Arkansas Politics Blog

U.S. Senator John Boozman in the Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters in 2016 during a campaign interview.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Republican presidential field may not like President Obama’s announcement  he will travel to Cuba next month but U.S. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas welcomes the step. The Republican told KUAR he supports the president’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

“I’m very supportive of him going," said Boozman. "We haven’t gotten any place doing what we’ve done. I’m very much in favor of making it such that we have a relationship with Cuba, trading with Cuba. When you trade you’re not only trading goods and services but you’re trading ideas and values."

There was an exchange between Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich at the South Carolina debate last weekend about Medicaid expansion that illustrates what Governor Asa Hutchinson was talking about in his press conference yesterday.

Hutchinson said continuing some form of coverage for 250,000 low-income people (the Affordable Care Act enabled funds for this new population) does not mean that Arkansas Republicans at the state level want the ACA to be the federal healthcare law. He still, as he has always said, opposes it.

March Rubio supporters
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio’s campaign on Tuesday announced the support of 28 Arkansas legislators including several in leadership positions. Some had previously pledged support with about a dozen newly declared backers. State Senate President Jonathan Dismang was among those at the state Capitol offering his endorsement for the first time. Dismang said the U.S. Senator from Florida is a unifying force.

“I think the party is divided,” said Dismang. “It’s important that we have someone that the majority of folks can get around. I think Rubio’s that guy.”

Asa Hutchinson healthcare
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson is defending Republican legislators backing his Medicaid expansion plan as early voting begins for Arkansas’s March 1 primary. 

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

A few more Arkansas endorsements are on deck for Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio. A press release from the campaign said an event at the Capitol on Tuesday will "announce a growing list of support from Arkansas lawmakers."

Support from some of the state's most prominent elected officials has yet to be secured after former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race following a 9th place Iowa finish. 

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) in February.

In a rare bi-partisan moment the U.S. Senate - or all but one member - was prepared to take a step on Thursday to change part of the nation's juvenile justice system. President Obama's State of the Union address in January harped on criminal justice as an area where common ground might be found.

The congressional news site Roll Call has an account of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas ruffling the feathers of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Arkansas Surgeon General Gregory Bledsoe speaking at the winter meeting of the County Judges Association of Arkansas.
Association of Arkansas Counties

The surgeon general of Arkansas made the case to the County Judges Association of Arkansas at its winter meeting that continuing Medicaid expansion will help free up state funds for other programs, such as the governor's highway plan.

The president of the association, Judge David Hudson of Sebastian County, said the group may take a position before the special session on Medicaid expansion expected in April. 

As Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders claimed victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday, Arkansans now have a renewed sense of the top candidates as the state eyes its own primary 3 weeks away. 

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key testifying to a joint meeting of the Education Committees.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A plan to scale back bonus pay for Arkansas teachers with National Board Certification was withdrawn on Monday under the direction of the governor’s office. The proposed revision from the state Department of Education was also under pressure from both the state’s largest union and non-union teachers groups.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (center) signs a black history month declaration while sitting beside State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (right).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson used the stature of his office to commemorate Black History month with African-American leaders and dozens of school children at the Capitol, Monday. The governor signed a declaration and lent his voice.

“It is not a time for African-Americans to celebrate your own history by yourself. It is a time that you share African-American history with everyone else,” said Hutchinson.

The Republican governor said everyone must be vigilant in protecting the gains of the past.