Arkansas lawmakers say they are continuing to look at expanding health coverage to those in Arkansas who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level with federal money made available through the Affordable Care Act.
State lawmakers learned two weeks ago that they have the option of covering those who would benefit from the expansion with private insurance rather than putting them directly on Medicaid.
As the consequences of automatic federal spending cuts begin to seep into daily life, Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas says his office is already fielding calls from concerned citizens. Pryor says the sequester will have long-term implications.
Now that lawmakers know the state can opt to insure individuals eligible for a federal Medicaid expansion on private insurance exchanges, lawmakers in both parties are indicating expansion may be more likely for Arkansas.
Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr is standing by his decision to sign a bill into law while Governor Mike Beebe was out of the state on business. Act 145 bans the public release of concealed handgun license records.
The bill would have become law with or without a signature since Beebe didn't veto it, but Darr wanted it put into effect immediately. Beebe says the lieutenant governor embarrassed himself by doing this. "I will be much more careful, [because] people like that you have to watch. You can't turn your back on them" he said.
Arkansas Speaker of the House Davy Carter is calling on lawmakers to make $150 million in tax cuts this session.
The Republican from Cabot visited the House Judiciary, Public Health and Revenue and Tax Committees Tuesday morning reminding each committee of the time frame of the legislative session.
In the House Revenue and Tax Committee he told lawmakers he was counting on them to wade through the over $2 billion in tax cuts they have before them in a timely manner. He said not all tax cuts will be possible.
In the 2014 Governor's race, Republican Asa Hutchinson has an early lead over two potential Democratic rivals, Mike Ross and Bill Halter. The latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll of 675 Arkansas voters gauges public opinion in head-to-head match-ups between Hutchinson and Halter and Hutchinson and Ross.
A survey released Friday by Talk Business and Hendrix College finds by a slight margin that most respondents support a bill that would allow weapons to be carried on college campuses by licensed faculty and staff.
49% are in favor of the proposal, while 43-percent are against it. Roby Brock with Talk Business Arkansas says it shows that gun rights issues remain a divisive topic.
Governor Mike Beebe met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Washington DC this Friday to discuss how low-income Arkansans can purchase insurance without going on expanded Medicaid.
Arkansas is one of six states to be awarded a $42 million dollar grant for a new health care initiative. Beebe says the plan will address preventative care, as well as existing chronic conditions.
With Gov. Mike Beebe out of state attending a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr Friday signed into law a bill that makes private a list of people who can carry concealed weapons in Arkansas.
Gov. Beebe had said he would not sign the bill, but also would not veto it, which would allow it to become law five days after reaching his desk.
But in his role as Acting Governor, Darr signed it into law, saying in a written statement that he felt there should be no delay.