Roby Brock

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

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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.

Before his run for Arkansas Governor, Mike Ross was looking forward to retirement from Congress and serving as SVP for Governmental Affairs for regional electricity transmission operator Southwest Power Pool.

The company announced on Monday that Ross was elected to that post and Malinda See as Vice President of Corporate Services.

“I am so pleased to welcome Mike and Malinda to the officer team,” said Nick Brown, SPP CEO. “They bring unique perspectives and leadership experiences that will immediately add to our already strong executive group.”

With the early session push to approve Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signature tax cut plan and the challenge of pushing the private option’s fate to a task force eyeing end of the year recommendations, two state lawmakers said prison reform will likely be the next big agenda item for the state Legislature.

Three technology companies announced plans to locate new facilities in downtown Conway, investing $2.5 million and adding 140 new jobs.

Talk Business and Politics report Metova Inc., a mobile app development company; Big Cloud Analytics, a predictive analytics software company; and Eyenalyze, a Conway-based company that has developed innovative software for use in the food service sector; will invest a combined $2.5 million and create 140 new jobs.

iron yard

The Iron Yard, a coding school with a national reputation, is opening shop in Central Arkansas. The Ark Challenge, Gravity Ventures and Innovate Arkansas are supporting the Little Rock launch.

The Iron Yard originated in Greenville, South Carolina, and specializes in advanced education in software application development, web design, coding and engineering. They partner with accelerators and co-working spaces to assist with people and their ideas.