Arkansas Capitol Almanac

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm •  Published: April 16, 2013
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — 9 Arkansas GOP lawmakers switch votes to back Medicaid plan; 1 goes from yes to no

In a dramatic vote Tuesday, nine Republicans switched their votes to support a plan that would let Arkansas use federal Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for low-income residents.

The measure passed 77-23 Tuesday, reaching the 75-vote threshold needed to approve a budget bill. On Monday, the bill failed 69-28.

Republicans who opposed the measure Monday but supported it Tuesday are: Reps. Skip Carnine of Rogers, Jon Eubanks of Paris, John Hutchison of Harrisburg, Allen Kerr of Little Rock, Kelley Linck of Yellville and Sue Scott of Rogers.

Reps. Ann Clemmer of Benton and Stephanie Malone of Fort Smith voted yes Tuesday after not voting Monday. Rep. Mary Slinkard of Gravette did the same after voting present Monday.

Rep. Stephen Meeks of Greenbrier voted no Tuesday after supporting it Monday.

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Ark. Senate approves plan for private-option insurance plan under Medicaid; budget vote later

State senators have passed legislation that would let Arkansas use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for thousands of low-income residents, but the true test will come when votes are cast on a separate budget bill.

Senators on Tuesday favored the "private option" plan as an alternative to expanding Medicaid's enrollment under the federal health care law. A separate vote on the budget plan is set for Wednesday.

Tuesday's vote came hours after the House passed the budget bill for the private option. At least 27 of 35 senators must vote "yes" on the budget bill for it to pass.

Senators voted on Medicaid bills with identical language Tuesday, passing the Senate version 28-7 but registering a 26-9 vote on the House version. Neither was the budget bill.

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Arkansas House lawmakers approve package of tax cut proposals, including income tax reduction

The Arkansas House has approved a package of proposals that would cut state income taxes, capital gains taxes, and reduce taxes paid by manufacturers.

The measures approved by lawmakers Tuesday are part of the estimated $100 million in total tax cuts that legislative leaders say they want to pass this session. The vote came several hours after the House approved the Medicaid 'private option' bill that Gov. Mike Beebe says would provide the savings to fund some of the proposed tax cuts.

The income tax proposal would lower the top tax rate and increase the minimum income to which the tax applies.

The House also approved a bill that would cut capital gains taxes and raise the standard deduction for income taxes.

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Arkansas House approves conditional cut in sales tax on food, sends bill to Senate

The Arkansas House has approved legislation that would cut the state's sales tax on groceries if bond obligations or desegregation payments decline over a six-month period.

House members sent the bill to the Arkansas Senate on a 90-2 vote Tuesday. A Senate committee is considering an identical proposal.

As part of a budget plan presented last year, Gov. Mike Beebe suggested reducing the grocery tax from 1.5 percent to 0.125 percent, but only if the state's bond obligations or school desegregation payments drop by $35 million over six months.

The bill was approved after the Republican-controlled House approved proposals to cut the state's taxes on income, capital gains and manufacturers' utility bills. Beebe, a Democrat, has successfully pushed for cutting the tax from 6 percent since taking office in 2007.

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