A series of questions were heard and answered by Democrat Senators Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague during a public town hall meeting Tuesday at Henderson State University.

A series of questions were heard and answered by Democrat Senators Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague during a public town hall meeting Tuesday at Henderson State University.
The event was sponsored by the Arkadelphia Alliance and Area Chamber of Commerce.
During the first question of the evening, the senators were asked what could be a long-term solution for funding road improvements.
According to Maloch, the state needs something more stable than a fuel tax to generate revenue to improve roads.
Maloch said that most Republican states are more averse to any kind of taxes.
“There are a number of states across the country that have Republican majorities that increased fuel taxes,” said Maloch.
Sen. Maloch noted a proposal presented during last session to refer to the people to vote on whether or not they would support a tax increase.
“That couldn’t make it out of the House,” Maloch stated.
Teague agreed with Maloch’s statement that something more stable is needed to generate the necessary funds for road improvements.
According to Teague, tax cuts over the last few years has damaged the state’s general revenue stream.
Maloch noted Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently announced intentions of having the state’s highway funding issues during the 2019 session.
Hutchinson, who served as the guest speaker for the recent meeting of the Magnolia Rotary Club, noted that every study conducted indicates that the state needs $350 million to $400 million each year in additional highway funds to have a road improvement program that allows overlays, highway improvements and the construction of new highways.
Maloch does not anticipate Hutchinson requesting the legislature to pass a measure during 2019 to address the highway concerns, but to merely present the issue and garner support.
 
HEALTHCARE
It was noted that there is a shortage of medical professionals across the country and that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APNs) have been accepted in Clark County due to limited doctors.
The senators were asked what has to happen for APNs to have their own practices without physicians.
Sen. Teague believes that APNs will be a trend for rural Arkansas.
“I think that for rural Arkansas, at some point, that will be about all of the healthcare you will have with APNs,” said Teague, who added he is not opposed to the concept of allowing APNs practice.
“I kind of believe it will be good – maybe towns like Glenwood and Amity will have APNs there,” Teague said.
Maloch believes that APNs are critical to healthcare in rural Arkansas.
Like Teague, Maloch believes it is important for APNs and physicians to establish a relationship and understanding among themselves.
Maloch noted it is difficult to attract more health care professionals to smaller communities in the state.
 
RENTAL/COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
The senators were asked by the owner of a rental (commercial) property to give their thoughts on paying the city or a licensed professional to conduct an inspection of their work.
The owner cited their rights to do various electrical and plumbing jobs on their property, despite the fact they are not licensed.
Maloch believes certain professions that deal with the public need some licensing.
“I think we have gone overboard in some areas and I think we need to look at it,” Maloch said.
Teague noted one of the issues of licenses is that many municipalities abuse it to create additional revenue.
Teague described the license fees for one city was “huge.” He believes it is important to think this process through.
Arkadelphia City Manager Gary Brinkley, who was in the audience during the meeting, said the only thing he is concerned about is public safety.
“If someone rents a property and jacklegs the electrical and burns the house down, then I’m concerned about that,” Brinkley said.
 
CASINOS
The senators were asked why Arkansas does not allow other casinos in the state.
According to Maloch, the issue is a constitutional amendment instead of a legislative amendment. The constitutional amendments authorized gambling at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Southland Park in West Memphis and the state lottery.
“Gambling requires a constitutional amendment,” Malcoh explained.
Teague noted there are a number of residents in Southwest Arkansas who either travel to casinos in Oklahoma or Shreveport/Bossier City on any given weekend.
“Maybe it is time to look at it. I’m not going to vote for it. I don’t want one in every town, but maybe it is time to look at it,” Teague said.
 
In an upcoming edition of the Siftings, find out where the senators stand on the state’s budget, their opinion on Arkansas shift to Republican, tax cuts and General Improvement Funds.