During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Republican Women Legislative Caucus developed “Dream BIG For Arkansas: Bold Initiatives for the Good of Arkansas” which resulted in legislation in five key areas: healthcare, broadband, childcare, education and juvenile justice reform. All of these bills became Acts with nearly unanimous support from the General Assembly.
Yesterday during the Governor’s daily COVID-19 update, Governor Hutchinson outlined a number of recommendations from the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force chaired by Steuart Walton. Three of the key issues they identified as important to Arkansas’s economic recovery and growth are completely in line with legislation our caucus passed: broadband, childcare, and healthcare.
Senator Missy Irvin (R- Mountain View) released the following statement: “Dream BIG for Arkansas successfully designed and passed “game-changing” legislation of policies that would dramatically advance Arkansas’s economic standing in our country. The leadership of these women in their communities and our shared experiences and passion for our citizens, led to great work during the past session. This work continues everyday as we respond to our constituents’ experiences and circumstances. Dream BIG strives to make Arkansans’ lives better. We have a lot of work left to do!”
Act 198: An Act to amend the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform Act of 2013; to provide additional access to Federal Communications Commission-Defined Broadband Service. This Act laid the foundation for the Rural Broadband ID Program that was passed this past fiscal session. Many members of the General Assembly – from both parties – have requested for this program to be fully funded as soon as possible. This program assists local communities along with their internet service providers with grants to meet the federal grant requirements available for expanding rural broadband access for federally eligible rural areas. It is a companion program for Governor Hutchinson’s AR Rural Connect Program, which has been fully funded. Now more than ever, our state must focus on increasing broadband access to the home for students, businesses, and patients.
Act 131: An Act to encourage Child Care Facility Entrepreneurship in Arkansas conferencing the duties of the Division of Child Care and Early Education within the Department of Human Services. This act lays the foundation for the reconnections of the Task Force. This legislation was designed to expand childcare options, especially in underserved areas, by making information more available through a website, reducing regulations as much as possible, and finding ways to fund and support entrepreneurship for child care facilities.
Act 181: An Act concerning the pursuit of a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center at the Winthrop P Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; to create the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences National Cancer Institute Designation Trust Fund. Clearly with the current pandemic, there is a great need for UAMS to be fully engaged in ALL areas of research and assistance In order to advance healthcare in Arkansas. UAMS has been a key partner with the Arkansas Department of Health in all areas of dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic. Pursuing NCI designation has already brought great talent to UAMS and will raise our states opportunities for greater engagement for research and funding for these efforts. This legislation launched UAMS into a higher level of recognition and opportunities. This will be incredibly important for our citizens not just in cancer treatment, but in all areas of improving their health.
The Republican Women’s Legislative Caucus is working to continue our bold initiatives for the Good of Arkansas by building on these key areas of economic recovery and growth as identified by the Task Force, as well as education and workforce sustainability and development. We applaud their work and recommendations and are encouraged to continue our work for the good of Arkansas.