Roby Brock

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

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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.

Last month, Talk Business & Politics announced a new collaboration with our long-running survey partner, Hendrix College, and Little Rock-based Impact Management Group. During the next year, the three groups will work on a variety of traditional and experimental polling in an effort to gauge developing techniques in the field.

Our first survey in this collaboration involves landline polling with Internet polling for a look at the job approval ratings of several Arkansas politicians and the state Legislature.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has granted the EAST Initiative and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub $35,000 to support and encourage entrepreneurship in Central Arkansas, Talk Business & Politics reports.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Arkansas will receive $21.5 million as a result of a $1.375 billion state-federal settlement involving Standard & Poor’s Financial Services.

Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of 18 other states and the District of Columbia reached the settlement with Standard & Poor’s resolving allegations that S&P misled investors when it rated structured finance securities in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

A strong January of revenue collections boosted year-to-date totals and has the Arkansas revenue picture more than $80 million ahead of forecast.

Year-to-date net available general revenues total $3.12 billion, $121 million or 4% above year ago levels. Seven months into the state’s fiscal year, net available revenue is above forecast by $80.3 million or 2.6%.

All levels of revenue collections spiked higher, said John Shelnutt, director of the Economic Analysis & Tax Research division at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

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

The Arkansas State Senate’s afternoon chamber business will begin live-streaming its audio beginning Tuesday when it convenes at 1:30 p.m.

State Sen. Jonathan Dismang told Talk Business & Politics a week ago that the Senate would begin using the technology within a week.

“We’d hope to kick it off a little bit sooner, but we will be live-streaming the Senate,” Dismang said at the time.

The State Senate will only audio live-stream its full chamber business through its web site, not committee meetings at this point.