Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"David Gets In Trouble"

Recently I was named a Friend of Freedom by the Advance Arkansas Institute, and tend to agree with most of their positions on issues because of the conservative values we both hold.  You can imagine my surprise then when a rather harsh blog post went up singling me out for what I said about the ethics amendment and the term limits that are apart of that amendment.  You can read it here:  Term Limits Camouflage.

It should go without saying that they have the right to post whatever they want.  The only thing that I ask is that they are fair and are accurate in what they post. In the Term Limits post, there are some things that are not accurate and insinuations that might lead people to the wrong conclusion. People that know me know I am just about as open and transparent as one can be.  People also know I am willing to clarify or expand on what I say so that there should no confusion. It is why I am disappointed in the Arkansas Project and also why I am taking time to write this blog post.

The Arkansas Project writes:

"leave term limits the way they are or use legislative trickery to extend them by sneaking an extension into one of the amendments."

For a little background, this ethics amendment came about because a group called Regnat Populus got together with two legislators to craft this amendment. It is my understanding that the group that pushed most of the ethics reform in the bill to begin with was ok with adding the term limits to the amendment. It is hardly legislative trickery or sneaking anything in the bill.

"As for why the ballot title doesn’t explain that the amendment would extend term limits, Meeks said that ultimately it’s up to each voter to become informed and read the full amendment personally."

This is one my "flaws".  I tend to trust the voter maybe a little too much. Yes, I realize that not everyone is going to take time to read the whole amendment or even find out what is in the amendment. They will just read the title and vote based on what it says.  To that end, I am willing to support a change in the title to reflect that there is a term limits extension in there.

There was also some debate at the meeting over how much the amendment would extend term limits.

He makes good points in this section.

Parenthetical Pause here:
(because two year terms in the Senate don’t count against a members’ terms, some members may serve up to 10 years) (that should be "serve up to 12 years").

Look, I get it: legislators don’t like term limits.

Actually, I am ok with term limits.  I just think that the ones Arkansas have are too strict and are partly responsible for a fast growing state government as well as some of the major issues that have cropped up.  Let's focus the discussion on what is best for Arkansas when it comes to the length of term limits. 

As an aside, our founding fathers also discussed the term limits issue and didn't include them in the Constitution.  They made many of the same arguments both for and against as we do today.

I hope this helps to clear up some things surrounding term limits. As always, if you have any questions or need something clarified, feel free to contact me at: david.meeks@arkansashouse.org

Monday, July 29, 2013

Legislative Update: Crimes Against Children Report

Recently, the committee for Aging Children and Youth and Military affairs received the annual report on Crimes Against Children from Arkansas State Police.
        The subject matter is difficult for anyone to review, but the report provides valuable information to our legislators in helping to draft laws to protect our children.
        The report revealed that in 2012 there were 62,052 calls made to the Child Abuse Hotline in Arkansas.  Of those calls 38,368 were accepted as valid allegations of abuse or neglect and case workers were assigned.
        This is a sharp increase from just 4 years ago.  In 2008, 51,592 calls were made to the hotline and just under 30,000 were accepted as valid allegations.
     Abuse can be physical or sexual.  It includes non-accidental physical injury, shaking a baby, tying a child up, and giving or exposing a child to alcohol or other drugs.  Reasonable and moderate discipline (such as spanking) is generally not considered abuse as long as it does not cause injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks and is administered by a parent or guardian.
     Neglect is failing to provide for appropriate food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for a child.  It is also failing to provide an education for a child.  Neglect also includes failing to prevent abuse of a child.  Leaving a child in a situation that puts the juvenile at risk of harm, such as leaving a young child alone at home or in a vehicle, is also considered neglect.
         It could be easy to look at the recent report and say that child abuse is increasing in our state, but that may not necessarily be the case.
        Captain Ron Stayton, who is the Crimes Against Children Division Commander explained that the increase is largely due to more reporting.  Over the years, the legislature has worked to increase mandated reporting in the state. 
        In 2009, the legislature added rape crisis advocates or volunteers, child abuse advocates or volunteers and victim/witness coordinators to the growing list of mandated reporters.
        We continued to strengthen our reporting laws this previous session by passing Act 784.  This requires the Child Abuse Hotline to accept reports of injury to a child’s intellectual, emotional, or psychological development from a guidance counselor licensed as a teacher.
        The Arkansas Department of Human Services has extensive tools and tips designed to help parents prevent abuse and help others to look for the warning signs.  You can find that information at
        And if you suspect a child is being abused, you can call the hotline at 1-800-482-5964.  The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

