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Ballotpedia/Arkansas Legislature

Voters in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District could be headed towards a photo finish in the race between GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. French Hill and Democratic State Sen. Joyce Elliott.

A new poll from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College shows Hill with 46% support to Elliott’s 45.5% among 644 likely voters. The poll was conducted on Sunday, Oct. 11-Tuesday, Oct. 13 and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson having his temperature checked as a COVID-19 precaution last week before going into a cabinet meeting.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped above 600 in Monday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health. The number of active cases and Arkansans on ventilators also rose, with total known cumulative cases topping 93,000.

Hospitalizations rose by 32 to tally 608. The number of total cases – those confirmed by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and antigen tests – was 93,487 on Monday, up 654 from Sunday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement that the rising number of people in hospitals is straining the system, but that hospitals around the state have enough beds.

Talk Business & Politics

This week, Arkansas PBS will host several Congressional debates and a Senate forum. KUAR will also broadcast the debates at the same time they air on television.

The schedule for the taping and airing of Congressional debates begins on Monday afternoon when incumbent U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, takes on State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, in their only head-to-head forum. The schedule is listed below.

New known COVID-19 cases were lower than in recent days in Monday’s (Oct. 5) report from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), but the rise in deaths, hospitalizations and ventilator use elicited a response from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“Today we are reminded that more cases leads to increased hospitalizations. The number of hospitalized is too high. While it is manageable, it’s important to slow the spread of this virus to keep people out of the hospital because of COVID-19,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.

Justice Rhonda Wood of the Arkansas Supreme Court can add a new title to her resume: podcaster.

Wood and three other female justices from other states have launched “Lady Justice: Women of the Courts,” a new podcast that explores educational content on how the court system works in different states to how justices are selected or elected to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who inspired women on and off the court.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

Arkansas tax revenue continues to beat prior-year levels and forecasts despite an economy weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax collections during the first quarter (July-September) of the fiscal year provided $158.8 million more in available revenue than expected.

The gross general revenue was $1.993 billion, up 17.7% compared to the same period in 2019, and up 11.6% above the budget forecast, according to Friday’s (Sept. 2) report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

409 Arkansans died in September from COVID-19, according to figures from the Arkansas Department of Health, with the number of known cumulative cases rising more than 31% and the number of active cases up more than 26% in the month.

There were 1,223 COVID deaths in Arkansas on Sept. 30, up 50.2% from the 814 deaths on Sept. 1. There were 80,610 cumulative cases on Sept. 30, up 31.07% from the 61,497 on Sept. 1. The number of active cases was 6,373 on Sept. 30, up 26.5% from 5,036 on Sept. 1.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Rep. French Hill in television ad released Tuesday for the 2nd district congressman's reelection campaign.
YouTube

The 2nd Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, and State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, continues to offer the most fireworks and intrigue.

UAMS covid-19 coronavirus
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

For the second day in a row, new COVID-19 cases totaled more than 1,100, with the cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases approaching 80,000, according to Friday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Health.

The state reported 796 traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 338 positives from antigen tests for a total of 1,134. The state reported 1,193 total cases on Thursday. The number of total cases as of Friday from PCR and antigen tests was 79,946, with the number of confirmed and probable deaths totaling 1,266.

Nate Smith COVID-19
Governor's Office / YouTube

The number of new coronavirus cases reported in Arkansas Thursday was 1,193, with 1,030 of those being from the traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and 163 were positives from antigen tests, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Thursday’s report also included a rise in deaths, active cases and ventilator use. The number of people hospitalized fell.

As he did with Wednesday’s report of increased cases, Gov. Asa Hutchinson followed Thursday’s report by encouraging Arkansans to do more to contain the spread of the virus.

UAMS Medical Assistant Latondra Ford sticks a swab deep into the nose of a North Little Rock Police officer being tested for the coronavirus.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Department of Health on Thursday reported more than 1,100 new COVID-19 cases, with 223 of those coming from antigen testing. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the increased testing will help the state “reduce the spread of the virus.”

The report shows a record 9,656 tests, with 7,910 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests – the more accurate testing process – and 1,746 antigen tests. The testing results showed 883 new known COVID-19 cases and 223 positive antigen tests for a combined 1,106 positive cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson showing a machine Tuesday that can conduct an antigen test. He announced Tuesday the state has received supplies to conduct 12,000 antigen tests, enough to last for the next two months.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the Arkansas Department of Health on Tuesday reported 139 “probable” COVID-19 related deaths. The update came on the same day official death toll increased by 17 to 1,003. There were 676 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with the total now at 70,125.

Dr. Michael Cima, the department's chief epidemiologist and associate director for science, said a death is labeled as “probable” with an associated positive antigen case, or if the “underlying” cause of death is COVID-19.

Vote button
Talk Business & Politics

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 698 2nd Congressional District likely voters shows a virtual dead heat between incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. French Hill and his Democratic challenger, State Sen. Joyce Elliott.

2nd District voters are also favoring Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the Presidential race.

The survey of 698 likely voters from Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, White, Perry, Conway and Van Buren counties was conducted Sept. 4-9, 2020 and has a margin of error of +/-4.3%.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

If the year 2020 has been a bad weather system, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has survived the storms — a pandemic storm, an economic storm, and a storm of civil unrest. Hutchinson, the two-term Republican governor, has a healthy job approval rating of 70%-26%, according to the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 698 likely 2nd Congressional District voters.

Governor's Office / YouTube

The Arkansas Department of Health is partnering with Little Rock-based Baptist Health to boost COVID-19 testing capacity by 20%. It’s an effort to “control our own destiny” with respect to testing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday.

