Arkansas House

The Arkansas Legislature has passed a bill that would modify child custody laws in the state.

Under Senate Bill 18, which the Arkansas House passed by a vote of 71-16, when determining child custody in a matter of divorce or paternity, the rule would be changed to where there is a "rebuttable" presumption that joint custody would be in the “best interest of the child.” 

Arkansas House

A bill that would allow campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses is being sent back to committee after failing to pass the Arkansas House.

Representatives voted 32-59 Monday on House Bill 1728,  which was not enough votes to advance it to the Senate.

Speaking on her bill before the vote, Rep. Megan Godfrey, D-Springdale, said the legislation would not cover any existing or full-time childcare commitments.  

The Arkansas Razorbacks celebrating after Saturday's come from behind win over Oral Roberts University. Monday night the team will face the Baylor Bears.
University of Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks have advanced to the Elite 8 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and will face the Baylor Bears Monday night in Indianapolis. It follows Saturday’s victory over Oral Roberts University, which was the first time the team had reached the championship since 1995.

For a preview of the game, KUAR News spoke with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Senior Editor Rex Nelson who has also been a longtime college sports broadcaster.

KUAR’s MICHAEL HIBBLEN: First, how do you feel as the University of Arkansas heads into this next round?

ACLU / Zoom

A bill banning gender-affirming medical care for Arkansans under 18 is now one step away from becoming law.

The Senate on Monday passed House Bill 1570, which bans transgender youth from obtaining gender transition care, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy. The bill, called the Save Adolescents from Experimentation, or SAFE, Act, would open physicians up to civil litigation and licensure penalties for providing gender-transition related therapies, including surgery, to minors.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to the Arkansas Legislative Council Monday, asking for an extension of his state pandemic emergency.
KATV-Channel 7

Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked lawmakers Monday (March 29) to approve his 60-day extension of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, and they agreed but not without lengthy debate.

On a voice vote from the Arkansas Legislative Council, state legislators extended the emergency order although several members raised objections. In essence, the legislature voted “no” on a proposal by Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, to deny the governor the extension. After members voted down the rejection of his request, they voted to approve five executive orders related to the emergency declaration.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections, a move opponents have said will give providers broad powers to turn away LGBTQ patients and others.

The measure says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience. The new law won’t take effect until late this summer.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. delivers his third annual State of the City Address virtually.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. delivered his third annual State of the City address Thursday where he announced his plans to improve the quality of life for residents. During his virtual speech, Scott listed ways he plans to rebrand Little Rock through his one-cent sales tax increase and “Rebuild The Rock Experience.”  

Scott began his speech with addressing the hardships the city has endured because of the pandemic. Frontline workers, business owners, and students were invited to tell their stories on how COVID-19 has personally impacted them. 

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

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity, making the state the second to approve such a restriction so far this year.

The Republican governor approved the measure despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth. Hundreds of college athletes have also urged the NCAA to refuse to hold championships in states that enact such bans.

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, questions Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Tuesday during a meeting of the House Committee on Financial Services about what counties will get COVID-19 assistance funds.
U.S. House of Representatives

The world’s seven largest economies, including the U.S., have agreed to support developing countries battling COVID-19. But U.S. Rep. French Hill, a Republican of Arkansas’ 2nd district, is objecting to Russia, China and Iran being including among the countries sharing about $650 billion.

As a senior Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Hill questioned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Tuesday about the plan, with a funding amount that is below the threshold that would require congressional approval.

Arkansas House

A bill that would transform Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion program is one vote away from going to the governor’s office.

The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee on Tuesday, by a vote of 11-7, advanced Senate Bill 410 to the House floor.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday over 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in Arkansas.
Governor's Office / YouTube

The state of Arkansas has administered 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday (March 23) during his weekly briefing.

Counting vaccinations delivered through federal programs, 1,008,575 shots have been administered out of 1,466,950 distributed – a 68.75% rate, Hutchinson said. Those numbers came from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said his goal was 1.1 million shots administered by the end of the month.

Arkansas House

An Arkansas House committee has advanced a bill that would put into the state’s code guidelines on the restraint of children in schools. 

Arkansas House

A bill that would allow college-level student athletes in Arkansas to make money off of their name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness passed its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday.

The House Education Committee by a voice vote, with no dissenting votes heard, approved House Bill 1671, which would create the "Student-Athlete Publicity Rights Act."

