Talk Business & Politics Staff

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UALR sign
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock unveiled a new power generation plant on campus Wednesday that university officials said will reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions significantly in the coming years.

During a ceremony at the campus, university officials and representatives of Little Rock-based energy firm TME demonstrated UALR’s top-of-the-line power plant, capable of powering the campus during outages or scheduled power grid interruptions.

A discrimination/retaliation lawsuit filed Monday against the Fort Smith Police Department notes that the department has not promoted a black officer since 1988 and has not hired a black officer since 1995.

Arkansas Children's Hospital
Wikipedia

Arkansas hospitals are doing better than some of their counterparts in other states that did not expand their Medicaid populations, a new study by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement finds.

In 2013, Arkansas legislators voted to expand Arkansas’ Medicaid population through the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program, better known as the private option. The program uses state Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance for Arkansans with incomes of no more than 138% of the federal poverty line. Many states, meanwhile, chose not to expand their populations.

The accountant for a former state senator who pleaded guilty to mail fraud earlier this year needs more time to determine who has been paid back in the aftermath of the case, the former state senator’s attorney said in a court filing Monday.

Attorney Bill Stanley of Jonesboro, who represents former state Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, asked for a continuance in the case until the work is done. The case is before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, with the Eastern District of Arkansas.

walmart wal-mart
Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores posted fiscal third quarter net income of $3.304 billion, below the $3.711 billion in the same period of 2015, but better than what was expected by equity analysts who cover the retailer. And while the closely watched metric of same-store sales moved in the right direction for Wal-Mart, the company is predicting “relatively flat” sales growth for the year.

Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
wikipedia.org

Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks – fresh off last month’s $800 million acquisition of Atlanta’s Community & Southern Holdings – will acquire St. Petersburg, Fla.-based C1 Financial, Inc. in an all-stock transaction valued at $402.5 million.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas’ state government scored a D-, or 35th in the nation, regarding its laws, practices and systems for accountability and transparency, according to a report released Monday by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization, and Global Integrity, a research organization.

Pipe manufactured in advance of a Keystone XL decision sits idle outside of an east Little Rock plant.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

President Barack Obama on Friday (Nov. 6) rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal after a lengthy State Department review of the controversial project. The move ignited a barrage of criticism from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation and the oil and gas industry.

“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” Obama said in a press conference with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at this side.

A long-term highway bill appears to be headed to conference with all four Arkansas members of the U.S. House of Representatives voting with the majority to approve the bill. The 371-54 vote on HR 22 came Thursday morning after debate late Wednesday involving dozens of amendments for the bill.

The October Arkansas tax revenue report shows a 1% gain in overall collections, but a healthy increase in fiscal year-to-date sales and use tax revenue which is a signal of consumer confidence.

For the first four months of the fiscal year which began in July, state tax collections total $2.012 billion, up 1% compared to the same period in 2014 and 3.4% above what was forecast, according to the revenue report posted Tuesday (Nov. 3) by the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Arkansas’ two U.S. Senators voted against a bipartisan budget agreement that passed the Senate early Friday morning and now heads to the president’s desk. 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 passed the Senate, 64-35. It passed the House earlier this week, 266-167. President Obama is expected to sign it.

It was a busy Wednesday in the nation’s capital as the House overwhelmingly approved a two-year budget blueprint for the nation, while the Senate passed a three-week extension to the nation’s highway bill.

The House voted late Wednesday 266-167 to approve HR 1314, an $80 billion funding bill that was supported by 79 Republicans and 187 Democrats while the bill was opposed by 167 Republicans.

Cheryl Smith Gardner, Executive Director Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board and board member Mike Castleberry speaking to a legislative committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) that provides insurance for small business employees is ready to launch Nov. 1 and has already enrolled its first employer, officials announced Wednesday.

At the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace’s Little Rock headquarters, Jim Miles, president of Jonesboro-based insurance broker Covenant Medical Benefits, said his company had enrolled eight employees quickly and easily.

“Simply put, it works,” he said.

Ben Carson in Little Rock during the Republican Presidential primary election of 2016.
KARK-TV 4

The frontrunner in the Republican presidential field will pay a visit to Northeast Arkansas, just days before the presidential filing period begins in Little Rock. 

According to a post on his presidential website, Republican Dr. Ben Carson will be in West Memphis Friday afternoon (Oct. 30) for a campaign stop.

Flood garland city, arkansas red river
Sabrina McCormick Norton / KTXK News

Among those wishing for rainfall, well, get ready. AccuWeather is reporting that Arkansas and several other south central U.S. states could see “catastrophic flooding” beginning as early as Friday and continuing into early next week. The rainy weather prediction has an Arkansas River operator securing barges.

