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GCDD Update from the Executive Director
03/27/20 SITUATIONAL UPDATE - For Immediate Release
Information Contact: Eric Munson, Executive Director
501-682-2912 • email@example.com
GCDD Update from the Executive Director - COVID-19
LITTLE ROCK (March 27, 2020) – Amid increasing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, please be aware that the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (the Council) administrative office is currently open. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), our designated state agency, is open. The Council does have staff members working remotely. We are in communication with our DD Network partners (Disability Rights Arkansas and UA Partners for Inclusive Communities).
It’s still DD Awareness Month (even with all the events and meetings cancellations)! We continue to post, distribute, and blog information and stories about our DD community on the website and social media. The GCDD team and our partners push forward in highlighting our efforts for inclusion, integration, and independence! Read our new blog: Thriving Together by Chairperson Kate Donoven: https://gcdd.arkansas.gov/blog/details/thriving-together-a-message-from-chairperson-donoven.
Today, at the time of writing this update, 381 people tested positive COVID-19 in Arkansas. 92,932 cumulative tested positive in the United States. Go to the ADEM Arkansas COVID-19 dashboard for current updates on statistics: https://adem.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/f533ac8a8b6040e5896b05b47b17a647
Governor Hutchinson issued a Proclamation calling the General Assembly into a Special Session on 03/36/20. To follow the social distancing guidelines, the House is meeting at the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of UALR. The Senate is meeting in its chamber but is scattering senators on the senate floor and the balance are dispersed in the senate galleries to maintain distancing. The Capitol is closed to visitors.
ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE - COVID-19 RAINY DAY FUND
HB 1001 by House Speaker Matthew Shepherd and 36 others and SB 1 by Senate President Jim Hendren and 19 others are identical bills that create the COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund. It provides for the transfer of $173,610,632 to the new Fund from the General Revenue Reserve Allotment Fund. It also authorizes transfers from the Fund to offset related funding needs, with approval from legislative leaders. The legislative leaders will be a panel of three House and three Senate members that include the House Speaker, Senate President, and the majority and minority leaders of both chambers.
SB 2 was filed and is identical to SB 1 but has 21 co-sponsors. It looks like Sections B and C of the Revenue Stabilization Act will be cut immediately. Then about $215 million will be reduced from Category A, which will be distributed evenly. Then the legislature will work with agencies about holes that need to be filled with surplus money. The Governor said they would like to carry some funds forward but want to make everyone whole. Available money is: $150 million in reserves, $173 million in carryover reserve and $43 million in restricted reserve. It appears the $173 million in carryover reserves is the money that is going into the new COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund. The total budget shortfall is projected to be $353 million.
Arkansas State Legislature-92nd General Assembly Website Home Page https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/
“At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the U.S. Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.” This was the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, describing a historic $2 trillion stimulus deal. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “the largest rescue package in American history.” The full Senate passed 96 to 0. The legislation would send direct payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans, including those earning up to $75,000, and an additional $500 per child. It would substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits, and would extend the payments for the first time to freelancers and gig workers. The measure would also offer $377 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and establish a $500 billion government lending program for distressed companies reeling from the impact of the crisis, including allowing the administration the ability to take equity stakes in airlines that received aid to help compensate taxpayers. It would also send $100 billion to hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic. The Senate is now in recess until April 20. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the emergency spending bill to combat the economic impact of coronavirus, sending the measure to President Trump for enactment. The President has said he will sign it “immediately” after receiving it from Congress.
In anticipation of the agreement, the stock market had one of its best day since 1933, surging more than 2,100 points. Global markets are soaring today as well. This is very good news. Here’s the bad news: according to the World Health Organization, the US is on track to become the new epicenter of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. This is because, as the WHO noted, we are seeing “a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity.”
HELPFUL LINKS and RESOURCES
For COVID-19 information from the Arkansas Department of Health: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
AR Department of Health and Human Services guidance: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/resources/response-covid-19/response-covid-19-providers
Please take steps to protect yourself. The ADH recommends:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Practice social distancing. Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick, by keeping at least 6 feet between you and others.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your health care provider. Your physician will decide if testing is necessary based on your symptoms and known exposures.
Please continue to send the Council staff links and resources relating to COVID-19 prevention. Also, please share stories about how individuals with DD and their families are coping with COVID-19 pandemic here in Arkansas. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities:
The Council is a federally funded state agency that promotes integration, inclusion and independence for Arkansans with developmental disabilities. Council members are self-advocates, relatives and/or caregivers of individuals with DD, state agency directors, and representation from nonprofit and private organizations. The Council works to encourage self-advocacy; to remove barriers to information, services and support; to advocate for policy changes; to develop and support coalitions; and to educate community leaders.
For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, explore this website at GCDD.arkansas.gov, and follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter (@gcddar) and find our YouTube channel by searching for Arkansas GCDD.