Daniel Breen

All Things Considered Host/Reporter

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.

A native of the Natural State, Daniel served as a reporter and editor for Little Rock Central High School’s Tiger Newspaper and later graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a B.A. in mass communication. Daniel currently serves as a reporter and news anchor at KUAR, and as the host and producer of the weekly arts and culture interview show Arts Scene.

Daniel's work has been heard on NPR as well as numerous public radio stations in the South. His report on deaths at an outpatient surgical center for Arkansas Public Media earned him 2nd place in Enterprise/Investigative Reporting in the 2018 Arkansas-Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters contest. He has also done freelance production work for numerous media outlets and podcasts, including Vox, BBC Radio 4 and Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast.

In his spare time, Daniel enjoys playing guitar, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and exploring the wilderness of Arkansas.

Phone: (501) 349-7108

Email: daniel@kuar.org

Oaklawn.com

With the passage of November's constitutional amendment legalizing casino gambling in Arkansas, two of the state's mainstays of gaming are taking markedly different approaches to expansion. 

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis both announced multi-million-dollar expansion projects in the wake of the casino amendment's passage. But Oaklawn, a horse racing track that has operated since 1904, is choosing to downplay its new casino offerings as just another complement to its racetrack. Southland, a greyhound dog racing track, is embracing casino gaming whole-heartedly as public opinion shifts away from dog racing. 

UA Little Rock

Little Rock's only four-year public research university is preparing to expand its presence in Arkansas's capital. 

A grand opening for UA Little Rock Downtown is set for Wednesday at noon at the center's location on President Clinton Ave. in Little Rock's River Market district. It will offer meeting space, faculty lectures and a series of extended education courses not for college credit. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The five members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to accept an outside consulting group's scores for marijuana dispensary applications. 

With two new commissioners present, the commission effectively ended two years of regulatory setbacks that waylaid the implementation of the state's medical marijuana amendment, which Arkansas voters approved in Nov. 2016. 

With cultivation licenses already awarded, officials say medical cannabis will likely be available for purchase by the state's nearly 7,000 approved patients by April of 2019. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are partnering to fight package theft in Arkansas this holiday season.

Dubbed "Operation Porch Pirate," police forces in Little Rock, Sherwood and Fort Smith are teaming up with federal prosecutors and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to seek federal charges for mail thieves.

That could mean up to five years in federal prison with no parole, according to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Cody Hiland.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is asking for an investigation into a settlement that would result in the shutting down of the state's two largest coal-fired power plants.

In a statement, Rutledge said she would like the Arkansas Public Service Commission to review the pending settlement agreement between the Sierra Club, the National Parks Conservation Association, and Entergy Arkansas, which co-owns the two plants.

Governor Asa Hutchinson DHS director Cindy Gillespie
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says it's expanding an existing "helpline" to allow certain recipients of the state's Medicaid expansion program to report their 80 hours of work or work-related activity per month. 

DHS announced the change Wednesday after more than 12,000 enrollees in the program, known as Arkansas Works, lost their health insurance coverage for failing to comply with the work requirement for three consecutive months. 

Beginning Dec. 19, beneficiaries can report work hours and seek help with reporting by calling (855) 372-1084.

marijuana
npr.org

Companies selected to grow medical marijuana in Arkansas are on track to have their product ready for consumption by next April.

Representatives of the five companies approved to cultivate medicinal cannabis spoke to members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission at a commission meeting Wednesday. Of the five companies, two say they expect to harvest their first batch of marijuana by early spring.

Governor Asa Hutchinson  Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

In March 2017, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his intention to seek a waiver allowing a work requirement for certain recipients of the state's expanded Medicaid program, known as Arkansas Works. The requirement, because of which over 12,000 Arkansas Works recipients have lost coverage so far this year, is the first of its kind in the country. 

Steve Inskeep
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

When he's not on the air as co-host of the country's most-listened-to radio news program, NPR's Steve Inskeep is something of a historian.

His 2015 book Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and A Great American Land Grab focuses on the contentious relationship between Cherokee leader John Ross and the nation's seventh president, all while analyzing the conditions leading up to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the subsequent Trail of Tears.