Gov. Hutchinson said the ADH lab has grown capacity from being able to do about 20 tests a day when the pandemic hit Arkansas in March, to now performing up to 3,000 tests a day. However, that capacity increase is not enough if the state wants to depend less on commercial labs, which often delays turnaround time on test results, Hutchinson said.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration building in Little Rock.
KUAR News

As measured by double-digit gains in sales tax revenue in the state’s August report, Arkansans continued to spend through the summer despite COVID-19 worries, with gross revenue up almost 30% to $1.331 billion during the first two months (July-August 2020) of the fiscal year.

The gross general revenue was up 29.4% compared to the same period in 2019, and up 11.2% above the budget forecast, according to Wednesday’s report from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

Entergy Arkansas's solar project in Searcy will be the largest utility-owned project in the state.
Entergy Arkansas

Entergy Arkansas announced plans Monday to purchase a 900-acre, 100-megawatt solar farm near Brinkley. Pending approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Walnut Bend Solar will be among the largest solar generating facilities in the state.

Walnut Bend will provide approximately 200 jobs during the construction phase, then 2-3 full-time employees once operational. The facility will generate an estimated $700,000 in annual property taxes for Lee County.

Welspun
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An order for more than 1 million feet of 36-inch pipe for use on the Keystone XL pipeline project will keep around 500 Welspun manufacturing employees in Little Rock busy through “at least” early 2021, Welspun announced Thursday.

The company did not disclose the value of the TC Energy order.

walmart wal-mart
Walmart

Walmart will continue having corporate office employees working remotely through at least Jan. 31, 2021. The retail giant just marked 20 weeks of remote working amid the COVID-19 pandemic and said it has accomplished much during the unprecedented time.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday approved a request by Arkansas Wins requiring Secretary of State John Thurston to verify signatures as part of the group’s effort to place an expanded casino license amendment on the November general election ballot.

SCA Pharma says it will expand its operations in Little Rock by moving to a facility at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
SCA Pharma

SCA Pharma, an FDA-registered outsourcing facility, announced Tuesday that it will expand its operations in Little Rock.

SCA will invest more than $10 million and potentially double its current workforce of 180 people, the company said. Additionally, the investment will allow SCA Pharma to renovate an existing 42,000-square-foot facility at the Clinton National Airport and construct an additional 20,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the existing facility.

SCA announced last week that it also plans a 40% expansion of its Windsor, Conn., facility.

walmart
Walmart

Arkansas-based Walmart announced Tuesday its third cash bonus for workers in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers for their work with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full-time hourly workers will receive $300 cash payouts while part-time and temporary workers will get $150. Drivers, managers and assistant managers in retail stores and supply chain and health and wellness will also receive bonuses for a total of $428 million.

Walmart made the announcement through an internal memo to employees from Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner.

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, has submitted his resignation effective Aug. 3 to pursue other opportunities. Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther made the announcement Tuesday.

Michael Helms, chief counsel for lottery, will serve as interim director as the search is underway for a new director. A timetable for finding a new director was not released. What other opportunities Woosley plans to pursue also wasn’t noted.

University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz
Talk Business & Politics

Will there be college football this fall?

It’s a question fans are asking and decision-makers are discussing at several levels daily throughout the country.

Some smaller dominoes are already falling. The Ivy League, Bloomberg reported, canceled sports competition for the upcoming semester because of health and safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the first NCAA Division I conference in the U.S. to scrap football.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Little Rock Port Authority announced Monday $11 million in investments to support transportation infrastructure improvements in the port’s footprint. As many as 1,500 new jobs may be added, according to a release from the port. The port is the largest industrial hub in central Arkansas with over 40 businesses employing more than 4,000 people. It features rail, river and interstate highway access.

J. William Fulbright
Clinton Steeds / Flickr

U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright is one of Arkansas’ most renowned politicians and in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement his civil rights record is being re-examined.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus is calling for the removal of his statue on the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville campus to a museum and re-naming the College of Arts and Sciences. The caucus said it supports a campaign to educate people about his vast accomplishments, especially those in foreign affairs and his opposition to the Vietnam War, but his failures in the civil rights movement need to be noted as well.

L. Dickson Flake
Pryor Center For Arkansas Oral and Visual History

Longtime real estate developer L. Dickson Flake passed away peacefully on Tuesday (June 30) at the age of 81, according to a statement from his company, Colliers International.

Flake, who was preceded in death by his wife, Linda, began his career in commercial real estate in 1965 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Distinction and a Master of Business Administration with High Distinction from the University of Michigan.

UAMS
UAMS

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced Thursday it has developed and is using high-accuracy antibody testing to determine the magnitude of COVID-19 infection in Arkansas and inform the decisions of policymakers.

UAMS will collect blood samples from nearly 7,500 Arkansas adults and children through October. By early August, a robotic-assisted immunoassay machine will help process 2,500 samples per day for workplace, school and other community settings. UAMS researchers are now processing only up to 180 samples per day by hand.

A rendition of Gulfside's proposed $254 million casino for Pope County
Talk Business & Politics

The Arkansas Racing Commission on Thursday (June 18) awarded a coveted license to Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnership for a $254 million casino resort in Pope County, but expect more litigation to be filed before anyone rolls the dice on a groundbreaking.

Earlier this year, the commission had narrowed its choices to a casino operated by Gulfside and another proposal led by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and President Donald Trump on August 2, 2017.
The White House

President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., are struggling with independent voters in Arkansas less than five months before Election Day.

A new survey from Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College shows that Trump and Cotton have negative job approval ratings with voters, with independents giving them low marks by a double-digit margin. The poll was conducted Tuesday, June 9 and Wednesday, June 10, of 869 statewide likely voters and has a margin of error of +/-3.3%.

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