Legislative Updates — March 30, 2020

Senate Information Office: 501-682-5954


LITTLE ROCK – Senator Bruce Maloch of Magnolia will be one of three senators designated to approve the release of money from the COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund, so that state agencies like the Health Department and the Division of Emergency Management have the necessary resources to purchase equipment such as ventilators.


In an emergency three-day special session that concluded Saturday, the General Assembly created the reserve fund. Speed is critical in controlling the spread of COVID-19, the potentially fatal disease associated with the outbreak of the coronavirus. For that reason, the legislation sets up a streamlined process for disbursing the $173.6 million in the fund.


The money had been in unallocated surplus accounts. Had it stayed in those accounts, it would have taken much longer to legally disburse the funds.


Under the emergency legislation approved in the special session, release of funds can be done electronically or in writing, subject to the approval of six legislators or their designees: the President of the Senate and the House Speaker, the majority leaders of the Senate and House and the Minority

Leaders of the Senate and House.


Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis is the Senate Minority Leader. On Monday, he designated Maloch to vote for him on when and how to disburse money from the COVID-10 fund.


“Because of his background in banking and the law, combined with his extensive legislative experience, Senator Maloch has the expertise to navigate the complex process of releasing funds quickly,” Ingram said.


“Those of us who know Senator Maloch know that he makes good decisions. That’s why he’s one of the most trusted members of the legislature,” Ingram said.


“This is my top priority,” Maloch said. “The people on the front lines need ventilators and personal protective equipment. Families have been hit hard financially and the state has to be there for them.”


“I appreciate Senator Ingram’s confidence in my abilities,” Maloch said.


The outbreak of the coronavirus caused a sudden and severe downturn in the economy, which in turn caused state government to reduce spending. Under the Arkansas balanced budget law, state agencies must lower expenditures by $353 million before June 30.


The legislature created the COVID-19 fund to make sure that there won’t be cuts in vital services by the Health Department, the Division of Emergency Management, the Human Services Department, Workforce Services and other agencies working to protect Arkansas citizens from the coronavirus.


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