The announcement Tuesday night that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., will consider running for House Speaker drew the support of one of four Arkansas members of the U.S. House.

Collections for the Arkansas tourism trust fund continue their steady increase, according to a report given to the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. Collections for the 2% tourism tax for July were $1.656 million, up 14.83% compared to the same month in 2014.

Year to date collections are up 7.85%

The tourism trust fund tax is usually considered one of the most reliable indicators of the health tourism industry. The 2% tax on hotels and an assortment of other hospitality services is used as the measure for how many people are traveling in Arkansas.

Arkansas Children's Hospital
Wikipedia

Blackhawk helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has delivered two state-of-the-art helicopter units that will provide air medical transportation services to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the California defense contractor announced Monday.

File photo: Former US Attorney Conner Eldridge formally launching his US Senate campaign from his family store in Augusta.
Arkansas Times

Eldridge Supply Company in Augusta provided the backdrop Saturday as former U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Conner Eldridge announced a bid for the U.S. Senate.

In front of about 75 people, Eldridge, 38, said he was running as a Democrat against incumbent U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. in the 2016 general election. In his remarks, Eldridge criticized both parties in their response to the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare and other issues like the federal debt.

Eldridge said the debt, at $18 trillion, “has more than tripled since my opponent took office.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller (R) joins William Dillard II, Dr. George Mitchell and Patricia Upton to be inducted into the 2016 class of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. The four join 70 men and women in the Hall of Fame, with the induction ceremony set for Feb. 12, 2016.

The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Board announced on Wednesday (Oct. 14) the inductees.

August home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets were off the pace of the previous three months, but sales for the first eight months of the year are up more than 8% and the value of those sales is up more than 13.5%. Homes are also selling faster in the four markets.

The healthy year-to-date pace in Arkansas is driven by an almost 14% gain in Northwest Arkansas home sales and a more than 6% gain in central Arkansas.

File photo: Then U.S. Representative Tom Cotton (R-4th District) at the Clinton School of Public Service (2013).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The nominations of three people selected to serve as foreign ambassadors were put on hold by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, after the state’s junior senator called on the Department of Homeland Security to investigate Secret Service background leaks involving Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a candidate for House Speaker.

Cotton placed the hold on Cassandra Butts, who was nominated for ambassador to the Bahamas; Azita Raji, for ambassador to Sweden; and Samuel Heins, for ambassador to Norway.

The owners of Talk Business & Politics and The City Wire have agreed to merge their two media companies into a new entity that will become a statewide platform providing reporting and analysis on business and political news.

There was some debate between Jonesboro city leaders and officials with Arkansas State University in regards to the construction of at least two conference centers in the town, according to emails obtained by Talk Business and Politics.

Talk Business and Politics on Tuesday requested copies of any and all correspondence between Arkansas State University and Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin about the projects.

2016 GOP presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee
C-SPAN

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is vying for the GOP Presidential nomination, announced his leadership team in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee – all states with early primaries in 2016.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who faced scrutiny from conservatives over policy issues, announced his resignation Friday during a Republican conference meeting.

A flurry of reports hit the newswire when Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Michigan, tweeted: “Speaker Boehner just announced in Conference that he will resign as Speaker and from Congress at the end of October” on Friday morning.

In an historic move to more effectively eliminate hunger in Arkansas, the Arkansas Foodbank and the Arkansas Rice Depot announced Thursday, after approval from both organizations’ boards of directors, plans to merge effective Jan. 1, 2016.

The two nonprofits have long been dedicated to serving hungry Arkansans through various programs reaching school-aged children, college students, families and seniors.

Flickr.com

Among the ideas being considered by the Governor’s Working Group on Highway Funding has been transferring some of the state’s 16,418 miles of roads to cities and counties.

The Association of Arkansas Counties doesn’t support the idea.

“Obviously, counties are in no position to absorb additional roads,” said Chris Villines, Association of Arkansas Counties executive director, in an association press release. “For the most part, we run a road maintenance program around the state, not one of new construction, and we can barely handle the 70,000 miles we currently have.”

Arkansas seldom ranks first in any category among the other 50 states, but when it comes to adult obesity the Natural State is at the top of the list, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The report found that Arkansas had the highest adult obesity rate at 35.9%, and one of three states, along with West Virginia and Mississippi, where at least 30% of its adults are deemed obese. In 1980, no state had a rate above 15%, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20%, which is a major concern to health professionals.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Hillary Clinton promised a plan to cap the rising costs of prescription drugs and praised her husband’s and President Obama’s administrations in a speech before a raucous crowd at Little Rock’s Philander Smith College Monday.

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