This week lawmakers came to the capitol for a special session to discuss the budget. To vote on anything outside of the budget during a fiscal session, a two-thirds majority must agree, but that bar hasn’t stopped some lawmakers.

Image of an upset child.
Creative Commons

A new study published by Child Trends says children in Arkansas are more likely to go through an adverse childhood experience (ACE) than all other states. The non-profit organization says such an experience can include children’s parents who divorce, parental incarceration, and living with an adult battling substance abuse. The group says it aims to improve the lives and prospects of children and their families. 

C-SPAN
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The television network C-SPAN is visiting Arkansas. The non-commercial network, best known for its uninterrupted gavel-to-gavel feeds of the U.S. House and Senate, is touting its educational resources and recording videos from visitors for its “Voices from the States” segment.

Its high-tech C-SPAN Bus is traveling the country on a 14 month “50 Capitals Tour” and Tuesday morning was parked in front of the Arkansas State Capitol. Gov. Asa Hutchinson boarded the bus for a live interview on the network’s Washington Journal call-in program.

As Arkansas lawmakers headed to Little Rock Monday for the fiscal session, former Rep. Eddie Wayne Cooper, D-Melbourne, pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million from a Springfield, Mo.-based health care charity.

Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Cooper, 51, waived his right Monday to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush to charges of one count of conspiracy to embezzle from the nonprofit organization.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called for a $180 million annual tax cut for the state’s biggest earners during his State of the State address Monday kicking off the 2018 fiscal session.

 

Hutchinson said the goal is to compete with other states for business investors. He said that at a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, he was asked how much top earners pay in Arkansas state taxes.

"And I said, ‘Well, it’s 6.9 percent, and they looked at me and responded, ‘That is worse than Connecticut.’ That story emphasizes the competitive nature of taxes in a mobile society.”

Arkansas's Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson will likely see most of his approximately $5.6 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2018-19 adopted without changes. It goes to the House of Representatives this week, where three in four voting members are Republican, and the Senate, with its strong Republican majority.

"I created a balanced budget that actually has a $64 million surplus that funds education, the priority needs of our state," Hutchinson said. "I'm hoping the legislature will greet that well, and will pass that, and as I give the State of the State address" today, "that'll be something I emphasize."

Scott Bennett Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A draft of President Trump’s infrastructure plan leaked two-and-a-half weeks ago is “very much a rich get richer plan” that wouldn’t result in large amounts of money for Arkansas, Department of Transportation Director Scott Bennett said Thursday.

Bennett made his comments to the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee.

The memo describing the plan’s framework was leaked Jan. 22, but the White House has said it will unveil its full $1.5 trillion plan Feb. 12.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

UPDATE 3:30 p.m. Gov. Hutchinson has issued a statement expounding on a brief remark made this morning about a radio station's "Babe Bracket" that ranks women television journalists based on appearance.

Anne Pressly
KATV-Channel 7

The Arkansas Supreme Court says the mother of a television news anchor killed in a 2008 attack can move forward with a complaint that hospital employees not involved in the journalist's medical care acted outrageously as the woman was dying.

Justices said Thursday that St. Vincent Infirmary could be released from part of a lawsuit filed after the workers looked at Anne Pressly's medical records. The court dismissed a cross-appeal, however, which will let a Pulaski County judge decide whether the employees acted in an "extreme and outrageous" manner.

One of the many items being shuffled around Congress in short-term spending crises is funding for Community Health Centers. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman talks with U.S. Representative French Hill (R-2nd District) about healthcare, a short-term budget deal against a government shutdown deadline, and November elections.

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