Arkansas Legislators Throw a Lifeline

PictureLifeline with heart

The 92nd session of the Arkansas General Assembly has ended. An American Speaks tracked a little over 25 bills we thought most impacted our communities, religious freedom and the lives of  the innocent. We are happy none of the bills we opposed moved forward and, with rare exception, the ones we supported passed.

A Lifeline. We were especially rooting for one piece of legislation in particular as it quietly moved through the Bureau of Legislative Research, Committees, the House and finally the Senate. That is HB1664 The Life Choices (TLC) Lifeline,  now Act 1036.

The five goals of the TLC Lifeline program are:

  1. Encourage healthy childbirth
  2. Support childbirth as an alternative to abortion
  3. Promote family formation
  4. Aid successful parenting
  5. Increase families economic self sufficiency

This bill paves the way for the Dept. of Health to implement a statewide “one stop” care program of direct services to new and families-to-be of both biological and adoptive parents of children under two. If a pregnant mother or adoptive family calls searching for counseling with decisions or help for any myriad of needs the TLC program walks with them from that time up to just before the child’s second birth day. This give her/her family  plenty of time to receive counseling from licensed nurses and social workers and learn all the services available from the many State of Arkansas, Federal and local charitable resources as well as.  Modeled after similar programs provided by Human Coalition around the country, it requires a provider to market to all counties in Arkansas, a boon to our rural areas with scarce resources.

This is truly a whole person approach to support an individual for everything from medically accurate advice, a care plan of resources to support each individual , to assistance in applying for state and federal resources (i.e. food, shelter, health care coverage). Even those of us in the business of helping people get confused when we get “out of our lane”. Imagine how frustrating and intimidating it is when you are in a desperate situation. You can read the entire Act here TLC Lifeline Act 1036. 

Sadly, we know that some people who contact the Lifeline number and speak with nurses and counselors will still choose abortion. Those participants may continue to receive services for six months after termination of their unborn child. Human Coalition cites 50% of the pregnant women who contact them choose life for their child whether they keep them or decide to offer them to an adoptive family. We know that our lawmakers have worked hard on behalf of our unborn during the Roe v. Wade era.  This program is relevant whether abortion is legal or not so, in what we believe will be the inevitable dissolution of that ruling, this program will be more needed than ever.

To see how your State Representative or Senator votedHouse votes on TLC Lifeline  and  Senate votes TLC Lifeline .  We are so proud and grateful for each legislator who recognized the good this can do for every district in Arkansas.

The genesis of this Act started in a discussion about other bills in which An American Speaks was invited to participate. Senator Jason Rapert, Senator Bob Ballinger, Representative Mary Bentley and Representative Dan Sullivan discussed the finer points of their good pro-life and freedom of speech bills with their colleagues.  That evolved into other possible solutions as a result of a suggestion by Representative Jim Dotson. First year Representative Cindy Crawford of Ft. Smith was tagged to investigate the possibility of creating a bill solution this session.

And she did.  Representative Crawford’s expertise and passion from running a women’s health center in Ft. Smith was certainly the key to doing the ground work on the bill.  Thank goodness for the experience of co-sponsors Representative Dotson and Senator Bob Ballinger  because they performed what we didn’t think could possibly be done so late in the session. These two miracle workers got the frame work of the bill complete and then Rep. Dotson rewrote it to address the concerns of the committee and Dept. of Health. Wow!

Now it is up to those of us involved in the passage to do the hard work of implementation but at least Arkansas families have a Lifeline coming.

Thank you Arkansas 92nd General Assembly, Human Coalition for your feedback and research and praise God, with whom all things are possible.

Merry Christmas, Thank You and What’s Next?!

Dear Friends,CapitolChristmasOldSupremeCt

An American Speaks soon enters it’s fifth year! Thanks to you we have beaten all odds, doubters and, frankly, those who just wanted us to go away-or hoped we would. For every supporter, large and small, we are forever grateful and will never forget your encouragement, kindness and financial support.

