Roby Brock / Talk Business & Politics

Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics.

He can be reached by e-mail at: Roby@TalkBusiness.net.

Follow him on Twitter: @RobyBrock.

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

President Donald Trump’s popularity in Arkansas has not diminished since the November election despite national polling that suggests voter attitude shifts. Meanwhile, Arkansas voters still solidly approve of the job Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing a little more than halfway through his first term.

Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that contradictions between state and federal law regarding medical marijuana usage will ultimately be a decision that federal prosecutors must reconcile. In the interim, Rutledge is advising state lawmakers to follow through with their duties to incorporate a voter-approved amendment into Arkansas code.

Rutledge, who appeared on Talk Business & Politics on Sunday, explained her first opinion request on the medical marijuana dilemma.

Bob Johnson, Mack McClarty and Franklin McClarty
Talk Business & Politics

Three Arkansas business icons are optimistic that a President Donald Trump will govern more pragmatically than candidate Trump campaigned.

Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, Franklin McLarty and Robert L. “Bob” Johnson were guests on this week’s Talk Business & Politics in a roundtable moderated by KATV’s Chris May. The three successful businessmen, all of whom supported Hillary Clinton for President, were in Little Rock a week ago for a chamber of commerce luncheon.

Tom Cotton
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., gave no hints on a possible role in the upcoming Donald Trump administration in an interview that covered Trump’s potential conflicts of business interests, Iran sanctions, the lame-duck Congress, and repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Appearing on Talk Business & Politics, Cotton said it is too early to speculate on whether he would serve in Trump’s administration and he called for patience during the transition period to let the President-elect take his time in naming picks.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

In an exclusive interview with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas chief executive said the FBI’s new inquiry into a top Hillary Clinton aide’s emails is a “significant” development and needed to be disclosed before Election Day.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson enjoys more than a two-to-one job approval rating, according to a new survey.

In the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll of 463 likely Arkansas voters, Hutchinson has a 52% approval rating on his job performance compared to just 24% who disapprove.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Governor Asa Hutchinson is doing?

52% Approve 
24% Disapprove 
24% Don’t Know

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump hasn’t seen his poll numbers slide any in the last month, despite controversies and lackluster debate performances. As a matter of fact, the Republican standard-bearer slightly grew his lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the former First Lady of Arkansas’ one-time home state.

In the U.S. Senate race, the contest has tightened between incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman and Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge, but Boozman still maintains a comfortable 18-point lead.

Election voting
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments have found traction with voters although both have a sizable number of undecided opinions.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey shows Issue 2 with a majority 52% support, while Issue 3 has a plurality of 35% support. Issue 2 allows the governor to maintain powers when crossing state borders and Issue 3 reworks bond limits on economic super projects and allows government money to support job recruiting efforts and services.

Medical Marijuana
Arkansans for Compassionate Care

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey shows that opposition remains stronger than support for two medical marijuana proposals that will be on the November ballot.

The poll, conducted statewide among 463 likely Arkansas voters on October 21, 2016, has a margin of error of 4.6%.

Jonathan dismang
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Senate President Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said it’s too early in the pre-session process to predict how large of a tax cut may be pushed in the next General Assembly, and he outlined a new agenda item he wants to see reviewed in 2017.

Appearing on this week’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, Dismang said until the state’s revenue picture becomes clearer and Gov. Asa Hutchinson puts forth his plans, lawmakers are in a wait-and-see mode.

Donald Trump speaking at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey shows that Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has widened his lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton by another 10 points from late June.

Senator John Boozman
Talk Business & Politics

Beyond budget bills and Zika funding, Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, says he thinks infrastructure funding will find its way into law before an October recess. The state’s senior senator also explained his position on overseas travel, an upcoming debate, and controversies in the Presidential race.

Steve Womack
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, outlined Congress’ critical funding priorities – including money to address the Zika crisis – and said there is no doubt in his mind that Donald Trump would be superior as Commander-in-chief over Hillary Clinton as President.

Senator Tom Cotton
Talk Business & Politics

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, says he’s unsure if Iran is owed more money from the U.S. government and the first-term GOP senator defended Donald Trump as a better potential President than Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Appearing on this week’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, Cotton reiterated his January 2016 message that a $400 million payment to Iran was a “ransom payment” to the rogue nation.

Governor asa hutchinson talk business & politics
Talk Business & Politics

In response to three nationally related episodes of gun violence and escalations between police officers and citizens, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said leaders must “calm the waters” in an effort to curtail overreactions to these violent and volatile situations.

“Most importantly, we need to make sure that we talk with reason and discipline as we discuss these matters. Leaders should not be encouraging and dramatizing the response beyond what it should be. The key thing here is our commitment to the rule of law,” he said.

