On Monday, the House considered the final pieces of legislation for the 2017 Regular Session. We will reconvene on May 1 for Sine Die adjournment. On that day, we will consider any vetoes from the Governor and address any final orders of business.
This session lasted 85 days. More than 800 bills made their way to the Governor’s desk.
We passed an income tax reduction for families making less than $21,000. We also passed legislation to exempt military retirement pay from state income tax.
When it comes to economic development, the House passed a number of bills aimed at creating jobs and ensuring our workforce is ready.
Act 166 creates a state matching grant for small businesses that have received a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant.
Act 165, the Arkansas Business and Technology Accelerator Act, creates a $2 million accelerator grant program for startup companies.
We also lowered the sales tax for replacement parts for manufacturing businesses.
We restructured the way we will fund higher education from this point forward. And with the Arkansas Future Grant program, we created a way for any Arkansas student who pursues a STEM field of study to obtain their associate’s degree tuition free.
This General Assembly considered two years of research on prison population to pass a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill. The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety address our prison overcrowding and the way we treat mental health for Arkansans in a crises. This legislation reforms the probation and parole system in the state and provides more access to mental health treatment.
Just weeks before we convened for this session, Arkansas voters approved the use of medical marijuana. We passed 15 pieces of legislation to help facilitate the implementation and regulation. The legislation passed, concerning medical marijuana, addresses everything from taxation to background checks.
In this session, we strengthened our domestic violence laws, increased funding for education, and provided more resources for foster children and the families who care for them.
The Governor has indicated we are likely to return for an Extraordinary Session in May to address health care. We will continue to update you during the interim.