Steve Brawner / Talk Business & Politics

Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics.

He is also a syndicated columnist in 10 Arkansas newspapers.

You can email him at brawnersteve@mac.com or follow him on Twitter: @SteveBrawner.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas legislators Monday received an outline of the state’s general revenue budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year as the session began what is expected to be its final week.

The $5.5 billion general revenue budget does not differ significantly from the governor’s budget presented late in 2016.

Will Bond Bryan King Dan Greenberg
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Monday that would require offenders sentenced three times previously to the Department of Correction to serve at least 80% of their sentences on the next commitment.

Senate Bill 177 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed by a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Tuesday (Feb. 7) introduced a bill meant to reduce legal immigration levels by 50%, which he said would increase wages earned by American workers.

According to Cotton’s office, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would reduce overall legal immigrants to 637,960 in its first year and to 539,958 by its tenth year, compared to 1,051,031 immigrants in 2015.

Governor Asa Hutchinson radio address
Office of the Governor

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is concerned about how President Donald Trump’s trade protectionist talk could affect Arkansas’ economy. He also opposes a bill creating education savings accounts from tax-deductible donations because a fiscal impact statement shows it would cost the state budget $10 million in its first year.

During a Thursday (Jan. 26) press availability in his office, Hutchinson was asked about the impact of President Trump’s presidency on global trade following the announcement that Mexico’s president has cancelled a meeting between the two world leaders.

marijuana
npr.org

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the first two medical marijuana bills into law Monday.

House Bill 1026 by Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, extends the deadline for rule making from 120 days after the election to 180. It passed the Senate Jan. 19 after earlier passing the House.

March for Life pro-life anti-abortion abortion
Talk Business & Politics

Forty-four years to the day after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Gov. Asa Hutchinson told a couple of thousand marchers at the annual March for Life that he will sign a bill outlawing the most common form of second trimester abortion.

State Rep. Doug House (R-North Little Rock).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed two bills changing the state’s medical marijuana amendment Tuesday, including narrowly passing one change the bills’ sponsor said was necessary to ensure physicians would certify patients have a qualifying medical condition. Both now move to the Senate.

Clean Line
Arkansas Business

Plains and Eastern Clean Line Holdings LLC officials have asked a federal court in eastern Arkansas to move a fall hearing date on a lawsuit protesting a $2 billion wind energy transmission line, saying the controversial development is “time sensitive” and that legal delays could imperil the project’s financing and three-year construction schedule.

In a marathon session, the U.S. Senate rejected 19 health care-related pieces of legislation Wednesday and Thursday, culminating in a budget resolution that sets the stage for repealing Obamacare. Now the action moves to the House and, eventually, state capitols.

Cindy Gillespie
C-SPAN

The Department of Human Services has virtually erased a backlog of Medicaid eligibility cases that had reached 140,000 people earlier this year, Director Cindy Gillespie said in a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

As of Dec. 30, there were 692 overdue cases. Some individuals’ applications dated back to 2014.

“Based on a review of the remaining cases, all individuals have coverage and the only work that remains is simply clean-up of case files,” wrote Gillespie, who began working in her position in March.

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