The 94th General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature concluded a productive and eventful session in April, resulting in the passage of significant bills that will have a substantial impact on our state. Excel by Eight closely monitored the progress of several bills introduced during the session that are relevant to our policy agenda and its four focus areas: healthy beginnings, supported families, early childhood education, and maternal health.
Act 513: HB1574 is now Act 513. This legislation will provide a supplemental reimbursement rate for pediatricians and family doctors offering the HealthySteps model, making it possible to sustain existing sites and expand to others. HealthySteps is currently operational in seven primary care clinics and is making measurable improvements to outcomes for families with young children in Arkansas.
Act 494: HB1129 is now Act 494. This legislation puts into statute and clarifies locations that can bill Medicaid for integrated behavioral health services.
Act 490: HB1102 is now Act 490. This act updates the law on newborn screenings by linking the requirements for such screenings to those recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Act 128: HB1161 is now Act 128. This legislation allows pregnant and parenting high school students to receive excused absences for doctor’s appointments, giving birth, and other parenting responsibilities as well as mandating accommodations for breastfeeding such as a private location and refrigerated storage.
Act 84: SB111 is now Act 84. The act creates a new type of insurance for family leave that pays a portion of the lost income.
Act 61: HB1144 is now Act 61. This legislation authorizes a circuit court to establish a specialty court program to support families affected by substance use disorders and mental health disorders who are involved with the child welfare system.
Act 770: SB426 is now Act 770. This act extends paid leave for state employees from four weeks to 12 and adds foster placements and adoptions for infants under one year to the qualifying circumstances.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Act 237: SB294 is now Act 237, referred to as the LEARNS Act. This comprehensive education legislation will create a new Office of Early Learning, integrating the state’s early childhood education programs under the Arkansas Department of Education instead of splitting the governing structure with the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Act 60: HB1155 is now Act 60. This legislation treats family child care homes as residences for fire codes and other issues, requiring local governments to treat facilities as residential property. The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education will ensure that child care facilities comply with applicable zoning and land use requirements.
Act 829: HB1731 is now Act 829. This legislation allows child care centers to serve up to 12 people without being considered a “food service establishment,” which is an increase from the previous limit of 10 people.
Act 562: HB1011 is now Act 562. Under this act, the Arkansas Medicaid Program will cover the cost of depression screenings for pregnant women.
Act 316: HB1035 is now Act 316. This act requires that birth mothers be screened for depression at the time of birth and mandates that insurance policies cover the cost of these screenings.
To learn more about Excel by Eight Foundations’ policy agenda, visit excelby8.net/policy.