Arkansas State Senate
Arkansas State Senate
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Arkansas votes to decrease therapy for special needs children. Let me tell you why not.
So, Arkansas is voting to reduce the amount of therapies for children with special needs? This is absolutely outrageous and disheartening for a so many reasons.When Aidan was first diagnosed with Mosaic Down syndrome at six month of age I was not a nurse - I was a very worried parent who did lots of research attempting to find out what to do to give my child the best chance possible in life. During this research I became upset knowing that he had missed the first part of his life for the opportunity to receive physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Early intervention through these therapies is key in helping kids with special needs in their development.First of all, as parents of a special needs child I feel we have done everything thus far we can to help Aidan reach his maximum potential. Since the age of 18 months we have sent Aidan to an amazing school in Little Rock called Access, that provides him with the help and therapy he needs to assist in development. While you would think that a child diagnosed with Down syndrome would have plenty of opportunity for therapy funding, this is not true. Primary insurance does not pay for therapy services, which means that in addition to a primary insurance we must pay out of pocket for a type of Arkansas Medicaid insurance called TEFRA that does cover therapy services. The combination of both the private special needs school and TEFRA insurance is not an insignificant cost, in fact, I feel terrible for those individuals that have kids with special needs who do not have the luxury to afford a wonderful school like Access. To qualify for therapy services each child must be evaluated biannually to determine (per Medicaid standards) wether or not they "qualify" for these services. Just last year Aidan did not qualify for any physical therapy, even though he continuously scores extremely low on these evaluations. The "qualifications" remain so high, that even if a child is considered on a less than "profoundly delayed" level, therapy services may be reduced or denied. To give you an idea of how instrumental therapy has been for Aidan - I can tell a drastic difference just talking to Aidan in his goals, objectives, and therapy styles from the speech therapist he had a few months ago verses the one he currently has. I could also tell a significant difference in when Aidan received one hour of physical therapy a week verses none.If a child must be profoundly delayed to receive therapy services, how much more can you raise the bar to disqualify children for these necessary services?I cannot imagine why, of all things, Arkansas would choose to cut funding for this incredibly important service, especially when most individuals who are trying to give their children the best chance possible and already have unimaginable struggles ahead of them.
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Minimum and mandatory sentences for animal cruelty
Decent and caring citizens of the United States (and beyond) are exponentially tired of seeing animals killed or abused, and then the abuser receiving little to no jail time. Animal abusers are five times more likely to hurt humans, and they are being left in society to do more damage. Almost always you find them also abusing a child or some other innocent person. Keeping them off the streets should be a priority. The sentences given to animal abusers are weak and ineffective as deterrents, and certainly not carrying out fair and proper justice. We demand mandatory jail and longer sentences. When an animal crime is committed, the entire community, state, and nation is in uproar- then, later find the person served very little time. Police and courts can only punish to the fullest extent of the law if their are laws that back them and back citizen outrage. We are fully tired of this weak and repetitive process. From dragging sharks behind a boat in Florida, leaving dogs outside to freeze in the cold etc. to each case state to state- we want action. We also want proactive warnings given to all potential abusers. Let it be known that the United States does not tolerate animal abuse! As an example, a person who drops a puppy off a building is NOT mentally stable and should not be allowed to roam free. Therefore, sentences should be 10 to 30 years mandarory in jail or mental facility for these crimes. No exceptions.