A Guide To The 2018 Little Rock Mayoral Race

Oct 19, 2018
The first mayoral forum on economic opportunity.
Michael Hibblen/KUAR News

The information in this guide is taken directly from the candidate’s answers to the moderator’s questions in five forums presented by The Central Arkansas Library System, The League of Women Voters of Pulaski County, American Association of University Women of Little Rock and KUAR 89.1 - UA Little Rock Public Radio.

October 22 is the start of early voting in Arkansas, and November 6 is when the residents of Little Rock will have a chance to elect a new mayor for the first time in 12 years.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Haze Rule, states that didn’t meet air quality and visibility goals risked triggering federal controls. But now, the EPA is steadily giving control back into the hands of states.

Arkansas's plan, which is awaiting final approval, calls for one of its largest coal-fired plants, the White Bluff plant in Redfield, to stop burning coal within the next ten years.

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

University of Arkansas at Little Rock administrators are warning of cuts to make up for a roughly $9 million budget shortfall for the current school year.

At a campus meeting at the school's Donaghey Student Center Friday, UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson addressed faculty and staff on preparations for the budget deficit stemming from a drop in enrollment.

The school has seen a drop in enrollment from about 11,000 students in fall 2016 to roughly 9,000 students today. Rogerson said the university has been particularly hard-hit this year.

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

Confronted with mounting debt and falling prices, the company that first developed one of the country's ten largest fields of natural gas is selling off its assets.

The Houston-area Southwestern Energy first began activity in the Fayetteville Shale play, a 50-to-500 foot thick sediment layer about a mile underground located across a wide swath of northern Arkansas, in 2002.

But, though estimates say gas reserves within the Fayetteville Shale can last until 2050, all drilling has stopped since 2016. Now, Southwestern Energy is selling its assets in the region to Oklahoma City-based Flywheel Energy for nearly $2.4 billion.

npr.org

Ambulatory Surgery Centers are becoming an increasingly popular choice for minor medical procedures like knee surgery and tissue biopsies. Often, they're cheaper and more convenient than hospitals.

But problems at one such center in Little Rock have garnered national attention, and it's uncertain whether it's indicative of a larger issue.

On July 18, 2014, Faye Watkins got a colonoscopy; a fairly routine, elective procedure that screens for colon cancer. She went to Kanis Endoscopy Center in Little Rock, where its medical director, Dr. Alonzo Williams, performed the procedure.

But when she woke up, she wasn't at the clinic; she was down the street, at Baptist Health Medical Center. Watkins had stopped breathing almost immediately after her procedure. She was revived, but suffered a brain injury from the lack of oxygen. 

Arkansas prison officials say they're open to the legislature's help following the deaths of five inmates at the Varner Unit last week. 

Officials from the Arkansas Department of Correction and the state Board of Corrections testified at a joint legislative subcommittee hearing Tuesday on efforts to curb deaths due to illegal drug usage in state prisons. 

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

Among all the popular measures on the Arkansas ballot this November, none is as hydra-headed, or has forged unlikely alliances, as Issue 1.

It would give the legislature rulemaking power over the courts and put a limit on fees collected by trial lawyers in lawsuits. The most talked about element, though, is that it would cap courtroom awards for plaintiff's seeking punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering — though it wouldn't limit awards for lost wages or hospital bills, or in cases of intentional misconduct — at $500,000.

Nationally, this kind of amendment is what is commonly referred to as "tort reform."

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday released her full personnel file from her time at the state Department of Human Services, two days after a judge ordered the files opened.

In a conference with reporters Wednesday, Rutledge produced the eight previously unreleased pages of her file regarding work performance and filing for unemployment benefits.

npr.org

Rebecca Simpson has taught social studies at Little Rock's Dunbar Magnet Middle School for the past 25 years. And through all that time, she hasn't joined the union; not for any ideological reasons, she just doesn't see the benefit.

"Arkansas being a right-to-work state, it's very difficult for a union to be strong, period, here. Because they're hamstrung by that fact that there can be no compulsory union membership," Simpson said. "You can't force anyone to join, you can't force anyone to support a union."

