Arkansas Government

Governor Asa Hutchinson Gov
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson says it will be January at the earliest before he decides whether to push for continuing the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson is hiring the outgoing state Senate president as his new chief of staff.

Hutchinson on Wednesday announced that he was hiring Sen. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville and that the Russellville lawmaker would also serve as transition director. Hutchinson, a Republican, defeated Democratic nominee Mike Ross in Tuesday's governor's race.

Lamoureux has served as state Senate president since 2013 and was first elected to the chamber in a special election in 2009. Lamoureux was re-elected to a four year term in 2012.

The first quarter of the state’s fiscal year has come to a close and finance officials reported Thursday that revenue is slightly below forecast. John Shellnut, with the Department of Finance and Administration, said individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, and sales tax collections all fell below forecast for September.

He expects the sales tax shortfall, the most significant problem, to improve.

A former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services has pleaded guilty to providing official assistance in exchange for bribes from the owner of two mental health companies.

Federal officials announced Thursday that 49-year-old Steven B. Jones had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges. Jones, of Marion, will be sentenced April 2, 2015.

President Barack Obama has nominated the chairwoman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The White House announced Thursday its nomination of Colette Honorable as a commissioner on the agency that regulates the transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil.

Sec. of State Mark Martin (R) / Sec. of State's Office

A second Republican candidate in as many months is coming under scrutiny for allegations of illegally claiming too many homestead property tax exemptions.

Late last week the liberal, investigative blog Blue Hog Report looked into the records of Secretary of State Mark Martin, finding he claimed the tax credit for both of his homes since at least 2008. The law only allows the credit for one residence.

Arkansas has awarded nearly $1.4 million in grants for structural improvements in eight communities. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced the grants on Thursday.

The funding is provided to areas where more than half of the population has low to moderate incomes. The six cities awarded grants are Beedeville, Brinkley, Evening Shade, Pocahontas, Tuckerman and Wilmot. Saline and White counties also received grants.

The Texarkana mayor says he will manage a golf course rather than seek re-election.

Mayor Wayne Smith said Monday at City Hall that he would have run for a second term if he hadn't gotten the golf job. He announced he has taken a job as operational manager of the New Haven Golf Course.

He was elected mayor in 2010. His last day is Dec. 31. Smith says he's a golfer and called the new job "an ideal situation." He says he'd like to get his golf game into single digits.

Smith says former State Rep. David Haak's decision to run for mayor didn't influence his decision.

Arkansas Drug Director Fran Flener is retiring after more than seven years in the post.

Gov. Mike Beebe's office announced Monday that Flener is retiring effective Thursday and Steve Varady will serve as director for the rest of the year. Varady has been the program manager in Flener's office since 2009.