Arkansas Politics Blog

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

Backers of Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion plan are expected to try again this week to overcome the resistance of a minority of Republican lawmakers and pass a budget bill. 

The battle over the future of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Medicaid expansion plan takes center stage on KUAR's podcast, with lawmakers recessed until Tuesday amid a standoff about funding. Jacob Kauffman reports on developments he's covered this week at the Capitol, while Chris Hickey speaks with state agency heads about the impacts to them if the healthcare plan for low income Arkansans isn't renewed.    

The news staff also discusses developments in education this week, the state's jobless rate dropping to an all-time low, and the death of longtime Congressman Ray Thornton.

Former U.S. Congressman Ray Thornton.
Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Former U.S. congressman, Arkansas Supreme Court justice and university president Raymond "Ray" Thornton died early Wednesday, his former chief of staff says. He was 87. Thornton was in hospice care for lung cancer in Pulaski County.

The Conway native graduated from Yale University in 1950 and a few years later served in the Navy during the Korean War. Thornton then earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

The scene at the beginning of Franklin Graham's rally in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The voice of evangelist Franklin Graham, son of Christian media pioneer Billy Graham, boomed across the Arkansas Capitol lawn Tuesday, calling on Christians to get involved in politics.

“Vote for candidates that stand for biblical truths and biblical principles and are willing to live them,” Graham told a crowd KUAR estimated to be over 4,500.

He said failing to do so in recent years has had grave consequences, with secularism trickling down to local governments and institutions.

UPDATE: Jump to the bottom for KUAR's interview with Conner Eldridge on the connection between the governor's Arkansas Works plan and the Affordable Care Act.

The latest salvo in Arkansas's U.S. Senate race has Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge calling on Republican incumbent John Boozman to "unequivocally" back federal funding for the governor's Arkansas Works plan. 

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.

Pages