inVeritas inside: Special Session

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 2, 2014) – For the second time in eight months, Governor Beebe called a special session to address the increase in insurance premiums for teachers and public school employees. The legislature also addressed prison overcrowding and lottery restrictions.

This special session certainly was special, as the House of Representatives had the privilege of meeting in the Old State House. In this historic downtown museum, representatives cast votes and passed legislation for the first time since 1909. In 1837, then Speaker John Wilson fought with Representative J.J. Anthony after a heated debate in the same room the 89th General Assembly convened to address prison overcrowding. The two battled with knives, and Speaker Wilson ended up killing Representative Anthony on the House floor.

This is the same building where Arkansas’ constitution was signed. It is also the oldest state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. Representatives Tommy Thompson and Charlene Fite dressed in 19th century style clothing to commemorate this special session. Some lawmakers even arrived by horse-drawn carriages.

While the second special session of the 89th General Assembly was mainly engrossed by the history of the downtown museum, the legislature was able to pass a number of bills and conclude the people’s business in less than 48 hours. The legislature passed a package of bills that would avoid a 35% increase in insurance premiums that thousands of teachers and public school employees were estimated to face this fall. The proposals included transferring roughly $4.6 million a year from school districts’ payroll tax savings to the health insurance plans covering about 47,000 teachers and other public schools employees; making part-time school employees ineligible for coverage; making spouses of school employees and other state employees ineligible for coverage if they can obtain insurance through their employers; requiring verification of dependents’ eligibility; requiring employees in high-deductible plans to enroll in health savings accounts; and limiting coverage for weight-reduction surgery.

The legislature also freed up about $6.3 million from the state Central Services Fund to fund over 600 additional prison beds. Lastly, a bill that would prohibit the lottery from introducing monitor games passed with an overwhelming majority. This moratorium will expire March 13th,2015, allowing the legislature to decide in the next regular session whether to continue the ban.

inVeritas involved :: ACCESS Bingo Bash

Monday, June 16th, 2014

For the third straight year, inVeritas has been actively involved in supporting ACCESS, a non-profit resource center offering full-time education, therapy, training and activities for children and youths with learning disabilities. This unique organization serves families from throughout Arkansas and many surrounding states. ACCESS is composed of a preschool, an evaluation and resource center, ACCESS Academy for individuals 5-21, and ACCESS Life for ages 18-35. They also offer in- and out-patient therapy programs.

ACCESS was founded in 1994 and comprises three main branches: ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center; ACCESS Therapy; and ACCESS Schools.

inVeritas’ Vice President of Research, Kelly Sullivan, and Director of Government Relations, Jay Robbins, are serving on the ACCESS in Action young professionals group again this year in hopes to raise more than $20,000 for the ACCESS Tuition Assistance Fund. This group organizes an annual bingo bash, raising money for academy scholarships.

“ACCESS is such an incredible place, said Jay. “Since its inception 20 years ago, ACCESS has inspired so many children and young adults throughout this great state, and it has certainly inspired me.”

In 2013, inVeritas served as the title sponsor for the event, which raised more than $20,000. inVeritas also served as a silver sponsor of this year’s Starry Starry Night, ACCESS’ biggest fundraiser of the year.

“We are thrilled to have Jay and Kelly of inVeritas back on the Bingo Bash committee this year, said ACCESS Executive Director Tammy Simmons, M.S., CCC-SLP. We could not fulfill our mission without organizations like inVeritas, and we are proud to have them as a sponsor again this year.”

The eighth annual Bingo Bash, chaired by AOC Public Education Coordinator Corey Gilmore, is scheduled for Thursday, July 17, 6-9 p.m. at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church. Bingo Bash tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased from any committee member or by calling ACCESS at 501-217-8600. For more information on ACCESS, visit their website at www.accessgroupinc.org.

inVeritas inside: Primary Elections Analysis

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 22, 2014) – There is much we can learn from Tuesday’s primary election results, but the key takeaway was the low voter turnout. Only 20% of the 1.6 million registered voters in Arkansas cast a ballot in this year’s primary election. In addition, for the first time in our state’s history, more Republican ballots were cast than Democratic ballots. Of the 330,000 plus who voted, only 175,000 will have the opportunity to vote in the primary run-off on June 10th for the state’s next Attorney General.

