Arkansas Politics

U.S. Rep. French Hill announced plans Thursday to introduce the PPP Revenue Adjustment Calculation to Increase Capital Accessibility Long-Term, or the PRACTICAL Act, next week in Congress.
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, announced plans on Thursday to introduce a change to the Paycheck Protection Program that he touted would help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hill, R-Little Rock, said he was introducing the PPP Revenue Adjustment Calculation to Increase Capital Accessibility Long-Term, or the PRACTICAL Act, next week in Congress. In Arkansas, more than 14,000 businesses have received $4.6 billion through PPP funding over the course of the pandemic. Hill said it has helped save more than 375,000 Arkansas jobs.

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State lawmakers will take an extended break following this year's legislative session. When they return in the fall, they'll begin the process of re-drawing the lines of the state's four U.S. Congressional districts. 

Redistricting happens every 10 years, following the U.S. Census. State lawmakers re-draw lines for U.S. House districts, while the state Board of Apportionment, made up of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state, re-draws state House and Senate districts. 

Advocates for renters in Arkansas have launched a service to assist those who are faced with eviction.

During a news conference Thursday, the Democratic Party of Arkansas, alongside Young Democrats of Arkansas and Arkansas Renters United, announced a new hotline aimed at addressing evictions and providing information on the federal eviction moratorium that is still in effect.

On Monday, the federal government extended the moratorium on evictions through the month of June.

Sen. Tom Cotton speaks at Tuesday's press conference against the federal election bill that passed in the House earlier this month and is now before the Senate. Also with him at the press conference are Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Sen. John Boozman
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As the U.S. Senate considers a major overhaul of federal election law, five Arkansas Republicans spoke against it Tuesday in Little Rock. The legislation was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3, with all Republicans voting no.

But passage in the Senate looks less likely because of a 50-50 split between parties and some Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, expressing opposition. Arkansas’ two senators said at the press conference they don’t expect it will pass.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed into law legislation allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of religious or moral objections, a move opponents have said will give providers broad powers to turn away LGBTQ patients and others.

The measure says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience. The new law won’t take effect until late this summer.

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, questions Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Tuesday during a meeting of the House Committee on Financial Services about what counties will get COVID-19 assistance funds.
U.S. House of Representatives

The world’s seven largest economies, including the U.S., have agreed to support developing countries battling COVID-19. But U.S. Rep. French Hill, a Republican of Arkansas’ 2nd district, is objecting to Russia, China and Iran being including among the countries sharing about $650 billion.

As a senior Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Hill questioned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Tuesday about the plan, with a funding amount that is below the threshold that would require congressional approval.

Arkansas Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray speaking on Sunday's Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business & Politics

Democratic Party of Arkansas chairman Michael John Gray said Sunday that lowering filing fees to zero in some instances is the best way to ensure competition for Republican-held seats in the state Legislature.

Last week, the party voted to eliminate filing fees for Democratic candidates who are challenging incumbent GOP state legislators or where there is no incumbent Democratic legislator. The party also lowered its filing fees for U.S. Senate, Congress, governor, other constitutional offices, and incumbent legislative seats.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says her new lawsuit against Walgreens is part of a continuing mission of accountability for the opioid crisis, and she says her experience as the state’s top legal officer makes her more qualified to be the next governor of Arkansas.

In a Talk Business & Politics interview, Rutledge claimed Walgreens should have done more to curtail the prescription of opioids. By not doing so, the national pharmacy chain has contributed to the black market for the extremely addictive drugs.

Jan Morgan
Talk Business & Politics

An Arkansas gun rights activist who ran unsuccessfully for governor three years ago said Wednesday that she’s challenging Sen. John Boozman in the state’s Republican primary in 2022.

Jan Morgan said she will run against Boozman, who is seeking his third term next year. Former President Donald Trump last week endorsed Boozman’s reelection bid.

Talk Business & Politics host Roby Brock speaking with Rep. Michelle Gray (R-Bethesda), Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) and Arkansas Secretary of Human Services Cindy Gillespie.
Talk Business & Politics

Under construction for the past year, Arkansas lawmakers and Gov. Hutchinson’s administration will unveil their newest version of Medicaid expansion on Monday.

ARHOME (pronounced “Are-Home”) stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me. Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Bethesda, will be two of the lead sponsors of the proposal.

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate voted to pass a bill that would require the state to return fines collected due to COVID-19 violations, an action that the bill’s sponsor says sends a message over the lack of legislative involvement with the state’s pandemic response. 

Arkansas House

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 24, which establishes a "Stand Your Ground" statute in the state. 

The House voted 72-23, with one representative voting present, to pass the legislation. No Democrat voted for the bill, while three Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers have proposed a bill that would make it illegal for schools to allow transgender girls and women to play on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

The legislation, called the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports (GIRLS) Act, is sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio. State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge introduced the bill at a news conference Monday.

