Arkansas Politics Blog

Republican Rep. Rick Crawford
crawford.house.gov

The state’s Congressional delegation is revealing little about their positions on the Republican U.S. Senate proposal to roll back much of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Tom Cotton was one of a select few lawmakers to draft the bill in secret but even he has not commented extensively on the proposal. During a KUAR interview on Friday related to Cuba policy, U.S. Representative Rick Crawford of east Arkansas’s 1st District said he hasn’t read the Senate plan yet but appreciates that it’s moving quickly.

GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump.
Charlie Neibergall/ AP

The interests of Arkansas’s agricultural leaders went unheralded by President Trump on Friday as he announced a move back toward Cold War relations with our Caribbean neighbor, Cuba. Much of the state’s Congressional delegation has also chimed in on the prospect of tougher relations as a move in the wrong direction.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau wants a “normalization” of trade relations with the communist nation and promises it’ll be an economic boon for the state. Arkansas is the largest cultivator of rice in the nation and not far behind that in poultry production.

Libertarian Party of Arkansas Chair Michael Pakko.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas submitted over 15,000 signatures on Monday to the Secretary of State’s office to try and qualify to be a new political party -- for the fourth election cycle in a row. The state has 30 days to certify at least 10,000 of the signatures are from registered Arkansas voters.

Questions posed by the lone Arkansan sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee to former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday produced little information that could be publicly disclosed. Arkansas’s Junior U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton was one of more than a dozen Senators to question Comey, who made his first public appearance since President Donald Trump fired him.

Natashia Burch Hulsey is launching an exploratory committee to run as Independent in the 2018 election for Arkansas's 2nd District U.S. House seat.
Natashia Burch Hulsey Campaign

There’s another possible entrant into the 2018 Congressional race in central Arkansas. Natashia Burch Hulsey tells KUAR she plans to submit paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office Thursday afternoon, to launch an exploratory committee as an Independent.

Earlier this week, Paul Spencer began preparing for a bid as a Democrat to unseat Republican incumbent French Hill.

Paul Spencer (D) filed paperwork for an exploratory committee on the 2018 U.S. House seat.
Stephanie Spencer

A Democrat has launched an exploratory committee for the race for central Arkansas’s congressional seat which has been held by a Republican since 2011. Paul Spencer, a 50-year old pecan farmer, beekeeper, and long-time teacher at Catholic High School filed paperwork Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the election. Republican U.S. Representative French Hill is in his second term.  

On this week's podcast we take a look at what President Trump's first budget proposal could mean for the poor state of Arkansas. Analysis from political scientist Heather Yates of UCA and reaction from the state's Congressional delegation.

The KUAR News crew also takes a look at:

- A new task force on tax policy is off and running in the Arkansas Legislature. Tax cuts for the wealthy is the goal of some but at what cost? Is there a will to pay for it by cutting existing exemptions?

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.)
C-SPAN

U.S. Senator John Boozman is applauding President Trump’s immigration enforcement budget proposals, but is cautioning that other parts of the Homeland Security budget are “unworkable.” The Republican senator convened his first meeting as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Thursday.

Boozman praised increases in spending for border patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) was selected as to chair the Tax Reform and Relief Task Force.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas legislators held the first meeting of a newly formed task force on taxes on Monday and selected its leadership. Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) was confirmed as chair.

The Tax Reform and Relief Task Force was formed as part of a compromise last legislative session that helped deliver a $50-million tax cut for low-income Arkansans. Some conservatives had called instead for a $100-million-plus tax cut for the state’s wealthiest earners.

Jonathan Dismang
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are starting the lay groundwork for changes to the tax code in 2018. Members of a task force were announced this month charged with reviewing the state's tax system. The group was formed by legislation that enabled an over $50 million income tax cut in the last legislative session.

KUAR's Jacob Kauffman spoke with State Senator Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) about the task force's goals and whether another signature, high-dollar income tax cut is a priority.

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