After our regular legislative session, the business of the legislature is continued through committees and subcommittees of the Arkansas Legislative Council. Last week I attended my first Lottery Oversight Subcommittee meeting and thought you might be interested in information we learned about the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL).

In November 2008, 63 percent of Arkansas voters amended our constitution for a state-run lottery to be used only for scholarships. Our lottery officially launched Sept. 28, 2009. In the almost 10 years since it began and as of April 30, 2019, total sales for the ASL reached $4.44 billion and total awarded prizes were $2.88 billion.

As of June 2018, the average sales per day totaled $1.25 million and the average net proceeds are $89.3 million annually. In 9 years, $781.3 million in scholarships have been funded, with more than 275,000 scholarships having been awarded to students at 47 state colleges and universities.  

Did you know that $580,975.53 in delinquent child support has been withheld from lottery winnings as of April? Larger prizes are also subject to federal and state tax withholding. The lottery has collected more than $27 million in state taxes, and more than $97,979,465 in federal taxes since it began. Delinquent taxes to the tune of $1,231,815.10 have also been collected.

Ninety-two cents of every dollar spent on lottery tickets stays in Arkansas, and the vast majority of revenue earned goes right back in the form of retail commissions, prizes, scholarships, administration and tax revenue.

What is the favorite type of lottery ticket purchase in our state? Apparently we prefer games that let us know immediately if we have won. Scratch-off tickets are approximately 80 percent of ASL sales. You may already know that in Arkansas, scratch-off tickets are available in price points of $1, $2, $3, $5, $10 and $20.

To read about winners or to just see what all the fuss is about, check out the website: MyArkansasLottery.com.

Last week both the House and Senate Committees dealing with Children and Youth also met. We considered several proposed studies to conduct before the next regular legislative session. We also considered the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program, which is funded by the Arkansas Department of Health and compiled in conjunction with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center.

This program was established in 2010 and now consists of 11 regional teams that review unexpected pediatric deaths in our state. The work of these teams is heartbreaking, but helps shape preventative training and measures to make our state safer for children.

Suicide prevention, increased safety provisions for young drivers, drowning prevention recommendations and safe sleep practices have all resulted from this program.  

Last week the House media folks also issued information about acts passed during our recent legislative session that help ensure all Arkansans have opportunities to enjoy life to the best of their abilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 4 adults in the United States have some type of disability. In Arkansas, that number climbs to 1 in 3.

New legislation includes Act 59, which amends the Achieving a Better Life Experience Program and allows Arkansans with disabilities to save up to $15,000 in an account without impacting eligibility for many public benefits. It also ensures that in the event of a death, the money in that savings account cannot be seized by Medicaid but can instead be transferred to a designated beneficiary.

We also passed legislation addressing mental health for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

To protect our most vulnerable students, we passed Act 557. This legislation states that a school district shall not use corporal punishment on a child who is intellectually disabled, non-ambulatory, non-verbal, or autistic.

We also passed laws addressing how we write or speak about people with disabilities. It is important to put the person first. Catch-all phrases such as “the blind”, “the deaf” or “the disabled,” do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities.

Act 1035 amends laws regarding treatment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

This legislation ensures that respectful language is used within the Arkansas code including changing the term mental retardation to intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It is important for us to create inclusive communities where people with disabilities can be healthy and lead full, active lives. To learn more, visit www.cdc.gov.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as state representative. Please let me know how I may be of assistance.

I may be reached at (870) 460-0773 (leave a message), by email at leanne.burch@arkansashouse.org and on Facebook @BurchforAR. I look forward to hearing from you.

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