As with our country, and all things, we have evolved from our original single focused mission prior to the 2016 elections, to get Christian conservatives to register and vote their values, to a much broader, although similar message. In January of 2019 we will launch our signature presentation Awakening Christian Citizenship.  

In the last four years our active involvement in the faith, civic and legislative community has taught us a lot about how to help people of faith participate in saving traditional American values, and in so doing, saving America, by the simple act of once again BEING AMERICAN . We’ve let much slip away but there is an awakening and it is not too late. We started by buying ourselves a few years in 2016. God always seems to give us not the perfect person but the right person at the right time doesn’t he? Proverbs 29:2 tells us When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice but when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn.  America’s citizens of faith must use this time well in the Fight For Faith in America .

Daniel 11:32 tells us Those who act wickedly against the covenant he will corrupt with his blandishments, but the people who know their God will stand firm and prevail. We are counting on those who know their God to stand firm with us and we with them as we choose our battles and our weapons to fight the organized agenda of the left to eliminate, punish and cower the Judeo-Christian value system that created, sustained and made America great. There are no Mayflowers left to sail away on to a new land of our making. We are surrounded by failed socialist, Marxist, communist, One World, open borders countries and wild eyed proponents. We are the shining light on the Hill that every one of them wants to destroy and every Christian and person praying for freedom wants to live or emulate.

How do we defeat them? How do we prevail? Do not forget what God said to Jeremiah! Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Have you ever wondered how the left has destroyed so much of our heritage? They were few, but loud, persistent, insistent, organized  and re-educated our children. BUT did you know that, according to Christian historian David Barton, during the American Revolution only about 25% of the people actually participated in freeing us from British Rule? And about 9% of them did all the work!

Do you hear what I hear? The rustling, restless awakening of the remnant, come to save America’s Godly heritage and the world’s hope. Join us!

Why don’t you reach out to us, we make it easy, and find out more about Awakening Christian Citizenship. 501-725-0219 toni@anamericanspeaks.com

To our treasured and much loved supporters Mike Bishop and I thank you and wish you a most Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

Resources for Issue 1 Discussion

Resources for Issue 1 Discussion

 

Today I had an opportunity to share my perspective on Issue 1 at Second Presbyterian Church on Pleasant Valley at the invitation of the effervescent Ruth Shepherd of Second Presbyterian and along side the lovely former Arkansas Supreme Court Judge Annabelle Tuck. Although on opposite sides of the issue you can see in the picture below we were quite friendly. While An American Speaks had not intended to get involved on one side or the other of Tort reform we were alarmed when the issue was turned into a pro-life argument. We believe this dilutes the pro-life message and, if successful, will be used in other states to sway opinion, further diluting the message of preserving the life of the unborn. In the course of attending meetings, listening to debates and interviews we also did some research that gave us additional concern that only part of the facts were being presented and if you knew what we did you may have a different opinion. I have blogged on much of this previously.

I promised the good people who came to the debate on a Labor Day Sunday that I would share some of the references I alluded to during our discussion. Here they are:

Heritage Foundation: Texas Tort Reform 10 years later

Prop 12 Tort Reform Saves Medical Practices

SJR8 text, sponsors and other history

Ballotpedia and links  Ballotpedia offers a balanced reporting and links to the ballot on this and other ballot issues in November

On Punitive damages. Center for Justice and Democracy NY Law School Of the 45 states that allow punitive damages in this country, at least one-third have enacted some form of cap, or limit, on the ability of judges and juries to award punitive damages. Over 30 state legislatures have made it more difficult for injured consumers to prove punitive damages by raising the standard of proof required for awarding them.

Family Council claims that Texas did not actually gain physicians after tort reform because their population increased 20% so physicians naturally increased with them. The truth is as reported in the Texas Tribune after HB4 Prop 12 pediatric subspecialists increased more than 300%, emergency doctors in rural areas increased 64% out pacing rural growth by a factor of almost 10. Thirty-five rural counties added at least one obstetrician including 16 counties THAT HAD NONE previously. Their gains of doctors specializing in geriatric care far outstripped the population gains in the addition of their aging population.