Arkansas Legislature

An effort to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that would return fines to businesses that violated COVID-19 public health guidelines failed in the state legislature Tuesday.

Members of the House of Representatives voted 39 to 40, with 21 members voting present or not voting, not to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 301, sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Jonesboro. The vote followed an abbreviated meeting of the Senate in which members voted 19 to 13 to override the veto.

Arkansas House

The Arkansas House of Representatives has advanced a resolution that would extend the length of this year’s legislative session until April 30 and allow lawmakers to reconvene later in the year for redistricting duties. Under the resolution, the session would be able to recess earlier, if the House and Senate agree on a date.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed legislation requiring the state to refund fines imposed on businesses violating coronavirus safety rules, as the state’s virus cases and hospitalizations continued to drop.

The sponsor of the refund legislation said he’ll seek an override Tuesday, which only requires a simple majority of both chambers of the Legislature. The bill would have required the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Division to refund about $38,000 to bars and restaurants for violating the state’s rules, which included capacity limits.

Arkansas House

A bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in school-sponsored girls’ and women’s sports in Arkansas is on its way to the governor’s office. The state House gave final approval on Monday, voting 75-18 to pass Senate Bill 354.

Arkansas Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray speaking on Sunday's Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business & Politics

Democratic Party of Arkansas chairman Michael John Gray said Sunday that lowering filing fees to zero in some instances is the best way to ensure competition for Republican-held seats in the state Legislature.

Last week, the party voted to eliminate filing fees for Democratic candidates who are challenging incumbent GOP state legislators or where there is no incumbent Democratic legislator. The party also lowered its filing fees for U.S. Senate, Congress, governor, other constitutional offices, and incumbent legislative seats.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says her new lawsuit against Walgreens is part of a continuing mission of accountability for the opioid crisis, and she says her experience as the state’s top legal officer makes her more qualified to be the next governor of Arkansas.

In a Talk Business & Politics interview, Rutledge claimed Walgreens should have done more to curtail the prescription of opioids. By not doing so, the national pharmacy chain has contributed to the black market for the extremely addictive drugs.

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Legislature has given final approval to a bill that allows for an increase or decrease in the monthly "supervision fee" that a parolee must pay to the Arkansas Division of Community Correction. 

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Legislature has passed bills that would amend telemedicine laws in an attempt to make permanent laws that are currently temporarily in place due to the pandemic.

Arkansas House Speaker-Designate Matthew Shepherd
KATV, Channel 7

Arkansas House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, said that the session’s expected April 9th recess and May 3rd sine die will likely be extended. He told members at the end of the day’s House session and elaborated to reporters in his end of the week press conference.

“We’ll file a resolution to extend the session by a little bit,” Shepherd said. “I know members are concerned about having enough time to get their bills through and get them moved on.”

The legislature will meet Monday and Tuesday of next week, then take off for spring break.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Legislation that would allow doctors to refuse to treat someone due to religious or moral objections is headed to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

The state Senate on Thursday voted 25-6 for a bill that says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience.

The measure won approval despite objections from LGBTQ rights groups and the business community.

Arkansas House

A bill that would establish statewide housing standards for rented properties in Arkansas passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

The House Insurance and Commerce committee, by a vote of 11-6, advanced an amended version of House Bill 1563, which would establish a warranty of habitability for landlords who own more than four properties in the state. 

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday passed a series of bills involving medical practices in Arkansas. By a vote of 18-12, the Senate passed House Bill 1198, which removes the supervision requirement for certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNA’s, and instead replaced the term with “in consultation with.”

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Legislature has passed a bill that would allow pharmacies to administer up to six months’ worth of birth control for patients seeking it. The Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to House Bill 1069.

Jan Morgan
Talk Business & Politics

An Arkansas gun rights activist who ran unsuccessfully for governor three years ago said Wednesday that she’s challenging Sen. John Boozman in the state’s Republican primary in 2022.

Jan Morgan said she will run against Boozman, who is seeking his third term next year. Former President Donald Trump last week endorsed Boozman’s reelection bid.

Arkansas Senate

The Senate State Agencies and Public Affairs committee spent nearly an hour Tuesday hearing about and discussing two possible amendments to the Arkansas Constitution. Both deal with the power of the legislature itself.