Require Amazon to Collect and Remit Sales Tax For All FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) Sales
Please require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax for all FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) purchases. Requiring the hundreds of thousands of small businesses to register in every state and collect and remit in all applicable states is not practical -- it is a complex, heavy financial burden on small businesses and it is causing states to lose billions of dollars in tax revenue each year. With E-commerce now playing such a big role in the local economies, and with Amazon being THE major player, it is time for new legislation to be passed so that these matters can be properly addressed, removing any doubt regarding State sales tax liability and nexus -- especially as it relates to Amazon FBA and similar programs. If Amazon FBA was recognized as consignment, from a sales tax perspective, as it should be, then this would solve a lot of the associated issues that we are currently seeing. Laws vary from state-to-state, but most states require that the consignee (the store, or, Amazon in this case) should collect and remit sales tax. Arguments regarding consignment, who the seller really is and who the 'supplier' is: 1. FBA 'Suppliers' (as they should be called, and not FBA 'sellers') do not choose how/where their products are stored/shipped. 2. Commission is paid to Amazon on each unit sold. 3. FBA 'suppliers' must adhere to Amazon policy. Suppliers do not have the right to refuse sale/shipment without consequence and do not collect any money on transactions (all transactions are handled and controlled by Amazon, the store owner, with the supplier having no participation in said transactions). 4. FBA 'suppliers' have no real relationship with the customer as nearly all communication is prohibited as per Amazon (this relationship is owned and controlled by Amazon, the real seller). 5. Amazon provides advertising for products that they sell, including FBA products. Suppliers have no say in that message or how it's presented. 6. Amazon charges a 'monthly, rental fee' (FBA subscription fee) to display FBA products at their property, as well as additional fees for special exposure (e.g. special ad types or brand page vs. window or end-cap at front of store), as well as additional fees for how the product may be presented (e.g. videos on listing vs. in-store display). 7. Product ownership does not transfer to Amazon (the store owner), but sits on Amazon's shelves until a buyer is found...at which point, the buyer should pay the appropriate sales tax (Amazon/the store owner, is responsible for collecting and remitting this, as they handle all transactions with the end-buyer and own the property where all merchandise is stored and sold). 8. et al. Amazon should be charging and then remitting the sales tax to all applicable states -- not the FBA seller. Not only would this eliminate any argument about complexity or what constitutes nexus amid the varying, questionable and ever-changing interpretations that each state has established, but convincing the States to get behind it should be easy if they only had to pursue one entity (Amazon), in lieu of the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that currently operate within the US marketplace. It is estimated that the majority of the FBA sellers that sell on the Amazon-US marketplace are operating on foreign soil, and do not have a legal entity that is locally established inside of the United States. How are the states going to force compliance if a foreign seller, using a foreign bank account, is operating outside of the jurisdiction of local law? This poses serious problems and creates an environment of unfair competition if foreign sellers can offer products 10% cheaper due to not having to collect and remit sales tax. If Amazon were required to collect and remit on all FBA sales, not only would this reduce costs, man hours and complexity etc., but it would be a lot easier to ensure compliance and remittance. States could get the tax dollars that they desperately need, instead of missing out as they do now. If things continue as they are, States will waste tons of money auditing individual sellers and pursuing legal action, all, unnecessarily. Since Amazon has decided to take full custody of its customer base and is essentially acting as consignment, this should put sales tax liability on Amazon's shoulders, not on FBA sellers. Since FBA sellers are currently required to collect and remit for all states where they are deemed to have a substantial nexus, then, in order to do that, they must first register their business in that State, apply for permits etc., and admit to having a substantial nexus. Just having a single box of inventory in one of Amazon's warehouses will be sufficient for establishing nexus for most applicable states. Amazon may move inventory around, however they see fit, and in doing so, will force FBA sellers to have nexus in those states, oftentimes, unknowingly. Once nexus is established for a particular state, it applies to ALL subsequent sales to that State -- so, if a seller wants to sell something on Ebay, and the buyer is located in the nexus state, then that seller would need to collect and remit sales tax, even if that inventory was stored in and shipped from their home. If FBA sellers are required to register in all of the applicable states and admit that they have a substantial nexus, they would then potentially be subject to Corporate/State income taxes for that state, use-tax for all products/services, franchise taxes, non-resident taxes, opportunity taxes and other, associated fees/taxes etc.. If non-local businesses have to admit that they have substantial nexus due to a single box of inventory, and if they have to remit in the same way (or worse) as a local business that is actually operating out of that state, then what other tax implications and responsibilities will they be subjecting themselves to? And wouldn't this put undue burden on FBA sellers? And isn't that illegal? Please require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax for all FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) purchases. Thank you.
