Arkansas Senate

A bill that would have replaced the state’s existing Confederate Flag Day with a newly-created Arkansas Day failed in a Senate committee Monday.

House Bill 1916 fell one vote short of the needed five in the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee to advance to the full Senate. Members voted 4-3 for it, with one member not voting. 

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Arkansas’ population has grown by more than 87,000 people over the past decade.

The data released Monday shows that Arkansas’ population, including U.S. military and civilian employees and their families living overseas, totaled more than 3 million people. The state’s population after the 2010 Census was more than 2.9 million.

The increase means the number of congressional seats in the state will remain unchanged at four. Its number of votes in the Electoral College will also remain unchanged at six.

Arkansas Legislature

A bill that would do away with early voting on the Monday before an Election Day has passed out of committee after failing in the same committee earlier in the day.

Following numerous attempts at passage, members of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee voted 11 to 4 to pass Senate Bill 485 in a meeting Monday afternoon. The vote came after the same committee failed to pass the bill earlier in the day. 

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas addressed a wide array of issues facing Congress on Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business & Politics

Still coy on running for President in 2024, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., offered a wide range of opinions in an interview Sunday on foreign and domestic policy issues and the 2022 and 2024 election cycle.

Cotton, the state’s junior senator, was re-elected to a six-year term in November 2020. He was active on the campaign trail for fellow Republicans in 2020 and expects to travel broadly to support GOP candidates in 2022. He’s still not willing to discuss speculation that he may be a Presidential candidate in 2024.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed SB 298, the Arkansas Sovereignty Act of 2021, over concerns it would hinder local and state law enforcement cooperation with federal law enforcement entities. It is Hutchinson’s third veto of the session.

“The partnership between state and local law enforcement officers is essential for the safety of Arkansas citizens. This bill will break that partnership and put the safety of Arkansans at risk,” the governor said.

Arkansas House

A bill that would establish statewide minimum housing standards is one step closer to going to the governor, after passing the Arkansas House on Thursday.

By a vote of 89-0, with one member voting present, representatives passed Senate Bill 594.

The legislation establishes minimum housing standards for rented properties that landlords must provide such as an "available source of electricity" and a "functioning" roof.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The leaders of the two legislative chambers and Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined expectations for the end of the 93rd Arkansas General Assembly, and it should be an unprecedented and lengthy adjournment.

Holding a joint press conference Thursday to review the Revenue Stabilization Act (RSA), which keeps the state’s budget balanced, the trio of leaders explained their plans for completing the session business and taking care of additional matters later this year.

Cheryl Moore, a student at Shorter College in North Little Rock, on Thursday became the one millionth person in the state to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Governor's Office

Arkansas has marked 1 million coronavirus vaccine shots administered in the state so far.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson was on hand Thursday as health officials administered the shot to a student from Shorter College, which the governor said represents an age group the state is encouraging to get vaccinated.

Arkansas has had more than 334,000 virus cases and 5,708 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began last year.

The state on Wednesday recorded its biggest daily increase in virus cases in more than a month.

Arkansas House

The Arkansas House has voted to advance a bill that would prohibit public schools, as well as open enrollment charter schools in the state, from teaching certain aspects about racism.

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate has passed the appropriation for the state Department of Commerce for the 2021-2022 fiscal year after failing it on three previous votes. 

Senators voted 28-2 on Wednesday, gaining one additional vote for the needed 27 to pass it. The Senate failed to pass the appropriation both on Monday and Tuesday. 

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would have prohibited public schools and state-supported higher education institutions in Arkansas from requiring educators refer to students by their preferred names or pronouns failed in a legislative committee on Wednesday. 

The Senate Education Committee, through a voice vote, did not have the support needed to advance House Bill 1749 to the Senate, where if it passed again, would have gone to the governor.   

Johnny Cash Festival
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Man in Black is about to get his own day in Arkansas.

The Arkansas House on Tuesday gave unanimous final approval to a bill that would make Feb. 26 “Johnny Cash Day,” sending it to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who plans to sign it.

The day won’t be a legal holiday but instead will be a memorial day marked by an annual proclamation from the governor.

It is the state’s latest effort to honor Cash, who was born in tiny Kingsland, about 60 miles south of Little Rock. His boyhood home in Dyess has been restored over the last decade.

Arkansas House

A bill that would limit teaching certain ideas concerning racism has passed an Arkansas House committee after going through an amendment process.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would prohibit entities in Arkansas from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, also called a "vaccine passport," has passed in the state Senate.

By a vote of 23-8 Tuesday, senators advanced Senate Bill 615. It prohibits the state, a state agency or entity, a political subdivision of the state or any state or local official from requiring an individual produce documentation that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Demonstrators at the Arkansas State Capitol last June following George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Chris Banks / KUAR News

With the conviction Tuesday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is prioritizing safety first, as he anticipates potential demonstrations that may occur in the state and throughout the nation.

