Arkansas Politics

How does going to church affect your view of politics? How does the message from the pulpit influence your level of community involvement? These were central issues in a research project involving dozens of students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Clinton School of Public Service.

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

For the first time in the history of polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, the Arkansas Legislature received a failing grade from state voters.

The latest survey of 550 Arkansas voters conducted on April 4, 2017, shows that more voters disapproved of the GOP-controlled legislature’s performance by a 12 percentage point margin. Voters were asked:

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Arkansas Legislature did during its recently completed session?

32% Approve 
44% Disapprove 
24% Don’t Know

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

In the last two months, President Donald Trump has seen erosion in his job approval numbers from Arkansas voters, while Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s performance seems to have risen over the course of the Arkansas legislative session.

New polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College shows a seven-point decline for Trump and a three-point rise for Hutchinson. In the survey, taken Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 550 Arkansas voters expressed their views.

Protesters in the Street
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that would have criminalized mass picketing, saying it would restrict free speech.

Hutchinson vetoed the bill on Thursday. It had been passed by both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Trent Garner, defines mass picketing as people assembling for demonstrations at or near a business, school or private facility.

Arkansas finance officials say a change in corporate tax filing due dates resulted in the state's revenue in March falling just more than $50 million below expectations.

The state Department of Finance and Administration report released Tuesday says net available revenue last month totaled $345 million - $50.2 million below forecast and nearly $69 million below March 2016.

Finance officials say Corporate Returns and Extension payments that were previously due in March were shifted to April under federal and state laws.

Arkansas legislators have wrapped up the bulk of their work for the 2017 regular session. They'll come back in early May to tie up loose ends, and it is expected that they'll also have a special session in May to deal with changes in the state Medicaid program.The Legislature on Monday approved a $5.5 billion budget for the state.

The proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, which sets spending priorities based on expected revenue, was approved in the Senate on a 23-0 vote Monday. The House later approved an identical version of the bill by an 87-5 vote.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill that allows for the prohibition of guns at collegiate sporting events, UAMS, the Arkansas State Hospital and public daycare facilities. The vote was 23-7. The bill was delivered to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he would sign it.

State Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch) after his primary move-up bill failed to advance out of committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill that exempts certain personal information about law enforcement officers from the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep, Robin Lundstrum (R-Springdale) allows law enforcement officers in the state to submit a request to their county assessor, recorder or clerk asking for their personal property records or tax records to be confidential for a two-year period.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate has approved keeping the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion another year after Republican efforts to repeal and replace the federal health law that created the program failed in Congress.

The state Senate voted 27-1 Tuesday for the budget for the state's Medicaid program that includes the hybrid expansion. The bill that now heads to the state House had failed to get the three-fourths majority vote needed on two separate votes Monday.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

An effort to continue the hybrid Arkansas Medicaid expansion another year has failed in the state Senate, days after Republican efforts to repeal and replace the federal health law that enabled the expanded coverage faltered in Congress.

The Senate voted 19-1 and later 20-1 in favor of the budget for the state's Medicaid program, including the hybrid expansion, short of the 27 votes needed to advance. More than 300,000 people are on the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

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