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Arkansas senators prepare for special legislative session that could discuss tax rates, Freedom Of Information Act

State Senator Bart Hester from Cave Springs says he expects the session to be called on Friday, and finished by next Wednesday.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has yet to announce if she will call lawmakers back to the capital for a special legislative session, but if called, the session would deal with lowering taxes and possible changes to the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

Senators tell 5NEWS they received drafts of the legislation Thursday.

State Senator Bart Hester from Cave Springs says, “We're expecting her on Friday to send out a notice to the legislature to be in session, and that proposed legislation is going through the review process right now.”

At the top of the agenda is cutting individual and corporate tax rates. State Senator Hester says, “We are continuing to have surpluses … We're taking too much from the taxpayer … We want to send some of that back.”

Governor Sanders stated in her campaign that she wanted to get taxes close to zero. She said, “We're at 4.7%. After this session, we hope to be going to be at 4.5% or 4.4%.”

Another item on the agenda concerns possible changes to FOIA: Attorney General Tim Griffin formed a group to review and work on FOIA laws for the state.

State Senator Greg Leding from Fayetteville says he does not believe these issues warrant a special session.

“As far as changing our state's Freedom of Information Act, I can't imagine that there are any necessary changes, certainly not urgent ones,” Senator Leding said. “In regard to tax cuts, Republican leadership said those could wait till early next year, so I don't know what changed to make that something that we have to address right now.”

Senator Leding also says these special sessions make it difficult for Arkansans to have a say in the issues at hand.

“When you schedule these things with so little notice, and they're going to move so quickly ...  it makes it very, very hard for Arkansans who maybe have something to say about this legislation to get to the capitol and testify, which is frustrating,” Senator Leding said. “If this were a truly emergency situation, a lack of public engagement might be more understandable, but with the issues that we're talking about, I think Arkansans should have the chance to weigh in.”

In any case, both senators say all the work would be done in three days next week, and they expect the session to run smoothly and quickly.

“With the current bills that we have, the members have seen it, they understand the issues, they understand how important it is,” Senator Hester said.

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