One of the arguments is that stay at home Mom’s have no economic value. The economic value of stay at home and working Mom’s have been placed at upwards of  60K  a year according to a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics study.  Open the picture above for details on how this was figured. A 2012 article in Plaintiff magazine published by Bloomberg How to determine damages for loss of earnings details how to determine economic damages for stay at home moms, children and the elderly, our own Arkansas model jury-Civil instructions offers direction to determine future earnings of a child.  (Link below) The recent Camden case put potential earnings at $3.2M. THAT DOESN’T CHANGE WITH THIS REFORM

Juries have been awarding economic damages for stay at home mom’s since 1988. For example, if a person who is an expert on reporting statistical earnings gives a detailed figure, the plaintiff will usually receive compensation. That comes from a case called SweeneySweeney v. Car/puter Intern. Corp., 521 F.Supp. 276, 287 (D.S.C. 1981). This helpful case also determined that you don’t have to have “precise mathematical proof” in order to have sufficient evidence.

Trial Lawyers: Value of Stay at Home Mom $138,095.

Arkansas Model Jury Instructions Civil A Minor

Obviously this is not all the research I have done but it does provide some opportunity to follow-up on the points I made today. Thank you Ruth, Anabelle and Second Presbyterian Church for your time, courtesy and questions. You may reach me at 501-725-0219 or toni@anamericanspeaks.com

Arkansas Term Limits: Is This Time   Really the Charm?

Arkansas Term Limits: Is This Time Really the Charm?

Confused about all the TERM LIMITS talk? What WERE they? What IS proposed? What is the impact? Were we DUPED? As it is with all the ballot issues this year and years past there is misinformation, hearsay (lots of that) and opinions (even MORE OF THAT)  out there.  
Start with just the facts:
TODAY lawmakers may serve up to 16 years in the House AND Senate as passed in 2014 under Amendment 73. Redistricting can add to that every 10 years but that’s true of every past, present or future term limits.
 
BEFORE the 2014 change lawmakers could serve up yo 14 years. (three 2-year terms in the House PLUS up to two 4-year terms in the Senate)
 
PROPOSED term limits are a maximum of 10 years, the strictest in the nation, three 2-year terms as state representative, two 4-year terms as a senator as long as no combination exceeds 10 years. You will hear “like it was before”. This amendment proposal is NOT THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE (2014). The math is different.
 
Arkansas is one of FIFTEEN states that set term limits.
Currently the states with the STRICTEST terms are California and Oklahoma, limiting lawmakers to 12 years.
 
Arkansas General Assembly meets every other year for 60 DAYS (can be extended). In between those years are the fiscal session, a $21 BILLION session. Oh yes, they are still legislators in between those sessions but most are also running businesses, meeting with  and trying to help constituents, getting to know the businesses in their District and running for office every other year as a representative or every four years as a Senator.   It’s NOT like being the President or Governor every day for 8 years as some compare it to, it’s more like 360 days in the general session and 360 days in a fiscal session, if they choose to run and if they are are re-elected. This also may beg the question, are we also telling their constituents that their legislator has nothing left to offer after 2 or 3 terms?
 
Under this proposed amendment you will vote on in November a State Representative will be limited to THREE general sessions and THREE fiscal sessions. Senators will be limited to FOUR general sessions and FOUR fiscal sessions. Or some combination thereof depending on how many terms they serve in combined service i.e. 2 terms in the House and 1 in the Senate.
 
