During legislative session, many bills have the potential to impact Arkansas with disabilities, their families, and communities. The following bills have been signed by the Governor and have a direct impact on the disability community.
Bills Signed by The Governor
Act 38 (Dalby) requires the House Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary to meet jointly to conduct a study of financial matters related to the court system, specifically the levying of fees and fines.
Act 49 (Boyd) provides that a surrogate applying for public health benefits can have access to information regarding the income, assets, and financial records of the person they’re applying for to the extent required to complete the application.
Act 61 (Dalby) authorizes circuit courts to establish a family treatment specialty court program which will use a multidisciplinary collaborative approach for families involved in a dependency-neglect proceeding that are affected by substance use or mental health issues.
Act 70 (Mayberry) requires a home caregiver to have at least four hours of training covering Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Act 160 (Underwood) requires public housing authorities to implement work requirements for able-bodied adults in households that receive housing assistance and to prioritize admitting households where all able-bodied adults are compliant with the work requirement. Work requirements have never been shown to be effective in improving work outcomes and this bill only adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to public housing assistance.
Act 164 (Irvin) outlines the requirements for background checks for employees of care providers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Act 187 (Irvin) expands list of eligible recipients for a record of a screened-out report of adult maltreatment or long-term care facility maltreatment to include an alleged offender’s current employer and the entity responsible for licensing/registering the offender.
Act 191 (Haak) removes the requirement that a person receiving the tax credit for the support of a child with a developmental disability must have a medical recertification of the child’s disability after five years if the disability is expected to continue indefinitely.
Act 200 (Tosh) allows a person to be employed within Arkansas Medicaid as a peer support specialist with a violent offense on his or her record upon review and approval by the Department of Human Services.
Act 263 (Collins) requires a county board of election commissioners that holds early voting at a polling site in addition to the county clerk’s office to have the same hours of operation at the additional site as they do at the county clerk’s office.
Act 268 (Brown) requires seller of an emotional support dog to provide written notice to the buyer containing information explaining the difference between emotional support animals and service animals, it also requires healthcare providers to be licensed where they are providing services and to have had a client-provider relationship with the client for 30 days or more when documenting the need for an emotional support dog. Annual evaluations on the need for a service dog are also required by the provider.
Act 274 (Stubblefield) provides that a healthcare professional who performs a gender transition procedure on a minor is liable if the minor is physically or psychologically injured; injured minor may bring a civil action. This is effectively another attempt to ban gender-affirming care with no regard for the adverse effects such a ban will have on the mental health of trans kids. The bill also contains several statements presented as fact which are not supported by data or the expert opinions of the medical community.
Act 316 (Pilkington) requires private insurers to cover depression screenings for pregnant women without cutting or limiting other allowable benefits.
Act 339 (Warren) provides that an organization that holds a Section 14(c) certificate is legally recognized to employ individuals with disabilities. These certificates allow for paying people with disabilities subminimum wage.
Act 353 (Dees) prohibits a county clerk, public employee, or election official from establishing or using a drop box for the purpose of collecting absentee ballots, and from delivering an absentee ballot through a drop box.
Act 484 (Pilkington) creates a workgroup to study feasibility of requiring the Medicaid program to reimburse for nonemergency ridesharing transportation from a beneficiary’s home to a healthcare facility, subject to a $150 limit per calendar year.
Act 494 (Johnson) requires behavioral health services to be reimbursed by Arkansas Medicaid and private insurers in hospital outpatient clinics and doctor’s clinics.
Act 532 (Dismang) decreases income tax rates for individuals, trusts, and estates, decreases income tax rate for domestic and foreign corporations from 5.3% to 5.1% on net income exceeding $25,000.
Act 543 (McElroy) prohibits certain school districts from being administratively consolidated if the school district is currently classified as in need of Level 5 — Intensive support and an enrolled student would have to ride a bus for more than 40 miles to attend. Instead the state board will assume control of these districts.
Act 562 (Pilkington) requires Medicaid reimbursement for depression screenings of pregnant women.
Act 659 (Gilmore) makes various changes to sentencing, parole, and post-release supervision policies.
Act 675 (Dismang) requires the Department of Human Services to request a waiver from the federal government to grant a temporary increase for one year to the income limits of a household receiving SNAP benefits. The temporary asset limit would be $5,500 and a household could only receive this temporary benefit once every five years.
Act 724 (Vaught) removes the requirement for public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools to offer expelled students alternative courses equal to the credits they would have received if enrolled.
Act 783 (Irvin) expands protections for individuals over 69 years of age and residents of inpatient facilities receiving around the clock care by adding additional criminal penalties for abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Act 805 (Johnson) expands the list of items a health benefit plan must cover to include a prosthetic device for athletics or recreation and a prosthetic device for showering or bathing.
Act 806 (Cavenaugh) requires the Department of Human Services to set minimum standards governing the quality of care provided by a regulated facility to a child and prohibits a psychiatric residential treatment facility from admitting a child unless certain conditions are met.
Keep up with the Action at the Capitol
The 94rd General Assembly is under way. Legislators will make decisions every day that affect your daily life – and DRA will be there. Here’s how you can stay in the know about the issues that most affect YOU.