Roby Brock

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Roby Brock of covers business and political news happening in Arkansas.

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The American people should be committed to stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Tuesday morning.

Cotton and 46 other Republicans sent a letter Monday to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran about negotiations between the United States and Iran on nuclear weapons.

The letter was not signed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who sponsored a bill in the past to increase sanctions on Iran. That bill was approved and signed into law.

The legislature heads back to the capital Monday for a ninth week of this year’s session as lawmakers prepare to make key decisions.

Members of the House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committees will likely spend the week going over proposed constitutional amendments, while the task force looking into the Private Option will start its meetings Tuesday.

Also, lawmakers face another deadline – a 5 p.m. Monday deadline – to file non-appropriations bills for this session.

Governor Mike Beebe Portrait
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Roberts Law Firm P.A. in Little Rock announced that former Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has officially joined Roberts Group, which includes several legal and consulting entities tied to the firm.

On its Facebook page, the firm said: “Roberts Law Firm announces that Governor Mike Beebe has officially joined Roberts Group (Roberts Law Firm, PA, Roberts GR Strategies, LLC, Made in USA Works, LLC, and Roberts International, LLC), effective March 1, 2015. Governor Beebe will not engage in lobbying activities. We are thrilled to have him on board!”

House Speaker-designate Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives will talk to members of the Central Arkansas Political Animals Club later this month. Rep. Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, will be the March 17 speaker at the Central Arkansas chapter of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.

The meeting will be at the Little Rock Club on the 30th floor of the Regions Bank building on West Capitol Avenue.

The state’s revenue forecast looks rosier thanks to a strong month of sales tax collections in February. Monthly sales tax collections spiked 5.7% above last year and 5% above forecast to bring in $176.5 million for the month.

The increase boosted year-to-date net available general revenues to more than $3.338 billion, up $127.2 million or 4% above year ago levels. After eight months into the fiscal year, net available revenue is above forecast by $94.6 million or 2.9%.

Talk Business & Politics

With state lawmakers gearing up for a continuation of their debate over changes to the state’s prison system, sentencing guidelines, and parole and probation protocol, there is a push for more transparency to the convoluted and complicated process of criminal justice.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Monday evening at 6:06 on KUAR, Sens. David Sanders and Jeremy Hutchinson and Rep. John Vines discussed what they see as problems and potential solutions to the challenge.

Talk Business & Politics

Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled his plan to reform the state’s prison, parole and probation programs in a holistic, comprehensive effort to reduce crime, stem repeat offenders and curtail a high-growth area of the state’s budget. The price tag for Hutchinson’s plan is $64 million with about $32 million being spent in the next two years.

City of North Little Rock

“100 Girls of Code” officially is opening a local chapter in Arkansas. The initiative offers free workshops to females ages 12 to 18 to generate interest in computer science among girls. Each participant of the workshop learns computer-programming basics by building websites and video games.

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub has partnered with the organization to oversee the North Little Rock chapter.

On the heels of announcing nationwide hiring of 80,000, The Home Depot says it is looking for 270 new workers in Central Arkansas.

“Winter temperatures across most of the country are not stopping the world’s largest home improvement retailer from preparing for spring – the company’s busiest selling season. The Home Depot plans to hire 270 associates in Little Rock and 80,000 nationwide,” a media release said.

With state lawmakers and Gov. Asa Hutchinson having deflected the rancorous debate regarding the Private Option we’ve seen in recent years, the issue still has a long way to go in terms of public opinion.

Hutchinson and legislative leaders have successfully secured future funding the Private Option and created a task force of 16 lawmakers to provide recommendations for a future program that may enact larger health care reforms.