If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
- Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
- Promptly report impaired drivers to law enforcement.
- Always wear your seat belt or use safety equipment while on a motorcycle. These items are your best defense against an impaired driver.
For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visitwww.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For information on Arkansas’ “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDarkansas.org.
Serving Others is a Noble Calling
Former President George H.W. Bush lived a life dedicated to faith, family and his country. As we mourn his passing and share memories of his life and his remarkable leadership, we are reminded of his example of service and encouraged to open our hearts and give back to our own communities.
The 41st President, fond of writing letters, once wrote “I believe I was right when I said, as president, there can be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.” He found fulfillment and gratification in service and knew that, with a little concerted effort, his fellow Americans could experience that same joy. This doesn’t mean we must accept the same roles and responsibilities of the former president, but rather that we all have a part to play in making our neighborhood, community, state, country and world a better place.
America is shaped by individuals who take initiative to serve others. Average citizens of all ages and backgrounds recognizing a need in their communities and contributing their talents and skills to make a difference happens every day in various capacities across our country. We don’t have to look far to find examples of Arkansans who are serving causes greater than themselves.
As a seventh grader, Alexis Roberson of Caraway was honored for her volunteerism. She experienced hardships growing up which fueled her passion to help others in difficult circumstances. This included launching ‘Books for Bailey,’ in memory of her friend who dreamed of collecting coloring books and crayons for sick children.
Those called to serve also wear our nation’s uniform and selflessly bear the burden of defending our interests, no matter the cost. Army Sergeant First Class Eric Emond, a member of 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, called Springdale, Arkansas home when he enlisted in the Marine Corps 21 years ago. He dedicated his career to the military, serving in the Marines and later joining the Army. In 2009, he was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Even during his recovery, he continued to help others, co-founding the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, an organization that honors the fallen and supports Gold Star families.
In November, while on his seventh overseas deployment, Sgt. Emond was killed after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Now his family will become a beneficiary of the organization he helped launch. In perhaps no better form of tribute, his friends remember Sgt. Emond as a person who was always doing the right thing for someone else.
I too have found that a life of public service is extremely rewarding because there is nothing more fulfilling and worthwhile than helping others. From my time as an eyecare provider to sitting on the fair board and the local school board and eventually serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, some of the most memorable moments of my career have centered around opportunities to give back or play a part in supporting, aiding or advocating on behalf of someone else.
We all have the capability within us. The opportunities are there and we shouldn’t overlook them or let them pass us by. Americans will continue to embrace George H.W. Bush’s vision of service and its noble calling. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations to serve the same great cause.
12-7-18 5:09 p.m. kawx.org
We want Arkansans to know what is taking place in their Capitol. That is why for the last 8 years, the Arkansas House has been live streaming several committees and all House floor proceedings.
In the upcoming session, we will be expanding that effort.
Until now we have been streaming only House meetings held in the Capitol. However, there are a few committees that convene in the building behind the Capitol known as the MAC building.
The Bureau of Legislative Research has recently added the necessary camera and equipment to begin streaming meetings held in the MAC building.
This means in addition to the committees already online, Arkansans can now watch the House Committee on City, County, and Local Affairs, the House Public Transportation Committee, House Rules, and the Joint Budget Committee.
Committee rooms are where our lawmaking process begins. The rooms are where bills are first considered and publicly debated before a bill makes its way the House Chamber.
When you watch the Joint Budget Committee, you can see how your tax dollars are being spent and the questions members have about those expenditures.
We encourage Arkansans to take advantage of this technology and stay engaged on the issues.
The House archives all meetings. If you can’t watch the proceedings live, you can always visit our website and search the Video Library. You can search by bill number, key words in the bill title, or by a member’s name.
As a reminder, the session begins January 14.
At www.arkansashouse.org you will find links to watch the proceedings as well as agendas for each meeting. And if you are visiting the Capitol during session, remember that committee meetings and House floor proceedings are open the public.
