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It is that time of the Session.

A dangerous time.

A happy time.

A victorious time.

A time to ponder the eternal question: Did the 92nd General Assembly really pass some worthwhile legislation?

It is a time that causes one to wonder why it is all worth it -- but it always is worth it in a citizen-led legislature.

And a collection of 135 bone-tired, often frazzled men and women will step back in a week or so, to examine the body of work of the 92nd General Assembly.

So will all the critics and pundits in our state.

Was there significant legislation passed in 2019?

The biggest passage, after a federal court ruled that Arkansas' imposed "work requirement" to continue Medicaid funding was illegal, came when the Governor with the help from both sides on the issue, forged enough votes to continue funding the giant Medicaid program.

Not to fund the program would have (1) wrecked the Governor's budget, (2) tossed even more poor, sick people off their medical supplies and program of care and (3) possibly even further divided this often contentious legislature.

A big plus this year was of course the proposal to add additional funds to the state's highway program, even using some of the casino revenues, yet to be seen from the expansion of gambling in the state.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Let the couple of weeks between the recess and the actual end of the legislative session "jell" as they like to say down in Little Rock.

One has to watch for all the unintended consequences of the bills proposed, passed out of committee and a few that actually may land on the governor's desk for a signature.

Some very spirited debated has been sparked over the unintended consequences from the voter approved minimum wage hike passed last fall.

These will be studied in an interim session, no doubt. Just how will non-profits, starter jobs and small businesses be impacted by these state-mandated hikes that far out-stretch the federal minimum wage requirements?

Only time will tell.

The 92nd General Assembly, while addressing several Dreamer Questions, did in fact, straighten out the process to allow in-state high school and college graduates a path to be licensed as health-care professionals in Arkansas. And there was that little in-state tuition bill which passes as a correct thing to do in our state.

There were also other bills that needed a little more work before all the kinks could be worked out and these will be referred to an interim committee for more study.

The Governor's wish list, including the internet tax proposal, the tax-cut for more Arkansans and a highway bill, did get passed.

Only the Medicaid scare from the federal judiciary caused any heartburn in the Executive Office this session.

As we watch these next few days, still a flurry of bills, emotions and frustrations will rise out of Little Rock.

Local solons will soon be back home, assessing their successes or failures to get certain bills passed.

We will all prepare ourselves to get ready for an election cycle and the possibility of a special session or two, if needed, by Gov. Hutchinson.

And so it goes....as the 93nd General Assembly draws to a close.

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylontrice@yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 04/10/2019

Print Headline: Most 'bad' bills come to light at end of Session

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