Steve Brawner / Talk Business & Politics

Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics.

He is also a syndicated columnist in 10 Arkansas newspapers.

You can email him at brawnersteve@mac.com or follow him on Twitter: @SteveBrawner.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday the state’s unemployment rate will be announced as 3.7 percent Friday and said he hopes disputes over trade policies end soon.

The state’s previous unemployment rate was 3.8 percent. Hutchinson preempted an announcement by the Department of Workforce Services by a day while speaking at an agricultural summit in Little Rock.

The Advancing American Agriculture: Ag Technology & the Law conference was hosted by the National Ag Law Center, the National Association of Attorneys General, and the Agriculture and Food Law Consortium.

Justice Courtney Goodson and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling are headed for a runoff in the Arkansas Supreme Court race, while Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston was leading in the secretary of state’s race.

Late Tuesday, Goodson led the three-person race with 37.28% of the vote. Sterling was second with 33.82%. Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson trailed with 28.9%.

Because no candidate reached 50%, Goodson and Sterling will face each other in a runoff as part of the general election Nov. 6.

Clarke Tucker
Jackson Floyd / KUAR News

Arkansas State Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, won the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, avoiding a runoff and moving on to challenge U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, in the general election.

In other races, U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, were on their way to easily defeating their Republican Party challengers.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson talking with reporters in his office at the state Capitol.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to expedite an appeal of a judge’s order blocking the issuance of medical marijuana cultivation licenses. He also said Monday that President Donald Trump is ”winning on better trade deals for America” but cautioned against engaging in a trade war with China.

Speaking to reporters in his office Monday, Hutchinson said the state has no choice but to wait for the Supreme Court regarding medical marijuana cultivation licenses.

Scott Bennett Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A draft of President Trump’s infrastructure plan leaked two-and-a-half weeks ago is “very much a rich get richer plan” that wouldn’t result in large amounts of money for Arkansas, Department of Transportation Director Scott Bennett said Thursday.

Bennett made his comments to the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee.

The memo describing the plan’s framework was leaked Jan. 22, but the White House has said it will unveil its full $1.5 trillion plan Feb. 12.

Senator Jeremy Hutchinson
arkleg.state.ar.us

State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson will decide in a couple of weeks if he will run for re-election in what would be a contested race with Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, and said he is seriously considering running for Arkansas attorney general in 2022.

In an interview Wednesday, Hutchinson said he conducted a poll ahead of his race with Hammer, and the results were encouraging. He is talking to family, friends and his law partners as he decides whether or not to run.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas legislators Monday received an outline of the state’s general revenue budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year as the session began what is expected to be its final week.

The $5.5 billion general revenue budget does not differ significantly from the governor’s budget presented late in 2016.

Will Bond Bryan King Dan Greenberg
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Monday that would require offenders sentenced three times previously to the Department of Correction to serve at least 80% of their sentences on the next commitment.

Senate Bill 177 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed by a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate.

Governor Asa Hutchinson radio address
Office of the Governor

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is concerned about how President Donald Trump’s trade protectionist talk could affect Arkansas’ economy. He also opposes a bill creating education savings accounts from tax-deductible donations because a fiscal impact statement shows it would cost the state budget $10 million in its first year.

During a Thursday (Jan. 26) press availability in his office, Hutchinson was asked about the impact of President Trump’s presidency on global trade following the announcement that Mexico’s president has cancelled a meeting between the two world leaders.

marijuana
npr.org

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the first two medical marijuana bills into law Monday.

House Bill 1026 by Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, extends the deadline for rule making from 120 days after the election to 180. It passed the Senate Jan. 19 after earlier passing the House.

Pages