12-7-18 4:54 p.m. kawx.org
LITTLE ROCK – After nine months of interviews, statewide travel, and visits to 12 schools, the Arkansas School Safety Commission has submitted a 124-page report with recommendations to improve security for students and staff. This extraordinary report exceeded my expectations. It is comprehensive, and it already is enhancing safety in our school districts.
The Commission’s five subcommittees made 30 significant recommendations that address the wide range of measures we can take to make our schools safer.
It is important to note that the state recognizes the need for local flexibility in determining the best security practices, which is in keeping with my philosophy that the local educators are in the best position to decide what is best for their district. One of the recommendations is to alter the school facility funding program to allow schools to use money to improve security features in the schools. This is a good idea that I expect will be implemented.
Of the five categories the Commission addressed, the members wisely put mental health at the forefront. For all the things we can do to protect our children, the starting point must be our attention to the mental health climate at our schools and attention to each student.
And the best place to start is to review the current work load for counselors. We must reduce their administrative responsibilities and free them to spend more time interacting with students. This will allow them to identify students who are struggling with emotional or mental-health issues and to guide them to proper help. This focus will give us a better chance to head off a mass tragedy.
The commissioners, who reviewed cases of mass shootings nationwide, recommend that anytime students or staff are on campus, the school should provide some manner of armed protection. Some school districts already have responded. The number of School Resource Officers has increased by 54 in just one year.
This commission also notes that a rapid armed response to an ongoing attack saves lives.
I have made it clear, however, that this is voluntary and that no teacher or staff member should be required to carry a firearm. We can hire school resource officers, and schools may choose to have a commissioned school security officer.
I created the commission by executive order on March 1, two weeks after the tragic attack at the high school in Florida.
I knew this commission was necessary because we all know that there is nothing more important than the safety of our children.
I am grateful for the leadership of Commission Chair Dr. Cheryl May and Vice Chair William Temple and for the work of the commissioners. Their recommendations are the foundation of our commitment to parents that they can send their children to school confident that they are safe.
State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague
December 7, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – The 35-member Senate held its organizational meeting to elect leadership and formalize the rules for the 92nd General Assembly of the legislature, which convenes in regular session on January 14.
The changes in Senate rules will affect which committees will consider proposed legislation affecting alcohol, tobacco, firearms and medical marijuana.
Previously, bills that affect gun laws would go to the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, under the new rules they will be referred to the Senate Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.
Bills affecting tobacco and alcohol used to be referred to the Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, but now they will go to the City, County and Local Affairs Committee.
Medical marijuana bills be referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development. Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 legalizing medical marijuana.
In the 2017 session, much of the enabling legislation that put in place the mechanism for cultivation and retail sales of medical marijuana was referred to the Senate and House Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.
The general consensus among senators was that the changes in rules were necessary in order to more evenly distribute the workload during the 2019 session. The committees on Public Health, Judiciary and State Agencies traditionally have very lengthy agendas.
The rules changes were adopted before senators chose their committee assignments, therefore individual senators with a particular interest in alcohol, tobacco, firearms or medical marijuana had the opportunity to choose the committees with jurisdiction over those issues.
The senators elected Senator Jim Hendren of Gravette as President Pro Tempore for the next two years. Senator Bart Hester of Cave Springs will be the Majority Leader and Senator Scott Flippo of Bull Shoals will be the Majority Whip. Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis will be the Minority Leader and Senator Will Bond of Little Rock the Minority Whip.
Senator Larry Teague of Nashville will chair the Joint Budget Committee. Senator Jonathan Dismang of Beebe will chair the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Senator Ronald Caldwell of Wynne will chair the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs and Senator Jason Rapert of Conway will chair the Senate Committee on Insurance and Commerce. The Senate Judiciary Chairman will be Senate Alan Clark of Lonsdale. Senator Gary Stubblefield of Branch will chair the Senate Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.
Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View will chair the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee and Senator John Cooper of Jonesboro will chair the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee.
