Arkansas Politics Blog

The Delta town of Dumas is getting an economic boost with the expansion of a manufacturing operation, SAF-Holland. The $4 million investment and retrofitting of an existing structure will add new production capabilities to the company’s existing Desha County operations. It’s expected to support 65 new jobs.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston says that adds up to quite an impact for a small town.

Gibbs Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock.
LRSD.org

The threat of a protest at Gibbs Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock today derailed a planned speaking appearance by U.S. Representative French Hill. A parent complained about Hill's support for Donald Trump and fears children would be used as a photo-op.

UPDATE: Congressman Hill responded to the matter in a statement.

Mike Nelson (far left) sports an eye patch during a town hall meeting.
Talk Business and Politics

One of two Democrats seeking the nomination to run for the U.S. House seat representing east Arkansas's 1st District is bowing out of the race due to an undisclosed pending legal issue. Mike Nelson, an Arkansas County farmer, had already been busy attending a range of forums and civic clubs. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson has granted clemency for death row inmate Jason McGehee.  The the 21-year-old man was found guilty of murdering teenager John Melbourne, Jr. in 1996. He'll now serve life without parole, the same sentence as two accomplices. The governor explained his decision.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has set an execution date for Jack Greene for November 9th. He was found guilty in the 1991 murder of Sidney Burnett. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge requested on August 17th that Hutchinson set a date.

It followed state confirmation earlier this month that a new supply of midazolam had been secured for the three-drug lethal injection procedure. Arkansas law allows the state to keep its source of drugs a state secret.

An Arkansas pastor who was recently at the helm of the Southern Baptist Convention has been picked to be president of the National Day of Prayer task force. Dr. Ronnie Floyd is charged with promoting the federally recognized day of prayer.

Floyd says he’ll push for multicultural participation and digital outreach to bolster the day. The Rogers pastor says the nation is at "an urgent hour" he hopes to spur on “the next Great Spiritual Awakening.” His vision for his tenure is outlined in a press release.

A monument to the women of the Confederacy on Arkansas's Capitol grounds.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Events in Charlottesville, Virginia have sparked discussions in Arkansas about the proper response to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as renewed debate about the meaning of Confederate monuments. Take a listen to KUAR's interviews with state Rep. Bob Ballinger and pastor, judge, and author Wendell Griffen.

The Confederate soldiers monument at the state Capitol.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Democratic Party of Arkansas is calling for the removal of all Confederate monuments on public grounds. The state Legislature is not currently in session and no Democrats have volunteered themselves to lead any such effort. But the state party said in a statement that Confederate monuments only belong in museums and on private land.

“The time has come for these symbols of our past to be placed in museums and privately owned spaces rather than to continue to occupy public lands.

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) in 2015.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

While Arkansas's U.S. Senators have roundly condemned white nationalists that rallied and rioted in Virginia this weekend, some members of the Arkansas Legislature are equating Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen with Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ activists.

On Wednesday morning State Representative Bob Ballinger tweeted:

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R) at Little Rock's VA Hospital
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

U.S. Senator John Boozman is recovering from a successful follow-up procedure to a 2014 heart surgery. Boozman's office says he'll be back to work when the Senate reconvenes in September.

The 66-year-old underwent the procedure at a Washington D.C. area hospital on Tuesday. Boozman staff say it was "recommended by doctors who have been monitoring his aorta since a tear in it was surgically repaired in 2014."

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