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Department of Human Services director Cindy Gillespie is moving quickly to implement reforms in the state’s largest agency, and she anticipates the foundation for many policy changes to be laid prior to the 2017 legislative session.

Highways traffic Big Rock Interchange interstate
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan is expected to have widespread support in the Arkansas House and Senate in the special session that starts Thursday. However, can the bill get out of a key Senate committee?

Gretchen Hall
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gretchen Hall, CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, likes the numbers she sees.

Last year, Pulaski County accounted for 13,000 travel-related jobs and 6.1 million visitors who spent nearly $1.8 billion in travel expenditures. That translates into more than $31 million in travel-related local taxes and $69 million in travel-related state taxes.

Why is the capital city so attractive for visitors?

Scott Bennett Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to raise about $50 million in order to qualify for nearly $200 million in federal funds has the support of Arkansas highway officials, but they aren’t ruling out supporting other proposals.

jobs unemployment employment
www.purdue.edu

Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston has been on the job for a little more than one year. This past week, his agency and the state landed one of the biggest investments in Arkansas history and peppered that success with a number of other job announcements.

The $1.3 billion Sun Paper Co. mill that will locate in Clark County will ultimately result in 250 new jobs averaging about $52,000 annually. The project has been in the works for several years, but final negotiations last weekend sealed the deal for Arkansas.

Senate President Jonathan Dismang and Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam say initial responses to the governor’s health care reforms and newly submitted budget may lead to tweaks versus radical changes.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Gillam, R-Judsonia, and Dismang, R-Searcy, said they are waiting on language from the governor’s office for legislation to be drafted, but expect “no mysteries” after a year’s worth of task force debate.

Ted Cruz
Talk Business & Politics

Texas Senator Ted Cruz said the GOP Presidential field might well be a two-man race between Donald Trump and himself after Tuesday’s SEC primaries and that contender Marco Rubio should consider leaving the race if he doesn’t win a state in the upcoming 12-state primary.

Cruz, who is in Arkansas campaigning in central and Northwest Arkansas this weekend, says he’s a “proven conservative” whose policies will best contrast with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the fall.

Ted Cruz Donald Trump
Carolyn Kaster/AP/npr.org

The Presidential campaign continues to stir activity across Arkansas with less than a week before the primary election. On the heels of Marco Rubio's visit to Little Rock Sunday, Donald Trump, who has been to the state twice for events, plans to speak at noon on Saturday at the regional airport in Bentonville. Ted Cruz, whose campaign says he has been here five times, is expected to attend church in Northwest Arkansas, then attend a rally in central Arkansas.

THE ANTI-TRUMP EFFORT

Bruce Westerman
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, says the Fourth Congressional District could benefit greatly from increased trade with Taiwan. He also says he may walk into the voting booth for the primary election with his mind not made up on a Presidential pick.

Westerman, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, said Taiwan is Arkansas’ 6th largest trading partner, but agriculture and timber opportunities could boost trade.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R) at Little Rock's VA Hospital
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Incumbent U.S. Sen. John Boozman. R-Ark., has a commanding 45-point lead over his Republican challenger Curtis Coleman, while Democratic voters are positive – but still undecided – on their attitudes toward Senate challenger Conner Eldridge.

New polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College indicates that Boozman will easily win his party’s nomination in the upcoming March 1 primary.

Q: There are two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate: Curtis Coleman and Senator John Boozman. If the election were today, for whom would you vote?

With about three weeks until Arkansas’ March 1 primary, Presidential contender Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz has a slight lead in a crowded GOP field.

Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his highway funding plan will work without raising taxes by finding government efficiencies and continuing with the state’s Medicaid expansion. Without those planks, Hutchinson says tax increases will enter the debate.

TalkBusiness.net

State Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe and Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Director Cheryl Gardner say two numbers and federal flexibility will dictate reforms to Arkansas’ health care future: 1332 and 1115.

Mike Preston
Talk Business & Politics

Fresh off his 8-day trip to Japan and China, AEDC executive director Mike Preston said the announcement of a $1.36 billion agreement with Sun Paper Co. will not likely result in the need for a legislative “superproject” special session.

“I think we have a very aggressive incentive package on the table,” Preston said. “There’s still some negotiations to go, but I don’t think we’ll have to go to the legislature.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has signed a “letter of intent on investment cooperation” with Chinese-based Shandong Sun Paper Industry Joint Stock Co. to pursue a $1.3 billion pulp mill to be located in south Arkansas.

In attendance at the signing ceremony were U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Gov. Hutchinson, Chairman and Founder of Sun Paper Co. Hongxin Li, Arkansas Economic Development Director Mike Preston, and U.S. Consulate General Charles Bennett.

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