KAWX News Archives for 2021-12

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Overcoming a Year of Challenges
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – As we close out another tough year, I’d like to praise the 3 million people who call Arkansas home. Arkansans always are the first to arrive, they give all they have, and they don’t leave until the job is done. During this last year, Arkansas has had its share of challenges, and we have faced each one with determination and compassion.
 
This year, thousands of people have been stepping up as we continue to navigate the pandemic: first responders, health care professionals, educators, business owners, and volunteers who sewed masks and distributed them out of their homes.
 
And then in February, we had one of the snowiest months in our history. The entire population of Pea Ridge lost natural gas. Gurdon’s twenty-one inches of snow was the most in the state, and in Little Rock, the fifteen inches tied a 103-year-old record.
 
Just as you would expect, Arkansans complied with the requests from utility companies to reduce consumption of natural gas and electricity. Crews spent a week away from home, working in the cold to clear roads. Power company linemen tromped through snowy woods and climbed ice-covered poles to restore electricity. Police officers rescued drivers and worked dozens of accidents on slick roads.
 
And then came the tornadoes this last month. Three weeks ago, I visited communities where tornadoes had destroyed homes, businesses, and a nursing home. In Monette, the nursing home staff stood between windows and their residents. Some used mattresses to protect them. In Trumann, volunteers ran out of room for storing donations.
 
As I toured the towns, we addressed practical matters to ensure they had food, water, and a place to shelter.  But mostly I listened. They’ve lost homes. They’ve lost memories. They expressed heartache, and it was important for me to hear their story. There’s heartache today. There’s going to be heartache a month from now, but they will rebuild.
 
Before Christmas, the president had approved my request for a federal disaster declaration in the counties where the tornadoes struck, and I am grateful for his quick response and for the financial assistance this will mean for the individual homeowners who lost so much.
 
In every crisis our state has endured, Arkansans have set aside their convenience and personal comfort to help. The disasters that strike our state don’t define us. We have defined ourselves as compassionate and generous in the midst of challenge. 
 
12-31-21 3:09 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The Arkansas General Assembly will convene for the 2022 Fiscal Session on Monday, February 14.

 

Preparations for that session will begin in the next two weeks.

 

Beginning January 11, the Joint Budget Committee will hold a series of meetings designed to begin the process of outlining a budget for the next fiscal year.

 

Budget hearings will begin with the Department of Finance and Administration presenting its annual forecast and recommendations for a balanced budget by the Governor. 

 

The last general revenue report released showed revenue was up 3% from the same time last year.

 

Over the course of the budget hearings, the committee will hear budget requests for all state boards, commissions, and agencies. The hearings will continue through January 20.

 

Members can begin pre-filing appropriation bills on Monday, January 10.

 

Fiscal Sessions began after Arkansas voters approved what would become Amendment 86 in 2008. 

 

Amendment 86 reduced the period for which appropriation bills are valid from two fiscal years to one, requiring the General Assembly to meet in a fiscal session during even-numbered years, with deliberations limited to action on appropriation bills.

 

For non-appropriation legislation to be introduced, a concurrent resolution substantially describing the bill must be approved by a 2/3 vote required in both chambers. The deadline for members to file identical resolutions for non-appropriation bills is February 14.

 

Amendment 86 states that each fiscal session shall not exceed 30 days. The fiscal session may be extended one time, however, for no more than 15 days, by a ¾ vote of both the House and Senate.

 

The deadline for filing both appropriation bills and non-appropriation bills is Monday, February 28.

 

You can watch find the daily agendas and watch the meetings live at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

12-31-21 2:56 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Adapting to the Evolving Needs of Arkansans

 

When we hear the latest from Washington each day, it is easy to get distracted by the drama of disagreements. But what you don’t usually see on the news are the things we agree on, and the work behind the scenes that truly touches families and hardworking Arkansans.

 

Looking back on 2021, I’m proud of the work my staff and I did to strengthen veterans services, expand Arkansas’s role in support of our national defense and protect the metropolitan area classification that communities in our state rely on for federal resources and economic opportunity.

 

These initiatives improve lives and are an example of what we can accomplish in Washington when we find common ground.

 

Beyond the legislative work, I am most proud of how my office has helped thousands of Arkansans directly in an extremely challenging year. Serving people has always been one of my top priorities, from my career as an optometrist to my time in public office. In 2021, my office received 3,480 requests for help with federal agencies and each month brought new questions, problems and roadblocks to help overcome.

 

The bulk of requests this year reflect that we are still wrestling with the aftermath of 2020 and the echo of broad shutdowns that continue to impact government agencies at every level. The challenges were especially clear during the summer’s passport debacle and the ongoing struggles of the IRS. Those are areas where 2020 finally caught up with us – backlogs of applications, increased demand and many government offices still working remotely. The latter issue is something I continue calling on federal agency leaders to address by returning employees back to the office.

 

Over the summer, the Passport Agency started reopening facilities when it was crushed with historic pent-up demand for business and education travel in addition to reunions among families who had been separated for far too long. Between May and July alone, more than 250 Arkansans reached out for assistance getting urgent passports. We helped them navigate a system that changed daily and pushed through emergencies that the bureaucracy could not handle. As we end the year, processing times are not back to normal, but the agency is handling applications smoothly and we are able to offer more direct assistance for emergencies.

 

Unlike passports, the challenges with the IRS backlog continue as some Arkansans are still waiting for their 2020 tax refunds. In a typical year, I only receive a handful of requests for help with delayed tax refunds and other IRS issues. In 2021, we received 395 calls for IRS assistance. These were mostly from Arkansans fighting to get a tax return processed and many who are still seeking their Economic Impact Payments. This is a problem I will continue working to resolve in the year ahead.

 

Despite the unique difficulties Arkansans faced in 2021, I remain optimistic because of the spirit and resilience I’ve seen across the state. Over the last 12 months I’ve had the honor of visiting people in their businesses, farms, service organizations, schools and countless other places where Arkansans are finding creative solutions and rising to the occasion in support of their neighbors.

 

As we end this year, I am inspired by everyone who looks around their community and asks, “How can I help?” I will continue to do my best to keep that question in mind for my work at the federal level and ensure that my office is a place Arkansans can turn to when in need of assistance.

 

12-31-21 2:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

December 31, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – When the new year begins, the Arkansas Works program will have a new name and will operate under new rules.

 

ARHOME is the new Medicaid program. Unlike the previous program, it will focus on specific groups, such as pregnant women, residents of rural areas who suffer from mental illness or who have a history of drug abuse, people with chronic disease and young people who are veterans or who lived in foster homes.

 

Their health insurance carriers will have to meet specific goals. If not, they will have to follow an action plan designed to improve performance, or face financial penalties in 2023. Earlier in December a panel of legislators and health officials approved a set of goals that medical providers must reach.

 

Arkansas Works was the name of the state’s Medicaid expansion plan. It covered 319,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64 last year. They are not enrolled in Medicare and they earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but more than 16 percent.

 

About 10 years ago people in that income range earned too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, which provides government-subsidized health coverage for low-income families. They became eligible under the national Affordable Care Act, which every state implemented in its own way.

