Arkansas Politics Blog

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.

U.S. Representative French Hill (R-2nd District). File photo.
facebook.com

The news emanating from the Oval Office this week has escalated arguments the Trump White House, and before that his campaign, has illicit ties to the Russian government. Meanwhile, the President’s legislative agenda is hobbling along.

U.S. Representative French Hill (R-2nd District) joined KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman to share his thoughts on FBI Director James Comey and the future of healthcare.

Arkansas Democrats weren’t even able to muster a full slate of challengers for Arkansas’s four U.S. House seats last election but in northwest Arkansas, four-term Republican Congressman Steve Womack now has a race on his hands. Joshua Mahony, the 36-year old head of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, is running as a Democrat for the 3rd District seat. He spoke with KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman about his bid for Congress.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Constituents of central Arkansas Congressman French Hill rallied at his Little Rock office on Monday to decry his vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. KUAR estimates about 50 people lined a sidewalk on North University Avenue holding signs saying “repeal and replace French Hill,” among other slogans. It was a grassroots effort that Katherine Pope helped organize.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Updated at 6:45 p.m.  

Kenneth Williams, who is set to be executed Thursday at 7 p.m. killed four people in separate incidents. But relatives of the victims are mixed about whether his execution should be carried out. Loved ones for the man whose case led to the death sentence are supporting the lethal injection, but relatives of another victim say the execution would only cause more pain.

/eeas.europa.eu

Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has made pushing international trade a hallmark of his first term, received a letter from the European Union Ambassador to the U.S. calling for the state to stop executions. The letter was published Wednesday afternoon by the EU. The governor's office has not said whether it plans to reply.

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