LITTLE ROCK — With the governor’s tax-cut package signed into law and his plan for the private option on its way to final passage, Arkansas lawmakers can now devote more attention to other issues, from prison overcrowding to abortion to the state lottery.

LITTLE ROCK — With the governor’s tax-cut package signed into law and his plan for the private option on its way to final passage, Arkansas lawmakers can now devote more attention to other issues, from prison overcrowding to abortion to the state lottery.


Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law his promised income tax cut for people earning between 21,000 and $75,000 a year, and the House and Senate gave final passage to a bill to fund the Medicaid expansion program known as the private option through the next fiscal year.


Meanwhile, Hutchinson’s proposal to end the private option at the end of 2016 and create a task force to look for an alternative approach to health care reform awaits only Senate concurrence in a House amendment for final passage. The amendment adds co-sponsors.


With those items out of the way, "my focus is going to be supporting these legislators in some of the things they want to accomplish," Hutchinson told reporters Friday at the Capitol.


"And then we all collectively need to address the challenge of our prison crowding and address criminal justice issues," he said. "We’re starting the discussions on that with the judiciary committees in both houses, as well as other leaders, so that will be a focal point coming up."


State prison officials have said they want $100 million to build a new 1,000 bed prison. Hutchinson and legislative leaders have said they want to look at all other alternatives to address prison overcrowding before considering building a new prison.


Hutchinson also said he hopes to see the Senate approve his proposed initiative to require all public high schools to teach computer science, which the House approved on Thursday, and said he will support legislation to strengthen career education.


Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, said discussions on prison overcrowding "have really picked up."


"We hope to have a bill … if not a series of bills that the members can start considering," he said.


Dismang also said work is progressing toward an agreement on expanding broadband access in schools, and that "we’ll be really starting to focus in on the budget."


House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, said that although the debate over renewing the private option for another year is over, there is still work to do on health care.


"I think we’ve successfully been able to pivot now to the discussion of health care as a whole and what we are going to provide, the level of services," he said. "I think that is the appropriate vision for us to have, to move beyond one small slice of the Medicaid budget to look as the Medicaid program as a whole and also our health care initiatives in general."


That effort will involve selecting the members of the health care task force, which is to include eight House members, eight senators and the state surgeon general as a non-voting member. Gillam announced Friday in the House that through Tuesday he will be accepting names of members who want to be on the task force.


Legislative leaders say more tax cuts may also be considered, although the House and Senate committees on revenue and tax are not expected to advance any bills until later in the session, after lawmakers and the governor see how state revenues are faring.


Bills expected to be considered in committees this week, the fifth week of the session, include Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, which would abolish the state Lottery Commission and put the state lottery under the control of the state Department of Finance and Administration.


Hickey had planned to present the bill to the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee last week, but not enough members turned up to constitute a quorum. The committee meets next on Tuesday.


Also Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 1228 by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, which would prohibit any action by the state that would "burden a person’s right to exercise of religion."


On Wednesday, the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee is expected to consider a proposal to require that when an abortion-inducing drug is administered, the doctor who prescribed or dispensed the drug must be physically present in the room.


The proposal is contained in two matching bills, SB 53 by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and HB 1076 by Rep. Julie Mayberry, R-Hensley. The House approved Mayberry’s bill last week in an 83-4 vote.


Also Wednesday, the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider for the second time HB 1113 by Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, which would end Arkansas’ dual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day.


Under the bill, the third Monday in January would become Martin Luther King Jr. Day only, and Nov. 30 would be declared Patrick Cleburne-Robert E. Lee Southern Heritage Day.


The committee rejected the bill in a voice vote on Jan. 28.