Over 400 candidates filed in early March to become an elected official in Arkansas; a number that was drastically trimmed late Tuesday night. There were 22 primaries for state House seats, where eight races were decided at the polls and one is set for a runoff. Three of five incumbent Arkansas state representatives who faced primary election opponents lost their seats. Incumbent Representatives John Hutchison, R-Harrisburg; Randy Alexander, R-Springdale; and Fred Smith, G-Crawfordsville, all lost Tuesday night, while Representatives Sue Scott, R-Rogers, and Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, were able to pull out a victory. The private option vote appeared to be a factor in two of those races.

There were four state Senate races contested in the Republican primary. In three of those races, the winner was decided since no Democrat filed to run against them in the general election. Representative Terry Rice defeated incumbent Senator Bruce Holland for Senate District 9. While Representative John Burris, one of the private option architects, is headed to a runoff with Mountain Home businessman Scott Flippo, incumbent Senators Missy Irvin and Bill Sample easily won their respective primaries.

Looking ahead to November, in the Arkansas Senate, there are 18 seats on the ballot this year; 11 of which are held by Republicans and seven by Democrats. 11 of the Senate incumbents are unopposed – six Republicans and five Democrats. In the Arkansas House of Representatives, all 100 House seats are up for election. There are 51 unopposed House candidates – 27 Republicans and 24 Democrats. The other 49 contested House seats include 25 held by Republicans, 23 held by Democrats and one by a Green Party member – who was defeated Tuesday’s primary.

An overview of the big winners shows:

Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross won their parties’ nominations for governor;

Little Rock Banker French Hill won the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District;

State Representative Bruce Westerman defeated Tommy Moll in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District;

Congressman Tim Griffin defeated two Republican opponents in the primary race for the next lieutenant governor;

Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan defeated Representative Duncan Baird for state treasurer in the Republican primary;

State Representative Andrea Lea more than doubled her opponent’s vote totals in the Republican primary for state auditor;

and Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne narrowly defeated Little Rock lawyer Tim Cullen in the Supreme Court race.

Summing up, the general election in November will include four congressional seats, the governor’s office, six constitutional offices, 100 state House seats and 18 state Senate seats. The next five months should be very intriguing, as one of the most anticipated election years in our state’s history has taken shape.

inVeritas inside: Primary Elections

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Early voting began Monday, May 12th, where more than 5,000 votes were cast on the first day. As of this morning, 82,229 Arkansans took to the polls to make their voices heard. Registered voters can cast their ballots early until 5 p.m. May 19th. The polls will be open today from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Any primary runoffs will be June 10th, while nonpartisan judicial runoffs will be November 4th, the same day as the general election.

Endorsements continue to pile in for a number of candidates. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the states most widely distributed and read newspaper, has endorsed several primary candidates, including gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross, as well as Duncan Baird, a candidate for state treasurer. National endorsements continue to mount as well, such as Mike Huckabee endorsing Leslie Rutledge for Attorney General, or Congressman Paul Ryan endorsing Tommy Moll for Congress.