“We understand that there may be civil protests that will occur,” Hutchinson said at a press conference. “We are prepared to make sure that they can be handled peacefully and that we can make sure that the protestors, if that is the case, are well protected and have the right to exercise their first amendment.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans on Tuesday to still get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines despite Johnson and Johnson distribution pause.
Governor's Office / YouTube

With a “worrisome point” worth watching being a recent rise in hospitalizations, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday (April 20) said state officials’ focus is to increase COVID-19 vaccine demand to avoid the “jeopardy” of cases rising again later this year.

COVID-related hospitalizations totaled 177 in Tuesday’s report, up 13 from the previous 24 hours, and up from the 148 on the previous Tuesday. The governor called the number of hospitalizations a “worrisome point” that he and other state officials are monitoring.

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate failed to pass appropriations for the Arkansas Department of Commerce's 2021-2022 fiscal year on Monday. Members of the Senate voted 20-8 with five members not voting, which was ultimately not enough to pass Senate Bill 132.

In speaking against the bill,  Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, said he could not vote for any appropriation that would "fund and pay for the head of the Department of Commerce, Sec. Mike Preston."

Legislature Matthew Shepherd
Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

Should the Arkansas Legislature have the power to call itself into an extraordinary session?

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Monday (April 19) passed SJR 10, a proposed change to the state constitution for voter consideration. The resolution could be one of three proposals that legislators refer to voters for the 2022 general election.

Arkansas House

A bill that establishes statewide minimum housing standards for rented properties in Arkansas is one vote away from going to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on this week's Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson may not have formally committed to a 2024 Presidential run, but he’s raising his profile to be a national voice in the 2022 cycle.

Hutchinson said Sunday in an exclusive Talk Business & Politics interview that beyond taking the reins as chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA) this summer, he plans to start a political action effort for education advocacy and to raise money for GOP candidates across the U.S. in the 2022 elections.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A constitutional amendment that would make it harder to amend the Arkansas Constitution or pass an initiated act passed the House of Representatives. Members voted 74-18-1 on Thursday to advance House Joint Resolution 1005.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would have established an online voting registration system in Arkansas failed to pass the state Senate on Thursday.

House Bill 1517, which passed the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, was one final vote away from passing the legislature and going to the governor.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a video announcing her candidacy for governor of Arkansas on Jan. 26.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ campaign on Thursday said she has raised nearly $5 million in her bid to be Arkansas’ next governor, breaking the record for quarterly fundraising in the state.

Sanders’ campaign said the majority of the more than $4.8 million raised during the first three months of the year came from out-of-state donors. More than $1.5 million came from Arkansans. Sanders’ campaign, which launched in January, said it held more than 50 events in Arkansas during the quarter.

Arkansas Senate

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that House Bill 1547 failed in a House committee last week. While that information is correct, the bill was later amended and has since passed the House. This story has been updated to reflect that change. 

A bill that would prohibit Arkansas from implementing any form of requirement for a "vaccine passport" has passed its first legislative hurdle.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee, by a voice vote Wednesday, advanced Senate Bill 615 to the full Senate.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers considered a variety of bills on Wednesday, but the main drama centered on the state’s Medicaid program. For the second day in a row, House members could not muster enough votes to approve a Department of Human Services budget that includes funding for a revamped Medicaid expansion program.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would eliminate early voting in Arkansas on the Monday before an Election Day has failed in a Senate committee for a second time.

During a voice vote Tuesday, members of the Senate State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee did not have enough yes votes to advance Senate Bill 485. It would eliminate all early voting in Arkansas on the day before both a preferential primary or general election day.

Audubon Arkansas Board Chair Anna Warwick Riggs, State & Local Climate Strategy Director Gary Moody, , National Audubon SocietyGary Moody and state Rep. Denise Jones Ennett at Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
National Audubon Society

Conservation organization National Audubon Society has become the first nonprofit in Arkansas to be powered by 100% solar energy with its 35-kilowatt solar array at the Little Rock Audubon Center, officials said. Meanwhile, OMCO Solar announced Tuesday a partnership with Little Rock-based renewable energy company Entegrity Energy Partners.

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Legislature has given final approval to a bill that would allow campaign funds to be used for childcare services in certain circumstances.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 24-6, with 5 present, to pass House Bill 1728. It now goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that sets minimum housing standards for landlords in Arkansas passed the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 28-1, with six senators voting present. Senate Bill 594 now advances to the House.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans on Tuesday to still get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines despite Johnson and Johnson distribution pause.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas is among states pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of people developing unusual blood clots. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced they were investigating six cases of women who developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. One death was reported among the women.