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.

File photo. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to reporters after addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the beginning of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The federal prohibition preventing states and localities from enforcing sales tax laws against out-of-state retailers should be lifted, but the additional revenues raised at the state level should be placed in a “lockbox” and offset with income tax cuts, Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the County Judges Association of Arkansas Friday.

Hutchinson said the combination would be more politically acceptable to pass at the federal level and would lower the income tax rate.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A constitutional amendment that would allow casinos in Washington, Miller and Boone counties has been certified by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and now backers will begin collecting signatures.

Interstate 30
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

The Arkansas Highway Commission has announced its support for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway bill.

In a statement released Wednesday, the commission said it was “pleased that the call for the Special Session includes a plan from Governor Hutchinson to address our most critical, immediate need for additional highway investment. … While we have concerns about the sustainability of some of the proposed funding sources beyond the first year, we appreciate and support the Governor’s efforts on this critical, immediate issue.”

Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton encouraged the 41 members of the 10th graduating class of the Clinton School of Public Service to focus on what makes people alike rather than what makes them different.

Members of the graduating class included citizens of Benin, China, Kenya, and Venezuela.

A proposed bill that would do away with the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Death and Permanent Total Disability Trust Fund has support from some legislators and organized labor but not the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, which supports ending the fund, but after more consideration.

Unity Health, a Searcy-based health system, announced Thursday that it is the first medical provider in Arkansas to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

The arrangement means Unity Health doctors will have access to electronic consulting with physicians with the Mayo Clinic, one of the country’s top-ranked medical providers by U.S. News & World Report. Patient medical information such as MRI scans will be transmitted to those doctors. Unity Health also will have access to the AskMayoExpert database with information on disease management and care guidelines.

Libertarian Party of Arkansas Chair Michael Pakko with over 15,000 signatures to be submitted to the Secretary of State's office for ballot access. May 2016.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

In the last two election cycles, one political party in Arkansas has fielded a full slate of candidates to challenge the Republicans for state and federal offices, and it’s not the Democrats.

Members of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas competed for all state constitutional offices and in all congressional races in 2014 and are on the ballot in all congressional races this year. In the First, Third and Fourth Congressional Districts, Republican incumbents are challenged only by Libertarian opponents.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) after presenting his "challenge" to spread broadband to every parcel of Arkansas.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

At least three legislative proposals are being floated for a highways-focused special session planned for May 19, but on Tuesday the speaker of the House said it’s doubtful a consensus can be developed on any of them before the session begins.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced a plan that will raise about $50 million a year in order to make the state eligible for $200 million in federal funds as part of the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

Cindy Gillespie
C-SPAN

Cindy Gillespie heads the Arkansas Department of Human Services, a sprawling agency in charge of traditional Medicaid; Arkansas Works; and the state’s 4,900 foster children, among other areas. The Georgia native began working at DHS March 1 and will be paid a salary of $280,000, which is $119,000 more than her predecessor, John Selig.

As a senior adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, she played a leading role in the development of that state’s health reforms. She earlier helped plan the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.

America’s first whistleblower law was passed July 30, 1778. Michael McCray, a Pine Bluff native who worked in President Bill Clinton’s Department of Agriculture, said it didn’t protect him.

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