Arkansas Politics

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson, HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol next to an ad the organization is running.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas’s Legislature stands in recess but not without drawing national attention over a “religious freedom” bill deemed by some to sanction discrimination against the state’s LGBT population.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman sat down with Kendra Johnson, the director of Human Rights Campaign Arkansas to talk about next steps for the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group.

Jorge Royan / Wikimedia Commons

Some Arkansas rice growers are looking favorably on President Obama’s plans at the end of this week to interact – in a limited fashion - with Cuba’s leader Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

The director of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association, Greg Yielding, said Arkansas farmers are losing out on sales with Cuba to countries such as Brazil and Uruguay.

HB 1228 bill sponsor, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) after the committee vote.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas House is poised Tuesday afternoon to vote on a nationally watched bill that proponents say advances "religious freedom" and opponents deride as sanctioning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The decision on the House floor comes in the wake of Indiana enacting a similar law. In Arkansas, as in Indiana, a number of the world's largest corporations have or are threatening to boycott the states. 

Several more announcements were made Tuesday from industry leaders.


Former site of the Little Rock Veterans Home
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs

Every veteran nationwide would be eligible for in-state tuition to attend Arkansas’s higher education institutions under a bill passed by the House Education Committee Tuesday. Randy Massanelli, the top lobbyist for the University of Arkansas, spoke in favor.

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson, HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol next to an ad the organization is running.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A number of high-profile business figures are calling on Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) to veto a bill supporters describe as a "religious freedom" measure that on Friday passed the Arkansas Senate. Opponents say it allows religious belief to be used as a defense for discriminating against LGBT people in housing, employment, and both public and private accommodations and services.

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out this tweet:

Gov. Hutchinson Outlines Jobs Plans, Wants Two Constitutional Amendments

Mar 26, 2015
Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Only hours removed from hiring the state’s next economic development chief, Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined his vision for an aggressive platform on Thursday that he said would allow Arkansas to complete globally for better jobs and sustained economic growth.

A spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a broad review of the Arkansas Department of Human Services following the report that a lawmaker gave his adopted daughter to a man who later sexually abused her should cost taxpayers little-to-no money.

Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said Tuesday that the $25,000 payment for an out-of-state consultant to analyze the agency will be paid for by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy for disadvantaged children.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking at a ribbon cutting for MISO in March 2015 before the facility was fully online.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

West Little Rock is now the home of a $22 million electric-grid operations center for parts of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The new building for Midcontinent Independent System Operator – or MISO – is linked to others as far north as Manitoba.

MISO President John Bear told nearly 200 onlookers that the city met the company’s needs.


The family of Dale Bumpers has asked the University of Arkansas library to temporarily remove some journal entries critical of former President Bill Clinton and his wife that are attributed to the former governor and U.S. senator.

Mother Jones magazine this week reported that the typewritten diaries contain entries in which Bumpers is critical of Clinton, also a former Arkansas governor, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bumpers' son, Brent, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story Thursday that he wasn't aware his father kept a diary.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' freshman senator who wrote a letter to Iran's leaders during nuclear negotiations could seek re-election and the White House in 2020 under a bill endorsed by a state House committee.

The State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced the bill in a voice vote Wednesday. It would allow U.S. Senate and congressional candidates to also appear on the ballot as presidential or vice presidential candidates.

The bill's sponsor has said U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton helped inspire the proposal. It now heads to the House.