 

Rather than simply expand the eligibility criteria for traditional Medicaid, Arkansas covered the new group of enrollees under an innovative plan that relies on private health insurance.

 

At first it was called the private option. It became known as Arkansas Works after the legislature changed the rules to require recipients to work, or look for work, in order to qualify.

 

Other states also had work requirements too, but they all were stricken by the federal courts after legal challenges.

 

Like the private option and Arkansas Works, ARHOME will use Medicaid funding to purchase private health insurance for individuals who qualify financially.

 

In response to the federal courts striking down the work requirement, ARHOME will have a new incentive to encourage recipients to look for a job. If participants fail to look for work, they will be transferred out of private insurance and into the traditional Medicaid program, which doesn’t provide as many benefits.

 

Health officials are excited about the maternal care that ARHOME will provide women and their newborn children. Medical teams will have incentives to identify and care for women whose pregnancies are high risk, through home visits during the pregnancies and until the newborn is two years old.

 

The expectation is that the home visits will reduce infant mortality, and increase the percentage of infants who are fully immunized against chronic and deadly diseases.

 

Officials at the Department of Human Services count on ARHOME being more financially efficient. Last fiscal year, Arkansas Works spent $2.46 billion. Of that amount, 90 percent came from the federal government and 10 percent was appropriated by state government.

 

Improving the health of high-risk populations should hold down the cost of providing medical coverage through Medicaid.

 

Parts of ARHOME are designed to lift young people out of poverty, which would benefit the state’s long-term fiscal condition.

 

12-31-21 2:50 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Log for December 20TH - 26TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of December 20, 2021 – December 26, 2021. 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 20, 2021

An altercation in the area of Hwy 8 East and Ransom Road led to the arrest of Shawn Holliday on charges of Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Resisting Arrest, Obstructing Governmental Operations and Disorderly Conduct.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Sanders Lane near Potter for a welfare check.

Danielle Stewart, 30 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

Donnie Jennings, 44 of Waldron was arrested on Felony Warrant for Possession of Methamphetamine or Cocaine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons and Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms as well as charges of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery and Fleeing in a Vehicle.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 73 near Ink in reference to a welfare check.

 

December 21, 2021

No reports filed.

 

December 22, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 68 near Cherry Hill in reference to a theft.

Jared Goodearle, 33 of Sallisaw, OK was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

 

December 23, 2021

No reports filed.

 

December 24, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 375 W near Potter in reference to a welfare check.

Dawnylle Boutwell, 52 of Cove was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

 

December 25, 2021

No reports filed.

 

December 26, 2021

Deputies responded to a structure fire on Polk 59 near Board Camp.

William Williams, 41 of Mena was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Violation of a Protection Order.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 3 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 19 Incarcerated Inmates, with 11 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-01058

 

12-28-21 10:06 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for December 19TH - 25TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of December 19th through December 25th, 2021

 

December 19

Ashley Gutierrez, 19, was charged with Disorderly Conduct at Janssen Park.

 

December 20

Derek Tarkinton, 29, was charged with Driving on Suspended License, Possession of Schedule Meth, Possession of Schedule Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons, Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms, and served with a warrant after a stop at EZ Mart.

 

A report of theft of a vehicle was taken from a residence on Sarah Way.

 

December 21

A theft report was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

A theft of a vehicle report was taken form a complainant.

 

A report was taken of a vehicle striking a pedestrian at Wal-Mart.

 

December 22

A report was taken of criminal mischief was taken from a residence on Hornbeck.

 

A death investigation report was taken from a residence on Cherry Street.

 

December 23

Danielle Brewer, 27, was served with a warrant for Disorderly Conduct at the Mena Police Department.

 

December 24

Shane Hogan, 32, was served with a warrant for Body attachment at the Mena Police Department.

 

A report of trespassing was taken on Himes Street.

 

Windal Loyd, 41, was charged with Public Intoxication after a stop on Tenth Street.

 

December 25

No reports were taken.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

12-27-21 11:51 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

 

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Christmas Spirit of Giving
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Today, I’d like to talk about Christmas and what the season for giving means to me.
 
Christmas is my favorite time at the Governor’s Mansion and at the State Capitol. I love the expressions of the hundreds of visitors when they see how the First Lady and all of her volunteers have decked the halls with trees and garland and lights.
 
I love the look on the faces of children when they see the amazing Santa displays around the halls of the mansion.
 
That’s what this season is about. The joy we can provide to others is what makes us all feel a little warmer inside.
 
This year, inside the mansion, we have eight large painting displays of Santas from around the world as you walk down the Grand Hall Staircase.
 
Almost everybody in the world knows Santa. Every era and country has its own version of the same icon. The common theme of all the Santas is the joy they bring, which is a comfort to kids no matter how old they are.
 
Santa across the world is represented by different colors, animals and symbols, but they all point to the same jolly fellow who represents the feeling of Christmas.
 
The origins of Santa Claus can be traced back to the life of a Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas. He was born to wealthy parents in 270 A.D. in what is now modern-day Turkey. He lost his parents at a young age and reportedly used his inheritance to give gifts to children and to help the sick and the poor.
 
His reputation grew by being extremely generous and a wonderworker. It was said he rescued three impoverished sisters from servitude by dropping a bag of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay the dowries for them to marry. The father caught Saint Nicholas on the third night and thanked him for his kindness. History also claims he saved three men who were falsely imprisoned and faced certain death.
 
Over the course of many years, Saint Nicholas became known as the protector of children and a story of legend told by thousands. His story is what has evolved into the loving, jolly Santa Claus we know today that carries toys on his back and a Coca-Cola in his hand. The image of the man with a big white beard and a bright red suit brings a bit of warmth and happiness during the Christmas season.
 
That feeling, the feeling of giving, can mean many different things depending on who you ask. We all give in different ways, but the purpose behind wanting to give is to provide someone with the joy of a gift while not hoping for anything in return.
 
Gifts don't need to be of material value. It can be time spent with loved ones or cooking a meal for a family in need.
 
Christmas is a time where many families like ours celebrate the birth of Jesus and the sacrifice he gave to us. We celebrate the values that he lived out each and every day he lived on this Earth. Treating one another with love and compassion is the spirit that binds us together and represents what Christmas is really about, the love shared from person to person.
 
Thank you for the privilege of serving you, the people of Arkansas.
 
This year's Governor's Mansion Christmas decorations video can be seen HERE
 
12-24-21 8:22 a.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Answering the Call to Honor, Remember, and Teach at Christmas

 

We recently celebrated the life of former Senator Bob Dole, an American hero who dedicated his life to serving others. He sacrificed his own safety and almost paid the ultimate price as an Army lieutenant during World War II and, after he was saved, the people of his Kansas hometown rallied to support his recovery needs. He repaid them by serving as their voice in Washington for decades while also reliably advocating for veterans.

 

We know what makes America truly great are the individuals who answer the call to serve and give unto others. Whether in our nation’s Armed Forces, civic organizations or volunteering in church, there is a role for us all to play to lift up our friends, families and neighbors. In the season of giving, Arkansans truly rise to the occasion to help others and spread the Christmas spirit.

