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There was some noticeable "buzz" this past week down at the Legislature in Little Rock.

For the 92nd General Assembly the air was electric with something new afoot.

And it is about time for this new strategy of addressing issues critical to Arkansas and Arkansans to have a noticeable launch.

All it took was the 21 Republican women serving in both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate to finally form a caucus "to get things done," said state Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs, who represents House District 87 that covers Siloam Springs and Springdale.

This week, the Arkansas Republican Women Legislators announced that they have officially formed the Arkansas Republican Women's Legislative Caucus (to be known as the RWLC).

Members of the RWLC will focus their efforts on a legislative package which contains "Bold Initiatives for the Good of Arkansas," as part of their 'Dream BIG Arkansas' campaign, according to some of the hype from a press release on this new caucus launch.

The initial legislative package includes bills that will assist Arkansas families and will move the needle, according to state Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, one of the spokeswomen for this new initiative.

These bills the RWLC will target include improving access to cancer treatment and research for Arkansans, training teachers and provision of structured literacy curricula based on brain science for our public schools, increasing rural broadband deployment and access, expanding childcare accessibility for working families through increased entrepreneurship and reforming juvenile justice.

That is, (and forgive me) a big laundry list for any caucus, or any particular session of the Arkansas General Assembly.

Can it be accomplished?

I do not see, or know, of any other organized group of legislators -- since there is not currently a bi-partisan Women's Caucus in the Arkansas Legislature -- to undertake such a plan.

Maybe, just maybe, with a record 29 women in both the state House and state Senate -- that idea of a bi-partisan coalition, will fall out of the sky and hit some of these ladies on the noggin to get that idea kick-started. Until that happens, it looks like the RWLC will forge forward for the state's good.

These GOP women, very quickly and professionally, kicked off this "Dream BIG For Arkansas," program. Two of the very well-loved former First Ladies, Gay White (widow of the late GOP Gov. Frank White) and Betty Tucker (wife of Democratic Governor Jim Guy Tucker) were on hand to cheer on these new initiatives.

Can it be, you ask, that former First Ladies of Arkansas can be in a non-partisan coalition to advance the state? My guess would be a loud and resounding Yes!

Now why do you ask, how can these 21 Republican women legislators kick start this initiative?

For starters these groups of women have at least 144 years of combined service either as elected officials or as government appointees, according to a press release by the RWLC.

The caucus has indeed created a "buzz," according to state Rep. Charlene Fite of House District 80, and one of the only women in the House to chair a standing committee in this new session.

But Rep. Fite is quick to say there is also something rather exciting also happening down in Little Rock.

"I am for the first time really seeing my fellow women colleagues being connected and, well, really emboldened and excited about change that we can bring. No longer are we asking ourselves and others "should" we do this or that. I am seeing women taking charge of the legislative agenda. And it is about time for that to happen," she said.

The same sentiment is reflected in the RWLC's press statement about the initiatives.

"We are all excited about this opportunity to work together as 21 women strong in the Arkansas Legislature. We will have a great package of bills that we are proposing for our Dream B.I.G. AR campaign and we are excited to hit the ground running during this legislative session."

In a GOP controlled state House and state Senate the RWLC can thrive and lead our state.

There is an old Ozark saying about working, I love to quote: "Men do but women do more."

MAYLON RICE IS A FORMER JOURNALIST WHO WORKED FOR SEVERAL NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PUBLICATIONS. HE CAN BE REACHED VIA EMAIL AT MAYLONTRICE@YAHOO.COM. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Editorial on 01/30/2019

Print Headline: Never Shy, GOP Women Boldly Take On 'Dream BIG' Initiative

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