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.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the Obama Administration has approved changes for Arkansas's Medicaid expansion program, though the waiver has stricter requirements than he wanted in providing assistance to employers who offer insurance for lower-income employees.

In a press conference Wednesday, Hutchinson said federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell called him Tuesday night, the day after they met in Washington, saying she would issue a letter Wednesday saying the waiver for the Arkansas Works program, previously known as the Private Option, would be granted.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Bills were filed Monday (Dec. 5) by an Arkansas legislator-elect that would outlaw “dismemberment abortions” and would dedicate funds from the 2000 tobacco settlement to assist the developmentally disabled population.

Both bills were filed by Rep.-elect Andy Mayberry, R-East End.

Mischa Martin (right), director of the Division of Children and Family Services, and Keesa Smith, Department of Human Services deputy director, talk to legislators about the state’s foster care system.
Steve Brawner / Talk Business & Politics

The recent spike of Arkansas children in foster care is caused by many factors, including understaffed caseworkers who err on the side of requesting removing a child from their home because they don’t have enough time to properly determine if the child is in a safe place, the director of the Division of Children and Family Services said Tuesday.

Mischa Martin told the Joint Performance Review Committee that the system she recently took over is in a “crisis.” The number of children involved in foster care has spiked from 3,806 in 2015 to 5,209 as of Sept. 28, 2016.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The death of Fidel Castro represents a “moment that I believe needs to be seized,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Hutchinson said the death Friday of Cuba’s longtime leader is a “momentous occasion … that gives us an opportunity we’ve never had before.” That includes an opportunity to sell Arkansas’ agricultural products, and an opportunity for the Cuban people to experience more freedom, leading to better relationships between the United States and Cuba.

“That’s the moment that I believe needs to be seized,” he said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that he has not spoken to President-elect Donald Trump and doesn’t know when Trump will decide if two Arkansas elected officials will be part of his administration.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge have met with Trump in his New York City offices to discuss positions in his administration. If Cotton or Rutledge were to accept a job, Hutchinson would select a replacement until the next election could be held in 2018, with the replacement ineligible to run for that office.

MSNBC

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who is generating national buzz as a potential Secretary of Defense, said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump has the authority to simply dispose of the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Talk Business & Politics reports:

State Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale).
You Tube

A state senator has placed a hold on the University of Arkansas’ budget to be considered in next year’s legislative session and says he will introduce an amendment that would cut funding to the university by the amount spent on the women’s basketball team after six players knelt during the playing of the national anthem Thursday.

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics

More than 301,000 Arkansans are either receiving health insurance through the private option or have been deemed eligible for the program as of the end of September – an increase of almost 7,000 from the previous month.

Senate John Boozman, Conner Eldridge, Frank Gilbert
AETN

The three candidates for U.S. Senate defended their parties’ presidential candidates and attacked the others in their first and only debate this election season.

At a debate at AETN, incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman said the two candidates are “very flawed” but the “total package” was the reason he is supporting his party’s nominee, Donald Trump. He said Trump had put forth a list of acceptable Supreme Court nominees while Hillary Clinton in the debate listed personal qualifications but didn’t mention the Constitution.

2nd district congressional race Democrat Dianne Curry, Libertarian Chris Hayes and Republican incumbent French Hill.
AETN

The three candidates for the state’s 2nd District congressional seat faced off in the final AETN debate, discussing banking reform, the national debt and other issues.

The debate featured Republican U.S. Rep French Hill, Democrat Dianne Curry and Libertarian Chris Hayes.

Asked what banking reforms are needed to protect smaller banks from regulations while keeping the country safe from big banks’ unsafe practices, Hill, a former banker, faulted Congress for passing the Dodd-Frank Act, saying it hurt small community banks.

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