From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
On almost a daily basis, the citizen members of the legislature address a variety of complex issues.
The tax code is thicker than an old fashioned telephone book, and you need a tax attorney and a CPA to fully understand it.
Another complex issue is the funding formula that distributes state revenue to public schools. It factors in the local wealth of a school district, the income level of students’ families and how many miles school buses have to drive.
It looks as if it were created by Albert Einstein.
But one of the most difficult and complex issues for the legislature is environmental protection.
The state Division of Environmental Quality is charged with enforcing clean air and water laws.
That means the Division has scientists on staff who can take an air sample and measure how many parts per million of carbon dioxide are present.
Other scientists can analyze a gallon of water from an Arkansas stream and tell you what types of chemicals are in it.
Unlike the inspectors at the Division of Environmental Quality, Arkansas legislators don’t have to be experts in chemistry and biology. But we do have to keep up with new trends in science.
For example, this week the Senate Committee on Public Health signed off on new regulations that call for strong licensing standards for DEQ solid waste inspectors.
The Committee also signed off on new rules for companies that are licensed to operate landfills and dispose of solid waste.
The new set of rules is 77 pages long. It affects people and landfills that dispose of garbage and household trash, automobile tires, toxic and hazardous materials.
The new rules will govern how recycling centers operate, as well as facilities that dispose of chemicals and plastics that will not decompose for hundreds of years.
Hauling your trash to the landfill is not as simple as it used to be. These days, we manufacture a variety of products that cannot be safely dumped in an open landfill.
It’s our obligation to our grandchildren to protect their drinking water from toxic chemicals that can leak out of a landfill into local streams and rivers.
I don’t pretend to understand all the scientific formulas. However, I do understand the importance of having qualified inspectors at the Division of Environmental Quality.
I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the same quality of life that I had as a child, when we took for granted that the air was clean, and you could swim in the water.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.