The Senate Education Committee will be chaired by Senator Jane English of North Little Rock. Senator Blake Johnson of Corning will chair the Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs. Senator Bill Sample of Hot Springs will be co-chair of the Public Retirement and Social Security Committee. Senator Cecile Bledsoe of Rogers will be the Senate co-chair of the Legislative Council, and Senator Rapert will be the Senate co-chair of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.
12-7-18 10:05 a.m. kawx.org
United States Flags Should Remain at Half- Staff Until Sunset on December 30, 2018 in Honor of George H.W. Bush. Flags are flown at Half-Staff each year on December 7th for Pear Harbor Remembrance Day.
Presidential Proclamation on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2018
Today, we honor those who perished 77 years ago at Pearl Harbor, and we salute every veteran who served in World War II over the 4 years that followed that horrific attack.
On December 7, 1941, America was attacked without warning at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the air and naval forces of Imperial Japan. Just before 8:00 a.m., Japanese aircraft ripped through the sky, dropping bombs on ships of the United States Pacific Fleet and on nearby airfields and bases. The attack took the lives of more than 2,400 American service members and wounded another 1,100 American citizens. The brutal surprise attack halted only after nearly two hours of chaos, death, and destruction.
Despite the shock and confusion of the moment, American service members and first responders on the island of Oahu mounted an incredibly brave defense against insurmountable odds. American pilots took to the air to engage enemy aircraft, sailors took their battle stations, and medical personnel cared for the wounded. Many witnesses to the events of that day perished in the attacks, leaving countless acts of valor unrecorded. Nevertheless, 15 Medals of Honor were awarded - 10 of them posthumously - to United States Navy personnel for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.
Although the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was badly impaired, America did not falter. One day after the attacks, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared to the Congress: "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." And, in the weeks, months, and years that followed the brutal attack at Pearl Harbor, Americans united with a steadfast resolve to defend the freedoms upon which our great Nation was founded. Millions of brave men and women answered their country's call to service with unquestionable courage. These incredible patriots fought, bled, sacrificed, and ultimately triumphed for the cause of freedom.
We are blessed as a Nation to have as examples the incredible heroes of World War II, who fought so valiantly to preserve all that we hold dear. Earlier this year, I had the tremendous honor of meeting Mr. Ray Chavez, who was the oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran. Ray passed away only a few weeks ago at the incredible age of 106. But his legacy is forever etched into our country's rich history, along with the legacies of all our brave veterans. They tell of the mettle of the American spirit under fire and of the will of our people to stand up to any threat. The selfless bravery and dedication of these extraordinary Americans will never be forgotten.
Today, we remember all those killed on the island of Oahu on that fateful Sunday morning in 1941, and we honor the American patriots of the Greatest Generation who laid down their lives in the battles of World War II. America is forever blessed to have strong men and women with exceptional courage who are willing and able to step forward to defend our homeland and our liberty.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2018, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.
DONALD J. TRUMP
President of The United States of America
12-6-18 9:31 p.m. kawx.org
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), along with U.S. Representatives Billy Long (MO-07) and Steve Womack (AR-03), announced that $25 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been awarded to complete work on a critical segment of Interstate 49 that will connect Arkansas and Missouri.
The Arkansas/Missouri connector, often referred to as the Bella Vista Bypass, is the only portion of the more than 290-mile route between Kansas City, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas that is not interstate quality. Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause major traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.
The states have worked to complete this 18.9-mile section of I-49 at the Missouri-Arkansas line for more than 25 years. Funding for the project is being awarded from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects.
“Completion of the critical stretch of the I-49 Arkansas-Missouri Connector is 25 years in the making and I’m thrilled we’re one step closer to getting it done,” said Blunt. “Completing this project will increase safety, improve the quality of life, and strengthen local economies in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. Missouri’s transportation networks are our greatest competitive advantage, and I appreciate the partnership of our Arkansas colleagues in moving this project forward.”
