Several State Lawmakers Tell KASU News 2019 Session Goals
The 2019 Arkansas Legislative Session is expected to get into full swing Monday. Earlier this week, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson outlined some of his priorities during his inauguration as he was sworn in for his second term. Those include further tax cuts, smaller government, and economic growth. Numerous bills are already being filled in the Arkansas House and Senate. During an Arkansas Legislative Reception held earlier this week in Little Rock, several lawmakers visited with constituents at the ASU System Office in Little Rock. I was able to talk to six legislators about what their goals are during this legislative session.
Republican State Senator John Cooper serves District 20, which is in Clay, Greene, and Lawrence Counties. He tells what his goals will be.
“Most of my efforts concern occupational licensing,” says Cooper. “I will be running some repeal bills on that to reduce the bureaucracy in the licensing arena. We are one of the most overregulated states in the nation, and some of these bills would help in that regard.”
Republican State Representative Dan Sullivan serves District 53, which is Craighead County. He says his goals are close to the priorities of Governor Hutchinson.
“We need to reduce our taxes in our state, while retaining some of the critically important services for our citizens,” said Sullivan. “I am on the ag committee so I am interested in the dicamba issue, and I am on the education committee and I want more pay for our teachers.”
Republican State Representative John Payton serves District 64, which is in Baxter, Stone, and Cleburne Counties. He gave his thoughts on the Governor’s goals.
“There are some things that I love and some that I am apprehensive about,” said Payton. “The idea of shrinking state government and consolidating some boards and agencies is a great idea, but I am not sure about the logistics of making it happen. In whatever we do, I want to make sure we are making the best use of taxpayers’ money.”
Republican State Representative Matthew Shepherd serves District 6 and is the Speaker of the Arkansas House. District 6 consists of Union, Columbia, and Ouachita Counties in southern Arkansas.
“I want to help my membership to be effective this session,” said Shepherd. “I want to help restore the public’s trust in the institution of state government. We have had a few former members that have done some things that are illegal and disgusting and disturbing to us. We are going to set a high standard of how we conduct our business.”
Republican State Representative Jim Dotson serves District 93, which consists of Washington and Benton Counties in northwest Arkansas. He tells about some bills that he will be sponsoring about the operations of state government. He gives an example.
“I have been looking at the procurement process of state government and will be running some bills to help make government purchasing much more efficient, as well as reforming the rules that bidders and contractors follow when they compete for contracts.”
Democratic State Representative Chris Richey serves District 12, which is in Phillips, Desha, and Arkansas Counties. Richey gives his thoughts on Hutchinson’s proposals.
“There are a lot of questions as we start the session about tax cuts, highway funding, and government reorganization that are not detailed in full plans yet,” said Richey. “My number one goal this session is highway funding.”