Arkansas Politics Blog

Attorney and state Rep. John Walker of Little Rock.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Advocates of public schools in Little Rock are continuing to add their voices to the fallout over the state’s decision to bring in a new superintendent for the state-controlled district, without any community input.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key testifying to a joint meeting of the Education Committees.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key says the way he handled the decision to bring in a new superintendent for the Little Rock School District was a "mistake" that has led to the "poor implementation" of new leadership.

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

Much of Little Rock is fuming over the decision by Arkansas Department of Education head Johnny Key to not renew Superintendent Baker Kurrus’s contract. But not everyone in the district is upset, some see much promise in the pick of Michael Poore of Bentonville schools.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman spoke with Gary Newton, president of the education policy group Arkansas Learns to talk about the decision and the role of charter schools in the district.

Arkansas House of Representatives.
ArkansasHouse.org

Governor Asa Hutchinson used a line item veto on Thursday afternoon to ensure the continuation of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. The veto was part of a procedural maneuver meant to work around the resistance of a minority of Republicans blocking funding for the insurance program. It benefits over 267,000 low-income Arkansans.

Earlier on Thursday, the House of Representatives narrowly secured the three-fourths vote the funding bill needed for passage on a 76-13 vote.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The governor’s Medicaid expansion plan picked up a last minute potential change intended to block insurance coverage for the Morning After and Plan B pills. State Senator Jason Rapert filed an amendment on Tuesday that requires Governor Asa Hutchinson to ask federal officials for a waiver that would stop Medicaid funds from going to the reproductive health medications.

State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow).
Arkansas Times

The governor may have found a solution to the Medicaid budget impasse caused by just 10 of the state Senate's 35 members in the form of a creative new use of the line item veto but he hasn't done it yet. Into the void steps some last minute finagling and fine tuning.

Morning After Pill

State Senator Jason Rapert told me Tuesday night and then announced to the public via Twitter that he's going to try and stop insurance plans under Arkansas Works from paying for The Morning After or Plan B pill.

The new head of the Little Rock School District Michael Poore.
bentonvillek12.org

We weren't supposed to know who would replace Baker Kurrus as Superintendent of the Little Rock School District until Wednesday morning but news from northwest Arkansas confirms that Michael Poore has the job.

He's been superintendent of the Bentonville School District since 2011-12 school year. Prior to that he developed some job experience as a deputy superintendent that he'll be deploying once again if the state's plan to close schools in Little Rock continues.

File photo: LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus, Democrat Gazette publisher and charter advocate Walter Hussman, and Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Little Rock School District Superintendent Baker Kurrus confirmed to multiple news sources this evening that his contract will not be renewed by the Department of Education which has controlled the district since January of last year.

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.

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