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State Capitol in review

Enrollment in Arkansas expanded Medicaid program slowed last week with just 450 applicants completing the process compared with 3,625 the week before. In all, 14,529 newly eligible adults (there is an estimated 250,000) have been added to the Medicaid program.

The program extended eligibility for the program to adults with income of up to 138 percent of federal poverty level which is $32,500 for a family of four. The coverage would begin Jan 1.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department opened bids for about $110 million of work on 13 separate projects. The largest single project is to replace a historic bridge across Arkansas 387 in Newport across the White River.

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism promotes the state, in large part with revenue from a 2 percent sales tax collected on tourist related items such as hotel rooms and boat rentals. Last fiscal year, the tourism tax generated about $12.3 million.

Tourism is a pillar of the Arkansas economy. About 100,000 Arkansas residents have jobs related to leisure and travel, and total spending on tourism last year was more than $5.7 billion. Officials of the tourism division made a series of presentations around the state to announce a new strategy of marketing, which is in addition to promoting geographic areas within Arkansas as potential destinations on its web site, they will market activities such as boating, hunting, shopping and attending concerts or galleries.

The department will rely heavily on focus groups, customer service surveys and feedback from internet browsers to get up to date accurate data on how effectively their messages are being received. During the presentations, tourism officials cite a study by Google which estimates that people spend as many as 40 hours on the internet planning their vacations. With that in mind, Arkansas will simplify its tourism web site while upgrading quality, so that the browsers can more quickly and effectively get information about specific tourist destinations. Check out the website at www.arkansas.com. It has a lot of information.

Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. This is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. It is to honor and thank all the military personnel. I want to thank all those who have served our country and their families for the many sacrifices that they have made for all of us and our freedoms.

If you would like to contact me, email me at bruce.holland@senate.ar.gov or call my office at 650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387, Greenwood, AR 72936.

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