Wesley Brown/ Talk Business & Politics

Wesley Brown is the Business Editor for Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by email at wesbrocomm@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BrownOnBusiness.

Governor Hutchinson reorganize state government
Governor's Office / You Tube

Before an overflow crowed in the conference room at the state Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday unveiled his long-awaited “transformation plan” to shrink the size of the Arkansas state government from 42 to 15 agencies. It’s a proposal that has been in the making almost since he took office in early 2015.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday against long-serving state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, by local members of national atheist group who say the Arkansas lawmaker violated their constitutional rights by blocking them on social media.

Betty Jo Fernau, Catherine Shoshone, Robert Barringer and Karen Dempsey, all members of American Atheists Inc., filed the civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against the Faulkner County Republican lawmaker for violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Arkansas state law.

marijuana
npr.org

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission on Thursday officially agreed to a pact with Boston-based Public Consulting Group to review and score 203 pot dispensary applications and then select up to 32 startup companies to kickstart the fledgling industry by fall.

Personal income growth in Arkansas accelerated ahead of most of the nation in the second quarter as oversized earnings from the Natural State’s volatile farming sector boosted contributions to the net state earnings.

File photo. Construction of Big River Steel plant in Mississippi County.
bigriversteel.com

Several high-profile steelmakers and investment groups are said to be bidding for the assets of Big River Steel LLC in northeast Arkansas, as billions of dollars pour into the industry after President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on cheap steel imports from China and U.S. allies.

In a response to Talk Business & Politics, a Big River spokesperson said the company was fielding funding offers and reviewing “strategic alternatives” amid the domestic steel industry’s recent upswing as the gap between U.S. and international steel prices has widened.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson at Wednesday's announcement that the company will be expanding its south Arkansas facility.
Governor's Office

Arkansas’s ongoing efforts to grow the state’s aerospace and defense sector got a big boost Wednesday after Sacramento, Calif.-based Aerojet Rocketdyne unveiled plans to expand the company’s solar-powered rocket motor manufacturing facility in East Camden.

In a press event at the Governor’s Conference room at the State Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Aerojet CEO and President Eileen Drake announced that the California defense contractor would invest more than $50 million to expand its sprawling south Arkansas armaments factory and hire 140 new workers over the next three years.

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.

Arkansas budget coffers were flush with new revenue entering fiscal year 2019 as strong sales tax collections and rise in car purchases reflected near across-the-board growth in most segments of the state’s economy, according to the monthly revenue report released Thursday by the Arkansas Department of Finance.

marijuana
npr.org

The state Medical Marijuana Commission, after a long debate and lots of questions, gave the green light Wednesday for state procurement officials to hire a third-party contractor to review and score applications for cannabis pharmacies across the state.

The decision came after rancorous debate earlier during the 90-minute meeting that led the commission to toss more than a dozen marijuana cultivator applications that did not make the final cut for pot greenhouse licenses that were awarded to five companies in late February.

When Arkansas voters took the step to legalize medical marijuana in the November 2016 election, the Natural State was hailed as an outlier for being the first state in the Southeast U.S. to take such a bold step.

Today, with Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and other surrounding states moving with medical marijuana programs or early stage plans and ballot initiatives to legalize pot, Arkansas is now an example of a “red state” facing marijuana implementation problems with some officials in charge of the process on record as being opposed to the use of marijuana in any capacity.

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