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story.lead_photo.caption Submitted photo of Charlie Collins. Courtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, will run for a fifth term in House District 84, he announced today.

Collins was the lead sponsor of the law that allows concealed carry handguns on state college and university campuses. That measure drew protests and was cited as a reason to challenge Collins by each of two Democrats who announced a race against him. One of those has since dropped out to run for another office.

Collins said Friday he was proud of the concealed carry law, but considers his main legislative achievement to be the role he had in drafting the state's health care policy and the tax reductions related to it.

"I have been a champion of that approach and have probably cast more votes in support of it than any human being alive," Collins said of the state's health policy.

The plan takes federal taxpayer money intended for Medicaid expansion and uses it to help pay for private insurance plans for those who would have been eligible under the expansion. The bill's legislative history shows Collins was one of the principal authors of the plan, first known as the "private option" and later as "Arkansas Works."

The plan will undergo further change since the Trump administration will allow more waivers to the plan's rules, Collins said. Work on the plan is an ongoing process of refinement and change, but the public-private approach has proved itself in practice, he contended.

Conservatives criticize the plan for taking Medicaid expansion money, deepening the role of the federal government in health care. Collins said the state was right not to ignore the federal law's existence and that $300 million a year in state tax cuts since would not have been possible without the plan.

Collins, 55, is a Navy veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He is co-owner of Crown Partners Executive Search, a job recruitment firm. He has served in the House since 2011 and has had a Democratic opponent in every election year except 2016, records show.

His remaining announced Democratic opponent is Denise Garner of Fayetteville. Collins has no announced Republican primary opposition.

Candidate filing for party primaries in Arkansas begins Feb. 22 and ends March 1. The primary is set for May 22 with the general election Nov. 6. Arkansas House members serve two-year terms and have an annual salary of $39,400. Members can serve 16 years in the Legislature under the state constitution's current limit on terms.

NW News on 01/20/2018

Print Headline: Collins to seek re-election

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