 

Throughout the state, Arkansans recently demonstrated their appreciation in a budding Christmas tradition honoring fallen servicemembers and veterans by blanketing national and veterans cemeteries with Christmas wreaths.

 

In Fort Smith, it’s a community affair that begins with a wreath workshop and assembly to prepare the decorations. Over the last decade this has become a staple of the holiday season. The community prides itself on this annual event and each year it continues to grow.

 

This is a great and meaningful opportunity for families to express their love and for all Americans to show their appreciation for the service and sacrifice of those who are laid to rest there.

 

Similar efforts are happening in other national cemeteries across the state. The planning begins long before December. The Little Rock National Cemetery had support from numerous volunteers and sponsors to place 18,450 wreaths. Nationwide, more than 2.4 million wreaths were placed on the graves of veterans. We can be proud that Arkansas-based companies were instrumental in delivering wreaths across the state and the entire country.

 

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in Wreaths Across America events in the past. It’s an unforgettable experience, anchored in the values of remembering, honoring, and teaching the next generation about service and sacrifice, that extends our gratitude to the men and women who fought in defense of our country. Any occasion that brings people together to give back to those who answered that noble call is worth taking part in.

 

It’s an inspiring sight to see so many people committed to supporting this endeavor and giving their time to honor these heroes. Just as important is that we continue our responsibility to our servicemembers and veterans year-round.

 

Congress recently took action to support active duty members and their families by passing the National Defense Authorization Act. This critical legislation includes a pay raise for our men and women in uniform. It delivers improvements to military housing, makes it easier for military spouses to find employment in their areas of expertise, invests in Arkansas’s role in our national defense and ensures servicemembers have the tools, resources and training to combat threats to our national security.

 

It also includes a measure I authored to improve Department of Defense mammography services. This will help us to better protect servicemembers, many of whom have a higher risk of developing breast cancer as a result of exposure to burn pits and other conditions, by ensuring access to the medical tests and screenings they need to prevent and treat breast cancer.

 

I’m proud to advocate for improved care and resources for those who wear our nation’s uniform. This is one of the most fulfilling roles in my job and extends long after the Christmas wreaths have been removed, but the spirit of the work we do on behalf of these men and women is always with us.

 

12-24-21 7:57 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

From reducing income tax to lowering the sales tax on used cars, there are several pieces of tax legislation passed in 2021 that will take effect on January 1, 2022.

 

In the most recent special session, the General Assembly passed Act 1 and Act 2, which are identical pieces of legislation that reduce the top income tax rate for individuals from 5.9% to 4.9% incrementally over the next four years. For the tax year beginning on January 1, 2022, the top rate is reduced to 5.5%. The legislation also provides a $60 non-refundable tax credit for individuals with an income of less than $24,700. 

 

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed the following tax measures, which will take effect at the beginning of next year:

 

  • ACT 841 creates an income tax credit for retired law enforcement officers who work on behalf of the Division of Arkansas State Police to investigate cold cases. 

 

  • ACT 376 reduces the additional registration fee for a hybrid vehicle from $100 to $50.00.

 

  • Act 1013 reduces the sales tax from 6.5% to 3.5% on used cars priced from $4,000-$10,000. 

 

  • ACT 369 modifies the method of calculating the stabilization tax in certain circumstances and provides that, for the year beginning January 1, 2022, and ending December 31, 2022, the stabilization tax shall be capped at .2%

 

  • ACT 368 modifies the definition of "wages" in certain circumstances under the Division of Workforce Services Law for the rate year beginning January 1, 2022, and ending December 31, 2022, to exclude the amount of remuneration that exceeds the lesser of the amount calculated under current law or $10,000. 

 

  • ACT 362 creates the Elective Pass-Through Entity Tax Act, which allows pass-through entities to elect to have their income be subject to the pass-through entity tax instead of the state income tax. 

 

  • ACT 765 creates the Law Enforcement Family Relief Check-off Program, which allows an individual taxpayer to designate some or all of the taxpayer's income tax refund to the program, which assists the family of an Arkansas-certified law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty or diagnosed by a medical professional with a terminal illness. 

 

You can find the legislation and video archives of the presentations and votes on the legislation at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

12-24-21 7:53 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

 

State Capitol Week in Review

From Senator Larry Teague

December 24, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – State government had an eventful year in 2021, and much of the activity occurred in the Arkansas Senate.

 

In January the legislature convened in regular session and approved a list of bills to lessen the impact that public health orders had on individuals and businesses. Act 311 allows the families of Covid-19 patients to visit them in the hospital, as long as they follow protocols.

 

Act 401 prohibits the state from penalizing businesses if customers, rather than employees, disregard public-health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Act 559 provides immunity for businesses and employees from claims of exposure to the virus. Act 353 allows employees to file workers’ comp claims for contracting Covid-19 on the job. Its effective dates are from March 11, 2020 until May 1, 2023.

Act 510 codifies two executive orders by the governor that protect health care providers with immunity from civil suits caused by Covid-19 claims.

 

Act 1030 defines a vaccine passport and states that "The use of a vaccine passport shall not be a condition for entry, travel, education or services" and that government agencies at all levels shall not require people to use a passport for any purpose.

Act 154 is a tax cut for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Unemployment benefits will not be taxed by the state, saving Arkansans about $59 million in state income taxes.

 

Act 248 will save Arkansas businesses $33 million this year and $179 million next fiscal year through tax exemptions on income that people and businesses received through numerous disaster relief programs, such as the popular Paycheck Protection Program.

 

More than 43,000 Arkansas businesses received more than $3.3 billion through PPP loans.

 

Act 403 allows a majority of the legislature to terminate a public health emergency declared by the governor. In August, both chambers affirmed the Covid-19 emergency declared by the governor.

 

Also in August, during a special session the legislature did not repeal or amend Act 1002, which prohibits school districts from requiring masks. However, the act is not being enforced because a judge issued an injunction against it when a group of parents challenged it in court.

 

One of the high-profile bills approved during the regular session is known as the “Stand Your Ground” law. It is Act 250, which repeals the prior obligation to retreat from a confrontation if you could do so safely. Now, you can respond with deadly force.

 

Act 309 prohibits abortions except to save the life of the mother, with no exception for rape or incest. Act 949 requires abortion clinics to be licensed by the Health Department and prohibits abortions at hospitals unless it is to save the life of the mother.

 

Act 626 prohibits sex-change surgery or hormone therapy for minors who want to change genders. Act 461 prohibits transgender women from competing in female sports, in effect, by allowing lawsuits against a school if it has a policy that allows transgender girls to compete.

 

Act 1052 sets housing standards that landlords must follow when maintaining residential rental property. If the property is not kept up to the standards, renters may cancel their lease after proper notification to the landlord. It also eliminates the requirement that renters put up a deposit in order to file a complaint.

 

In December the legislature passed reductions in state income taxes that will save Arkansas families and businesses almost $500 million a year when they take effect.

