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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS: Marion lawmaker positive for virus | House advances appropriation bill

by Michael R. Wickline | January 14, 2021 at 4:29 a.m.
The Arkansas State Capitol Building is shown in this file photo.

Marion lawmaker positive for virus

State Rep. Milton Nicks Jr., D-Marion, is the first state lawmaker to acknowledge testing positive for the coronavirus in the regular legislative session that started Monday.

Nicks informed House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, on Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, said House spokeswoman Cecillea Pond-Mayo.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, said late Wednesday afternoon he is unaware of any senator testing positive for covid-19 since the regular session started Monday.

Hicks said in a telephone interview that he suspects he caught the virus from his wife, who he said tested positive Tuesday.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

He said he attended the regular session Monday and Tuesday.

"We are recovering at home and quarantining in Marion," Nicks said. "I feel great. It is a strange thing. I really haven't had any symptoms."

Nicks is 70.

He is the 19th lawmaker to have publicly acknowledged testing positive in the past four months. A total of 23 lawmakers have said they have tested positive since the pandemic arrived in the state in March.

The Legislature has 135 lawmakers.

House advances appropriation bill

The House on Wednesday approved the general appropriation for the expenses of the judicial and legislative branches of government.

[RELATED: See complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature at arkansasonline.com/legislature]

With three representatives not voting and one representative voting present, the House voted 96-0 to send House Bill 1085 to the Senate for further action.

The bill includes $400,000 for trial judges' expenses; $368,000 for the House of Representatives' interim expense reimbursements; $200,000 for senators' interim expense reimbursements; $350,000 for special and recalled circuit judges; and $45,000 for district judges' travel expense reimbursements.

Under the Arkansas Constitution, the general appropriation bill is the first appropriation that the General Assembly must approve before approving other appropriation bills.

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