Arkansas Politics Blog

This weekend the Arkansas Capitol building will be the site of two rallies with two very different messages. Those in support of reproductive rights and a larger progressive presence in the 2018 elections plan to be at the Capitol Saturday. While those seeking to end abortion are set to rally Sunday – minus Roman Catholic Bishop Anthony Taylor.

U.S. Representative Steve Womack
Talk Business & Politics

An Arkansan has a newly minted role near the top of Congress’s budget-making hierarchy. U.S. Representative Steve Womack out of northwest Arkansas’s 3rd District is the new chair of the House Budget Committee. Congressman Womack talked with KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman as Friday’s government shutdown looms. Womack also addresses his initial support of the President’s immigration comments about Africa and Haiti.

Take a listen in the link above.

There's evidently some trouble in the Perry County home of state Representative Mary Bentley. Law enforcement arrested her husband Ted on Sunday morning for allegedly violating an order of protection. The Petit Jean Country Headlight newspaper (paywall) reports Mary Bentley took out an order of protection against Ted on December 6th. Deputy Danny Story told the paper Mrs. Bentley has filed for divorce. 

Arkansas Public Service Commissioner Kim O'Guinn was appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson in Nov. 2016.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson is calling on the state’s Public Service Commission and utility companies to “take the necessary steps to pass on the benefits” of Congress’s new corporate tax cut to Arkansas ratepayers. The Republican governor detailed his request to PSC Chairman Ted Thomas in a letter Thursday.

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Trump administration issued guidance to states on Thursday regarding the terms of adding work requirements for Medicaid coverage and Arkansas’s governor is ready to take advantage of the policy shift. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income people administered by states but primarily funded by the federal government. Eligibility is largely determined by income levels, which were expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Representative Steve Womack (R-Third Distirct)
NPR

An Arkansas Congressman has been recommended to chair the U.S. House Budget Committee. The ascension of Representative Steve Womack to the post comes as Rep. Diane Black steps aside to focus on running for governor of Tennessee. The House Republican Steering Committee announced late Tuesday it chose Womack. The move still has to be voted on by the full House GOP conference and considered on the floor for ratification.

The main campus of the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
UAMS

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is cutting 600 positions as it faces the prospect of cutting $30 million in expenses this fiscal year. Only 258 of the once-budgeted positions were filled. UAMS is the state’s largest public employer with a staff of more than 10,000 and is the only Level One Trauma Center in the state.

Regnat Populus Chairman Paul Spencer
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Second District U.S. Congressional hopeful Paul Spencer is characterizing his end of the year fundraising efforts as a vindication of his principles to never take PAC or corporate money for his 2018 election effort. Spencer’s position that only individual donors should contribute to electoral campaigns is not shared by his Democratic primary opponent Gwen Combs or Republican incumbent French Hill.

Arkansas Center for Health Improvement President Joe Thompson (left) and Arkansas Insurance Department Commissioner Allen Kerr exchanging notes after speaking to a legislative committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Friday is the last day of open enrollment for signing up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges, or marketplaces

State officials are predicting more Arkansans to enroll this year than the last -despite efforts by the Trump administration to limit the enrollment period and to curtail outreach and advertisement about its existence.

The exchange has been open since November 1st and closes December 15th. Enrollees can choose between private insurance plans and determine eligibility for federal subsidies, made possible by the ACA.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jared Henderson.
KUAR

A Democrat has announced intent to run for the governor’s office in 2018. Jared Henderson was the executive director of Teach for America’s Arkansas division from 2013 to 2017 and is centering his campaign in part on “making teachers one of the most important professions in the state.” The 39-year old Arkansas native declared Tuesday he’s seeking his party’s nomination.

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