 

12-24-21 7:37 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for December 13TH - 19TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of December 13, 2021 – December 19, 2021. 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 13, 2021

Jeremiah Smith, 38 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons.

Deputies responded to a call of a Theft near Cove.

Deputies took a report from a walk-in complainant of Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant in reference to a stolen chain saw.

 

December 14, 2021

Waylon Broach, 22 of Cove was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Negligent Homicide.

 

December 15, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a stolen vehicle from a business on Hwy 71 North. After a pursuit, the vehicle was recovered leading to the arrest of Justin Keaster in Sevier County.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 46 near Mena in reference to a Break-In.

Deputies responded to a report of Criminal Trespassing.

Aaron Ollar, 34 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

Deputies were dispatched to a church on Hwy 71 near Hatfield in reference to a Break-In.

 

December 16, 2021

William Pate, 50 of Mena was arrested on two Felony Failure to Appear Warrants.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Rogers Street in Cove in reference to a Break-In.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 274 near Vandervoort in reference to an unknown person inside the residence.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 71 South near Potter in reference to a welfare check.

 

December 17, 2021

Nathaniel James, 23 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Failure to Appear.

Charles Dees, 72 of Cove was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant and a Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrant.

Monica Shores, 36 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 76 W near Acorn in reference to a prowler.

 

December 18, 2021

Deputies responded to a residence on Polk 73 near Ink in reference to property damage. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Strawberry Lane near Potter in reference to a Physical Domestic.

Deputies took a report of Harassment from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 19, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a house fire on Polk 164 near Rocky.

Deputies took a report of tires being slashed on a vehicle at a residence on Polk 73 near Ink.

Deputies took a report of someone being threatened.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 3 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 20 Incarcerated Inmates, with 10 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-01045

 

12-21-21 9:28 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for Decemebr 12TH - 18TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of December 12th through December 18th, 2021

 

December 12

A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

Randi Fields, 35, was served with three warrants after a disturbance call to Wendy’s parking lot.

 

A report of theft by receiving and fraudulent use of a credit card was taken at Walmart.

 

A report of breaking or entering was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 13

Jordan Garcia, 27, was charged with Possession of Schedule 2 Controlled Substance, Fleeing in Vehicle, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Felony Theft of Property, Misdemeanor Theft of Property, Theft by Receiving, Criminal Mischief 2nd Degree, Careless/Prohibited Driving, Driving on Suspended License, and served with a warrant out of Crawford County after contact on Cherry Street.

Kayla Allbright, 24, was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Felony Theft of Property, Misdemeanor Theft of Property, Criminal Mischief 2nd Degree, Fleeing in Vehicle, Theft by Receiving and served with a warrant out of Sebastian County after contact on Cherry Street.

 

December 14

A theft report was taken from Walmart.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on 12th Street.

 

A theft report was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

A theft report was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 15

A missing person report was taken at a residence on Dequeen Street.

 

December 16

Officers made a traffic stop, that led to arrests, on Highway 71 at the EZ Mart. Matthew Miller, 39, was charged with Possession of Meth, Possession of Meth with Purpose to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana, Fictitious Vehicle Tag, Driving on suspended license, and No liability insurance. Cheryl Smith, 32, was charged with Possession of Meth and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

Diana Morgan, 48, was charged with Theft of Property, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia at Dollar General.

 

December 17

A report of assault was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 18

Glen Busch, 71, was charged with Internet Stalking of a Child, Computer Child Pornography, and Sexual Indecency with a Child after an investigation.

 

Matthew Miller, 39, was charged with Theft of Property, Criminal Trespass, and Possession of Marijuana at Walmart.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

12-20-21 11:49 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Asa Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Brightening Smiles by Giving Back

 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Address: Brightening Smiles by Giving Back

 

To listen to Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.

 

LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to share the inspiring story of a dentist who recently moved back to Arkansas to open a dental clinic in the rural county where he grew up. The story of Giles Willis giving back to his state is a good one to share at Christmas.

 

Giles grew up in Lewisville in Lafayette County. The only dentist in the county was in Stamps, six miles to the east. Giles admits that as a child, he ate a lot of candy and rarely brushed his teeth. When he was eight, he developed an excruciating toothache. So he rubbed Orajel on the tooth and gum and tried to pull his tooth with tweezers.

 

The next day, Giles’ mother took him to see Dr. Patrick Moseley in Stamps. Dr. Moseley pulled a baby tooth and filled the permanent tooth that was coming in behind it.

 

Relief was immediate, and Giles decided he wanted to become a dentist. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and graduated from Howard University’s dental school in Washington, D.C. Although he opened a practice in North Carolina, he always wanted to return to Arkansas.

 

In 2019, Giles learned that the building where Dr. Moseley had pulled his tooth was for sale. He bought the building, and earlier this year, Giles and his family moved back. Last week, he saw his first patients.

 

Giles has told his story many times since this spring when a TV station in Shreveport, Louisiana, featured it. Earlier this month, singer Kelly Clarkson highlighted Giles, his wife, Kimberly, and their daughter, Eden, on her nationally broadcast Christmas TV program. To the family’s surprise, Kelly Clarkson announced that she and a sponsor were donating $100,000 to help Giles set up his clinic. Delta Dental of Arkansas has given Giles a grant of over $30,000.

 

Dr. Giles Willis and the hundreds of other Arkansas dentists who care for the underprivileged face a big task. The cost of a dentist appointment is the Number 1 reason Arkansans don’t see a dentist, according to our Department of Health. Fear of dentists and finding a dentist were next on the list.

 

But there is good news. Communities and organizations have found ways to promote good oral health. More than 80 percent of our communities fluoridate their water; many schools participate in a program that offers sealants, which cut the risk of cavities. The Arkansas State Dental Association sponsors an annual Mission of Mercy clinic where 200 dentists see 2,000 patients over two days. The 2022 clinic is scheduled for late April in Conway.

 

Dentists such as Giles Willis are extraordinarily generous in caring for Arkansas’s underserved patients, says Billy Tarpley, executive director of the dental association. Fifteen percent of the dentists in Arkansas have a satellite clinic and travel to underserved areas. Mr. Tarpley says that when a school calls about a student with a horrible toothache, dentists say, ‘Bring him in the side door.’ Mr. Tarpley points out that care like that doesn’t show up on reports or produce income. Dentists do it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

Thank you, Dr. Willis and the more than 7,000 licensed Oral Health Professionals in Arkansas, for all you do to help keep our teeth healthy and our smiles bright.

 

12-17-21 5:11 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Together, We Will Recover

Arkansans are unfortunately all too familiar with the impact of Mother Nature and what it takes to rebuild after natural disasters. Now we face that undertaking again after a record-setting tornado system tore through Northeast Arkansas, claiming two lives and damaging property. The images are devastating, but individuals, business owners and community leaders are demonstrating the resiliency and determination that has come to define our citizens in the aftermath of tragic events.

 

Arkansans answered the call to help on December 10, moments after the storm system began to inflict its toll. Nursing home staff shielded residents from the tornado that battered Monette Manor and tore the roof off of the building. A man in Trumann heard the cries of his neighbors and rescued them from the rubble their home had been reduced to.