While endorsement continue to parade the airways and television commercials, so does the money. In the state’s most anticipated race for the next governor of Arkansas, former Congressman Mike Ross raised roughly $491,000 from April 1st to May 10th and has nearly $2 million in cash-on-hand. His likely opponent, former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, raised nearly $249,000 and has $893,000 in cash-on-hand

According to Talk Business, here are how the other state-wide candidates fared during the most recent reporting period:

Lt. Governor

Tim Griffin – R

Raised: $148,646

Cash-on-hand: $217,186

Andy Mayberry – R

Raised: $3,585

Cash-on-hand: $565

Debra Hobbs – R

Raised: $325

Cash-on-hand: $11,319.51

Attorney General

Patricia Nation – R

Raised: $2,370

Cash-on-hand: $0

Leslie Rutledge – R

Raised: $28,860

Cash-on-hand: $93,992

David Sterling – R

Raised: $21,955

Cash-on-hand: $8,165

Treasurer

Duncan Baird – R

Raised: $16,250

Cash-on-hand: $12,927

Dennis Milligan – R

Raised: $3,600

Cash-on-hand: $12,459

Auditor

Andrea Lea – R

Raised: $11,275

Cash-on-hand: $16,758

Ken Yang – R

Raised: $4,294

Cash-on-hand: $21,954

Make sure you vote tomorrow if you haven’t already, as one of the most anticipated election years in our state’s history begins to take shape.

inVeritas inside the 2014 Elections & Candidates (UPDATED May 6, 2014)

Monday, April 14th, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 6, 2014) – Over 400 candidates tossed their respective names in the ring vying to become an elected official in Arkansas. The primary election is scheduled for May 20, with the general election being held on November 4.

The 2014 ballot includes four congressional seats, the governor’s office, plus six constitutional offices, three state Supreme Court seats, 100 state House seats and 18 state Senate seats.

The Republican Party of Arkansas continues to push forward, as 133 Republican candidates filed for office this year, a new state record for the party. In the state legislature, Republicans have 3 Senate Districts with primaries, while Democrats have none. There will be 18 House District primaries, four of which will be on the Democratic ticket.

In the Arkansas Senate, there are 18 Senate seats on the ballot this year; 11 of which are held by Republicans and seven by Democrats. 11 of the Senate incumbents are unopposed – six Republicans and five Democrats. Today, in the 35 member Senate, there are 22 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

In the Arkansas House of Representatives, all 100 House seats are on the ballot this year. There are 51 unopposed House candidates on the ballot – 27 Republicans and 24 Democrats. The 49 contested House seats include 25 held by Republicans, 23 held by Democrats and one by a Green Party member.

Throughout the election cycle, inVeritas will provide a look at the candidates for the Arkansas Legislature. A quick glance of several Republicans running for the House of Representatives:

Alan Pogue, R – District 41

Alan Pogue is running for House District 41 – Representative Jim Nickels’ seat. Alan is a minister, counselor, small business owner, and educator.

Alan is licensed by the State of Arkansas as both a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Professional Counselor. He has over 20 years’ experience. Alan earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harding University in Searcy, as well as a Masters in Human Relations and a Doctor of Philosophy in Interpersonal Communication from the University of Oklahoma. Alan also holds a specialty licenses from the State of Arkansas in Supervision and in Technology Assisted Counseling and Supervision. He also holds the National Certified Counselor and Distance Certified Counselor designations from the National Board of Certified Counselors. In addition, Alan is an adjunct instructor for John Brown University, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Harding University, Friends University, Butler County Community College and Pulaski Technical College.

For more information on Alan Pogue, click here.

Darlene Byrd, R – District 43

Darlene Byrd is running for House District 43 – Speaker Davy Carter’s seat. Dr. Darlene Byrd has 24 years of experience in nursing, and is sole proprietor of APN HealthCare.

Darlene Byrd holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Nursing Science from UAMS, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She was appointed by Governor Mike Huckabee to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and served one term as president. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt also appointed her to the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services. Darlene has worked with state legislators, and the Arkansas Department of Health, on a variety of healthcare efforts.

For more information on Darlene Bryd, click here.

Charles Blake, D – District 36

Charles Blake is running for House District 36 – Representative Darrin Williams’ seat. Charles Blake is a lifelong resident of District 36 and is the son of educators. He is a graduate of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and Little Rock Central High School.

