Arkansas Politics Blog

David Wildy, a prominent Arkansas farmer, in a field of soybeans that were damaged by dicamba.
Dan Charles / NPR News

President Trump’s trade battles are causing pain for Arkansas farmers who have seen prices drop rapidly under retaliatory tariffs. The state’s political leadership has shown some division over the issue, though elected leaders remain optimistic Arkansas will emerge unscathed.

Arkansas Soybean Association President A.J. Hood said farmers are showing some stress as prices fluctuate on the state’s top commodity and top export.

State Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View.
Arkansas Times/Brian Chilson

The freshly minted Select Committee on Senate Ethics held its first meeting Thursday and elected its leadership. The Senate last week approved rule changes creating the committee to hear and investigate claims of corruption. Its formation comes on the heels of federal investigations that have led to five former lawmakers being convicted.

State Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, was confirmed as chair. She says good ethics rules aren’t partisan.

Second Congressional District candidate Clarke Tucker (D).
clarketucker.com

U.S. House hopeful Clarke Tucker, D-Ark, is opposing the possible use of Arkansas facilities to house migrant children and families detained at the U.S.-Mexico border and rejecting his opponent's claims he's in lock-step with Democratic national figures. While President Donald Trump has ordered a halt to his zero-tolerance policy of separating children from their families at the southern border, federal officials are still planning to scout potential detainment sites in Arkansas on Thursday, including the Little Rock Air Force Base.

U.S. Senator John Boozman in the Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters in 2016 during a campaign interview.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s senior U.S. Senator John Boozman is calling for a stop to the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy to separate children from their parents at the border. Boozman was one of 13 Republican Senators on Tuesday to sign a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying immigration policy must be consistent with "ordinary human decency" and putting the blame for the "immediate cause of the crisis" on the Attorney General’s new policy.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says some of the immigrant children who are being separated from the adults they are entering the country with at the border with Mexico are not actually related.

Speaking Tuesday on the nationally-syndicated radio program The Hugh Hewitt Show, Cotton was skeptical that many of the 2,000-plus children separated from their parents since April are relatives.

U.S. Rep. French Hill speaking at a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee on March 22, 2016.
C-SPAN

U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) says current immigration law justifies the Trump administration's decision to implement a zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents if they illegally cross the border with Mexico. However, Hill says he does not support children being separated from their families and is urging Congress to pass legislation to fix the problem, while putting the blame on past presidential administrations for the creation of the law.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

New ethics rules are being put forward by a bipartisan group of Arkansas Senate leaders following a slate of convictions against lawmakers found guilty of redirecting state money in exchange for bribes.

Foremost among the changes may be the creation of a five-member Senate Ethics Committee to investigate claims against members.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren is leading the effort.

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming

Arkansas is one of just seven states that does not spend money to support gambling addiction treatment.

WWW.JAREDFORARKANSAS.COM/

Democratic gubernatorial challenger Jared Henderson tells KUAR he is in favor of an initiative to raise Arkansas's minimum wage to $11 an hour. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has yet to comment and Libertarian Mark West opposes the ballot measure, as well as the concept of a minimum wage.

The ballot item would incrementally raise the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2022. It’s currently $8.50 an hour. Canvassers need to collect 67,887 valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

Henderson calls the gradual approach “thoughtful” and “responsible.”

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam speaking to reporters after the inauguration of Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam is resigning this month to take a governmental affairs job at the University of Central Arkansas.

The move opens up a leadership vacuum in the state legislature and is riling up democrats, who see it as a sign of a revolving door between lawmaking and lobbyist-like activity.

The Republican from White County had already announced he wasn’t running for re-election. The House will caucus June 15 to elect an interim speaker.

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