Arkansas state Sen. Jim Hendren in a video released Thursday announced he is leaving the Republican Party. The nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he is considering a run for governor.
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Arkansas State Sen. Jim Hendren has moved his political party affiliation from Republican to Independent and has plans to form a new organization aimed at working in bipartisan fashion, he announced Thursday.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin heads the Common Core task force.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., pivoted from his pursuit of the governor’s office to Attorney General last Monday. His departure from the GOP primary field for the state’s top post leaves Sarah Huckabee Sanders and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in the race.

Leon Jones, who heads the state’s Fair Housing Commission, said Thursday (Feb. 11) he plans to run for Arkansas Attorney General on the GOP ticket.

Griffin said his switch in the race was made after hearing from supporters.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would ban all abortions in the state with few exceptions will now go to the Arkansas Senate floor after a committee voted to advance it Wednesday.

Under Senate Bill 6, a person is not allowed to perform an abortion under any circumstance unless it is to "save the life or preserve the health of the child, remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion or remove an ectopic pregnancy."

Arkansas House

An Arkansas House committee declined to advance a bill Tuesday that would have banned the teaching of the 1619 Project in K-12 schools, with some lawmakers citing concerns on governmental overreach.

By a voice vote, the House Education Committee did not pass House Bill 1231, which would have cut funding for public schools, public school districts or open-enrollment charter schools that taught curriculum centered on the 1619 Project.

Arkansas Senate

A bill that would have allowed for the building of either public or open-enrollment schools on land that was initially donated for the purpose of affordable housing for low-income families failed to pass an Arkansas Senate committee on Monday. 

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The field for Arkansas governor just got smaller. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., announced Monday (Feb. 8) he would no longer seek the state’s top executive post and instead will run for Attorney General.

Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, seen here speaking at a March 13, 2020 press conference about the coronavirus outbreak alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson, announced Thursday he will run for lieutenant governor in 2022.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe announced Thursday that he will seek the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor in 2022.

He has served as the state’s surgeon general since 2015 when he was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Bledsoe has been one of the governor’s chief advisors through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bledsoe is an emergency room physician and earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After a residency at UAMS, he spent five years on the faculty in the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine.

Arkansas Senate

An Arkansas Senate Committee has advanced a bill that would require those seeking an abortion to know about the resources available to them in an attempt to reduce the rate of abortion in the state.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee approved House Bill 1195, by a voice vote on Wednesday.

Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, presented SB24 to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Arkansas House

An Arkansas House committee has rejected a bill that would have established a "Stand Your Ground" law in the state.

After over three hours of debating and listening to testimony, the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday rejected Senate Bill 24 by a voice vote. 

Arkansas Capitol
flickr.com

The chairmen of the Joint Budget Committee and House Revenue & Tax Committee want to provide tax relief for Arkansans who may not even know they could owe it. Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, and Rep. Joe Jett, R-Success, filed SB 236 on Thursday which would exempt unemployment compensation benefits from state income tax in 2020 and 2021.

Arkansas House

As the Arkansas General Assembly finishes its third week, House Speaker Matthew Shepherd says some deadlines have already passed or are approaching which will limit what bills lawmakers can file for consideration.

According to Shepherd, 334 House bills have been filed so far, while the Senate has filed 236. This past Monday was the deadline for filing “scope of practice" bills. February 10 is the deadline for any bills that would propose an amendment to Arkansas’ constitution.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, through a video announcement, declared her intent to run to become Arkansas’ next governor.

The nearly eight-minute video, released on Monday, touches on Sanders’ history of serving under President Donald Trump and growing up and living in Arkansas.

Heather Yates, assistant professor of political science at the University of Central Arkansas, says the video provided a "blueprint" on how Sanders will run her campaign.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running to become the 47th Governor of Arkansas.

Sanders, who had the longest tenure as Press Secretary to former President Donald Trump, announced her gubernatorial campaign for the 2022 election Monday through a video announcement.

"Everything we love about America is at stake and with the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense. In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today, I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas," Sanders said.

French Hill
Talk Business & Politics

As President Joe Biden spent his first full day as commander-in-chief, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said the nation is entering a new period with the opportunity for the president to bring people together by working in a bipartisan way.

Arkansas House

As week two of the Arkansas General Assembly Session wraps up, the rate of bills being considered will begin to increase, according to House leadership. 

Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, said House members have filed 220 pieces of legislation so far, while the state’s senators have filed 168 bills.

This past week, with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the House only met twice, while the Senate met Tuesday through Thursday.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

One of the state’s constitutional officers tasked with redrawing Arkansas House and Senate districts has announced her picks to help with the task.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Tuesday former state Republican Party chair Doyle Webb will lead the effort, alongside former Republican state lawmakers Andy Davis and Doug House.

President Donald J. Trump made history on Wednesday by becoming the first sitting president to be impeached twice. The vote saw 10 Republican members of Congress, including GOP whip Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., join Democrats in voting for impeachment. 

The Democratic-controlled Congress passed an article of impeachment on a 232-197 vote. All four of Arkansas' U.S. Representatives voted against impeachment.

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