Arkansas Politics

Arkansas Advocates For Children And Families Executive Director Rich Huddleston.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

One of Arkansas’s leading advocacy groups for children and low-income people is gearing up for next month’s legislative session. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families on Thursday in Little Rock held the last of three pre-legislative conferences hosted throughout the state. Expanding access to pre-K and reforming the juvenile justice system were among a slew of issues in which AACF's staff and guest speakers briefed attendees.

Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says he remains opposed to allowing gay couples to marry despite recent rulings against his state's ban, but says he's eased his opposition to allowing them to enter into civil unions.

The two-term Democratic governor said Wednesday that he's changed his stance on some issues regarding gay rights, but still believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Nearly two weeks ago, Talk Business & Politics reported that Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would start a law firm in Little Rock, Jonesboro and Washington, D.C. Wednesday McDaniel made the details known.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson rolled out details of his inauguration Wednesday, which will fill up parts of two days and nights on January 12 and 13. Hutchinson named Dave and Sarah Wengel as 2015 inaugural co-chairs.

"This inaugural celebration of Governor-Elect Hutchinson represents the beginning of a new day in our state, full of promise and opportunity for every Arkansan,” said Dave Wengel. “It’s the renewal of the American Dream right here in the Natural State, and Sarah and I are delighted to be part of it."

A rundown of the inauguration events include:

Governor Mike Beebe in his office.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

As Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson prepares to move next month into his new office at the north end of the Capitol, Governor Mike Beebe is preparing to make his exit.

One of the Democrat's signature accomplishments was getting passage of the private option, an amended part of the federal health care law. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman sat down with the outdoing Governor to talk about how his management style helped cut the state’s uninsured rate in half.

Arkansas Capitol
Ron Breeding / KUAR News

Arkansas House members have selected chairs for the powerful Budget and Audit committees, as well as Legislative Council, as they prepare for next year's legislative session.

House members of the Budget Committee on Tuesday voted Republican Rep. Lane Jean as the co-chairman of the panel, which considers appropriations bills and crafts the state's budget for the coming year. Democratic Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville is the other co-chairman of the panel.

Look for a change in leadership at the helm of another state agency as Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson puts his stamp on workforce development.

Arkansas Department of Workforce Services director Artee Williams says he has been told that he will not be retained in his post in the new governor’s administration.

Williams was originally appointed DWS director by Gov. Mike Huckabee in March 2004. He was reappointed by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2007.

Mark Pryor
Arkansas Times/C-SPAN 2

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is warning about the dangers of "hyper-partisanship" and urging Washington lawmakers to find ways to work together as he prepares to leave office after 12 years.

The outgoing two-term senator from Arkansas on Monday delivered his farewell speech on the Senate floor. Pryor, the only Democratic member of Arkansas' congressional delegation, was defeated by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton in his re-election bid last month.

Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The head of the state's largest business lobbying group says he expects court challenges aimed at clarifying questions surrounding a new constitutional amendment that imposes new ethics restrictions on lawmakers and loosens term limits.

U.S. Rep.-elect French Hill (R-2nd Dist.)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Kauffman: I’m joined by central Arkansas’s Congressman-elect French Hill. Thanks for coming down.

Hill: My pleasure, good to be with you.

Committee Assignment

Kauffman: It’s not quite final yet, but you’ll be taking your seat next month and you’ve already received a committee assignment – and it’s an important one. You’ll be dealing with housing, banks…names like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.