By CANDIE BECK
Log Cabin staff writer
Those attending the Conservative forum luncheon Friday heard a legislative update from District 42 State Representative Jane English (R-North Little Rock) as she explained what she and her peers have been dealing with during the latest session.
English said she is pleased to have more help with decision making with the increased amount of Republican representatives.
"When I ended my first term in 2009, I was a little frustrated because I felt like my voice was not being heard," she said. "However, I think a great group of people have been elected and we now have 44 Republicans in the house so we have a stronger presence."
With that presence, English feels that they are helping to change the way decisions are being made.
"I think less time is spent wondering what the governor wants or thinks and more emphasis is put on how we make decisions," she said. "Gov. (Mike) Beebe is a good governor. He keeps the train on the tracks, but he is not going to do any more than that."
One of the stances English says she is happy to be part of is the movement to cut the capital gains tax proposed by Beebe. Though she cautions that she expects the vote to stall, she is encouraged by the support the movement has garnered.
"We have had some Democrats come along with us on this one and even though I am confident the vote will stall in the Senate, I am hopeful that it will go through."
English mentioned two bills in particular that she is proud to be sponsoring. The first, HB-1046, provides that any cash funds received by state agencies or constitutional officers as a result of a settlement or awarded by the court, be subject to appropriation by the general assembly. English explained that currently any funds received as a result of these options do not go into the state’s treasury.
"Right now, there is a proximately 18 million dollars in this fund," she said. "I think it is important that this money be appropriated and accounted for. We need some checks and balances on how this money gets spent."
The other bill she talked about was HB-1185, The Improvement District Transparency Act, which would mandate that all improvement districts be accountable for their actions, which she says is a step that will allow cities to have all the facts before authorizing improvement districts to begin work.
"With this bill improvement districts will be held accountable for what they do and how they do it," English said. "With these measures we will be able to check for important things such as if a bond has been paid back. It helps allow for an informed decision."
During her talk, English stressed the importance of being fiscally responsible and the measures she is taking to aid in that process.
"I am not voting for any increases in appropriations bills," she promised. "This is not a time to ask voters to raise taxes. We live in a false sense of security with spending because we go right up to the cent on our budgets, it is time to look at long-term planning and what we are spending our money on to make some adjustments for the future."
English also encouraged supporters to prepare now for 2012 as all 35 state senators will be seeking re-election, as well as all four congressional seats.
"It is a time to make some changes, and I encourage everyone to participate in that process," English said.
For more information on bills sponsored by English, visit www.arkansashouse.org
(Candie Beck is a staff writer and can be reached at 501-505-1238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)