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MARK LOWERY | Fiscal session coming up

In addition to the early 2013 legislative session and the upcoming fiscal session beginning in February, your elected state representatives and state senators participate in interim legislative committee meetings and also participate in legislative fact-finding opportunities.

One such opportunity I was given recently was to participate in the Americans for Reform fly-in to Washington D.C. to meet with Arkansas congressmen Tim Griffin and Steve Womack. The Americans for Reform initiative consisted of 600 conservative-friendly officials and activists that targeted a wide range of House lawmakers, primarily Republicans, on immigration reform.

The primary purpose was to make the conservative case for immigration reform to lawmakers by bringing business experts, religious leaders and law enforcement officials to the Hill and ask that House members urge leadership to begin debate on issues such as worker visas as well as border security. My participation in the fly-in as the only state representative in the Arkansas delegation also allowed me to appear on the Nov. 1 segment of AETN’s “Arkansas Week” as that week’s “newsmaker.”

My work in the interim committee process has also kept me busy. In addition to an interim proposal that has been previously reported in the Maumelle Monitor related to suburban improvement districts such as Maumelle Water Management, I have been engaged in several other studies.

I have also introduced Interim Study Proposal 2013-097 that would provide a state income tax credit for premium payments made for long-term care insurance. This initiative could take a considerable burden off of the state and families in taking care of elderly in the future. Incentives to young people to purchase long term care insurance when it is most affordable would more than offset the cost of the tax credits to the state.

ISP 2013-097 is a study proposal to establish a public safety support system for law enforcement that would enable law enforcement to scan license plates and identify in real time vehicles that are being operated without proper liability insurance. It is estimated that as many as 14 percent of drivers in the state of Arkansas are uninsured motorists? This accounts for more than 408,000 drivers on the road throughout the state and drives up the costs of your auto insurance as well as makes you vulnerable to accidents caused by uninsured motorists.

I am also deeply concerned that second degree murder does not require the same requirements for time served as many drug-related offenses that did not result in physical harm. That is why I have introduced ISP 2013-099 to establish murder in the second degree as a seventy-percent crime. Currently, those convicted of second degree murder in Arkansas can get out of prison in as little as 6 years.

Constituents have relayed to me requests for other issues to be studied for possible introduction in the 2015 legislative session. If you would like to talk with me about legislation you believe should be considered please feel free to call me at 501-837-5221 or come by my legislative office in the Dean Files City Complex building at 550 Edgewood Drive in Maumelle. Regular office hours for the part-time office is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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