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.

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.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker is set to hear arguments Thursday in Little Rock concerning a back-and-forth civil case pitting Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and a Little Rock law firm seeking to clarify the state’s repeated rejection of proposed constitutional amendments.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed briefs with the Arkansas Supreme Court raising legal questions in the state’s expedited appeal of a Pulaski County Circuit Court decision to block the award of medical marijuana cultivation center licenses.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday declared the state Medical Marijuana Commission’s process of scoring and awarding Arkansas’ first highly-prized licenses to five pot cultivators as “null and void” under the constitutional amendment approved by voters in the November 2016 election.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Monday he will call lawmakers back to the State Capitol shortly after the ongoing fiscal session to pass legislation to address growing concerns on rising health costs associated with so-called PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers.

As Arkansas lawmakers headed to Little Rock Monday for the fiscal session, former Rep. Eddie Wayne Cooper, D-Melbourne, pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million from a Springfield, Mo.-based health care charity.

Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Cooper, 51, waived his right Monday to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush to charges of one count of conspiracy to embezzle from the nonprofit organization.

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