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IN YOUR VIEW | Spending Priorities: Where should Arkansas side allocate almost $8 million in federal funds?

August 20, 2021 at 5:00 a.m. | Updated August 20, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.

The Texarkana Gazette's own Karl Richter reported this week that the Texarkana Arkansas Board of Directors is considering how best to allocate almost $8 million in federal funding the city was awarded as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Half the money is already in hand. The other half will be coming in May of next year.

The city has to determine where the money will go by the end of 2024. Any projects receiving the funds have to be finished by the end of 2026. And the funds can be used in four ways: To offset city revenue lost because of COVID-19; public health and negative economic impact from the pandemic; premium pay for city workers at risk for COVID-19 infection because of their jobs; and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

So where should those fund be spent?

There are three proposals on the table right now.

All involve setting aside 10% of the money for administrative costs and $1.63 million on the Texarkana Regional Airport. The other allocations are for street repairs, improve Nix Creek sewage system, improve drainage infrastructure, allocate premium pay. The three proposals differ in the amounts allocated to each of these projects.

We want to know what you think. Within the guidelines under the American Rescue Plan, where should the board prioritize spending? Where do you think the need is most pressing?

Arkansas lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban private employers in the state from requiring their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Senate Bill 719 would establish a "right to privacy" for Arkansas workers. In addition to banning vaccination mandates, workers would not have to answer employers' questions about vaccination status.

The House and Senate Committees on Insurance and Commerce and the Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday in Little Rock to hear comments on the proposal. But the earliest any action is likely to be taken is during the fall session on redistricting.

We want to know what you think. Should the state ban private businesses from requiring workers be vaccinated? Or should that be left up to private businesses?

Send your response (50 words maximum) to [email protected] by Wednesday, August 18. You can also mail your response to the Texarkana Gazette Friday Poll, at P.O. Box 621, Texarkana, TX 75504 or drop it off at our office, 101 E. Broad St, Texarkana, Ark. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number. We will print as many responses as we can in next Friday's paper.

Last Week: Overreach?

Last week's question was about Arkansas lawmakers considering legislation that would ban private employers in the state from requiring their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. Should the state ban private businesses from requiring workers be vaccinated? Or should that be left up to private businesses?

I don't think businesses should be able to force you to have the vaccine, that's communism. If people would stay home that have the virus, that would get rid of it. - M.J., Fouke, Arkansas

I believe a Private Business should have the freedom to act as they deem fit within the law. If they want to require their employees to be vaccinated that is within their rights, just as it is within my rights to go to that business or stay away! Everyone eligible should get vaccinated! - A.B., Texarkana, Arkansas

Arkansas governor already has regrets on last bright idea of banning mask. Now they want to control private businesses. What is wrong with Republicans that used to believe in small government, Republicans have become dictators. Businesses should demand vaccines for workers and patrons. If people don't want get vaccine, go find another job or patronize another business. - R.K., Texarkana, Texas

The state has no right to prevent private business owner from requiring that their employees be vaccinated. In fact I would go further and require all heath care workers, doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare worker to be vaccinated. People need to get vaccinated now unless we prefer to see thousands of more needless deaths and to be still talking about stopping the spread two years from now. - L.O., Texarkana, Texas

From facebook.com/texarkanagazette

No one should be required to get the COVID-19 shot, it's not a vaccine. It's no different than the flu shot.

It's really sad that a lot of people are against any way of helping contain the spread of the virus. The lawmakers should really be ashamed of themselves as they are not working in the public's health interests. It has become too political. YES it is POLITICAL! It should be mandatory like all the other vaccines that are required!

Disgraceful politicians playing a game with people's lives.

IMO state interference into private business is a slippery slope. It's a great way to begin a mass exodus of businesses who create revenue for the state.

Individuals deserve protection and there are other ways to offer that protection through legislation.

Not an overstep at all, the opposite of the bill would be an overstep.

So how about no more requirements for a TB test?

No different than asking about HIPPA laws. What part of privacy don't people understand.

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