Expect changes to upcoming session

By Debbie Wise
AAC Board President

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. As the end of 2020 approaches, the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) and its nine member associations are preparing for the 93rd General Assembly. This year has been quite a rollercoaster ride, with positive COVID-19 cases in our state growing. And we aren’t out of the woods yet.

Despite the challenges of 2020, each of the nine member associations met safely, either virtually or in person, to develop their proposals for the AAC’s legislative package. Those proposals evolved over the course of the past few months. In October, the AAC’s Legislative Committee met in a socially distanced manner to review, revise and finally approve the legislative package. Following that meeting, the AAC Board of Directors signed off on the package. Even during a pandemic, with the help of technology, we were able to continue representing our membership.

Because of the pandemic, the 2021 Legislative Session will look much different than those in the past. Officials at the state Capitol are taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of legislators, staff members, lobbyists, and members of the public. Becky Comet, AAC’s member benefits manager, details some of those precautions in her column on Page 26 of this issue of County Lines.

The AAC also is taking steps to keep our county and district elected officials safe yet informed and involved in the session. The association recently adopted a one-way texting platform called Textline. In the past, the AAC policy team would send emails out on the various list servs to alert officials that they may want to come to the Capitol for testimony on a bill, to make their presence known in the room, or to contact their legislators regarding certain bills. Textline will make this process more efficient and convenient for our county and district officials.

With Textline, the AAC can send a text message to your cell phone with updates about bills. These messages may contain hyperlinks to bills the your leadership deems concerning. These messages will come from a central person at the AAC so as not to bombard everyone with texts.

We are excited about this new platform, and we hope you embrace it as we move forward.

You’ll find more information about the 2021 Legislative Session throughout this issue of County Lines. On Page 20, Lindsey French writes about some of the topics you are likely to see brought up by legislators. On Pages 24 and 25, you can read profiles of the leadership in both chambers.

But this issue of the magazine contains articles on other topics, as well. Eddie A. Jones discusses how to run a meeting properly, RMF Litigation Counsel Camille Neemann writes about the requirement to display labor law signs, and RMF Litigation Counsel Colin Jorgensen provides and update on the opioid lawsuit filed by in collaboration by the cities, counties, and state. As always, the AAC staff have put together a well-rounded, informative magazine for you.

Enjoy your Christmas and prepare to hit the ground running in January, when the legislature convenes.

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