If these term limits are voted in the Senate will lose almost ALL of our Senators by 2020 and ALL BUT 20 out of 100 State Representatives by 2022. That’s a lot of intellectual capital, coaches and mentors out the door.We had primaries, people voted for who they wanted to represent them. You have to be a real cynic if you think all our legislators are so bad, so corrupt, so useless they all need to go
 
This bill also prohibits further changes to term limits by the legislature. We know that there is some animosity out there over the ballot language in 2014 that many feel misled them because it didn’t have LONGER term limits in big, bold letters. I empathize. I wonder if we are being manipulated again, though, by using our indignation to vote for an amendment that is TOO limited and not in the best interest of Arkansans. No doubt it would give bragging rights for the Chairman of Arkansas Term Limits or the U.S. Term Limits organization out of Washington D.C. that funded the effort to the tune of over $420,000.00 but is the right decision for ARKANSANS?
 
Does this raise some questions for you? We do have concerns this will leave the legislators more vulnerable to lobbyists and entrenched agency heads, who have NO TERM LIMITS, “helping” new legislators by “coaching” them as to how state government works. We are concerned that only an outside force, as the D.C. group that paid for the ARKANSAS campaign and signatures, can afford to finance a change to our term limits in case we discover that ten years was a mistake. Arkansas Term Limits Ethics Commission Filing
 
Is it possible losing 80% of our House and almost all our Senators is less about wisdom and more about an angry backlash?
An American Speaks believes that there is a better balance out there.
Talk Business & Politics offers a pretty balanced perspective of this issue you may want to check out at TB&P Term Limits
Tort Reform: Why the legislature must return checks and balances to Arkansas government

Tort Reform: Why the legislature must return checks and balances to Arkansas government

I recently had a conversation with a well-respected conservative in AR who is against Tort reform, or Issue 1, on the ballot this November. We were both evenly matched on our reasons for and against, but then he gave me some examples of why he didn’t believe the legislators should have the powers they had given themselves in SJR8. Other than the overreach and antics of some of our judges in the last couple of years I didn’t have examples of why it was important in this proposed amendment so I did some research and… it strengthened my position on this version of tort reform.

For example, I knew that in 2003 Arkansas had passed tort reform, just like Texas (see June 11 blog Tort Reform: Another View, but unlike Texas our Tort reform had been shredded bit by bit by the Arkansas judicial branch. What I learned from my research is that reform returns balance to the three branches lost in 2000 through Amendment 80. For 140 years the legislature had the authority to set judicial rules. Due to some broad interpretations starting in the early ‘70’s by the judicial branch that is no longer true. So what is the harm in that? Here are some examples:

What happened to the reforms of 2003?

  • In 2007, the state Supreme Court struck down the legislature’s medical malpractice reforms as unconstitutional, because it found that the procedure that the legislature had enacted was disallowed.
  • In 2009, the state Supreme Court struck down a procedure that the legislature had proposed to determine fault for parties who were not represented in court
  • In 2012, the Court struck down new rules for the admission of evidence in medical malpractice cases saying they said the legislature should not have/excercise.

So what’s the problem? They are creating PUBLIC POLICY. That is not the function of the judicial system. This subverts the entire intent of separation of powers. Our lawmakers can’t pass legal reforms that would create efficiencies due to the courts broad interpretation of the powers Amendment 80 gives them. Just as we have been frustrated by Federal and Supreme courts interpreting laws to the point of changing and creating them so too have our legislators been frustrated in bringing lasting reform because Arkansas courts stretched their powers into creating the rules. We won’t be able to create lasting reforms of any kind that can’t be thwarted by our judicial branch without this reform to return legislating to the legislators.

It’s like the popular ad: “We know a thing or two because we’ve learned a thing or two.” There were unintended consequences giving the judicial branch the ability to “prescribe, from time to time, rules of pleading, practice, and procedure with respect to any or all proceedings in civil cases in all courts in this state.” Or another familiar saying: Give ‘an inch…..

To learn more about us visit An American Speaks

To learn more about Tort reform go to Arkansans for Jobs and Justice

Tort Reform: Another View

Tort Reform: Another View

Informed choices-the other side of the story on Tort reform by Toni Rose, Co-Founder An American Speaks

In 1987 I had a baby girl in Houston, Texas. She was born a month early, and despite complications, she was delivered at a little over five pounds.

