Arkansas lawmakers seek more info on Medicaid

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013
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ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE-EXECUTIONS

An Arkansas lawmaker is proposing changes to a lethal injection law that the state Supreme Court struck down last year.

Republican Sen. Bart Hester of Cave Springs filed legislation Thursday that would spell out how the Arkansas Department of Correction is to carry out executions.

Last year, the state's high court sided with a number of death row inmates who argued that the 2009 execution law violated part of the state's constitution that deals with separating the branches of government.

That law that was struck down said death sentences are to be carried out by lethal injection of one or more chemicals that the director of the Department of Correction chooses.

Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson says the agency is still digesting Hester's proposal.

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ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE-SPENDING CAP

Thirty-five Arkansas legislators are backing a bill that would set a cap on how much the state's government can grow each year.

House Republican Leader Rep. Bruce Westerman introduced the bill Thursday. The measure would limit growth in the state's annual expenditures by either 3 percent or the three-year average increase in the state's gross domestic product — whichever is less.

Westerman says the goal is to prevent government spending from growing faster than state's economy.

The bill has 29 other sponsors in the House, and five senators have also signed on.

Westerman says Republicans plan to introduce additional legislation that would further restrict state spending.

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe says the governor is reviewing the legislation.

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ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE-VETERANS

A legislative panel has advanced a proposal creating a task force that will study replacing a state veterans' home that closed last year.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday endorsed the proposal by Republican Sen. Jane English of North Little Rock to create an Arkansas veterans' home task force.

English's proposal would create a 22-member task force that would begin meeting in May to work on recommendations for replacing a state veterans' home in Little Rock that closed last year.

The panel would look at potential locations for a new facility, the cost and potential funding sources. The proposal calls for the task force to issue its recommendations by Oct. 31.

English's proposal heads to the Senate, which is expected to vote on it Tuesday.

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REHABILITATION SERVICES-LAVERTY

Former state Sen. Randy Laverty has been named the commissioner of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services.

Laverty served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 and in the Senate from 2003 until this year. He is a Democrat from Jasper.

Arkansas Rehabilitation Services aims to provide opportunities for Arkansans with disabilities and is a division of the Arkansas Department of Career Education. Laverty will take over as commissioner on Feb. 3. He replaces Randy Parker, who came out of retirement to serve as interim commissioner.

Arkansas Department of Career Education Director Bill Walker says he's "delighted" that Laverty will serve as commissioner. Walker says Laverty's experience in the Legislature will help the agency enhance the services provided to Arkansans with disabilities.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"It's more important that we get things right than do it quick. We're literally talking about shaping health care policy for 10 or 20 years. It's not a McDonald's drive-thru."

Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, on tackling Medicaid. Lamoureux said lawmakers want answers on whether the state could opt for a smaller expansion than the federal health care law calls for, despite the Obama administration telling states that partial expansion wasn't possible.