‘Pretty slow’ in summer at Capitol

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    By John R. Schirmer
    News-Leader staff

    The Arkansas Legislature is in “summer slowdown,” Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville said last week. “It’s pretty slow right now.”

    Some members have attended or will attend regional and national conferences. Teague said he will not be among them.

    The Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force, of which Teague is a member, “is still waiting on consultant proposals. We’re extending the deadline to the end of August for submitting proposals.”

    The task force is charged with preparing a report by December. “The report may be that we’re not done,” Teague said.

    Members have met several times since the panel was announced in May.

    Teague said budget meetings for next year’s fiscal session will begin in the fall.

    Legislators are starting to “go into campaign mode” with primaries and the general election coming up in 2010, Teague said.

    Teague, Senate chair of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, continues to watch the health care debate in Washington, D.C. Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed last week, but the issue could resurface.

    “I hope we get some closure,” Teague said. Legislators “need to know what we’re going to do” about the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

    “Obviously, the current plan could be better, but I don’t get the sense that anybody wants to fix it. There are budget issues for the state either way you go,” Teague said.