Put an End to Puppy Mills
If we all, as the public, get together and put an end to puppy and kitten mills we could provide a better environment to the puppies and kittens roaming freely in the wild, by rescuing them. The whole purpose of a puppy/kitten mill is to generate revenue by constant reproduction of offsprings. As a result, these actions put the health of the puppies and kittens at risk. By not buying puppies or kittens from the mills we can put them out of business. This will give the puppies and kittens a better opportunity in life and bring joy to their owners.
Ban Certain Assault Rifles in the US
Now, when gun violence is running rampant in our country, when 96 innocent Americans are fatally shot every day, when countless citizens are forced to live their lives in fear - we know that it is not the time to stay silent, it is the time to act. During the original ban beginning in 1994, school shooting victims were reduced by 54.4%, and the number of overall mass shootings decreased sharply. When the ban expired, however, the number of mass shootings in the US nearly tripled. With an improved version of this ban, it is only obvious that even more lives will be saved. These weapons cause immense tissue destruction, when compared to other guns, and easily pulverize multiple large organs on impact with only a single bullet. In fact, Ernest Moore, an award-winning trauma surgeon and avid hunter for over 40 years stated that these rifles were, "designed to deliver fatal wounds to multiple individuals within a short time period. While some argue that such a ban would infringe on Constitutional rights, this is not true. With the power of jurisdiction, federal courts have ruled four times that bans on assault weapons were constitutional. In fact, no federal appeals court has ever ruled that assault weapons were protected by the second amendment. This clearly depicts how a ban on assault weapons would not infringe on anyone's rights. Now, we as a country must make a choice. We can choose a safer future for our children, a future where we have the right to feel secure in our schools and communities, and a future where dozens of innocents are not slaughtered daily. Or, we can choose to do nothing. We can choose to sit back and watch our children shot down, and mass shootings become only more pervasive. But I have faith in our country's people. I believe that we, the citizens of the United States, will make the right choice, the choice for survival. I believe that we will stand together and against all odds, prevail. With this in mind, I strongly urge you to stand with us, to stand on the right side of history and to support this petition to prohibit assault rifles in our country. Sincerely, a student concerned about our nation's future
Justice For Jholie! Jholie's Law
The AMBER ALERT originated in the United States in 1996. AMBER is officially a contrived acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996. A brief description would be something to the effect of: AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alerts are emergency messages broadcasted when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions as well as information about the abductor's vehicle - which could lead to the child's recovery An AMBER Alert is actually defined as " an emergency response system that disseminates information about a missing child, by media broadcasting or electronic roadway signs." The AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. There are certain requirements known as "Activation Criteria" that are requested to be met before an AMBER Alert will be issued. These requirements are as follows: 1) There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred. 2) The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. 3) There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child. 4) The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system AMBER Alerts are approved by law enforcement and issued by broadcasting companies. The key to an AMBER Alert is that it is proven, an ABDUCTION has taken place. The AMBER Alert Initiative is a great system to have in place. However, this Alert does nothing to help children when it can not be proven they were abducted. So what happens when a child is presumed a runaway, when really they were abducted? We do not currently have any Alert System that will notify the general public in situations such as these. JHOLIE'S STORY Jholie Moussa was a sixteen year old female from Alexandria, Virginia, who went missing January 12, 2018, at approximately 1615, after telling her twin sister she would be right back, and walking out of her front door. When Jholie did not return the family got worried, it was not like Jholie to do this kind of thing. The family contacted the police, and after an initial investigation the police department determined that Jholie had ran away willingly, due to the fact that the home security camera caught her walking out the front door on her own. Because she was considered a "runaway" police refused to issue an AMBER Alert for this young lady, because the "ABDUCTION" requirement had not been met even though all other requirements were met, no matter how much the family pleaded with them to issue the alert. They continued their