We were lucky at that time in Texas because we lived in Houston, home of one of the greatest medical centers in the world. But Texas had a problem. Texas had a doctor shortage, especially in high risk services such as labor and delivery, neurosurgery and trauma. It had been a problem a long time. I remember my Mom, pregnant with my little brother in a beach community on the Gulf Coast, had to drive to a ferry, cross over to Galveston, and then drive to the hospital to see her ob-gyn and deliver her son. The trip took an hour and a half on a good day.

More than 150 counties had no local obstetrics care, and services were sometimes more than 100 miles away. Physicians were leaving Texas for states that were less litigious or they were quitting medical practice altogether.

By 2003 the exodus of doctors was such a crisis the state of Texas initiated, and passed, tort reform to rein in the the cost of practicing medicine. The landmark reforms created an almost immediate turnaround, starting with pediatric subspecialties increasing 300% in the following ten years.

Emergency doctors in rural areas increased 64%, more than 10 times the growth in those areas. Thirty-five rural counties added at least one ob-gyn, almost half of which never had one. You can find similar stories in more than 30 states that have implemented tort reform.

Issue 1 allows voters in Arkansas to attract more much-needed doctors and health care professionals to our state.

As the co-founder of the conservative Christian organization, An American Speaks, I know first-hand providing no access to needed health services places a value on human life. The value is zero.

In 2012 Mrs. Laurie Wilhelm of rural AR, had enjoyed home births of her previous children, but she started bleeding heavily during the birth of the baby she was carrying at the time. She was rushed to the beautiful new birthing center at the nearby hospital.

The hospital had no ob-gyn on staff. Administrators had been unable to attract or keep the needed doctor because liabilities to practice were too high.

Perhaps if they had she may have been sent her to the better equipped and staffed hospital in Missouri, 80 miles away, by air rather than ambulance.

Laurie bled to death. Her baby almost died.

Ironically, and more recently, one of the primary sponsors of this bill could have been another victim of rural ob-gyn shortages. His wife’s uterus ruptured, she was bleeding internally and the baby was in severe distress.  Fortunately, after having birthed several babies at home, they had made arrangements to have this baby in Rogers, AR. 45 minutes away and were already at the hospital when it occurred, saving the life of mom and her baby girl. Sadly, to highlight the seriousness of the need for immediate care, an Oklahoma youth pastor’s wife and baby did not fare as well with their similar situation and both died.

A  great champion of the unborn and friend of mine, makes the assertion that tort reform is a pro-life issue. In this case I agree. Laurie Wilhelm, Jessica and their babies prove it.I personally prefer to keep the term “pro-life” with the rights of the unborn. Many issues could be called “pro-life” but let our unborn babies have this one distinction. However, just like our unborn children need care, so, too, do our vulnerable seniors in assisted living and long-term care nursing facilities. These places are home for thousands of Arkansans.

Thousands of women and their unborn children in rural Arkansas are at risk due to the lack of care and the many miles to an ob-gyn, whether a family plans a hospital birth or not.

“Ob/gyns live in fear of being sued,” Jones says. She isn’t kidding: Ob/gyns are the most commonly sued physicians. A 2012 survey from the American Medical Association found that of the approximately 4,000 medical liability lawsuits filed between 2009 and 2011, a full two-thirds involved obstetric care. It’s because of these figures that malpractice insurance is quite high for ob/gyns compared to other practitioners. This not only makes it very expensive to even open an ob/gyn practice, but also harder to recruit more medical students into the profession.

Malpractice reform on the federal level would help, ob/gyns say. A bill passed the House of Representatives in June that would limit noneconomic damages for a malpractice case to $250,000. While some criticize that cap as unfair to patients whose lives have been forever changed by medical malpractice, the American Medical Association president David Barbe called it an “important first step.”

