Arkansas Politics Blog

Charlie Collins
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas legislators have given initial approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to continue a modified form of the state's Medicaid expansion, but the margins suggest it will be an uphill battle to approve funding.

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco in his office in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

With the special session on Medicaid expansion all but upon us Democrats are continuing to show signs that their support is not to be taken for granted by the Republican governor. Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco released a statement today making the case for Democratic leverage.

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson and HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol about an ad HRC is running opposed to a so-called religious liberty law proposed in 2015.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Late this afternoon our often-slighted neighbors to the east in Mississippi are expected to send a so-called religious freedom bill to their governor. Governor Phil Bryant now faces a decision that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had to make last year.

The governor’s office is planning to roll-out statewide drug screenings for Arkansans in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office confirmed the decision on Wednesday to skip a pilot program envisioned in a law passed last year and move to statewide implementation.

The 2015 legislation by State Senator Blake Johnson (R-Corning) also contained provisions allowing for the pilot program to be expanded to the state level at any time.

Former US Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk talking with attendees of a luncheon at Philander Smith College in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A former US Trade Ambassador for the Obama administration touted the Trans-Pacific Partnership to a Little Rock audience on Tuesday. Ron Kirk, who served on the President’s cabinet from 2009 to 2013, told those gathered at a luncheon event at Philander Smith College that the trade agreement between 12 Pacific-rim nations will be an economic boon for the state and the nation.

UPDATE 3/23: Pulaski County governance said yes Tuesday night to any move by the state legislature to take Lee off the MLK Day billing.

3/22: The Pulaski County Quorum Court is voting Tuesday night on a resolution of support for a future effort in the Arkansas legislature to end the dual holiday of Martin Luther King Kr and Robert E Lee Day. The resolution calls for MLK Day to stand alone.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

In an effort to rally public opinion behind his healthcare plan, Arkansas Works, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday evening in Conway.

The current version of the healthcare program for over 200,000 low-income Arkansans, known as the private option, will expire at the end of this year if the legislature doesn’t take action.

Arkansas Department of Education Building in Little Rock near the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

This week the Arkansas Board of Education scheduled a meeting to consider halting a review process of charter school expansions that it had just voted to embark upon the week before and then reversed the decision to consider rescinding the review.

Both of Arkansas’s U.S. Senators say President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland should not be considered for confirmation. 

The nomination follows the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The court is now widely considered split along liberal and conservative lines.

In statements released shortly after the President’s announcement, Republican Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton did not respond to the merits of Garland’s nomination but instead contended that the decision should be made by the next President.

The twitter logo superimposed on an undetailed map of the state of Arkansas.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas politics Twitterverse is a pretty a small place but it has its share of state legislators, who are prolific users, that turned out Tuesday night to add to the endless stream of comments about the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries in Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Check her for NPR’s coverage of primary results.