investigation, but not for a missing "endangered" child per say, but for a runaway, which isn't taken no where near as serious, and is not put out to the public. Jholie's family and friends continued searching for her for the next two weeks. Then Jholie's body was found dead in a park less than a mile from her home, behind a tennis court on January, 26th, 2018. The family and friends truly believe that Jholie's life could have been saved, had an AMBER ALERT, or a SIMILAR ALERT been issued the first day to the public. Due to the failure of the system, because of a technical requirement, a beautiful, sweet, intelligent young woman with her whole life ahead of her was taken from this earth and her family WAY TOO SOON! This family is devastated. This young lady could have been found alive! I'm proposing a new law in the United States of America to bring our missing babies home, not just abducted children, but children presumed to be runaways as well. "Jholie's Law." This new law would provide a system of issuing an alert for ALL MISSING CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18. Not just children in cases where it has to be PROVEN they were abducted. Because in many cases such a Jholie's case, it can not be proven that an abduction happened, when it reality the child was really abducted. Now you have a helpless child who everyone believes it's a runaway, in danger with no one except family and friends looking for them. This does not normally have a good outcome. In these situations if an Alert was established and issued, these children would have a better chance of being found, alive and brought back home to their families. Even though no abduction may have taken place, these children are still at risk. Even runaways are under age, unprotected, unsupervised and their whereabouts are unknown. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND LET THE LAW MAKERS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA KNOW WE REFUSE TO CONTINUE LOSING OUR BABIES DUE TO A TECHNICAL REQUIREMENT IN THE SYSTEM! EVERY CHILD'S LIFE IS IMPORTANT, NOT JUST THE ONES WHO MEET CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS! HOW DO YOU PUT REQUIREMENTS ON SAVING A CHILD'S LIFE! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT, AND FOR SUPPORTING THIS FAMILY! GOD BLESS YOU!
Change Arkansas Law wording, stand against sexual assault!
On January 18th, 2017 a Lonoke County Probation Officer and a local church pastor, Mark Brooke, was arrested on charges of "Solicitation of Prostitution". However because of the way the current laws are worded Mr. Brooke was able to get off Scot-free. Mr. Booke is able to maintain a position working within the city of Ward. We need change! Mayor Art Brooke says that since there was no conviction he saw no reason to suspend his son, Mark Brooke from working with the city. We need the laws changed to include probation officers in cases like this where Mark Brooke abused his power to solicit sex from people that feared him and his comments that he could make them go to jail. The people want this law to change so that it includes people like Mark Brooke so that they can be charged with sexual assault and not be able to get off with nothing! Here is a link to his arrest: http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/local-pastor-and-probation-officer-arrested-for-solicitation-of-prostitution/642330695 And this is a link where the deputies of our county even want change: http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/deputies-call-for-change-after-loophole-in-law-gets-probation-officer-off-the-hook/646545816 Stand with our deputies and demand change so that this doesn't happen again!
Remove "In God We Trust" from Public Schools
According to an article by Forbes.com, "Six primarily Southern states — Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Arizona — have approved legislation since last year explicitly requiring or allowing public schools to display the words 'In God We Trust'... States such as [Kentucky,] South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma have proposed similar bills" (https://www.forbes.com/sites/the74/2018/09/01/in-god-we-trust-several-states-pass-bills-requiring-or-allowing-mottos-display-in-schools/#311901b2145d). This is a blatant contradiction to the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Especially in public schools, in which students are 1) impressionable; and 2) do not possess the appropriate knowledge or life experience to decide on religious beliefs for themselves, this bold assertion of religious endorsement should absolutely not be displayed in public schools across the country -- not to mention, it is equally as inappropriate to force religious association upon school staff members and families. It is time for the United States government to hold true to its secular foundation, which accommodates to individuals who hold a vast spectrum of religious beliefs and others who hold no religious beliefs at all. Federal legislation barring the states from using such glaring methods of discrimination and intimidation in the name of religion must be passed as long as we want to continue to pride ourselves on being "the Home of the Free." Freedom of religion implies freedom from religion.