Charles is currently the President of CenArk Transportation LLC, a full service transportation company which specializes in non-emergency medical Transportation of patients. Prior to that he served as Director of Advancement, Director of Finance and Operations, and was a member of the founding administration team of Little Rock Preparatory Academy. Charles was also appointed by the Mayor and Board of Directors of the City of Little Rock to serve as an at- large member of the Little Rock Citizen’s Evaluation of New Tax Committee (LR CENT). He was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to serve a four year term on the Daisy Gatson Bates Holiday Committee. Charles is a long time board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas and is a board member for the Southside Main Street (SOMA) neighborhood.

For more information on Charles Blake, click here.

Lucas Roebuck, R-District 87

Lucas Roebuck is running for House District 87 – Representative Jonathan Barnett’s seat. Lucas was born in Redondo Beach, California and is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is one of six brothers.

He received his bachelor’s degree from John Brown University and later received his master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas. After graduating, Lucas worked for nearly a decade as a journalist and was the Opinion Page Editor for the Benton County Daily Record, Assignment Editor for KNWA-NBC, and Managing Editor for both the Northwest Arkansas Times and the Siloam Springs Herald-Leader. Lucas served as a professor and taught journalism, communications and English at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho and at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon before returning to Arkansas to work for John Brown University as Director of University Communications.

For more information on Lucas Roebuck, click here.

Mike Whitmore, R – District 90

Mike Whitmore is running for House District 90 – Representative Skip Carnine’s seat. Mike was born in Germany and moved to Springdale when he was in third grade. Mike received his bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College. He worked as an accounting consultant and co-owned a pet supplies business before returning to school to receive a Master of Accountancy from the University of Arkansas. Upon graduation, Mike taught accounting for two years at the University of Arkansas, before continuing his accounting career.

For more information on Mike Whitmore, click here.

Grant Hodges, R – District 96

Grant Hodges is running for House District 96 – Representative Duncan Baird’s seat. Grant, 22, is a recent graduate from the University of Arkansas, where he majored in Political Science. Grant worked with Congressmen John Boozman and Steve Womack. In 2012, he successfully managed Randy Alexander’s campaign for state representative.

For more information on Grant Hodges, click here.

Robin Lundstrum, R – District 87

Robin Lundstrum is running for House District 87 – Representative Jonathan Barnett’s seat. Robin is a small business owner and a member of the Elm Springs City Council. Robin received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, as well as a master’s and doctorate in education.

Robin is a former assistant professor at John Brown University and served as Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas.

For more information on Robin Lundstrum, click here.

Jana Della Rosa, R – District 90

Jana Della Rosa is running for House District 90 – Representative Skip Carnine’s seat. Jana was born and raised in Springdale, and graduated from Springdale High School. She attended the University of Arkansas, where she graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering.

In 2002, Jana joined the Bentonville-based Walmart Team for Church and Dwight Co., Inc., a $2.6B CPG company headquartered in New Jersey. During her 10-year tenure, she was promoted from an entry-level Sales Analyst position to the company’s top National Account Manager, responsible for all laundry product sales to Walmart.

Jana currently serves on the Board of Directors of Conservative Arkansas, a grassroots organization dedicated to identifying, electing, and holding accountable conservative candidates at both the state and national levels. She is also a member of the Benton County Republican Committee and the Benton County Republican Women.

For more information on Jana Della Rosa, click here.

Mickey Gates, R – District 22 Mickey Gates is running for House District 22 – Representative Bruce Westerman’s seat. Mickey is the President of Stonebridge Collection – located in Hot Springs. Stonebridge Collection custom engraves its own knifes to the customer’s specifications. Mickey also served as Justice of the Peace in Garland County.

For more information on Mickey Gates, click here.

Donald Laymon, R – District 22

Donald Laymon is running for House District 22 – Representative Bruce Westerman’s seat. Donald was born in Heber Springs and raised in Little Rock, but now resides in Hot Springs Village. He, like his opponent, served as Justice of the Peace. Donald is a financial advisor and serves in ministry as an evangelist with the Assemblies of God. He is also a former secretary of the Garland County Republican Party.

