DWS Update

Department of Workforce Services

Employer and Legislative Newsletter

Volume 10, Issue 1

March 2007

Honorable named AWIB director

Gov. Mike Beebe recently appointed Colette D. Honorable as the executive director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board.

"I have enjoyed my tenure here at the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board thus far," Honorable said. "Artee and everyone on his staff have given me a very warm reception, and the AWIB staff has been wonderful. The transition has been a good one, and I look forward to a continuous dialogue and working relationship with the Department of Workforce Services."

Honorable is a native of Little Rock and a graduate of the University of Memphis (previously Memphis State University). She obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.

Prior to her new position, Honorable served as chief of staff for then-Attorney General Mike Beebe. In this role, Honorable oversaw communications, public affairs, legislative affairs, scheduling and constituent services.

She worked in the Office of Attorney General for more than five years, serving as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer and Civil Litigation Departments and as a senior assistant attorney general in Medicaid Fraud.

Honorable also served on the office's legislative team during the 2001, 2003 and 2005 legislative sessions and special sessions.

Her previous work experience includes serving as a staff attorney at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Wendell L. Griffen of the Arkansas Court of Appeals and an assistant public defender at the Jefferson County Public Defender's Office.

Honorable has practiced law for more than 10 years and is licensed to practice in the Arkansas state courts, U.S. District Courts of Arkansas and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She has litigated before all of these courts, including state and federal jury trial litigation and state and federal appellate work. She also served as a special judge in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Honorable's professional associations include serving on the Board of Governors for the Arkansas Bar Association, as vice-president of the UALR School of Law Alumni Association, the W. Harold Flowers Law Society, the National Bar Association and serving as secretary/treasurer of the Henry Woods Inn of Court.

She also was appointed to consecutive terms on the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Criminal Practice and has been appointed chairperson of the Federal Practice Committee for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Honorable also serves as an instructor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

WOTC program extended 2 years

President George W. Bush recently signed legislation (H.R. 6111) into law that includes a provision retroactively extending the Work Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work tax credits.

Employers who hire people from one of the following target groups may qualify for one of the tax credits: long-term welfare recipients, Title IV-A recipients, SSI recipients, veterans, ex-felons, vocational rehabilitation referrals, high risk youth, summer youth and Food Stamp recipients.

Under the new law, the tax credits are extended two years (through 2006 and 2007) to include wages paid or incurred for individuals beginning work after Dec. 31, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2008.

The program changes, effective Jan. 1, 2007, include the following:

Raising the age for the Food Stamp category from 24 to 39.

Eliminating the income test for ex-felons.

Incorporating the Welfare-to-Work and WOTC tax credit and renaming the Welfare-to-Work credit the Long-Term Family Assistance Category.

The Long-Term Family Assistance Category allows an employer to receive a tax credit worth 40 percent of the first $10,000 of wages that are calculated in the first year and 50 percent of the first $10,000 of wages calculated in the second year.

Increases the number of days required to file the Pre-Screening Form 8850 from 21 days to 28 days.

Additional information concerning the tax credit is available by going to the following Web site: www.state.ar.us/esd/ForEmployer/A_wotc.htm.

Employers with questions may call 1-866-330-9459 (toll free) or (501) 682-3749.

New Web systems unveiled recently

The Department of Workforce Services introduces two new Internet-based systems to assist employers.

One system is a completely new employer registration system that enables a new employer to register online and immediately receive his account number and the rate for the liability year(s) at the e-mail address provided.

This system will also enable new and existing employers to inform DWS of address changes, contact information, etc. An employer will have access to his account at any time.

Additionally, DWS enhanced its existing online tax and wage reporting application to allow multiple account wage uploads, payment by multiple checks or multiple accounts paid by one check, and e-mail verifications of successful filings.

Employers can access these new applications by going to the Arkansas Tax Portal Web site at www.ar-tax.org and clicking on the "Unemployment Insurance Tax" link.

