This week, the House convened for an Extraordinary Session to address the urgent funding needs in our state created by the COVID-19 crisis.
For only the second time in recent history, we convened outside of the Capitol. The Jack Stephens Center at the University of Arkansas Little Rock provided additional space for members to adhere to social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet. All of us were screened by medical professionals before entering the facility.
The legislation was asked by the Governor to consider creating the COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund by redirecting surplus funds. The state currently has a surplus of $173 million.
The fund would be used to offset general revenue reductions, funding needs and unanticipated needs created by the COVID-19 crisis.
Any expenditure from the fund would require approval of at least two of three legislative leaders in both the House and Senate.
Allowing this type of flexibility with the budget is unprecedented, but we are in unprecedented times. This measure helps to ensure the needs we face in weeks ahead can be funded quickly.
This legislation also makes it possible to extend the state tax deadline to July 15.
Meanwhile, we continue to work on other needs you and your family may be facing during this time. Resources are being made available to reduce waiting times on the hotline for unemployment claims. You can call the hotline at 1-844-908-2178 or 501-534-6304. Or go online at www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov<http://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov>.
While we are facing uncertain times, know that your legislature is here and functioning on your behalf. If you run into issues navigating your way to needed assistance, reach out to your representative. Contact information for every representative is found on our website at www.arkansashouse.org<http://www.arkansashouse.org.