For more information on Donald Laymon, click here.

Lance Eaves, R – District 46

Lance Eaves is running for House District 46 – Representative Mark Biviano’s seat. Although born in Conway, Les spent his early years growing up in Newport, where his father started the family business, Delta Trailers. Les later moved to Arlington, Texas where he attended high school and college at the University of Texas, Arlington. He then moved back to Arkansas to begin a career working with his father at the family business that began in 1971. Les now serves as the Vice President of Delta Manufacturing, Inc. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the NATM (National Association of Trailer Manufacturers)

For more information on Les Eaves, click here.

Marge Wolf, R – District 94

Marge Wolf is running for House District 94 – Representative Debra Hobbs’ seat. Marge is one of six children. Marge is the President and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and serves as the City Alderman for Ward 2 in Rogers. For 8 years, Marge served as the Chief Executive Officer for Main Street Rogers and 13 years as Chief Executive Officer for the Rogers-Lowell United Way. In 2012, she served as President of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Association.

For more information on Marge Wolf, click here.

Damon Wallace, R – District 96

Damon Wallace is running for House District 96 – Representative Duncan Baird’s seat. Damon is a single dad with two adult daughters. Damon is an EMT, Paramedic, and a Respiratory Therapy Technician. He is also a Registered Respiratory Therapist and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Damon served twenty-one years in the healthcare industry and now as a business owner. In 2003, he started investing in rental property and bought the first of his two automotive shops in 2008.

For more information on Damon Wallace, click here.

Kyle Reeves, R – District 46

Kyle Reeves is running for House District 46 – Representative Mark Biviano’s seat. Kyle has lived in Arkansas since the 1980s, where he received his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree from Harding University. Kyle worked in the telecommunications industry, where he was a 3-time Emmy nominee for his work in TV and he built the first “All Digital” LPTV station in the United States. He now works in the natural gas business as a small business owner.

For more information on Kyle Reeves, click here.

**UPDATED**

Mat Pitsch, R – District 76

Mat Pitsch is running for House District 76 – Representative Denny Altes’ seat. Mat was born in Buffalo, Wyoming. He received his A.A. in Engineering from Hutchinson Community College, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering Management from the University of Missouri – Rolla and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering Management. Pitsch began his career with the Whirlpool Corporation in 1987 and was then named the CEO/President of McCourt Manufacturing. In 2001, he joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, where he was ultimately the Dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology. In 2007, Pitsch took on the role of Economic Developer for the Greater Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2009, Pitsch was asked to head up the Western Arkansas – RITA. Western Arkansas – RITA represents the citizens of Sebastian and Crawford counties, and the Fort Smith and Van Buren municipalities.

For more information on Mat Pitsch, click here.

Jeremy Ross, D – District 19

Jeremy is running for House District 19 – Representative Nate Steel’s seat. Jeremy was raised by a single mother with help from his grandparents. Jeremy is a graduate of Arkadelphia High School and received his undergraduate degree in Public Administration from Henderson State University. He is a small business owner and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance. He is also President-Elect of the Chamber of Commerce.

Jeremy previously served as the Chairman of the Ambassador Committee for the Chamber and as a volunteer fireman for the Hollywood Fire Department

For more information on Jeremy Ross, click here.

Trent Eilts, R – District 14

Trent Eilts is running for House District 14 – Representative Walls McCrary’s seat. Trent is a Locomotive Foreman General at Union Pacific. For 13 years, he was a Product Specialist for Eastman Kodak Document Imaging Division for US, Canada and Mexico. In 1990, he joined the Air Force. He is on the Deacon Board of Mcarthur Church, a member of Lonoke County Fair and Livestock Association, Lonoke County Coalition for Progress, and the local American Legion.

For more information on Trent Eilts, click here.