Arkansas Politics Blog

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge met with the federal government’s chief consumer advocate Richard Cordray on Wednesday about a host of issues including proposed regulations on payday loans.

Groups of Heifer project participants in Andean Ecuador gathered supplies to help the victims of the April 16 earthquake.
heifer.org

Ecuador is in the midst of recovery after an April earthquake killed over 660 people. Little Rock-based Heifer International has been working with farmers and fishing families in the region just outside the earthquake's epicenter for decades.

Oscar Castañeda, Vice President of the Americas with Heifer, spoke with KUAR's Jacob Kauffman about the path of recovery efforts.

Arkansas finance officials say a mild winter and a court settlement led revenue numbers to dip below forecast for the month of May but be above levels compared to the same month last year.

In May gross general revenue fell 1.7 percent below forecast at $432.9 million and sales tax collections dropped $21.2 million or 11 percent below expectations.

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management director David Maxwell (right) and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission executive director Randy Young (left) testify to a joint meeting of legislative committees on levees and flooding.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The state agency responsible for coordinating disaster responses between a wide array of local, state, and federal organizations is getting a new director. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced on Tuesday he is bringing in former Chief of Police for the Conway Police Department A.J. Gary as director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

On July 1, Gary will replace current director David Maxwell who has planned to retire at the end of June.

Libertarian Party of Arkansas Chair Michael Pakko with over 15,000 signatures to be submitted to the Secretary of State's office for ballot access. May 2016.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas is hoping to ride high hopes for its presidential ticket to automatic placement on the state’s ballot in future elections. On Sunday Libertarians nominated two former Republican governors, Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Bill Weld of Massachusetts, as presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Arkansas party chair Michael Pakko attended the national convention in Orlando and says the volatility of this election cycle gave those there a sense of an opening for the party.

Fort Smith Southside High School's mascot Johnny Reb.
fortsmithschools.org

The head of the Fort Smith School Board says the decision of two members to abandon an effort to bring back the Rebel mascot means the district can move on from the divisive issue and she can too. Board President Dr. Deanie Mehl told Talk Business & Politics she'll step down at the end of 2017 after 12 years on the school board.

The soon-to-be superintendent of the Little Rock School District Michael Poore making a presentation to the state Board of Education while still head of Bentonville schools in early May.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Incoming Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore will begin work a little early, in a transitional role, beginning June 13. The Arkansas Department of Education made the announcement on Friday that Poore will join outgoing LRSD head Baker Kurrus in his final three weeks.

ADE says it will give the two men “the opportunity to collaborate on district matters prior to Poore starting as superintent.”

Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Dianne Curry at KUAR in advance of the filing deadline for the primary election.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s largest organized labor group, the AFL-CIO, is backing Democratic U.S. House candidate Dianne Curry. The second district candidate’s campaign made the announcement on Thursday following written confirmation of a vote by the labor group earlier this month.

Curry says she hopes to boost the voice of organized labor in the coming election, “we really have to come back around to the fight for the American family.”

City Year Little Rock founding chair and Hall High graduate Wesley Clark speaking in front of City Year members at Hall High School.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The AmeriCorps-affiliated program City Year announced on Wednesday it is sending its members to Hall High School in Little Rock for the first time this fall. A $150,000 grant from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the philanthropic group Fifty for the Future will fund eight AmeriCorps positions for three years.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson’s five-year highway funding bill is now law but legislators are already looking to 2017 to make changes. The $50-million a year plan is largely funded by surplus and general revenue funds. A number of Republican lawmakers, as well as Democrats, desire as a more dependable, dedicated user-based funding source for a long-term approach.

State Representative Andy Davis sponsored the governor’s plan but says more highway legislation is expected in next year’s regular legislative session, “I don’t think this is the end of highway bills for five years.”

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