Arkansas Politics Blog

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.

Little Rock Trojans' home court the Jack Stephens Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
ualr.edu

Your Little Rock Trojans are headed to the NCAA Tournament so I'm sure we're all ready to dream big on our brackets and root for the home town team.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's team secured the bid to college basketball's national championship tournament this weekend. Little Rock handily put away the University of Louisiana-Monroe squad 70-50 to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. UALR last won the Sun Belt title in 2011.

Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Chair Randy Zook with Gov. Asa Hutchinson sitting behind him.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce and state economic officials are rolling out a private-public partnership branded as “Be Pro. Be Proud” designed to entice young people to enter technical fields and become skilled laborers.

At the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock on Tuesday, chamber Chair Randy Zook said learning a trade such as welding or plumbing ought to be considered in the same regard as pursuing a four-year college degree.

ADEQ Clean Power Plan ADEQ Director Becky Keogh and APSC Chairman Ted Thomas
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas is halting its effort to craft and implement a plan to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and Arkansas Public Service Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that stakeholder meetings will cease as a result of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to stay the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emission to curb climate change.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is proposing a $5.3 billion budget for the next fiscal year, a $143 million spending increase primarily directed to the Department of Human Services. 

About 15 percent of the increase would go to education with most other agency budgets staying flat. The governor said the uptick in spending in the budget plan released on Tuesday is mostly geared toward meeting shortfalls in the foster care system.

Jim Hendren
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers charged with issuing recommendations on the future of the state’s Medicaid expansion program voted Monday to back the Republican governor’s proposal to change and continue the Affordable Care Act-enabled plan that provides insurance to over 250,000 low-income residents. A series of bi-partisan votes have narrowly carried the program since its 2013 inception.

The convening of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force was planned as the penultimate meeting.

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