Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’s newly-implemented work requirement for recipients of the state’s Medicaid expansion program is the subject of a new federal lawsuit seeking to remove the requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Health Law Program, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of three recipients of the state’s expanded Medicaid program, known as Arkansas Works. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma as plaintiffs.

National Weather Service

Late summer usually means hot, dry weather in Arkansas, but according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Cook, predictions for the middle of  this month include highs in the 80s and the poential for heavy rain, "which is a little bit unusual." While rainfall is helping the state avoid wildfires, it's a mixed bag for agriculture industry.

Arkansas Board of Apportionment

On a gray afternoon, Nick Wiench walks to the University of Central Arkansas's Torreyson Library. He studies philosophy and film, not political science, but he's concerned about an easily-overlooked part of the electoral system.

"I know gerrymandering is the thing where they split up basically the districts almost by Republican and Democrat to try and get the most votes into their own political party. It's kind of biased, in a way… but I'm not sure exactly how we can fix it," Wiench said. "It's not exactly a smooth thing that we can do."

But now, two almost identical proposals are seeking to change the way Arkansas draws both its congressional and state legislative districts. 

Bill Gwatney
Arkansas Business

Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the murder of Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He was shot August 13, 2008 at the party’s state headquarters in Little Rock and died several hours later. The gunman would be shot and killed by police later that afternoon.

The Arkansas State Plant Board welcomes a new director on Monday.  Butch Calhoun will lead the 101-year-old agency that regulates agricultural policies in the state.  It's the same board that made the closely-watched decision last fall to ban the herbicide dicamba.  Calhoun, who's a native of Des Arc, spoke with Ann Kenda of Arkansas Public Media about his thoughts going into this high-profile position.

He takes over from Terry Walker, who announced his retirement last month.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's departure from the state Department of Human Services more than a decade ago is the subject of a new lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of the state Democratic Party.

The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of party spokesman Reed Brewer, alleges the Department of Human Services violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding parts of Rutledge's personnel file during her time as a staff attorney at the department.

Judge Mark Derrick
Bad Government In Arkansas Blog

A civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit alleging that an Arkansas district court judge is running an illegal “debtors’ prison” in White County. The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law contends that Judge Mark Derrick not only imposes excessive fines without evaluating the ability of defendants to pay, but also jails defendants for nonpayment 30 days at a time.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, all residents of White County, who say they have been jailed or otherwise threatened with legal punishment for being unable to pay court-ordered fines.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre
www.therep.org

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, which shut down in April because of financial difficulties, is preparing to reopen with a new season of performances in January.

The turnaround of the professional theater is thanks to more than $500,000 in donations, which was matched by the Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs, according to Ruth Shepherd, the chair-elect for The Rep’s board of directors.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' junior U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton says he's running for reelection in 2020, but that his focus now is on helping Republicans win state and national offices in this year's midterm races.

Cotton appeared at a political event Wednesday and said he thinks Republicans will hold their majority in the House of Representatives and expand their majority in the Senate.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The state Tax Reform and Relief Task Force on Tuesday adopted a proposal by the panel’s co-chairs to back potential legislation to cut the state’s marginal tax rate to 6%, as well as backing another measure to join the growing list of states to cash in on remote or Internet sales tax bounty.

The two proposals were among a working list of nearly 20 corporate and income tax proposals and exemptions that lawmakers have sifted through for nearly a year to decide if certain exclusions that reduce state revenue are justified, need to be changed, or nixed from Arkansas’ tax structure.

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