“By redirecting health care spending from defensive medicine, additional dollars can go to patient care, safety and quality improvements, and to health information technology systems that would help improve care and outcomes,” he said in a statement.”

My grandmother lived in a nursing home. My dad spent the last year of his life in a nursing home. My mother is in an assisted living facility. I understand this – spending an extraordinary amount of resources on liability insurance does not help my mother’s facility hire more compassionate caregivers. The money spent on attorneys doesn’t help hire more nurses who are needed throughout the state.

In overall health care, Arkansas ranks 49th of 50 states. Money that could be spent on needed doctors, needed caregivers in hospitals, needed rehabilitation facilities, needed clinics and needed nursing homes is not going toward these things. Funds to improve quality of life often aren’t going where they are needed most, not because the desire to do so isn’t there, but because the requirement to pay exorbitant amounts for insurance is the expensive cost of providing care to those who need it most.

Answer this question: currently in Arkansas you can sue for an un-capped amount, virtually anything you, your attorney and a judge can agree on. How has this helped Arkansas health care ranking? We are the last of the last. Time to consider what has worked in other states, not as the only solution but part of the solution.

An excellent research paper by the Heritage Foundation on the impact of tort reform in Texas can be found at  Ten Years of Tort Reform Texas Just one example they cite:

  • CHRISTUS Health, a not-for-profit Catholic health system with hospitals throughout Texas, saved so much on its liability costs that it expanded its charity care by $100 million per year starting in 2004. Total cost-basis charity care in Texas was $594 million greater in 2006 than it was in 2003.[16] Sister Michele O’Brien of CHRISTUS stated that the expanded charity care is a direct result of the lawsuit reforms

I can cite study after study that shows that exorbitant medical liability costs has harmed patient care. Another one can be found at Does Malpractice Insurance Cost Impact Patient Care

Our organization, An American Speaks, with its mission to protect family values, wholesome communities by raising the conservative Christian voice, strongly supports Issue 1 on the ballot in November. By making Arkansas more inviting to health care professionals our chances are better the next Laurie Wilhelm and her baby have a doctor waiting when she arrives at the hospital. Please inform yourself for the vote in November.

To learn more about An American Speaks, please visit www.anamericanspeaks.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about Tort reform and it’s impact on other states visit Arkansans For Jobs and Justice Facebook

 

‘Tis the Season- Getting Ready for Mid-term Elections

…and so are we! November 2018, on one hand, seems forever away. A whole year! But there are people whose term is up and must re-run, perhaps are termed out or have chosen not to run and a new candidate must be selected. There are bills that passed in the House and Senate during session that will go to vote in mid-term. There are also petition drives in order to exercise voter’s local options like the one An American Speaks is involved with right now.

Issue 6, that Arkansas voted into law by a narrow 3% margin, is now Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution. Also known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 it contains a little known local option clause that allows counties or municipalities to vote on whether they wish to have a dispensary or grow facility.  Last week An American Speaks filed a Ballot Question Committee Statement of Organization  on behalf of Boone County with the Arkansas Ethics Commission as Counties Against Legalized Marijuana.  It is our intention to work with local churches, civic organizations and local businesses to mount a petition drive to get this option on the ballot next November so Boone County, who voted overwhelmingly against Issue 6, has the option of keeping dispensaries and grow facilities out of their county.

Last Monday, October 9th, we introduced this option to the Carroll County Republican Committee and will be happy to speak with/help any City or County that is interested in doing the same. Almost half the counties in Arkansas voted against this amendment and a number of those that voted “for” passed with a margin of less than 2%.  It is our belief that they should know how to exercise their right in the amendment to not have it in their county or city if they do not want it.

Click here for  AAS Summary Position Statement Medical Marijuana

Click here for Top 10 Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana

To learn more about us go to An American Speaks Website

and An American Speaks Facebook. 

Follow us on twitter @aamericanspeaks

Contact us at 501-275-0219 or info@anamericanspeaks.com