State Rep. David Meeks to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. David Meeks to Seek Re-Election

District 70 Representative Promises to Continue to Advocate for Fiscal Responsibility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                
July 18, 2013                                
Conway, AR- David Meeks, State Representative from Conway announced today that he will be running for re-election to Arkansas House District 70, which covers parts of Faulkner and Perry Counties.

“After much prayer and discussion with family and supporters, I am excited to announce that I will be seeking a third term to the Arkansas House,” Meeks said.

“Last session we were able pass income tax relief for Arkansas families and made significant reforms to our Medicaid system.  It is critical that we continue that work. My promise is that I will continue to fight for hardworking Arkansas taxpayers and families.“

Meeks was the lead sponsor on Act 133, The Human Trafficking Act of 2013 which strengthened human trafficking laws in Arkansas.

Meeks currently serves as Chairman of Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative & Military Affairs. He also serves on the Public Health Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Subcommittee Assignments for the House Aging, Youth, Children, Legislative, and Military Affairs Committee

Here are the Subcommittee Assignments for the House Aging, Youth, Children, Legislative, and Military Affairs Committee.

Chair:  Rep John Payton
Vice Chair: Rep Mary Broadway
Rep Sue Scott
Rep Andy Davis
Rep Charles Armstrong
Rep Brent Talley
Ex-officio: Rep David Meeks
Ex-officio: Rep Warwick Sabin

Chair: Rep Justin Harris
Vice-Chair: Rep Charlene Fite
Rep Deborah Ferguson
Rep Mike Holcomb
Rep Fred Smith
Rep Randy Alexander
Ex-officio: Rep David Meeks
Ex-officio: Rep Warwick Sabin

Chair:  Rep Jody Dickinson
Vice-Chair: Rep Patti Julian
Rep John Baine
Rep Gary Deffenbaugh
Rep Ken Bragg
Rep Bill Gossage
Ex-officio: Rep David Meeks
Ex-officio: Rep Warwick Sabin

To keep up with what is going on in the committee, please visit the committee website: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2013/2013R/Pages/CommitteeDetail.aspx?committeecode=860

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Human Trafficking: Arkansas rated as one of the "Faltering Four"

Today, Polaris Project released its 2012 State Ratings on human trafficking laws.  Arkansas was rated as one of the "Faltering Four" due to its lack of "a basic legal framework to combat human trafficking."

Senator Jason Rapert, Senator Missy Irvin, Representative Greg Leding and myself are working in conjunction with the Attorney General's office, and other stakeholders to strengthen our laws.  Legislation has been drafted and we are working to make sure it has broad support so that it can be passed in the 2013 session.

Here is a link to the Polaris Project ratings map: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/current-laws

Here is a link to the specific Arkansas State report: http://na4.salesforce.com/sfc/p/300000006E4S95crKiEvYLHxr2rVvrb54s0U1gA=

Here is a link to the legislation that has been drafted: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2011/2012F/Pages/ISPIRDetail.aspx?ispid=2011-219

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at david.meeks@arkansashouse.org

*About Polaris Project*
Polaris Project is one of the leading organizations in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star "Polaris" that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org 

Monday, August 6, 2012

For Immediate Release: *Polaris Project to Release 2012 Annual Ratings on State Human Trafficking Laws*

If you are a member of the Arkansas media or the state legislature please contact me and I can forward you the information for the conference call tomorrow. My personal email is dmeeks72@gmail.com. Phone: 501-277-9340. All others please use the contact information below.

