Arkansas Politics

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R) at Little Rock's VA Hospital
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

KAUFFMAN: President Obama is in Panama meeting at the Summit of the Americas and it could pay big dividends for Arkansas rice growers. U.S. Senator John Boozman - a Republican from Rogers – joins me in the studio. Thanks for being here. 

BOOZMAN: Thank you so much for having me Jacob.

KAUFFMAN: The more sensational news coming out of the President’s journey to meet with leaders from South America, Central America and the Caribbean, is that for the first time Cuba will be there. Is this one more signal, in an avalanche that better economic ties are around the corner?

A group representing downtown Little Rock's businesses is calling on Arkansas' governor to issue an order extending workplace anti-discrimination protections to gay and lesbian state employees.

 

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership's board of directors on Friday called on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to issue an order protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hutchinson, a Republican, had floated the idea last week as he called for changes to a religious objections measure.

 

Charnella King a parent of students in the to-be consolidated Hughes School District.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Hughes School District tried unsuccessfully on Thursday to become the first in the state to try to save itself from consolidation by utilizing a newly enacted law. After denying a waiver request the Arkansas Board of Education voted 7-1 to consolidate the schools into the West Memphis School District effective July 1st.

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.

Cuba
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.

NASCAR

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.

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