Arkansas Government

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Arkansas Governor's Mansion celebrated its 70th anniversary Monday. Former Governors Mike Beebe, Mike Huckabee, and Jim Guy Tucker joined family members of other previous governors at the mansion.

The campaign to build the mansion began in 1944 with Mrs. Agnes Bass Shinn. Governor Sid McMath and his family became the mansion's first residents on February 3, 1950.

First Lady Susan Hutchinson unveiled this year's commemorative Christmas ornament, a glass replica of the mansion, to mark the anniversary.

Issues That Matter: The 2020 U.S. Census And Arkansas

Dec 12, 2019
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Issues That Matter: The 2020 U.S. Census is the third forum in a series presented by KUAR, the Central Arkansas Library System and the League of Women Voters.

Arkansas finance office says the state's revenue remains above forecast and above the same point last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said Arkansas' net available revenue in October totaled $470.9 million, which is $35.5 million above the same month last year and $33.3 million above forecast. The state's net available revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $1.9 billion, which is $72.2 million above forecast.

Arkansas is 1 of 15 states where citizens have the right to propose new state laws and constitutional amendments for voters to decide statewide.

Article 5 of the 1874 Arkansas Constitution grants this power to the people, but it wasn’t until the progressive teen years of the 1900s that citizens used their authority to propose a handful of amendments involving the legislative session and bond issues.

In the years since then, citizens have used the initiative process to enact laws such as:

DHS Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin points to a chart included in the report showing improvements to Arkansas's child welfare system during a meeting with reporters Wednesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new report from the state says Arkansas is making major progress toward improving its child welfare system, which drew praise from Gov. Asa Hutchinson Wednesday. A few years ago the state had a disproportionate number kids in foster care, workers with unmanageable caseloads and partners who said they weren’t getting the support needed.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) talking to reporters in his Capitol office.
KUAR News

Less than a year into his second term, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has accomplished several of his priorities. During this year’s legislative session, his main four goals: an increase in teacher pay, the passage of the final part of his tax plan, funding for state highways and a transformation of Arkansas’s state government all made it through.

Another priority for Hutchinson is greater broadband access across the state for both schools and rural areas.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson expanded on previous comments concerning two recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, including the prospect of adopting an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) in Arkansas. An ERPO, known colloquially as a red flag law, would outline a process officials could use to temporarily remove guns from individuals who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Hutchinson said a red flag law would have to balance the need for protection with the due process of law.

Mosaic Templars
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, which tells the story of African-Americans in Arkansas, is striving to raise $3 million to renovate its educational exhibit space. The museum opened in 2008 in a spot that was once the heart of Little Rock’s black community.

During a ceremony Monday with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the state Capitol, backers of the fundraising campaign accepted the museum’s largest-ever corporate donation. Union Pacific Railroad, which employed about 2,600 people in the state as of last year, gave $300,000 toward the campaign.

Asa Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will celebrate his election to a second term with two days of inaugural events on January 14-15, 2019.

Hutchinson was re-elected to a second term as governor in November 2018 with 65% of the vote.

The two-day inaugural celebration will center around the theme “Together for Success” and will include free and paid events and activities. Dave and Sarah Hutchinson Wengel, Hutchinson’s daughter and son-in-law, are co-chairs of the 2019 Inaugural Committee.

Governor Hutchinson reorganize state government
Governor's Office / You Tube

Before an overflow crowed in the conference room at the state Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday unveiled his long-awaited “transformation plan” to shrink the size of the Arkansas state government from 42 to 15 agencies. It’s a proposal that has been in the making almost since he took office in early 2015.

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue last month remained above expectations and higher than the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue in September totaled $569.6 million, which is $50.7 million above the same month a year ago and $15.4 million above forecast. The state's revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 is more than $1.4 billion, which is $33.4 million above forecast.

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Thousands of Arkansans are at risk of losing their healthcare coverage this weekend for failing to comply with a recently enacted work requirement for the state's Medicaid expansion program. The deadline is Friday at 5 p.m.

August is the third month that a work requirement has been in place for the Arkansas Works program. Enrollees who fail to report three months in a row will lose their coverage on the first day of the following month. That means those who haven't reported anything will be cut from the program on Saturday.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Amidst more revelations of problems tied to Arkansas’s nascent medical marijuana program, the architect of the state’s voter-approved amendment is calling for commissioners to abandon their process of scoring cultivation applications.

Attorney David Couch says the merit-based scoring system has been plagued with allegations that have rocked public confidence in the process.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas officials are appealing a judge's order blocking the state from enforcing a voter ID law nearly identical to a measure struck down as unconstitutional four years ago.

Ten Commandments
Max Brantley / Arkansas Times

A Ten Commandments monument will be installed outside Arkansas' Capitol next week, months after the original display was destroyed.

The Arkansas Secretary of State's office said it expects the new display to be installed on the morning of April 26.

The original display that was installed outside Capitol last June was destroyed less than 24 hours later. The man accused of driving his car into it apologized in 2015 for also destroying a Ten Commandments monument outside Oklahoma's Capitol.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson talking with reporters in his office at the state Capitol.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to expedite an appeal of a judge’s order blocking the issuance of medical marijuana cultivation licenses. He also said Monday that President Donald Trump is ”winning on better trade deals for America” but cautioned against engaging in a trade war with China.

