February 23, 2011 Edition

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Ratliff gives report
on legislative session

State Rep. James Ratliff of Imboden hosted an informational meeting Saturday morning to update Lawrence County citizens on bills being considered in by the state legislature.
State Rep. James Ratliff of Imboden, who began serving his first term as District 73 representative in January, met with approximately 15 Lawrence Countians at a public meeting held Saturday at the courthouse. His purpose was to give an update on happenings in the legislative session that is now underway in Little Rock.

Ratliff reported that the House had narrowly passed a capital gains tax cut bill last week that could cost the state some $68.5 million on tax revenue annually. Both Black River Technical College and Arkansas State University would lose substantial tax revenue with passage of the bill, Ratliff said.

"It was quite an issue that day," Ratliff said. "That's going to hurt us if it goes through." The senate would be looking at the bill this week, he added.

In other matters, Ratliff said the House is also looking at a prison reform bill in an effort to relieve overcrowding of Arkansas' jails.

Ratliff said he is concerned about the recent census report showing a drop in the population of Lawrence County. Population loss in the county will have consequences when district lines are redrawn, he said.

Ratliff told representatives of The Children's Shelter present that he is trying to help the shelter. He also told the Lawrence County Tourism Committee representatives present that he is watching for tourism grants.

While on the subject of the Lottery Commission needing more state funds, County Judge Dale Freeman told the assembled group that $330,000 worth of lottery tickets were purchased in Lawrence County in January.

Ratliff noted that protecting Meals on Wheels programs and senior citizens meal sites is a priority for rural legislators.

He also said that the legislature is looking at a proposal to require drug testing for those people who are drawing unemployment benefits.

Ratliff said he met with constituents in Independence County the previous Saturday and would be meeting with citizens in Greene County this coming Saturday.

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