Employers with questions can contact Judy Thompson at (501) 682-3253, Debby Carter at (501) 682-1190 or Jeanie Oberle at (501) 682-3282. An e-mail link on the Web site can also be used to contact DWS staff.

Changes to affect how employers file wages

In July, the Department of Workforce Services will change the currently-used magnetic media tape and diskette formats to the format now used by the Social Security Administration.

DWS is now able to update wages from employers using diskettes via automation, and it will no longer be necessary to prepare the paper report to submit along with the wage diskettes.

DWS will be providing more detailed information by letter to employers who file online or by magnetic media.

These changes will be effective July 1, 2007, for filing reports for the April to June quarter of 2007.

DWS names new office managers

Ben Baxter - Batesville

Ben Baxter, of Magness, was recently appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' Batesville office.

Baxter, who has 27 years of state service, began working for DWS in January 2006 in the Transitional Employment Assistance Program.

Prior to working for DWS, Baxter worked for the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Arkansas State University at Newport and the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

"I look forward to working with the citizens of Fulton, Independence, Izard, Sharp and Stone Counties," Baxter said. "We have a wonderful team here in the Batesville office that is ready to serve the needs of employers and job seekers in the five-county area."

Eddie Perdue - West Memphis

Eddie Perdue, of Blytheville, was recently appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' West Memphis office.

Perdue, who has 14 years of employment with DWS, has worked in the Unemployment Insurance Unit as an interviewer and claims adjudicator.

"I look forward to working with the citizens of West Memphis and the great local office staff," Perdue said. "We will continue to provide the best service possible."

Interactive lifestyle budget Web site available

The Department of Workforce Services recently launched Real-Life Arkansas, an interactive Web site for students and job seekers.

The site includes a lifestyle budget calculator that helps students discover how education impacts earnings. The site's objective is to inspire students, through a "real world" exercise, to take education seriously and pursue higher education or training after high school.

Users of the site have three options to determine the costs and careers associated with their desired lifestyle. By identifying monthly living expenses in "Get a Real Life Check," the user finds out what careers provide the salary needed to cover those expenses.

With "Future Salary," the user enters a salary and chooses a desired education and occupational category. The occupations with that salary are then displayed.

"Occupation Direct" is similar to "Get a Real Life Check" but allows the user to choose an occupation first. The living expenses for a desired lifestyle are then subtracted from the occupation's salary to check whether the occupation's wages will cover those expenses.

Students and job seekers can access Real-Life Arkansas by going to www.real-life.arkansas.gov.

A link is also available on the Discover Arkansas Web site, a labor market information portal that is located at www.discover.arkansas.gov.

Those needing assistance with the site should contact the Department of Workforce Services' Labor Market Information Section at (501) 683-0035. Customers can also e-mail the unit at discoverarkansas@arkansas.gov .

Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative plans activities

The Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative will unveil an Arkansas featured employer program later in the year that will recognize employers in Arkansas who have made a commitment to hiring, training and retaining mature workers (anyone 50+).

The initiative is a state program led by the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board to increase the awareness of the need to keep mature workers in the workforce. The initiative also connects mature workers to employers through the Arkansas Workforce Centers, or the state's One-Stop Centers around the state.

As the baby boomers begin to retire, the labor force will experience a critical shortage of qualified workers, and the next generations are not fully qualified to fill these gaps.

A nomination process for employers interested in becoming a featured employer will be announced in the future.

The initiative also plans to participate in area job fairs and business expos around the state, including the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association Job Fair May 15 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Representatives also are making presentations to civic organizations (Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, etc.) around the state.

Any employer who would like more information about the initiative can contact Rebecca Trammell at (501) 371-1033 or Kimberly Friedman at (501) 682-3125.

To find the nearest Arkansas Workforce Center, go to www.arworks.org .

Texarkana center relocates

The Workforce Center at Texarkana recently relocated to 1702 Hampton Road, Texarkana, Texas. The new phone number is (870) 216-4011. The fax number is (903) 792-0983.

Department of Workforce Services

P.O. Box 2981

Little Rock, AR 72203

The Department of Workforce Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request for individuals with disabilities.