Arkansas Politics Blog

Arkansas’s congressional delegation is returning to Washington D.C. following a July 4th recess and the state’s U.S. Senators are as tight lipped as ever about the GOP’s stalled bill to end much of the Affordable Care Act.

Does Senator Tom Cotton support the healthcare plan he helped draft with 12 other white male Republican Senators? Does Senator John Boozman support the plan backed by the majority of his party? These are basic questions Arkansans don’t have answers to.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlines changes he wants made to the Republican healthcare plan in the U.S. Senate.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

As Congress readies for the July recess, governors are among those trying to shape the stalled Senate healthcare bill. Arkansas’s Republican governor wants the state’s Republican  senators to make changes.

He isn’t offering a full rebuke – even saying the U.S. Senate is moving in the right direction - but Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the proposal poses a “big problem” for the state.

AACF Health Policy Director Marquita Little.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

The Congressional Budget Office’s scoring on the Senate Republican healthcare plan is out and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families concludes it'll do a great deal of harm to Arkansans. The CBO report finds 22 million people would lose insurance coverage, premiums would go up, and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts would be given to the country’s wealthiest citizens – and that’s among many other changes.

The base of the 10 Commandments monument was installed earlier this month.
Wesley Brown / Talk Business & Politics

A tablet containing the 10 Commandments is being installed this morning on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol building. Lawsuits have been promised from several entities contending the monument amounts to a state preference or endorsement of particular religious beliefs. The state Legislature approved the privately funded monument.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R) meeting with members of the Arkansas Hospital Association before the Senate plan was released.
Sen. Tom Cotton's office.

The Senate Republican healthcare plan has Arkansas Hospital Associate President Bo Ryall worried about the impact on rural hospitals, communities, and the hundreds of thousands of Arkansans who could lose insurance coverage. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman spoke with Ryall about the plan - crafted in part by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton - to rollback much of the Affordable Care Act.

Republican Rep. Rick Crawford
crawford.house.gov

The state’s Congressional delegation is revealing little about their positions on the Republican U.S. Senate proposal to roll back much of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Tom Cotton was one of a select few lawmakers to draft the bill in secret but even he has not commented extensively on the proposal. During a KUAR interview on Friday related to Cuba policy, U.S. Representative Rick Crawford of east Arkansas’s 1st District said he hasn’t read the Senate plan yet but appreciates that it’s moving quickly.

On this Week-In-Review, we put Arkansas's congressional delegation in the spotlight as Trump ignores the state's agricultural interests on his newly announced Cuba policies. Also, Sen. Tom Cotton dismisses Russia collusion and  Sen. Boozman is short on healthcare specifics.

-Elections were held throughout Arkansas this week: Pulaski County votes to send more money to schools; Pine Bluff takes a stab at revitalization; and Helena-West Helena makes an effort to pare down its sprawling city council.

GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump.
Charlie Neibergall/ AP

The interests of Arkansas’s agricultural leaders went unheralded by President Trump on Friday as he announced a move back toward Cold War relations with our Caribbean neighbor, Cuba. Much of the state’s Congressional delegation has also chimed in on the prospect of tougher relations as a move in the wrong direction.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau wants a “normalization” of trade relations with the communist nation and promises it’ll be an economic boon for the state. Arkansas is the largest cultivator of rice in the nation and not far behind that in poultry production.

Libertarian Party of Arkansas Chair Michael Pakko.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas submitted over 15,000 signatures on Monday to the Secretary of State’s office to try and qualify to be a new political party -- for the fourth election cycle in a row. The state has 30 days to certify at least 10,000 of the signatures are from registered Arkansas voters.

The widely anticipated public testimony from fired former FBI Director James Comey spurs a political response in Arkansas. As Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton dines with the president, state Democrats chime in a critique of their across-the-aisle foes’ relationship with the Russia investigations.

Also on the program:

-Applications for Medical Marijuana retail and grow centers are about to roll in. We check in with the soon-to-be state pot industry.

-Neo-Nazis to rally in Batesville; 10 Commandments go up at the Capitol; and will state highways get a boost under ballot measure? A look at some other state political headlines.

-How did Sexism play into the 2016 presidential election. A poll from the University of Arkansas give us an answer.

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