A love for civics


I grew up in rural Missouri. Politics are a favorite subject in most small towns and ours was no different. After all, politics and government have an effect every aspect of life. One of my favorite classes in high school was civics. The teacher our class had was very strict. She was a very serious person and often called students out for talking to one another or giggling in class. I was not an exception to that. Despite her impression of how studious I was or was no – I was fascinated by the subject matter in her class.

In grade school, we studied Missouri history. We learned about the state motto, flower and also about the three branches of state government. I have always been fascinated with politics and elections. I had an opportunity to attend a 4-H-sponsored event in Jefferson City at the capitol when I was still in school. The groups were split into two tracks – judicial and legislative. I was in the judicial group. We learned all about Missouri’s judiciary process and had an opportunity to hold a mock trial. Each of us playing different roles – attorneys, clients and a judge. I cannot remember all the details of what we learned that week, but it was a memorable experience as a young person. Being at the state capitol made civics come to life.

After the most recent general election, Arkansans have some new representation in all branches of our state government. The spotlight is on the state legislature which has recently convened in its regular session for the 94th General Assembly. As most people know, we have a part-time legislature in Arkansas. It convenes on the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year. The even number years are a fiscal session only.

Since the legislative session started, I have been to the capitol for a couple meetings and events. No matter how many times I visit, I still get that overwhelming feeling I had as a young 4-H member. The “People’s House” in Little Rock is a beautiful building. The work being done inside of it is important. I think it is worth paying attention to and have invested a lot of time following bills through the legislative process. Some days it is overwhelming trying to read through as many as I can.

There are only a few bills filed that are sitting in the House and Senate agriculture, forestry and economic committees at the time of writing this. Senate Bill 5 (SB5) is a proposed amendment to telehealth and telemedicine in the practice of veterinary medicine to mirror the Telemedicine Act. The bill appears to simply add some language to an existing law. There are two House Bills in committee. HB1033 involves hunting and fishing license fees for minor (residing out-of-state) children of Arkansas residents. HB1182 is proposed to provide clarity regarding the certification of a veterinary technician specialist and their prescription authority. I am sure there will be more to come in the weeks ahead.

There is a lot going on in our state capitol and I think it is worth paying attention to. Nothing gets my radar to stand up more than a potential law that could affect small businesses, education or taxation. I do not know where my high school civics teacher, Mrs. Clark, ended up retiring to. I am sure she would love to know that one of the “babbling magpies” from the class of 1995 was putting her voice and civic knowledge to good use. The legislative session is short, so I hope you have an opportunity to visit with your district legislators throughout the process. I know I will, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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