Arkansas Politics Blog

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson’s five-year highway funding bill is now law but legislators are already looking to 2017 to make changes. The $50-million a year plan is largely funded by surplus and general revenue funds. A number of Republican lawmakers, as well as Democrats, desire as a more dependable, dedicated user-based funding source for a long-term approach.

State Representative Andy Davis sponsored the governor’s plan but says more highway legislation is expected in next year’s regular legislative session, “I don’t think this is the end of highway bills for five years.”

File photo. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to reporters after addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the beginning of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s worked with fellow Republicans to keep a transgender bathroom bill off the agenda of a special session he called to address highway funding. Instead, Hutchinson plans to work with lawmakers on legislation for next year’s lengthier, regular legislative session.

During a press conference, Hutchinson said adding the item to the special session has the potential to detract from his primary objective.

The Red River in southwest Arkansas.
US Geological Survey

The governor’s short-term highway funding plan is splitting the agenda with 14 other items in the special session of the Arkansas Legislature convening Thursday. Bills have yet to be filed but drafts are drawn up to re-organize the state’s levee system and to end a workers compensation fund among other items.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's call for a special session of the Arkansas Legislature on highway funding has a more expansive agenda than anticipated. 

A merger between state agencies, re-organizing levee districts, abolishing a state-funded workers compensation fund, changes to school board elections, and a one-year pause in grading school districts have all made it on the docket. 

The Republican governor formally issued his agenda on Monday for the session set to begin on Thursday.

Agenda items on the governor's call:

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters at the Capitol
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Republicans wasted no time in letting voters know they do not accept President Obama’s directive on transgender access to public school bathrooms and locker rooms while some Arkansas Democrats are keeping a low profile.

LRSD Civic Advisory Committee Chair Greg Adams tells Education Commissioner Johnny Key the group wants him to resign. Outgoing Superintendent Baker Kurrus watches, saying afterward "well said."
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Frustrations of advocates for Little Rock’s traditional public schools were on display at the Arkansas Department of Education build on Thursday even as the state Board moved toward a creating a new civic advisory group and a quickened academic review of the state-run district. 

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman reports that the state Board’s response to unrest likely won’t be enough to quell the community’s disdain.

File photo. Arkansas State Board of Education auditorium.

A coalition of public school advocates lead by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel is planning to pack the state Department of Education building Thursday morning to make their case against what is being characterized as the “re-segregating” of Little Rock schools. It comes on the heels of one charter school apologizing for not sending recruitment mail to certain ZIP codes.

A screenshot of an advertisement from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge linking Republican incumbent John Boozman to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge is hoping GOP anxiety that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will hurt Republicans down the ballot will materialize in his race against incumbent John Boozman. 

The Eldridge campaign released a web advertisement titled “Harassment” on Monday that strings together about a dozen statements made by Mr. Trump demeaning women. 

File. Gov. Asa Hutchinson's chief of staff Michael Lamoureux when he was a state senator from Russellville.
Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff says he is departing for “another professional opportunity.” Michael Lamoureux has held the position since the governor began his term in January 2015.

Previous to working in the governor’s office Lamoureux was President Pro Tem of the Arkansas Senate. His first term in the legislature began in 2004 and he served as House Minority leader before the state's great political transformation from Democratic to Republican control.

File. Education Commissioner Johnny Key speaking to reporters in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Education Commissioner Johnny Key is sticking with his decision to bring in Bentonville's Michael Poore as superintendent for the state-controlled Little Rock School District. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman spoke to Key about trust, an academic vision, charter schools, segregation, and school closings.