Wednesday once was a day of light entertainment for legislators, given the traditional midweek church services. No more: top of the list today is a select event where topics of interest might include legislation that promises rising costs for cell phone users.
At 6 p.m. today, the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League will be pulling the tap handles at Samantha’s Taproom for members of the House and Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committees, where the publicly funded lobbies’ legislation must pass.
Perhaps there’ll be some discussion of how the loot is to be split on legislation planned, but not yet introduced, to upgrade 911 systems. It will cost every cell phone user in the state a new tax (47 cents says the D-G; is that a month or a year?). A lot of this money will flow to reduce the cost to local governments and to put money in pockets of rural telephone companies, perhaps not to the proportionate benefit of larger phone companies and their city customers. This is just scuttlebutt at this point. The bill hasn’t been introduced. There’s also money on the table apparently for a panic button gimmick that employs a major lobbying outfit.
The representative from Newton County tells the D-G it will be “particularly helpful” for rural counties. That usually means it’s time for urban county dwellers to look after their wallets.
Also on the social schedule for freebies:
Breakfast: Capitol Hill building, Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants
Lunch: Capitol Hill building, Arkansas Ophthalmological Society (optometrist surgery bill anyone?)
Lunch: Capitol Square Apartments, #13, Arkansas Health Care Association. Eats are on Michael Morton and friends. Haven’t heard if Gilbert Baker will drop by.
Cocktail hour: 5-7 p.m., Next Level Events, Texarkana Regional Chamber of Commerce.
* SOMEBODY’S GOTTA LOSE: Sen. Jason Rapert and former Rep. Nate Bell, now a $120K-a-year-employee of the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, may square off in House committee today on Rapert’s bill to merge the agency Bell just got hired to run into Allen Kerr’s Insurance Department
* MARIJUANA: House Rules is scheduled to take up the bill to expand the medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed. Sales could begin in a couple of months.