These are just a few of the heroic acts that saved lives.

 

I applaud these brave and compassionate caregivers and selfless heroes. They answered the call to serve and help family, friends and even strangers without hesitation. There’s no greater testament to the human spirit than that.

 

Picking up the pieces and rebuilding may seem like a monumental task, but we know it can be done. It’s understandably hard to see the places we hold near and dear to us in the condition currently experienced by Craighead, Jackson, Mississippi, Poinsett and Woodruff Counties.

 

While recovery can be a long and grueling process, it also serves to bring out the best in us. Community members unite around the common goal of supporting those in need. Assistance from neighbors, friends and volunteers, and even just positive encouragement that comes from far and wide, give hope to families and business owners struggling with loss and displacement. 

 

I am grateful for first responders in these communities for their swift action as well as the individuals at the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) who train to handle situations like this so that they are prepared and ready to meet the needs of residents in all corners of the state.

 

I have been in close contact with state and local leaders and have maintained an open line of communication with ADEM officials. My staff and I will continue to support the needs of the state however possible. The recovery process is already underway as Governor Hutchinson issued a state of emergency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is on the ground assessing the damage.

 

As crews remove debris, restore power and begin to clean up from this disaster, we can be proud of the willingness of Natural State residents to lend a helping hand to our neighbors and communities facing a long road to recovery. 

 

Arkansans have big hearts and have always been generous in times of need. I offer my gratitude for the comfort and the light they bring to individuals experiencing some of the darkest days in their lives. Together, we will recover.

 
12-17-21 5:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

From filling out a job application to completing a homework assignment, the vast majority of our day-to-day lives are dependent on internet access. It is no longer a luxury, and now is a critical time for our state to close the digital divide.

 

Arkansas ranks 41st in state broadband access rating according to Broadbandnow.com.

 

The FCC currently defines broadband internet access as an always-on connection that provides 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds. While most Arkansans living in the most populated counties have access, there are still counties in the state where less than half of the residents have access to broadband.

 

Recently, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved a contract for the Broadband Development Group to create a master plan for broadband development.

 

The group will submit a report with their research and recommendations in April.

 

This report will not only help guide the state in directing federal funds but will also assist members of the General Assembly in determining legislation needed to ensure Arkansans have affordable access in years to come.

 

Currently, the group is gathering data to assess the state’s needs.

 

By the end of this year, the group will have held forums in 34 counties. They will hold forums in all 75 counties before their work is complete in April.

At these meetings, the group is hearing from small business owners, students, teachers, farmers and others about what their needs for broadband are and what obstacles they are encountering. We encourage you to attend one of these meetings if they are held in your county.

 

The group is also asking every Arkansan to fill out an online survey. The survey asks 12 questions regarding your internet usage, importance in your daily life, and the current speed of your service.

 

ARBroadbandNow on Facebook and Twitter will post information about upcoming town halls. We’ve provided a link to those pages and a link to the survey on our website www.arkansashouse.org

 

12-17-21 2:52 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

December 17, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – In large part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state Human Services Department has a backlog of applications for Medicaid.

 

Not only has the pandemic has caused layoffs and forced some businesses to close, it has reduced manpower at the department. That’s because quarantines have required state employees to stay away from the office temporarily. Also, while turnover is always an issue, during the pandemic DHS has experienced similar difficulties as some private businesses in filling staff shortages.

 

It has reached the point that DHS is contracting with a private company to help alleviate the backlog in Medicaid applications and provide “surge protection” in the event there is another swell of applications in the near future.

 

Legislators on the Review Subcommittee signed off on the proposed contract, which was to be considered next by the full Legislative Council. It is the panel of senior lawmakers that meets during the interim between legislative sessions to monitor state government operations.

 

The contract was for $29 million, with a Virginia-based firm. The company will help eliminate the backlog of applications for Medicaid, which had reached 50,000 in November. Part of the work involves determining whether or not applicants are eligible to receive services.

 

The private company will recruit and train specialists in Medicaid eligibility. It has done similar work for the state in the past.

Medicaid is the state’s major provider of health coverage. It pays for care for most of the people in long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

 

Medicaid pays for medical care for poor people and children in low-income families in which the parent works, but cannot afford private health insurance. Medicaid also pays for care and treatment of people with disabilities.

 

The backlog is affecting long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living centers, according to a DHS official. The facilities are getting delayed reimbursements from the government when they treat Medicaid recipients, which negatively affects their financial condition and worsens their staffing shortages.

 

The Senate and House co-chairs of the Legislative Council said they are particularly concerned about the effect on rural long-term care facilities when Medicaid reimbursements take a long time in processing.

 

Now, Medicaid applications are being considered under rules of the federal government’s declaration of a public health emergency. It is scheduled to expire at the end of March, and when it does it will affect many recipients’ eligibility. DHS expects a swell of casework caused by people having to re-apply for Medicaid services.

 

About a million Arkansas residents have received services paid for by the Medicaid program.

 

State legislators on the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee signed off on sending $6.39 million in federal emergency relief funds to assisted living facilities, to help the centers hire and maintain staff.

 

The amount of relief funding that a facility gets will depend on the number of Medicaid patients it serves.

 

Legislators have already approved the use of federal relief funds to help hospitals and nursing homes meet staff shortages, and address costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

12-17-21 12:27 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena School Board Meeting Recap

MENA SCHOOL BOARD MEETING RECAP
 
The Mena School Board held their December meeting on Tuesday night at the district administration building. The night began with the superintendent’s report.
 
Dr. Lee Smith first mentioned that since theboundaries of the 5 new board zones have been determined the next step is to determine which of the existing board members will be the at large candidates. That will happen at the January meeting. Candidates may begin filing on February 22nd.
 
Dr. Smith then yielded to Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley who updated the board on efforts to close the gap caused by learning loss during the COVID crisis. Gains are being made district wide. Highlights include a 71% gain in reading level at Holly Harshman Elementary & 20% of students have seen a full year’s growth or more this semester. Mena Middle School is seeing a 14% gain in reading and over half of the students have made gains this semester.
 
Next on the agenda was a student discipline issue. The board approved the expulsion of said student for a term of 365 days. A path back to the classroom will be open to the student if certain conditions and guidelines are met.
 
The board then considered the purchase of a new vehicle for use by personnel. Three bids were received and the low bid by Mena Ford on a Ford Explorer was accepted. Financial reports were approved with no discussion.
 
As usual the last item on the agenda was personnel. The board accepted the retirement of Sarah Carroll who is a paraprofessional at Louise Durham. They also approved a pair of employees changing positions. Alexa Brewer will move from
her position as MHS secretary to paraprofessional. Jennifer McCauley from ISS Coordinator to MHS secretary. Finally Caleb Tilley was hired as the ISS Coordinator at MHS.
 
12-15-21 9:54 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for December 6TH - 12TH

SHERIFF’S LOG

 

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of December 06, 2021 – December 12, 2021. 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 06, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a Sexual Assault.

 

December 07, 2021

Tiffany Massey, 27 of Cove was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Harassment and Obstructing Governmental Operations.

