Roby Brock

Content Contributor

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

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended its support of nano research in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Research Alliance announced this week that it has been awarded a $1.2 million contract from the FDA to extend a collaborative research program focused on graphene-based nanomaterials, in particular the safety and toxicity of graphene and its impact on public health.

Graphene is a common carbon nanomaterial used in electronics and renewable energy devices and is the subject of research into uses in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday that State Rep. Allen Kerr, R-Little Rock, will serve as Insurance Commissioner in his administration replacing current commissioner Jay Bradford.

Hutchinson also announced that Sheila Sharp will remain as director for the Department of Community Correction. A spokesman for Hutchinson confirmed that Heath Abshure will not remain as director of the state Securities Department.

Faculty from the University of Arkansas System will meet Wednesday and Thursday to begin curriculum development for eVersity, the state’s online university program. Educators will meet at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain for the planning conference.

Arkansas will receive $13.5 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help with the state’s water infrastructure and inspection.

The money will be used by two state agencies and local communities to install, upgrade and replace water infrastructure across the state.

Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods named Dr. Christine Daugherty as vice president for Animal Well-Being Programs and Technology on Monday. She replaces Dr. Dean Danilson, who is retiring after 26 years with the company.

Daugherty will oversee the animal well-being efforts at Tyson Foods, company officials said, including leading the company’s commitment to proper farm animal treatment.

Springdale-based Tyson Foods, one of world’s largest food processors of poultry, beef and pork, is a frequent target of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other animal welfare groups.

Talk Business & Politics

After a week of orientation last week at the state capitol, 40 freshmen members of the Arkansas House of Representatives have a better handle on what to expect in January when the 90th General Assembly convenes.

They now know how to file bills, conduct committee meetings and House procedures, and even where to find the bathrooms at the central seat of state government.

Nearly two weeks ago, Talk Business & Politics reported that Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would start a law firm in Little Rock, Jonesboro and Washington, D.C. Wednesday McDaniel made the details known.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson rolled out details of his inauguration Wednesday, which will fill up parts of two days and nights on January 12 and 13. Hutchinson named Dave and Sarah Wengel as 2015 inaugural co-chairs.

"This inaugural celebration of Governor-Elect Hutchinson represents the beginning of a new day in our state, full of promise and opportunity for every Arkansan,” said Dave Wengel. “It’s the renewal of the American Dream right here in the Natural State, and Sarah and I are delighted to be part of it."

A rundown of the inauguration events include:

Look for a change in leadership at the helm of another state agency as Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson puts his stamp on workforce development.

Arkansas Department of Workforce Services director Artee Williams says he has been told that he will not be retained in his post in the new governor’s administration.

Williams was originally appointed DWS director by Gov. Mike Huckabee in March 2004. He was reappointed by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2007.

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

In January, the 90th General Assembly will convene with large Republican majorities in the Arkansas House and Senate as well as a full slate of GOP constitutional officeholders, including Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson.

Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) is the Speaker-elect and will preside over the House of Representatives. The House Speaker is the most powerful leadership position in the chamber and has the authority to appoint chairmen and vice-chairmen to various House committees.