July 5, 2017 Edition

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Mike Miller (left) speaks with Don Cavenaugh prior to the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce quarterly meeting Thursday at the Lawrence County Meeting Room in Walnut Ridge.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Cavenaugh gives legislative
update at Chamber meeting

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Many attended the Lawrence County Chamber Quarterly Meeting, which featured State Rep. Fran Cavenaugh who shared about the 2017 General Session.

Cavenaugh spent much of her presentation on the Arkansas education system. She said that one of the hardest statistics she's had to face was that 73 percent of Arkansas children are not reading at grade level.

Not only does this cause children to struggle in school to the point where many do not graduate, but it also makes it harder to achieve higher education or get into job training. Cavenaugh said there are studies showing that many children who struggle with education later end up in the jail system.

"We can either teach them to read or we can pay for them to be in prison," Cavenaugh said.

Cavenaugh said much of the theme of the General Session and the House Committee On Education, on which she sits, was how to get Arkansans trained, educated and into better jobs.

She said one class they are going to implement in high school will teach soft skills, such as filling out a job application, balancing a checkbook, budgeting and retirement planning.

Additionally, they also are moving toward funding colleges based on productivity rather than enrollment. This will motivate colleges to graduate students in as few years as possible, lowering student debt in the state.

Cavenaugh covered other actions taken during General Session, including:

reducing taxes for lower income individuals, trusts and estates. Cavenaugh has been placed on the Relief Legislative Task Force to study tax reform and recommend legislature for the 2019 session.

approving 23 acts to regulate medical marijuana. These laws cover background check procedures, identification cards, fines for violations and medical requirements, all of which will help keep the drug from being abused.

established an advanced concealed carry licensing process whereby a concealed carry licensee can undergo training to earn an endorsement, enabling him or her to carry a concealed handgun in a number of previously prohibited places, such as most public buildings and facilities and a college campus.

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