Deputies responded to report of a break-in at a storage unit.

Deputies responded to a residence on Hwy 270 near Acorn in reference to someone backing into their fence.

 

December 08, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

December 09, 2021

Tristen Chaney, 26 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas State Police on two Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrants and a Body Attachment.

 

December 10, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a Physical Domestic at a residence on Polk 45 near Mena, leading to the arrest of Shawnna Morris, 25 of Mena on a charge of Aggravated Assault and two charges of 3rd Degree Battery.

David Fraser, 53 of Mena was arrested by an officer with the Arkansas Drug Task Force on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

 

December 11, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

December 12, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of threats being made. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 2 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 21 Incarcerated Inmates, with 9 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-01013

 

12-13-21 3:47 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for December 5TH - 11TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of December 5th through December 11th, 2021

 

December 5

A report of breaking or entering and theft from a vehicle was taken at a residence on Michelle Drive.

 

December 6

A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

Mikel Thomas, 31, was served with two warrants after a traffic stop on 7th Street.

 

December 7

A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on Caseys Way.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at a residence on Magnolia Avenue.

 

A report of breaking or entering and theft from a vehicle was taken at a residence on Redbud Drive.

 

Charles Solo, 49, was served with two warrants at the county jail.

 

Dax Wood, 25, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

December 8

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was reported by Walmart.

 

December 9

A report of disorderly conduct was taken from a person at Walmart.

 

Hunter Johns, 22, was charged with Cruelty to Animals at a residence on Fink Street.

 

December 10

John Mullins, 53, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication at Sun Country Inn.

 

Jessie Zamora, 39, was served with two warrants at the county jail.

 

A report of theft of motor fuel was taken at a residence on Bethesda Road.

 

December 11

A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

12-13-21 11:41 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Legislation providing the largest state income tax reduction in state history has now been signed into law.

 

Act 1 and Act 2 are identical pieces of legislation passed by the 93rd General Assembly in the special session held this week.

 

These acts will reduce the top income tax rate for individuals from 5.9% to 4.9% incrementally over the next four years. Once fully implemented, this will provide nearly $500 million in tax relief to Arkansans.

 

The legislation also combines the low- and middle-income tax tables and indexes the standard deduction to the Consumer Price Index. It provides a $60 non-refundable tax credit for individuals with an income of less than $24,700. It’s estimated that 104,881 low-income Arkansans will have their state income tax liability eliminated.

 

The acts also change the name of the long-term reserve fund to the catastrophic reserve fund. The tax cuts are contingent upon no transfers being made out of the catastrophic reserve fund.

 

During the special session, the General Assembly also passed legislation amending income tax credits for waste reduction, reuse, or recycling equipment to allow for the use of these credits by a qualified growth project.

 

A qualified growth project must have common ownership with and locate on the site of or adjacent to an existing qualified steel manufacturer. It would also need a total investment of at least $2 billion and create 700 new direct positions with an average annual wage of $120,000 and 200 new independent direct positions with an average annual wage of $60,000.

 

The General Assembly also voted in favor of a transfer of up to $50 million from the general revenue allotment reserve fund to the Quick Action Closing Fund for specific economic development incentives.

 

The recycling tax credits and the transfer to the Quick Action Closing Fund are aimed at creating an incentive package for a steel mill project in Northeast Arkansas.

 

Other bills passed this week include technical corrections in previously passed legislation.

 

You can watch the recorded committee meetings and House floor sessions on our website www.arkansashouse.org.

 

12-10-21 4:20 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: Investing in Wildlife Conservation

Investing in Wildlife Conservation  

The state of Arkansas adopted the nickname “The Natural State” in 1995 and for good reason –– our land’s undeniable beauty, clear lakes and streams and abundance of natural wildlife. We have an opportunity to build on that important legacy. Congress is aiming to strengthen conservation efforts through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would enable us to better protect the environment and preserve our natural resources for future generations so we can continue to live up to our very apt moniker.

 

One of the reasons I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is because it would provide on-the-ground actors, such as farmers and ranchers, conservation organizations, state authorities and tribal governments, with the resources they need to pursue collaborative conservation efforts in their regions. 

 

Our outdoor recreational opportunities are well known, and this legislation would safeguard the long-term health of fish and wildlife habitat in Arkansas– and all across the country – by investing in conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants we know are in need of preservation. These conservation tactics would improve Arkansas’s education and recreation projects.

 

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission describes this legislation as “an unprecedented opportunity to sustain the benefits of our natural world.”

 

Arkansas would be eligible to receive $15 million annually which would be distributed to state agencies, conservation organizations and universities, while also allowing us to expand and compliment the work of our state’s Wildlife Action Plan. This strategy has served as a foundation for wildlife conservation helping facilitate the implementation of proactive, voluntary approaches through federal and state agencies since 2005.

 

With the decline in hunting and angling license purchasers in the last decade, natural resource management has been in jeopardy. According to a recent study by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, nearly 60 percent of $3.3 billion in conservation funds to state wildlife agencies come from hunting and fishing-related activities, either directly through the sale of licenses, tags and stamps, or indirectly through federal excise taxes on hunting and recreational shooting and angling equipment. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will assist in delivering sustainable funding for natural resource management.

 

Our trademark natural resources are a gift, but they provide economic benefits as well. For example, as Arkansans we pride ourselves on being a premier duck hunting destination, where we see more than 100,000 waterfowl hunters each year who contribute $1 million each day of duck hunting season to the state economy. All of this occurs in rural communities. As an avid outdoorsman, I’m proud to advocate and support legislation that strengthens our nation’s wetlands and bolsters waterfowl habitat.

 

Support for this legislation is gaining momentum. In addition to the bipartisan backing of more than 30 senators, in early December the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing examining our bill. This is a crucial step forward so we can make improvements and get the support of committee members to advance the legislation to the Senate floor.

 

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will build on recent success in conservation. Last year, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the Great American Outdoors Act and the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. Both landmark bills helped to improve our nation’s struggling conservation work and underscored how broad the consensus is around the necessity to protect our natural resources.

 

We can be proud of the recent successes in our conservation efforts. However, we must continue that progress by supporting ideas like the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act so our natural resources will be available to observe and enjoy for years to come.

 

12-10-21 4:15 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Governor Asa Hutchinbson's Weekly Radio Address: The Largest Tax Cut in Arkansas History

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: The Largest Tax Cut in Arkansas History
 
 
LITTLE ROCK – Yesterday, I signed into law the most recent tax-cut bill that will lower state income taxes for all Arkansas taxpayers.
 
I proposed the largest tax-cut bill in the history of Arkansas to give Arkansans around the state a much needed helping hand and to continue my promise of lowering taxes for everyone in the state.
 
In 2014 the year I was elected, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Arkansas collected $8.9 billion in tax revenues. This put the state per capita tax revenues at 16th highest in the United States.
 
When I ran for governor, I promised to cut our income taxes by $100 million. With the support of the General Assembly, we not only kept that promise, but over the course of the last seven years, we have reduced our income taxes by over $250 million each year.
 
