Arkansas Politics Blog

An Arkansas pastor who was recently at the helm of the Southern Baptist Convention has been picked to be president of the National Day of Prayer task force. Dr. Ronnie Floyd is charged with promoting the federally recognized day of prayer.

Floyd says he’ll push for multicultural participation and digital outreach to bolster the day. The Rogers pastor says the nation is at "an urgent hour" he hopes to spur on “the next Great Spiritual Awakening.” His vision for his tenure is outlined in a press release.

A monument to the women of the Confederacy on Arkansas's Capitol grounds.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Events in Charlottesville, Virginia have sparked discussions in Arkansas about the proper response to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as renewed debate about the meaning of Confederate monuments. Take a listen to KUAR's interviews with state Rep. Bob Ballinger and pastor, judge, and author Wendell Griffen.

The Confederate soldiers monument at the state Capitol.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Democratic Party of Arkansas is calling for the removal of all Confederate monuments on public grounds. The state Legislature is not currently in session and no Democrats have volunteered themselves to lead any such effort. But the state party said in a statement that Confederate monuments only belong in museums and on private land.

“The time has come for these symbols of our past to be placed in museums and privately owned spaces rather than to continue to occupy public lands.

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 equating 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.

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.

Pages