Arkansas Politics Blog

State Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock) testifying to end the joint observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert E. Lee. (2015 file photo)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Heading into Arkansas's concurrent observances of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day some lawmakers were predicting this could be the last year for the joint state holiday. But despite the backing of the state's Republican governor, no one has stepped forward to carry the legislation.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) speaking in the press gallery.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

This week, the 91st Arkansas General Assembly convened. KUAR’s Chris Hickey and Political Reporter and Morning Edition host Jacob Kauffman were there for much of it and took a dive into some of the first week’s big issues, including new rules on committee assignment process, party-switching former Democrats and attitudes surrounding proposed ethics reform legislation. 

KUAR's Jacob Kauffman discusses the start of the legislative session.

This video and other roundups of Arkansas news can be found in our weekly news roundup e-mail. Sign up to have it delivered to your inbox.  

Welcome to another edition of KUAR's Week In Review podcast where the KUAR News team takes a look at the news from the week that was.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

It's likely over 2,000 bills will be filed during this legislative session and just over 300 have been filed so far. Legislation impacting special elections, a Blue Ribbon taxes task force, executions, and hand guns were filed on Wednesday.

KUAR will be keeping track throughout this legislative session. A round-up from Wednesday includes:

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas House Rules Committee advanced two bills Wednesday that modify the way the state will regulate medical marijuana.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment went into effect November 9, a day after it was passed by voters. The amendment specifies that rulemaking agencies like the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration have to finalize any applicable regulations 120 days after the amendment’s effective date. But HB1026, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Douglas House of North Little Rock, extends the 120 day deadline to 180 days, or from March to early May.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a resolution doing away with a seniority system for committee assignments.

By a vote of 75-to-23, with one member voting present, the House adopted rules whereby future committee members would be appointed by the House Speaker. The bill, HR1001, needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The resolution does not take effect until after the current House Speaker, Jeremy Gillam of Judsonia, has said he would leave the position in 2019.

A pair of Arkansas legislators want to make Arkansaurus fridayi the official dinosaur of the state of Arkansas. Arkansas isn't particularly known as a hot bed for uncovering the ancient creatures but southwest Arkansas has had a couple of excavations.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson preparing to address a joint session of the General Assembly.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson delivered the State of the State address Tuesday to a joint meeting of the Arkansas Legislature. The Republican governor told the Republican-controlled legislature that it is working in historic times, defined by rapid change.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A State of the State address from the governor and the first salvo of medical marijuana-related bills are expected Tuesday morning, day two of the 91st General Assembly.  Governor Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to address a joint session of the state House and Senate at 10:30 a.m.  Watch the speech here.