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Technology to help state’s workforce

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Arkansas House Weekly ColumnLITTLE ROCK — As the economy and technology rapidly evolve, many workers find the need to learn new skills. And conversely, industries and businesses that are looking to call Arkansas home want well trained and highly skilled employees available.
This is why you have seen a bi-partisan effort in this General Assembly to address workforce training.
There are 3 key pieces of legislation this session that we expect to make an enormous impact on the future of our state’s economy.
One of the bills passed this week by the House establishes local workforce development boards across the state. SB791 ensures these boards will analyze the economic conditions of the region, gather needed knowledge and skills of the region, and know the current workforce and development activities. Regular updates from these boards to the Governor’s office will help in developing a statewide labor market information system.
Needs from industry in one part of the state may be entirely different from another. Since a one size fits all approach may not be beneficial for Arkansans, these local boards will help to ensure people from each region will have access to the training needed. This bill has been signed into law by the Governor.
The House has also passed Senate Bill 368 this creates a skills development fund from private grants. This money can be used by the Department of Career Education to fund job skill training needs. This bill also passed the House this week and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.
And the last part of the workforce training package is a bill that will be before the House next week. SB891 establishes guidelines for the Department of Higher Education for the distribution of workforce initiative funding.
The idea of the entire legislative package is to have our 2 year colleges, technical schools, high schools and our state agencies to operate together.
Another economic development piece of legislation making it through the House this week establishes a business portal with the Secretary of State’s office. HB1844 would create a one stop online service where prospective business owners would enter information and then start the permitting process with all state agencies involved at the one online location.
The House also passed a bill which will provide state employees with paid maternity leave for six weeks. The bill states the employee must agree to return to work for at least 4 times the amount of leave taken.
And members voted to reinstate a capital gains tax cut passed by the General Assembly in 2013. It would raise the percentage of a capital gain that is exempt from the income tax to 50 percent. The capital gain cut was repealed earlier in the session when we passed the income tax reduction.
We expect to complete our work for this session by Thursday of next week. One of our final orders of business will be amending the Revenue Stabilization Act which balances the budget and sets priorities for spending.
Remember you can watch all House committees held in the Capitol and all House floor proceedings live at www.arkansashouse.org.