Arkansas Politics Blog

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) in 2015.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

While Arkansas's U.S. Senators have roundly condemned white nationalists that rallied and rioted in Virginia this weekend, some members of the Arkansas Legislature are equivocating Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen with Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ activists.

On Wednesday morning State Representative Bob Ballinger tweeted:

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R) at Little Rock's VA Hospital
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

U.S. Senator John Boozman is recovering from a successful follow-up procedure to a 2014 heart surgery. Boozman's office says he'll be back to work when the Senate reconvenes in September.

The 66-year-old underwent the procedure at a Washington D.C. area hospital on Tuesday. Boozman staff say it was "recommended by doctors who have been monitoring his aorta since a tear in it was surgically repaired in 2014."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson holds up an action plan from the Department of Human Services. DHS Director Cindy Gillespie stands to the side.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson is once again opening up Arkansas’s youth treatment centers to private operators. The state’s residential facilities for children in the juvenile justice system had long been operated privately but the state took over operations in January following a legislative impasse over bidders.

The state begins the bidding process again in December. Department of Human Services - Division of Youth Services Director Betty Guhman said the state’s made improvements while at the helm that they want carried over by private operators.

The federal agency tasked with economic development in the Delta is without a leader. It’s up to President Donald Trump to appoint a new federal co-chairman for the Delta Regional Authority. The DRA’s supporters are hoping for the President to act quickly so that tens of millions of dollars can be freed up for investment. But the Trump’s budget proposals have called for eliminating the authority entirely.

A decisive early Friday vote on a GOP-led Obamacare "skinny" repeal comes up short. Why Arkansas's Senators voted for the failed measure amidst evidence that state public opinion may not be quite on their side.

Both of Arkansas’s U.S. Senators - Tom Cotton and John Boozman – joined a failed effort in the early morning hours, around 1:30 a.m. Washington D.C. time, to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. While three Republicans (Linda Murkowski-AL, Susan Collins-ME, John McCain-AZ) voted with Democrats to defeat the proposal, Cotton and Boozman joined with the majority of their party. The vote was 51-49.

Late Wednesday night Arkansas’s four member U.S. House delegation, all Republican, split over a vote to eliminate the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis division. That’s the non-partisan government office charged with scoring things like healthcare repeal bills for cost and how many would gain or lose insurance coverage.

Independent 2nd District Congressional candidate Natasha Burch Hulsey demonstrating outside of U.S. Senator John Boozman's Washington D.C. resident in advance of a healthcare vote.
Twitter

Arkansas's U.S. Senators are poised to vote Tuesday afternoon to begin taking up some type of healthcare repeal, possibly the House backed plan to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act. While U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton have been generally low key about the healthcare effort opponents have been notably vocal.

Arkansas demonstrators, of which more than 20 have been arrested so far, along with Congressional challengers have been active throughout the largely closed door legislative process.

Cotham's Mercantile in Scott, Arkansas before it burned to the ground on May 30th.
Kat Robinson / Arkansas Times

The cause of the fire that destroyed an iconic, 100-year old Cotham's Restaurant has been left undetermined, with investigators closing the case. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday there were "no signs of arson" and that all leads had been followed. Officials say the case is closed unless "further information is developed."

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R).
CSIS

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is in favor of a Republican plan for a straightforward repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Both of Arkansas's Republican senators, Cotton and John Boozman, have long favored ending the Affordable Care Act, but neither has spoken publicly about the now-flopped repeal and replace plan.

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