Speaking to reporters in his office Monday, Hutchinson said the state has no choice but to wait for the Supreme Court regarding medical marijuana cultivation licenses.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking with reporters Monday in his office at the state Capitol.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The governor of Arkansas is proposing increasing a property tax credit that thousands of homeowners receive for their primary residence.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters on Monday he'll ask lawmakers next year to increase the state's homestead tax credit from $350 a year to $375. Hutchinson says the increased credit will cost an additional $18 million a year.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced his plan to reorganize state government and reduce the number of cabinet-level agencies reporting directly to him by at least 50 percent.

The governor announced his plan following the conclusion of the fiscal session of the Arkansas Legislature Thursday, saying his administration has worked to maximize government efficiency since he first took office.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 Tuesday to the Joint Budget Committee of the Arkansas Legislature.
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas' governor is proposing a $5.6 billion budget that increases funding for the state's Medicaid program and sets aside surplus money for future tax cuts and highway needs.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday proposed increasing state spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1 by nearly $173 million. Most of that increase goes toward Medicaid. Hutchinson said the funding increase is lower than what was originally proposed for the program last year.

Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie and shows a progress chart to reporters alongside Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Officials at the Arkansas Department of Human Services say more than 80,000 people were removed from the state's Medicaid rolls in 2017 after new technology and data were used to show they were ineligible for the benefits.

Nearly one-third of those cases involved people who did not report changes of address as required by the state. More than 25,000 people were removed from the program because they were receiving public benefits from more than one state.

UCA Houston Davis
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' governor says a $500,000 grant is being provided to help pay for a new cybersecurity training initiative.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the grant from the Department of Higher Education would go to the University of Central Arkansas to pay for a "cyber range," a dedicated computer system that can simulate a computer network. Students using the cyber range will learn how to identify cyberattacks and defend against them.

Hutchinson said UCA will have state of the art technology available through the Arkansas Educational Television Network.

Stan Jones Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Following two years of interviews for the job, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Stan Jones to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Tuesday. Jones, a fifth-generation farmer and hunting lodge owner from Walnut Ridge, applauded previous efforts by the commission to promote the outdoors in Arkansas.

“I know we’ve got some difficult situations and issues that we’re going to have to face, but I’ve got a very positive look and attitude on everything, the Game & Fish [Commission] has done a good job, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Jones said.

Arkansas finance officials say the state ended its fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus after a boost in sales tax collections over the past two months helped restore most of the budget cuts enacted earlier.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state ended the fiscal year with $5.3 billion in net available revenue, which was $19 million below the previous fiscal year. Arkansas' fiscal year ended Friday.

Flooding Black River Pocahontas
KATV, Channel 7 News

New facilities are being opened to provide assistance for people and businesses impacted by the destructive storms that hit parts of Arkansas in the spring. Centers opened last week in Fayetteville, Conway, Pocahontas, and Walnut Ridge to serve people from 16 counties who are eligible for government aid.

Daniel Green with the Federal Emergency Management Agency works with victims of the storms to expedite the process of receiving loans and other government aid.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he hopes a task force that will recommend changes to Arkansas' tax code will also look at a proposal that failed in this year's legislative session to require online retailers to collect and remit state sales taxes.

Hutchinson told the Arkansas Municipal League on Thursday that he wants the issue to be considered by the legislative task force, which is expected to deliver preliminary recommendations later this year and final ones next year on overhauling the state's tax code.

Governor Asa Hutchinson AEDC Mike Preston
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and economic development officials are planning a week-long trip to France, Germany, and Israel to invite new foreign businesses to Arkansas and bolster economic relationships with international businesses already in the state. 

The base of the 10 Commandments monument was installed earlier this month.
Wesley Brown / Talk Business & Politics

Construction is underway on the foundation of a Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol, setting up a possible legal showdown on the constitutionality of religious monuments on public property.

On May 11, the State Capitol Arts and Ground Commission unanimously approved a proposal to place a Ten Commandments monument on the west side of the State Capitol grounds, in between the Arkansas Supreme Court and offices of the State Department of Education.

Courtney Pledger AETN
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday named Courtney Pledger the new executive director for the Arkansas Educational Television Network. She replaces Allen Weatherly who died last November after leading the network since 2001.

The network, which airs PBS and locally produced programming on six broadcast stations around Arkansas, is operated by an agency of the state government.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday outlined details of his $50.5 million tax cut plan for the upcoming 90th General Assembly that he says will focus on reducing the tax burden for the bulk of the state’s lowest wage earners making less than $21,000 a year.

Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and House Speaker Jeremy Gillam
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders have appointed the five members of a board that will develop Arkansas' medical marijuana policy.

Hutchinson on Wednesday named Little Rock breast cancer surgeon Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam appointed Benton pharmacist Stephen Carroll and lawyer Travis Story of Fayetteville. Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang named former Senate chief of staff James Miller of Bryant and pain specialist Dr. J. Carlos Roman of Little Rock.

Pages