Roby Brock

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

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Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson made plenty of news in a pre-session Q&A with reporters at the state capitol on Tuesday. Saying he wanted a “quick start” to his legislative agenda, Hutchinson touched on issues ranging from tax cuts to prison overcrowding to health care reform and education. 

"I hope to accomplish the agenda I campaigned on," Hutchinson told reporters at a capitol forum sponsored by the Associated Press Managing Editors.

Hutchinson also discussed at length his positions on the state lottery, highway funding, and ethics and elections reforms.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, has pre-filed a bill to abolish the Arkansas Lottery Commission and establish control of the lottery’s operations under the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Colette Honorable
Arkansas Times

Arkansas Public Service Commission chair Colette Honorable has officially resigned from her post and will be sworn in as early as this afternoon to her new role on powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Honorable was approved by the U.S. Senate before Christmas for the FERC position.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission," Honorable said in a statement.

The 72nd annual Gillett Coon Supper will take place on Saturday, Jan. 10 in the tiny southeast Arkansas hamlet.

The community and political event is typically a must-stop trip on the annual political circuit. Always in early January, it is usually the first post-holiday event for candidates and elected officials.

Carrie Ford Arkansas Venture Center
Talk Business & Politics

A new study from the Kauffman Foundation centered on women entrepreneurship concluded that more female business owners could have the same economic impact today that the entry of women in the 20th century labor force had generations ago.

Before Wednesday’s presidential announcement opening up relations with Cuba, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce was planning a networking trip to the communist island nation. Now, the excursion may take on a world of new meaning.

The state chamber, in partnership with Chamber Explorations, is offering members the chance to travel to Cuba from June 2-8, 2015.

Arkansas’ jobless rate fell three-tenths of a percent in November to 5.8%. In October, the rate stood at 6.1% and one year ago Arkansas’ unemployment benchmark was at 7.5%. The U.S. jobless rate remained unchanged in November at 5.8%, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock economist Michael Pakko said the report continued an unambiguously encouraging trend.

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.