Arkansas Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to reporters at the Capitol about his budget proposal.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson is proposing an overall spending increase of three percent in his budget plan for the next fiscal year. The Republican governor released his proposal to lawmakers Tuesday. General education, Medicaid, and prisons would see an increase in funding. Higher education and pre-K would remain flat while many state agencies will take a one percent cut.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The week ahead in the Arkansas Legislature promises action on Governor Asa Hutchinson’s signature tax cut proposal, reaction to the governor’s Medicaid expansion plans, the reevaluation of celebrating a Confederate general on the same day as a civil rights icon, and the release of a state budget proposal.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee
Library of Congress

A bill filed in the legislature Wednesday seeks to end Arkansas’s official observance of Robert E. Lee’s birthday, which falls on the same date as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Republican Nate Bell, typically aligned with the conservative side of his party, filed the legislation removing the Confederate general’s birthday from the list of state holidays.

However, Bell said he does not personally think it is inappropriate to celebrate Confederates and civil rights leaders side by side.

Jonathan Dismang
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson’s top priority this legislative session, a $100 million income tax cut, passed its first hurdle Wednesday in an amended form. The senate committee on Revenue and Taxation advanced the one percent cut for individuals earning between $21,000 and $75,000 a year. The full senate is expected to take up the measure Thursday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) talks about why he's moving back his budget plan in the Governor's Conference Room. Former Gov. Mike Beebe's portrait hangs above Hutchinson.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

For the second time since the Arkansas legislature convened, a little over a week ago, Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced he will move back a public rollout of his budget proposal.

Hutchinson said he is delaying the release of his budget until next Tuesday for two reasons, “because of the emphasis on the health care reform remarks on Thursday, and because I wanted to give the legislature some time to give me informal feedback.”

State Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-East End)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A bill filed Thursday in the Arkansas legislature seeks to prevent women from having a drug-induced abortion administered by a doctor via telemedicine. Two Republican women, state Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain Home and state Representative Julie Mayberry of East End, sponsored the legislation requiring a doctor to be physically present when a woman takes Mifepristone (RU-486). The attending physician must also attempt to make a follow-up appointment.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam speaking to reporters after the inauguration of Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Legislative leaders filed details Wednesday for a bill mirroring much of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s signature campaign promise, a $100 million tax cut for the middle class. An agenda for 90th General Assembly is beginning to take shape.

Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) said he hopes to bring the three-page tax cut proposal before lawmakers as early as next week. The move would precede both the Governor’s promised address on health care reform, and his comprehensive budget proposal.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (4th District) speaking in 2013 at the Arkansas Capitol when he was a State Rep.
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Arkansas’s new delegation in the U.S. House voted in unison Wednesday on a funding bill intended to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from following President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

4th District Representative Bruce Westerman took to the floor for his first time ever to address an amendment related to the funding bill. Westerman objected both to the President’s policy and the fact it came through an executive order.

The Arkansas panel reviewing elected officials' salaries has chosen five states it will use as a comparison for its decisions: Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The Independent Citizens Commission chose those states Wednesday. Commission members must meet a Feb. 2 deadline to decide whether Arkansas' top elected officials, lawmakers and judges should get raises.

Governor Asa Hutchinson shortly after being sworn in and about to give an inaugural address to the 90th General Assembly.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The transition to Republican control of the both the state legislature and every constitutional office is now complete. Asa Hutchinson took the oath of office to officially become Arkansas’s governor Tuesday and addressed onlookers at the Capitol.

Asa Hutchinson was welcomed into the House chamber with nearly two minutes of applause then sworn-in by Chief Justice Jim Hannah as the state’s 46th governor

HANNAH: Repeat after me, I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HUTCHINSON: I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HANNAH: Do solemnly swear.