“This is exciting news for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Securing these funds for this shovel-ready project has taken years of vigorous and persistent advocating from my team. Our hard work has finally resulted in funding for a project that will yield dividends when it comes to economic growth and quality of life in the region,” Boozman said. “I appreciate Secretary Chao’s leadership in recognizing the importance of a project that I have championed throughout my time in Congress.”
“Interstate access heralds the continued economic growth of any area, which is why completing the Bella Vista bypass is vital for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Many businesses and future infrastructure projects depend on its finalization, and this funding will allow that project’s construction finally to move forward. I am grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” said Cotton.
“The completion of the I-49 corridor is long overdue,” Long said. “Today’s announcement is great news for individuals and businesses in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas who have been waiting for this for more than 25 years. I am incredibly thankful for my colleagues in both Missouri and Arkansas who have long been strong advocates of I-49's completion, and their understanding of the numerous benefits it will bring to local economies in both states.”
“Today’s funding announcement is a game changer that will do more than just upgrade the I-49 corridor – it will transform and modernize our local transportation system to support Arkansas families and the growth of our state. This investment, which I have tirelessly advocated for, will increase travel safety, decrease congestion, create jobs, and enhance the economic vitality of our region. I am grateful to Secretary Chao for listening to the concerns I brought to USDOT, and for moving this important and long overdue project forward,” said Womack.
12-6-18 4:51 p.m. kawx.org
All criminal information is merely an accusation and the Defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner, within and for the 18th-West Judicial District of the State of Arkansas, of which Polk County is a part, in the name and by the authority of the State of Arkansas, on oath, do hereby accuse the defendants of committing in Polk County, Arkansas the following crimes:
State of Arkansas Vs. Clay E. Breeden W/M age 39 Count 1: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia a Class "D" Felony, Count 2: Possession of Methamphetamine With The Purpose To Deliver a Class "C" Felony, Count 3: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia a Class "D" Felony, Count 4: Refusal To Submit To Arrest a Class "B" Misdemeanor, Count 5: Fleeing On Foot a Class "C" Misdemeanor.
State of Arkansas Vs. Clay E. Breeden W?M age 39 Count 1: Delivery Of Methamphetamine Or Cocaine a Class "C" Felony.
State of Arkansas Vs. Matthew Cannon W/M age 38 Count 1: Forgery In The Second Degree a Class "C" Felony, Count 2: Forgery In The Second Degree a Class "C" Felony, Count 3: Forgery In The Second Degree a Class "C" Felony, Count 4: Forgery In The Second Degree a Class "C" Felony, Count 5: Forgery In The Second Degree a Class "C" Felony.
State of Arkansas Vs. Kimberly Morriss W/F age 35 Count i: Probation Violation. (Original Offense Count 1: Fleeing a Class "D" Felony, Count 2: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia a Class "A" Misdemeanor, Count 3: Refusal To Submit To Arrest a Class "B" Misdemeanor, Count 4: Criminal Mischief In The First Degree a Class "A" Misdemeanor.) Bond set at $10,000.00.
12-6-18 12:10 p.m. kawx.org
Seth Smith defeated Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin in the runoff election for Mena Mayor on Tuesday. With absentee, early, and election day votes all in, the complete but unofficial results are 70% or 720 votes for Seth Smith, 30% or 311 votes for Brandon Martin.
Seth Smith has been elected as Mena's next Mayor.
In the general election November 6th, none of the three candidates, Seth Smith, Brandon Martin, or Ron Tilley, garnered enough votes to win without a runoff.
In early voting Smith received 428 votes to Martin's 190.
In absentee voting Smith received 37 to Martin's 22.
Election Day Smith received 255 to Martin's 99.
The Polk County Election Commission will meet soon to certify the votes.
There are a few provisional ballots out, and there may be a military ballot still to be counted, but nothing that would change the outcome of today's runoff.
Seth Smith will assume his duties as Mayor of Mena on January 1, 2019.
