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Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)
Governor's Office

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has ordered a hiring freeze for most state agencies and is requiring that any new rules or regulations go before his office for approval.

Hutchinson issued the two executive orders on Wednesday, his first full day as Arkansas' governor. The Republican ex-congressman was sworn in Tuesday as the state's 46th governor.

The Little Rock Technology Park announced that Darrin Williams was appointed to the Authority’s Board effective immediately. Williams is the CEO of Arkadelphia-based Southern Bancorp and is a former State Representative from Little Rock.

Williams will complete the term of Bob Johnson, who resigned from the Board on November 12, 2014.

UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson said the appointment of Darrin Williams was based on his outstanding leadership in the Little Rock community and his distinguished record in public service.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (4th District) speaking in 2013 at the Arkansas Capitol when he was a State Rep.
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Arkansas’s new delegation in the U.S. House voted in unison Wednesday on a funding bill intended to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from following President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

4th District Representative Bruce Westerman took to the floor for his first time ever to address an amendment related to the funding bill. Westerman objected both to the President’s policy and the fact it came through an executive order.

The Arkansas panel reviewing elected officials' salaries has chosen five states it will use as a comparison for its decisions: Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The Independent Citizens Commission chose those states Wednesday. Commission members must meet a Feb. 2 deadline to decide whether Arkansas' top elected officials, lawmakers and judges should get raises.

The period for written public comments on three air pollution control regulations has been extended until Feb. 17. Arkansas environmental officials announced the extension on Wednesday.

Officials say the proposed changes are necessary in order to adopt the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for things like lead, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone.

The proposed changes will give the state the authority to implement air pollution control programs and to issue permits.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Little Rock School District leadership is making a final push to avoid a state takeover of the district. The Arkansas State Board of Education will meet on January 28 to decide if the state should take over the entire district, just its six schools categorized in academic distress, or to allow district leadership to continue in place.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas Senate President Jonathan Dismang says he hopes to bring Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to cut taxes for the middle class by $100 million a year before lawmakers as soon as next week.

Dismang on Wednesday detailed the legislation outlining Hutchinson's tax cut plan. He said the legislation mirrors Hutchinson's campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class, with the reduction taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Hutchinson, a Republican, was sworn in Tuesday as Arkansas' 46th governor.

Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers had plenty of positive comments after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s speech to the 90th General Assembly. Hutchinson, who was sworn in as Arkansas’ 46th Governor on Tuesday, delivered a direct speech to a joint session of the legislature, touching on key issues that will be debated at the state Capitol for the next three months.

Those issues include tax cuts, education, health care, prisons, and much more.

Governor Asa Hutchinson shortly after being sworn in and about to give an inaugural address to the 90th General Assembly.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The transition to Republican control of the both the state legislature and every constitutional office is now complete. Asa Hutchinson took the oath of office to officially become Arkansas’s governor Tuesday and addressed onlookers at the Capitol.

Asa Hutchinson was welcomed into the House chamber with nearly two minutes of applause then sworn-in by Chief Justice Jim Hannah as the state’s 46th governor

HANNAH: Repeat after me, I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HUTCHINSON: I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HANNAH: Do solemnly swear.

Unofficial results from the Arkansas Secretary of State show a runoff will be needed to choose the lawmaker who will replace former Senate President Michael Lamoureux.

Greg Standridge and Stan Berry were the two highest vote-getters in Tuesday's primary. The Russellville Courier reports they will compete Feb. 10 for the District 16 seat because no candidate received a majority.

According to the state agency's website, Standridge received about 47.8 percent of the total 4,438 votes. Berry received about 41 percent of the vote, and Thomas Akin received about 11 percent.

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