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.

1st district congressional race  Rick Crawford (R) and Mark West (L)
AETN

Republican First District Congressman Rick Crawford and his Libertarian opponent, Mark West, criticized their opposing parties’ presidential nominees and disagreed about America’s role overseas during a lively debate sponsored by AETN. The debate airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Asked how he would explain Donald Trump’s recent comments about women to his female constituents, Crawford said the comments disturbed him but that Trump is still a better choice than Hillary Clinton, whose policies would be a continuation of President Barack Obama’s.

Candidates for the 4th District seat: Libertarian Kerry Hicks and Republican incumbent Bruce Westerman.
AETN

Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman said tax returns should be simple enough to be filed on a postcard, while his Libertarian challenger, Kerry Hicks of Mena, said the country must address its $19 trillion national debt.

The Arkansas Hospital Association and the Arkansas Medical Society have endorsed Issue 4, the proposed constitutional amendment directing the Legislature to set caps of at least $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical lawsuits and limiting attorney contingency fees to one-third of jury awards after expenses.

The two associations announced that their governing boards had formally endorsed the amendment in a joint press release Monday. Voters will decide on the amendment in the November 8 elections if the proposal survives two lawsuits.

Arkansas Advocates For Children And Families Executive Director Rich Huddleston.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Child advocates on Wednesday called on candidates and elected officials to place more of an emphasis on children’s issues during this year’s elections and in next year’s state legislative session.

ariel martini / flickr.com

Eighty-seven of the state’s 135 legislators, or 64.4%, have announced their opposition to Issue 5, which would create a constitutional amendment authorizing its sponsors to open three casinos in Arkansas.

Talk Business & Politics reports:

The group that opposes a voter-initiated act to authorize three casinos in Arkansas has received $109,500 in campaign donations from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and Southland Park Gaming and Racing.

Oaklawn has donated $59,500 while Delaware North, the parent company of Southland, has donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Arkansas’ Values/Stop Casinos Now, according to the Committee’s Arkansas Ethics Commission filing report. Oaklawn and Southland both operate casinos.

(from left) Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Mervin Jebaraj, assistant director of the Center for Business and Economic Research; Sherman Tate, state Urban League board chair; and Ken Wade, executive director of the Urban League of the State of Arkansas.
Steve Brawner / Talk Business and Politics

Poverty rates increased for African Americans in Little Rock from 2010-13 while median incomes for all races dropped in Fort Smith over that time period, according to a report released Thursday (Sept. 1) by the state’s Urban League chapter.

Arkansas Department of Human Services Logo
arkansas.gov

More Arkansas children are entering foster care than leaving the system, and there are more than three times as many foster children as foster homes. So the Department of Human Services is trying to streamline the process of creating more of those homes.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

State and public school employees will make bigger contributions for their health insurance in 2017, but the big increases are coming in later years, legislators were told Wednesday.

At a State & Public School Life & Health Insurance Task Force meeting, John Colberg with the independent actuarial firm Cheiron told legislators that public school employees and retirees will see a 2% increase in 2017, while state employees and retirees will see a 3% increase.

Bart Hester
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The number of private option recipients whose insurance premiums are being paid by the program reached 258,161 in July, up 55,000 more than in January.

The number was 213,026 in January. In June, 250,885 were on the program, according to a letter and information sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson by Department of Human Services director Cindy Gillespie Aug. 17.

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