12-4-18 8:28 p.m. kawx.org
– Five months to the day after the Arkansas School Safety Commission presented its preliminary report to Governor Asa Hutchinson, the commission submitted its final report to the governor this afternoon at a news conference at the State Capitol.
The Commission’s five subcommittees made 30 recommendations that range from having an armed presence at schools to the design of school facilities to a focus on the effective use of counselors, which will allow better engagement with students in need of mental health services.
Recommendations regarding the mental health aspect include reviewing the roles and responsibilities of school counselors in order to provide increased time with students; conducting school climate surveys across all campuses in all districts; developing and implementing an action plan based on the findings of those school climate surveys; and providing training in Youth Mental Health First Aid to all personnel who interact with students.
“I appreciate Dr. May’s leadership of the School Safety Commission and the members’ diligent work to improve security in our schools,” Governor Hutchinson said. “In July, I directed the Commission to apply a greater focus on the mental health needs within our schools and to reduce the heavy administrative burden we place on our school counselors.
“I am pleased that the Commission addressed those concerns in their final report, and I am confident that these recommendations, while not mandatory, will be a useful tool for our superintendents and principals as we seek to better secure our schools and create the safest environment possible for our children, our teachers, and our faculties."
The Governor was joined at today’s news conference by Dr. Cheryl May, director of the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute and chair of the Arkansas School Safety Commission, along with several members of the Commission, and Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, Deputy Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education.
The full report and executive summary can be found HERE
The Commission recommended that no campus should ever be without an armed presence when staff and children are attending class or a major extra-curricular activity. The Commission recommended further that when financially possible, school districts should hire at least one School Resource Officer (SRO) who has had specialized training for each campus. Governor Hutchinson maintains his position that no teacher will be required to carry a weapon.
The Commission also recommended that districts should:
- Establish District Safety and Security Teams for all districts.
- Designate one staff member as a School Safety Coordinator.
- Enhance training for school nurses and staff in emergency medical response.
- Establish and maintain a comprehensive, common communication plan for school officials, students, parents, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders.
- Enhance physical security — from infrastructure to bus transportation — including a revision of the state’s Academic Facilities Partnership Program to allow districts to submit eligible campus safety and security upgrade projects for state financial assistance.
“I am grateful for Governor Hutchinson’s leadership and passion for our children’s safety,” Dr. May said. “On behalf of the Commission, we thank all those who contributed to the Commission’s work, including the many presenters and the staff and students at the schools we visited. As Chair, I am especially grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Commission members and ADE staff who supported our efforts. We hope this report will help Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education to build upon the many good efforts currently under way in Arkansas and will contribute to the Governor’s vision of keeping our children safe in school.”
Governor Hutchinson created the Commission by executive order on March 1. Over the past several months, members of the Commission traveled to 12 schools across the state to evaluate mental health practices and policies, safety and security policies, emergency plans and policies, and the design of schools – including concepts such as single-point entry and electronic-access badges.
“I want to thank the Arkansas School Safety Commission for its thorough review of school safety methods and its recommendations for making our public schools safer,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “ADE is reviewing the report and will collaborate with Governor Hutchinson’s office regarding the implementation of recommendations that will improve the safety of all Arkansas public school students.”
The Runoff Election for the Mena mayor's race is today, December 4th. Vote Centers will be at Ninth Street Ministries (behind First Baptist Church) and the Polk County Office Complex (old hospital) on Pine Street, and both will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Three candidates, Ron Tilley, Seth Smith, and Brandon Martin ran in the general election which was November 6th. Since no candidate received enough votes to win on November 6th, the Runoff Election today will decide who the next Mena Mayor will be.
On the ballot today will be Seth Smith and Brandon Martin.
Be sure and take a government issued photo ID with you to vote. You are not required to have voted in the General Election to vote in the Runoff Election.
The winner of the runoff election today will replace retiring Mena Mayor George McKee on January 1, 2019.
12-4-18 5:37 a.m. kawx.org