December 21, 2016 Edition

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Cavenaugh previews outlook
for 2017 legislative session

Fran Cavenaugh was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 60 in November.

John Bland
Publisher

Frances "Fran" Cavenaugh, Walnut Ridge resident and CFO of the Cavenaugh Auto Group, spoke on Thursday to members of the Walnut Ridge Kiwanis Club about the upcoming session of the Arkansas legislature. Running as a Republican, she was elected state representative of District 60 in November.

District 60 includes all of Lawrence County, a third of both Sharp and Randolph counties and a fourth of Greene County.

The Arkansas legislature will convene at the Arkansas State Capitol on Jan. 9, but Cavenaugh has already been spending time in Little Rock for a week-long orientation, as well as time meeting with lobbyists.

She said she is pleased to be named to the education committee and the aging, child welfare and veterans affairs committee. She has also been named as an alternate to the legislative council, which handles the business of the House of Representatives during alternate years when the legislature is not in session.

She said the legislature is expecting a long session, with the main reason being action needed to deal with the recent vote to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas. The state law legalizing medical marijuana goes against the federal law, and it will be illegal for money obtained from the sale of medical marijuana to be deposited in banks, she explained.

"The people have spoken, so that's what we're going to do," she added.

With the incoming new administration on the federal level, the future of the Affordable (Health) Care Act is in question and if repealed would affect Arkansas. This could cause the need for special legislative sessions, she said.

Cavenaugh noted that close to 65 bills have been pre-filed. Some 2,000 bills were filed during the last session with 1,000 of them making it out of committees.

Cavenaugh said she would focus on bills introduced in her committees. "You can't be an expert on all bills," she added.

To keep up with the session and bills, constituents can go to francavenaugh.com, where there is a link to the bills. She also welcomes telephone calls.

"We have a great need due to the level of poverty in our district," she said.

Cavenaugh also noted that the house of representatives consists of 78 Republican members and 22 Democrats, with Rep. Joe Jett of Corning recently becoming a member of the Republican Party.

In the senate, the makeup is approximately 24 Republicans to 11 Democrats.

In closing, Cavenaugh said she is interested in bills to reduce taxes and in those that help children and the elderly.

She was the guest of Kiwanis member Kari Shanks at the meeting.

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