News

2017 has seen a sharp increase in violent crime in Little Rock, but the nightclub shooting a week ago that injured 28 people left authorities saying something drastic needed to be done. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has brought together state and federal manpower in a coordinated effort to combat crime in the state's capitol city. We'll discuss what that will involve.

Also on the podcast, a proposed ban on the herbicide dicamba, which is blamed for extensive crop damage. And state revenue increases at the end of the budget year, leaving officials who had been nervous a few months ago with a surplus.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Attorneys from Mississippi and Arkansas have been named by a judicial ethics panel as special counsel to handle cases related to a judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after he blocked the state from using an execution drug.

State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock)
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Democratic State Rep. Warwick Sabin has announced he’s exploring a run for Little Rock mayor in 2018. The announcement comes as Little Rock faces growing incidents of violent crime, a school district under state control, and a major interstate expansion project that has drawn the derision of many community groups.

In a press release, Sabin says he would promote new energy, create jobs, and improve education. The press release says he will “visit and listen to every corner of the city.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson violent crime task force
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced the creation of a multi-jurisdictional, investigative joint task force that will help the Little Rock Police Department respond to a recent spike in violent crimes, including the Power Ultra Club shooting last week.

Backed by a phalanx of local, state and federal law enforcement, prosecutors and correction officials in the packed Governor’s Conference Room at the State Capitol, Hutchinson outlined what he described as an effort to take back the “streets of Little Rock.”

Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A Christian-themed movie studio has donated $25,000 toward replacing a Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas Capitol that was destroyed last month.

PureFlix Entertainment donated the funds Thursday toward the monument, which was destroyed by a man who smashed his vehicle into the granite display less than 24 hours after it was installed on the Capitol's grounds. PureFlix is the production studio for the movie "God's Not Dead" and its sequel, which was filmed in Little Rock in 2015.

Low unemployment, affordable housing, strong healthcare access and below-average poverty rates are the positives in the Little Rock Metropolitan area. Some negatives: a high crime rate, fewer professional and technical jobs than other cities, low employment specialization, and slow growth in the ratio of large to small businesses. That’s according to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Arkansas Economic Development Institute’s fourth annual Little Rock Metro Report Card, released Thursday.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

An executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council on Wednesday deferred a decision to Friday on whether to prohibit the sale and use of the herbicide dicamba for soybean and cotton crops. The proposed 120-day ban, approved by the Arkansas Plant Board last month and referred to the subcommittee by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, could prevent further widespread damage inflicted by the chemical on non-genetically resistant agricultural crops. 

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is recommending Arkansas not provide all voter information requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Trump set up the commission to investigate claims of voter fraud in November's presidential election.

In a statement Wednesday on Twitter, Hutchinson said he has spoken with Secretary of State Mark Martin and concluded the request is "too board and includes sensitive information" about Arkansas voters.

Arkansas finance officials say the state ended its fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus after a boost in sales tax collections over the past two months helped restore most of the budget cuts enacted earlier.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state ended the fiscal year with $5.3 billion in net available revenue, which was $19 million below the previous fiscal year. Arkansas' fiscal year ended Friday.

Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden says his relatives were among the 28 people injured in a shooting at a Little Rock nightclub last week.

The Little Rock native and two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up said in a statement that his nephew called him early Saturday and said he'd been shot at Power Ultra Lounge. McFadden's statement says other relatives were also shot at the club.

McFadden says he went to the scene "to check on my relatives and to offer any help I could."

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