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’s newly-implemented work requirement for recipients of the state’s Medicaid expansion program is the subject of a new federal lawsuit seeking to remove the requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Health Law Program, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of three recipients of the state’s expanded Medicaid program, known as Arkansas Works. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma as plaintiffs.

Arkansas Board of Apportionment

On a gray afternoon, Nick Wiench walks to the University of Central Arkansas's Torreyson Library. He studies philosophy and film, not political science, but he's concerned about an easily-overlooked part of the electoral system.

"I know gerrymandering is the thing where they split up basically the districts almost by Republican and Democrat to try and get the most votes into their own political party. It's kind of biased, in a way… but I'm not sure exactly how we can fix it," Wiench said. "It's not exactly a smooth thing that we can do."

But now, two almost identical proposals are seeking to change the way Arkansas draws both its congressional and state legislative districts. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's departure from the state Department of Human Services more than a decade ago is the subject of a new lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of the state Democratic Party.

The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of party spokesman Reed Brewer, alleges the Department of Human Services violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding parts of Rutledge's personnel file during her time as a staff attorney at the department.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

53 years after the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, some advocates in Arkansas say proposed budget cuts are making the future of the programs unsure. 

Medicare, a national health insurance program for the elderly and those with disabilities, and Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for low-income people, are utilized by some 120 million Americans currently.

The programs have come to national prominence with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which offers expanded Medicaid coverage to about 12 million Americans.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The most recognizable signs of July in Arkansas are probably cookouts, fireworks, and red-white-and-blue everything. But, in downtown Little Rock, a sea of taekwondo instructors, students and their families have become an annual fixture of summer in the city. 

The American Taekwondo Association, which is headquartered in Little Rock, holds its World Expo at downtown's Statehouse Convention Center each year. The event is by far the largest tourist gathering in the city, with an estimated 20,000 visitors from around the world making the trip to Arkansas's capital city.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Law enforcement and education officials from around the state are meeting in North Little Rock this week to discuss best practices for improving school security.

The 14th annual Arkansas Safe Schools Conference comes one week after the Arkansas School Safety Commission released its preliminary report on how to thwart and respond to threats of school violence.

Arkansas Secretary of State

Friday was the deadline for groups hoping to put proposals before Arkansas voters in November to deliver signed petitions to the state. 

Three groups, two putting forth constitutional amendments and one an initiated act, hauled in box loads of petitions throughout the day to the Secretary of State's office. Among the petitioners are groups seeking to allow casino gaming, raise the minimum wage, and impose overall term limits on state legislators.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a lawsuit filed by an Arkansas judge against members of the state Supreme Court should be dismissed.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen originally sued the sitting justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court after he was barred from hearing cases regarding the death penalty.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The latest effort to combat public corruption in Arkansas is coming from the state’s top law enforcement official.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Wednesday her office is forming a Public Integrity Division under the existing Special Investigations Department to investigate claims of corruption against public officials.

Rutledge noted the division’s creation is not intended as a direct response to a slew of convictions of former legislators and lobbyists for misdirecting or misusing state general improvement money.

rohwer
astate.edu

A day after President Donald Trump reversed his administration's policy of separating undocumented children from their families at the border with Mexico, officials from the United States Department of Health and Human Services were in Arkansas Thursday visiting two government-owned facilities as possible detention sites for unaccompanied migrant children. 

One facility, a former United States Department of Agriculture facility in the Delta town of Kelso, sits less than two miles north of the former Japanese-American internment camp in Rohwer. 

Mary Hightower / University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

With talk of tit-for-tat and trade wars dominating national business headlines, the impact of retaliatory tariffs on American products and commodities is giving some Arkansas agriculture officials pause.

Arkansas Celebrates 182 Years Of Statehood

Jun 14, 2018
Arkansas Secretary of State

Admitted in 1836 as the 25th state to enter the country, Arkansas has seen its fair share of historical events in its journey from territory to statehood. The state is commemorating its 182-year history with a birthday celebration Friday.

The Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock recognized the birthday anniversary with a kickoff event last Saturday. The museum is partnering with several local businesses throughout the week who will be donating a portion of their proceeds to museum funds leading up to Friday.

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