Arkansas Politics

Asa Hutchinson Becomes 46th Arkansas Governor, Details Priorities

Jan 13, 2015
Governor Asa Hutchinson shortly after being sworn in and about to give an inaugural address to the 90th General Assembly.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Republican Asa Hutchinson has been sworn in as Arkansas' 46th governor. The ex-congressman and former federal Homeland Security official took the oath of office at the state Capitol Tuesday, succeeding Democrat Mike Beebe.

Hutchinson took office a day after lawmakers convened for the start of the 2015 session. He has said he wants lawmakers to move quickly on his campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class by $100 million a year. He's also expected to announce later this month whether he'll supporting continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion. 

Roby Brock, editor-in-chief of Talk Business and Politics, in the gallery of the state House of Representatives.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Asa Hutchinson is poised to officially become the 46th governor of Arkansas with a swearing-in ceremony late Tuesday morning. The Republican takes the office as his party takes control of both chambers of the legislature and every constitutional office. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman talks with Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics about Hutchinson's inauguration and the 90th General Assembly.

Members of the state House of Representatives being sworn in on the 90th General Assembly's opening day.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The 90th session of the Arkansas legislature is officially underway at the state Capitol. Lawmakers were sworn-in Monday for a session that will tackle the state’s health insurance plan for over 200,00 lower income residents, over $100 million in tax cuts, prison overcrowding, the lottery, and abortion among others.

Dustin McDaniel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The outgoing Democratic attorney general of Arkansas is urging a panel reviewing elected officials' salaries to more than double his Republican successor's pay.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Monday recommended that the Independent Citizens Commission raise incoming Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's pay from $73,132 a year to at least $165,000. The seven-member panel was created to review and adjust salaries for Arkansas legislators, constitutional officers and judges.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After a heated campaign where he touted himself as the candidate best prepared to be the "jobs governor," Republican Asa Hutchinson says boosting Arkansas' economy will be his focus as takes over the state's top office.

The 64-year-old ex-congressman and former federal Homeland Security official will be sworn in Tuesday as Arkansas' 46th governor, succeeding outgoing Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.

Arkansas Legislature House Floor
Chris Hickey / KUAR

KAUFFMAN: We’re on the verge of the 90th General Assembly convening, there’s historic power in the hands of Republicans and some truly major issues at stake this year. Let’s begin with what might be the legacy of the last governor, the private option. A lot of legislative leaders say it needs to be more conservative. What might that look like and what ideas have been proposed.

A scene from the 2014 Gillett Coon Supper.

An Arkansas political tradition in its 72nd year, the annual Gillett Coon Supper, is taking place Saturday evening. The gathering in the elementary school gym of the southeast Arkansas hamlet of Gillette is famous among the state’s politicos for its barbeque raccoon and has been a must-stop on the political circuit for decades.

Political scientist Hal Bass of Ouachita Baptist University says events like the Coon Supper are waning in importance in an era of unprecedented campaign spending and mass media but are still relevant.

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 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to remove a requirement that employers with over 100 employees (50 next year) have to offer health insurance to those working more than 30 hours a week or face a penalty. The legislation would set the new standard at 40 hours a week. 

The previous class of the House passed a similar measure but this year, with the Senate in Republican hands, the legislation could head to the President's desk for the first time.

Mike Beebe
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Mike Beebe discussed his accomplishments and challenges in his next-to-last radio address last week. In his farewell address released Friday, Beebe reminisced on the social aspects and the more emotional sides of the job.

Here is his address in its entirety:

Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson has announced Larry Walther as the new Director of the Department of Finance and Administration, Jami Cook as the new Director of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, and State Senator Bruce Holland as the new Director of Livestock and Poultry. 

In addition, Hutchinson said he will keep Joe Fox as State Forester at the Arkansas Forestry Commission.