Last week at the capitol, hearings were held on the Common Core State Standards. Those in favor and users of the new national standards told us that the standards are no silver bullet but are an improvement over the state’s current math and English/language arts requirements, and will allow for more in-depth teach and learning. The board chairman said that the board established what the students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level, but local school districts and teachers will continue to decide what lessons, programs, strategies and materials to use to teach the skills and concepts. The goal is to eventually reduce the number of the nearly 50 percent of Arkansas high school graduates who have to take and pay for noncredit remediation classes when they enroll in state colleges. Arkansas is among 45 states plus the District of Columbia to adopt the national standards that were produced by committees of subject area experts organized by the National Governors Assoc. Critics of the standards said that use of the Common Core would give control of the state’s public education system to the federal government or to national profit seeking organizations. To learn more about the common core standards go to the Arkansas Education website at this site has many different types of information concerning our education and schools in the state. Arkansas expects to transfer much of the cost of providing hospital care for inmates to the federal government , saving the state millions of dollars. This is a result of the expansion of Medicaid approved by the Legislature. Also last week there was a joint meeting of the judiciary committees. There was a discussion about the death penalty and that given the unavailability of drugs needed for lethal injection executions and an huge amount of federal lawsuits should we continue the death penalty in Arkansas, Do Arkansans still believe in the death penalty and if so, are the people willing to assume the rising costs involved in keeping it? It was presented that a possibility was that the state could choose another means of execution, but most methods would prompt even more lawsuits. Another possibility is that the state could ask its congressional delegation to press for changes in the law that would allow for the importation of the drugs required for lethal injections. The Arkansas tourism industry grew modestly last year bringing tourism’s portion of the state economy to $5.77 billion. Travelers paid more than $301 million in state taxes and $110 million in local taxes. Spending by business travelers went down from $600 million to $450 million, but that was offset by a $200 million increase in spending by leisure travelers. The state Parks and Tourism Dept. uses all types of advertising from television to newsprint and even social medial and the internet to advertise our state. We have been informed that there are many scams taking place, particularly with older people. One is a call that says it is with Publishers Clearing House and that you have won a million dollars. Then they proceed to ask questions and visit some, then tell you that to get the money you have to pay some insurance etc. of usually about $1000. Please be careful to not give out personal information and if you have really won something you do not have to pay to get it. Be careful. If you would like to contact me, please email me at or call my office at 650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387 Greenwood, AR. 72936. Have a good week.