Almost two years ago our top individual income tax rate was reduced. The top rate was cut down to 6.6 percent and then down to 5.9 percent earlier this year.
 
Next month, you will see the rate drop to 5.5 percent and then to 5.3 percent the next year. Now after passing the nearly $500 million in tax reductions, we will be getting that number down to 4.9 percent by 2025.
 
Why is this important? Because it helps every Arkansan, and it also is an economic benefit for our state.
 
Through conversations with several companies looking to create jobs and move operations to this state, it is clear to me that one of the main factors these companies take into consideration when deciding where to locate is a state’s income tax burden. This change will increase our competitiveness as a state in attracting industry and talent to Arkansas.
 
The bill also provides relief to low-income taxpayers by giving a $60 tax credit. This will provide a reduction in the state income taxes owed for about 28 percent of all Arkansas taxpayers.
 
With the $60 credit, the tax cut also completely eliminates taxes owed for over 100,000 low-income Arkansans.
 
As Governor, it is important for me to balance the needs of our state with responsible tax policy. We have taken a responsible approach to lessening the state’s income tax burden, while also ensuring that the state is still able to meet its obligations.
 
For the average Arkansas family, this tax break could mean groceries on the table, a new set of tires, or a less stressful Christmas. It allows hard-working Arkansans to keep more of their hard-earned money and also makes Arkansas more competitive with our surrounding states, spurring job creation and economic growth for years to come.
 
I applaud the work of the General Assembly in passing this tax cut bill. I hope you will contact your state representative or senator and thank them for supporting this legislation.
 
12-10-21 2:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG 
 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

December 10, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature completed a three-day special session in which it passed reductions in state income taxes that will save Arkansas families and businesses almost $500 million a year when they take effect.

 

Taxpayers from all income levels will benefit from the cuts in individual income taxes and increased credits. Corporate income taxes also will go down.

 

More than 535,000 people will get a $60 credit on their income taxes. They are in low-income tax brackets and represent about 28 percent of the state’s population. About 104,000 low-income taxpayers will not have to pay any state income taxes.

 

The new law lowers the top income tax rate over the next four years, from 5.9 percent to 4.9 percent.

 

The top rate for corporate income taxes will gradually decrease to 5.3 percent in 2025.

 

Filing will be simpler for taxpayers in the low and middle income brackets because the new law consolidates their tax tables into one.

 

The savings for Arkansas families will grow over time as the various provisions of the new tax law go into effect. Next year the savings will be $135 million, in 2023 they will be $307 million, in 2024 they will be $383 million and in 2025 they will be $459 million.

 

Beginning in 2026 Arkansas families and businesses will save more than $497 million a year in state income taxes.

 

There are “trigger” provisions in the bill that protect state revenue in the event of a sudden and unexpected downturn in the economy. That provision would slow the pace of tax cuts as they are being phased in, to make sure that essential services such as schools, health care and prisons are adequately funded.

 

Also during the special session, the legislature approved tax credits and other incentives to help the state recruit a $3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County, proposed by U.S. Steel.

 

It would create about 900 jobs, of which 700 would have salaries of $120,000 a year. About 200 of the new jobs will have salaries of $60,000 a year.

 

One of the housekeeping measures approved during the special session changes the terms of commissioners on a newly-created Tax Appeals Commission. The legislature created the appeals commission earlier this year, during the regular session.

 

A bill passed during the special session makes sure that the terms of the initial members will expire at staggered times, instead of all of them leaving the commission at the same time.

 

Legislators completely repealed a bill enacted earlier this year that would have set up rebates for people who purchase insulin. It had the unintended consequence of raising costs for health coverage, so lawmakers repealed it during the special session.

 

Legislators said they would continue looking for ways to hold down inflation and control increases in the wholesale price of insulin.

 

With the completion of the special session, lawmakers are not schedule to return to the Capitol until the fiscal session, which convenes in February.

 

Traditionally, during fiscal sessions the legislature only considers appropriations that set spending levels for state agencies. However, there is a rarely-used parliamentary mechanism that allows for introduction of non-budget bills.

 

12-10-21 9:33 a.m. KAWX.ORG

 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for November 29th - December 5th

SHERIFF’S LOG

The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of November 29, 2021 – December 05, 2021. 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.

 

November 29, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Polk 191 near Ink in reference to a camper fire.

 

November 30, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a dog being shot on Lookout Mountain Ln near Mena.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 56 near Nunley leading to the arrest of David Smith, 54 of Mena on a charge of Disorderly Conduct.

Deputies were dispatched to an address on Wright Lane near Hatfield in reference to an out of control brush fire.

 

December 01, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of an altercation at a business near Hatfield. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a report of an attempted break-in of a vehicle.

Laine Barber, 27 of Mena was arrested on a charge of Criminal Contempt.

Skyler Allen, 20 of Mena was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for third Degree Domestic Battery.

Deputies were dispatched to a disturbance on Polk 287 near Cove.

 

December 02, 2021

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hwy 8 E near Board Camp in reference to sheep being attacked by dogs.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Strawberry Lane near Potter in reference to a Physical Altercation.

 

December 03, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

December 04, 2021

No reports were filed.

 

December 05, 2021

Kori McKinney, 31 of Hackett was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Criminal Trespass and two counts Third Degree Assault.

Stacie Shores, 31 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

Tina Richey, 34 of Mena was arrested on two Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrants and one Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

Jeremiah Smith, 38 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Theft of Property.

Randy Beaty, 40 of Hatfield was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Third Degree Assault and First Degree Criminal Mischief.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on Polk 87 near Ink in reference to a Theft.

 

Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 4 vehicle accidents this week.

 

Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 17 Incarcerated Inmates, with 9 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.

PC21-01005

 

12-6-21 3:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for November 28th - December 4th

Mena Police Department reports for the week of November 28th through December 4th, 2021

 

November 28

 

A report of battery was taken from a person at Walmart.

 

A report of criminal trespass was taken at a residence on Dickson Road.

 

A report of Forgery was taken from Subway.

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.

 

Warren Bellows, 51, was charged with Domestic Battery 3rd Degree after a call to a residence on Dickson Road.

 

November 29

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken from Walmart.

 

Ashley Powell, 34, was served with a warrant at the District Court Office.

 

November 30

 

A report of breaking or entering was taken from a business on Highway 71.

 

A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

A report of Possession of a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 1

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken at Atwood’s.

 

A report of battery was taken from a person at Phillip 66.

 

A report of battery was taken at a residence on Dequeen Street.

 

Abram Abernathy, 25, was charged with Inhaling an Intoxicant at Northside Laundromat.

 

James Lane, 42, was served with four warrants after a traffic stop on Highway 71.

 

December 2

 

Travis Dollarhyde, 32, was served with two warrants at a residence on Oak Grove Avenue.

 

A report of harassment was taken from a walk-in complainant.

 

December 3

 

A report of assault was taken at a residence on Hickory Avenue.

 

Tera Lott, 37, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at Dollar General.

 

Tatum Veal, 31, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) at Family Dollar.

 

December 4

 

Amy Harrison, 32, was served with a warrant after a traffic stop on Mena Street.