I have accepted the invitation and will be speaking on the conference call about what Arkansas is doing to strengthen it's anti-human trafficking laws. David

*AUGUST 3, 2012*

*CONTACT*: Megan Fowler, 202-540-5231

**Telephone Briefing, Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 1:00PM CDT**

*Polaris Project to Release 2012 Annual Ratings on State Human Trafficking

*Washington, DC* - On August 7, 2012 at 1:00pm CDT, Polaris Project will release its 2012 State Ratings on human trafficking laws via a telephone briefing from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Chicago, IL. Polaris Project has rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on ten categories of laws that are critical to a basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers and supports survivors. Each state is placed in one of four tiers based on whether it has passed legislation in each of the ten categories.

Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts; Holly Smith, a human trafficking survivor and activist; lawmakers from the Virginia and Arkansas state legislatures will join Polaris Project to discuss which states have passed significant laws, which states are faltering, and how such laws make a substantial impact in fighting human trafficking in communities across the United States.

*WHAT:* Launch of Polaris Project's 2012 State Ratings Map on Human Trafficking Laws from the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative summit in Chicago, IL

*WHO:* Mary Ellison, Director of Policy, Polaris Project
Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General
Holly Smith, Human Trafficking Survivor and Activist
Arkansas State Representative David Meeks (*invited*)
Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin (*invited*)

*WHEN:* Tuesday, August 7, 2012
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CDT (2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT)

*RSVP:* Please RSVP for this call by sending your name, email address, outlet and state to mfowler@polarisproject.org.
For additional information, or if you would like to attend the launch in person in Chicago, please contact Megan Fowler at mfowler@polarisproject.org or 202-540-5231.
To report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or request information, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 1-888-3737-888.

*About Polaris Project**Polaris Project is one of the leading organizations in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Named after the North Star "Polaris" that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awareness into Action: Arkansas' First Ever Human Trafficking Summit!

Human Trafficking IS happening right here in Arkansas.  The recent bust of a sex-trafficking ring headquartered in Little Rock is just one example of how this modern form of slavery has made its way into our state.  People from all across our state are coming together to combat it.  We are excited about holding our first ever Arkansas Human Trafficking Summit next week in Little Rock.  This summit will focus on taking action to end Human Trafficking in our state.  We will have representatives from national human trafficking groups Polaris Project and Shared Hope coming in to talk about how we can strengthen our laws and build a stronger coalition. We hope you will join us.

Here is the schedule for the first ever Arkansas Human Trafficking Summit to be held Tuesday, June 26th and Wednesday, June 27th. All events are free and open to public and press.  

State Capitol
10a: Welcome/Press Conference  (Old Supreme Court Room)

Scheduled Speakers include:
Lt Governor Mark Darr
Bart Dickinson- Attorney General's office
Representatives from National Groups Polaris Project and Shared Hope
Local Groups

1p: Legislative Committee Hearings.  (Rm151, 1st floor)
Complete Agenda can be found at this link:  http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2011/Lists/Meetings/Attachments/16971/I10303.pdf

First Baptist Church, LR (Fellowship Hall)
7-8:30p: Human Trafficking Forum: A film by Shared Hope, breakout session, and a panel for questions and answers.

First Baptist Church, LR (Fellowship Hall)
Coalition Building Workshop 8:30p-3:30p (Registration table opens at 8:00 am).
This is a day long seminar by Polaris Project.

To register for the Tuesday night forum and/or the Wednesday Workshop please visit:  http://artraffickingsummit.eventbrite.com/

Related News Stories and Statistics:

Feds: Sex-trafficking ring used Backpage.com ads (Ring was HQ'd here in LR) http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20120524/NEWS02/705249806
Little Rock to get first shelter for Human Trafficking Victims: http://www.katv.com/story/18684640/arkansas-to-get-first-shelter-for-human-trafficking-victims
Some human trafficking reported in NEA 
Local organizations join forces to combat trafficking in Arkansas. http://www.syncweekly.com/news/2012/feb/14/walking-path/