LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Senate on Thursday approved and sent to the governor a bill to use some of the state’s tobacco settlement money to reduce a waiting list for home- and community-based services for the developmentally disabled.
In a 34-0 vote, the Senate approved House Bill 1033 by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley. The House previously approved the bill in a 93-0 vote.
The measure, part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s policy agenda for the session, will devote $8.5 million a year from the state’s 1999 settlement with tobacco companies to reducing the waiting list for services for the developmentally disabled. About 3,000 people are on the list, some of them since 2007.
Combined with federal matching funds, the bill is expected to allow the state to use about $29 million a year to reduce the waiting list by between 500 and 900 people. The people who have been on the list the longest would be the first to receive services.
The money previously funded the AR Health Networks, an insurance program that ended in 2013 when Arkansas expanded its Medicaid program.
The Senate broke into applause after passing the bill Thursday.