 

A report of breaking or entering and theft was taken at a residence on Reeves Street.

 

A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Glennaire.

 

A report of theft was taken at a residence on 3rd Street.

 

A report of theft of property (shoplifting) was taken at Dollar General.

 

A report of criminal mischief was taken at Mena Short Stop.

 

A report of disorderly conduct was taken at KFC/Taco Bell.

 

All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

12-6-21 1:56 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The General Assembly is scheduled to convene for an Extraordinary Session on Tuesday, December 7.

 

The Arkansas Constitution says Extraordinary Sessions, often referred to as special sessions, can only be called by the Governor. 

 

The Governor announced this week he is calling the session to address tax cuts and several miscellaneous items of legislation.

 

The tax cut being proposed would lower the top income tax rate to 5.5% for tax year 2022 and gradually reduce the top rate to 4.9% for tax year 2025.

 

Currently, the top income tax rate is 5.9%.

 

The proposal would also gradually reduce the corporate income tax rates to 5.3% by tax year 2025.

 

Taxpayers whose taxable income is at or below $23,600 and who timely file a tax return receive a $60 nonrefundable tax credit under the legislation. 

 

The latest general revenue report, released this week, shows year-to-date general revenue at $79.5 million or 3% above year ago levels.

 

The Governor is also expected to ask the General Assembly to transfer funds to the Restricted Reserve Accounts, approve appropriations for American Rescue Plan funds, and consider expanding tax credits for an economic development project.

 

The other items before the legislature will include technical corrections in previous passed legislation. We will post all the legislation on our website.

 

Article 6, section 19 in our state constitution outlines the procedure for Extraordinary Sessions. It states the Governor must specify in the proclamation the purpose for which the General Assembly is convened. 

 

The General Assembly cannot take up any other businesses until every item in the proclamation has been addressed or dismissed. 

 

After that, the General Assembly can extend the session for up to 15 days to take up other matters with a 2/3 majority vote of both the House and the Senate. 

 

The session will be live-streamed and archived at www.arkansashouse.org.

 

12-3-21 5:38 P.M. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column: A Turning Point for the Right to Life

A Turning Point for the Right to Life  

For nearly 50 years, Americans who have held to a belief that all human life is sacred and valuable have grieved the fact that the United States is among a handful of nations – including Communist China and North Korea – that allow for abortion on demand beyond the point when babies can feel pain.

 

Many on the other side of the political aisle often point to aspects of European culture or economic policy as worthy of aspiring toward, but refuse to confront the fact that even the overwhelming majority of these nations limit abortion at 15 weeks or earlier.

 

Which brings us to the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case on December 1, marking the first serious challenge in a generation to the abortion regime established under Roe v. Wade and clarified under Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case concerns a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, when we know unborn children have limbs and fully-developed hearts, can taste, make facial expressions, yawn, hiccup, swallow and suck their thumbs.

 

Protecting these little ones from gruesome, painful and barbaric abortion procedures is the duty of any society that claims the mantles of morality and justice.

 

This is not a fringe position. In fact, three-quarters of Americans, including a majority who identify as pro-choice, want significant restrictions on abortion according to a Marist survey conducted earlier this year.

 

Americans may be familiar with the concept that the legal precent under Roe v. Wade grants women the right to terminate a pregnancy, but most are far less clear on the specifics around abortion or what it would mean if the nation’s highest court struck the ruling down.

 

Simply put, a decision by a majority of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe would not create a federal ban on abortion. What it would do is return to the states and the people the policy decisions related to this issue rather than nine justices in black robes based in Washington, D.C. Notably, the movement to defend the unborn also does not seek to punish vulnerable women susceptible to the false notion that abortion is their only or most sensible option.

 

With the Dobbs case, the day I and many pro-life advocates throughout Arkansas and across our country have been praying for has come. There is a very real possibility that our nearly five-decade nightmare, which has cost the lives of over 60 million children, could be on the verge of ending.

 

I joined supporters of life who rallied out in front of the Court before and during the oral arguments in this case. I met Arkansans who traveled to the nation’s capital to lend their voices to this essential cause. It was encouraging to be with these passionate individuals who care deeply about this issue.

 

Defending the right to life is one of the most important things we can do, because every life is precious and protecting the sanctity of life will demonstrate where the true values of our country are found. This moment could be a turning point in our society’s moral and cultural evolution. The science tells us the unborn are human beings worthy of protection. Our consciences echo that truth.  We pray that our nation’s highest court helps put us back on the right track. We must draw this line in the sand and not shrink back. The stakes are too high. We will continue to lift our voices in defense of life.

 

12-3-21 4:32 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

December 3, 2021

 

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature is scheduled to begin on December 7 a special session to consider reductions in individual and corporate income taxes.

 

The governor and state revenue officials have proposed a measure that would lower income taxes by almost $500 million a year when all of its provisions have taken full effect.

 

There are enough legislative co-sponsors to make passage of the measure a mere formality.

 

The tax reductions will be in effect for only part of 2022, when it will save Arkansas taxpayers an estimated $135.25 million.

 

In 2023 the estimated tax savings are $307.4 million. In 2024 they will be $383.2 million and in 2025 they will be $459 million. By 2026, when all of the provisions have taken effect, the tax savings will be an estimated $497.9 million a year.

 

The proposal would lower the top rate for individual state income taxes, from 5.9 percent to 4.9 percent. The top rate for corporate income taxes would drop from 5.9 percent to 5.3 percent.

 

It would increase tax credits for people with incomes of less than $22,900, saving them almost $20 million a year.

 

People in the low income and middle income brackets would save about $133 million a year.

 

The legislature approved income tax cuts proposed by the governor in 2015, 2017 and 2019. In total, they lowered taxes for Arkansas families, in all income brackets, by about $250 million a year.

 

Even after reducing tax revenue, Arkansas ended last fiscal year with a surplus of almost a billion dollars.

 

When the state accumulates such a large surplus, it promotes two opposing schools of thought. In one camp, advocates argue that legislators should increase funding of vital social programs such as services for people with disabilities and pre-school for children in low-income families.

 

On the other side are elected officials who believe that large surpluses prove that taxes are too high. They say that essential services are adequately funded, and the surplus should be returned to taxpayers because government is not in the business of stockpiling money it doesn’t need.

 

Another issue that will arise during the special session is whether legislators will limit their action to items on the governor’s official call. Beyond the income tax cuts, he has listed several minor “housekeeping” measures that need to be approved and should not generate much controversy.

 

For example, a law enacted earlier this year limits rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers that sell insulin. An unintended consequence was that it may raise costs of health insurance for teachers and state employees. The governor said he would ask that the legislature repeal the law.

 

Some legislators want to add a provision to Arkansas laws that outlaw abortions, to allow civil lawsuits against abortion clinics. If the governor does not include the item on his call for a special session, it would not be considered unless the legislature voted by an extraordinary majority of two-thirds to bring it up. Also, some legislators have said they would try to bring up tax cuts that go beyond those proposed by the governor.

 

12-3-21 4:27 p.m. KAWX.ORG