Gov. Mike Beebe has signed the call for a special session for the Arkansas House and Senate, according to a Tweet from his official Twitter account.
The three-day special session is being called to, "provide funding that will open more inmate beds and improve the viability of the Public School Employee Life and Health Insurance Program," according to a news release Tuesday (June 24).
The special session will begin on Monday (June 30) at 4 p.m. The call includes bills that, if approved, will do the following:
- Provide ongoing revenue to open about 600 additional beds in Department of Correction facilities and the Pulaski County Jail
- Eliminate part-time employees from eligibility to participate in the Public School Employee Life and Health Insurance Program; and
- Adjust the composition of the State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Board and its subcommittees, modify the definition of and require verification of "dependents," require that some participants establish health savings accounts, require the Board to identify FICA savings within districts for potential employee premium assistance, and limit coverage for the treatment of morbid obesity and bariatric surgeries.
The above changes to the Public School Employee Life and Health Insurance Program resulted from a study done by a legislative task force created for this specific purpose in Oct., 2013, during another special session, the release states.
Speaking in relation to the prison overcrowding issue, Gov. Beebe released the following statement to 5NEWS:
"Funding the addition of 600 inmate beds will not eliminate the jail overcrowding problem, but it will relieve some of the pressure on our counties. I believe the number of State inmates backed up in county jails will decrease over time. Still, I’m glad we can provide some additional beds as part of this special session."