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Things to be aware of when the Arkansas Legislature meets to discuss problems such as the budget



Little Rock, Arkansas – Arkansas legislators are meeting in the Capitol, and the governor’s $6.3 billion proposed budget for the upcoming year is at the top of their agenda.

Attempts to amend or completely repeal a law pertaining to Bitcoin mining operations may potentially be discussed during the session.

The Republican who was elected to office last year, Sanders, is expected to address the House and Senate on Wednesday to begin this year’s session.

“Our preference is to keep it very limited, and that’s been our practice” since voters approved annual sessions in 2008, House Speaker Matthew Shepherd said.

Here is a preview of what to anticipate in the upcoming fiscal session:
In his budget proposal from last month, Sanders increased state spending by 1.76% over the previous year for the fiscal year that starts on July 1. The $109 million boost, which is tied to a bill Sanders signed into law last year that established a new school voucher program, would almost entirely go toward education.

“As Governor, I’ve promised to Arkansans to limit the size and growth of government while still investing in areas of greatest need like education and public safety,” Sanders said in a statement. “My proposed budget accomplishes this with only a 1.76% increase over last fiscal year, far below the 3% year-over-year increase our state has averaged in the recent past, and my top priority this fiscal session is its passage.”

Leaders of the House and Senate have stated that they believe the budget plan has support in the Legislature, which is dominated by Republicans. But Democrats have stated that they want to draw attention to their worries regarding the price of the voucher program.

“This is the first year of the law. What does this portend for future years?” Senate Minority Leader Greg Leding said.

Legislation pertaining to cryptocurrency mining and temporary modifications to state employee pay plans are expected to be discussed, even though non-budget bills must receive a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in order to be considered in even-numbered years.
Certain localities have taken issue with restrictions put in place last year that limit local governments’ authority to control cryptocurrency mines, which are data centers that need a lot of electricity and processing power.

The Republican senator who spearheaded the legislation last year, Joshua Bryant, said he is drafting legislation to address worries that the limitations make it difficult to handle complaints about the mines’ noise pollution and effects on the neighborhood. According to Bryant, another goal of the law is to keep China from owning these facilities.

“I just want to try to have good policy and correct the ills of the past,” Bryant said.

Sen. Bryan King, a Republican, stated that he is drafting legislation to overturn the bill because he believes the modifications do not go far enough.

“We’re learning so much more that should have been told on the front end” about last year’s law, King said.

Sanders didn’t say whether she would support changes, but spokeswoman Alex Henning said the governor “will continue to protect the safety of Arkansans, fight back against China buying up our land, and encourage Arkansas businesses to be good neighbors.”

Sanders has stated that she intends to pursue short-term adjustments to the state employees’ compensation schedule. Last month, Sanders suggested increasing the compensation of all state employees to at least $15 per hour by July 1st, with a one-time 3% boost. According to the governor, the adjustments are necessary to increase the state’s competitiveness in the labor market.
In the 2025 session, the governor has declared that she will push for a more thorough revision of the compensation structure.

Leaders in the legislature have stated that they would like to consider more tax cuts later in the fiscal year before pursuing another one. Two income tax cuts were signed into law by Sanders.

“Clearly a supermajority of the Legislature wants to continue cutting taxes, the governor wants to continue to cut income taxes,” Senate President Bart Hester said. “We just want to do it in a continued responsible manner.”

The governor’s office did not go into detail on whether the governor had consented to postpone tax cuts. Sanders will “keep working with the legislature to look for every opportunity to responsibly phase out the state income tax,” according to Henning.



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