Arkansas Politics

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.

Arkansas Senate

An effort to establish a "Stand Your Ground'' law in Arkansas passed its first hurdle on Wednesday.

By a vote of 5-2, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 24, which would add Arkansas to a list of states that already have such statutes. 

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, would remove the "duty to retreat" for someone who is under threat of being harmed. 

Speaking to Arkansas' lawmakers, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the first responsibility should be measures and bills concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor's Office

 

In his second-to-last State of the State address, and final one in front of a general session, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined his legislative goals which include addressing the current healthcare crisis, hate crimes legislation, teacher pay and supporting state police. 

 

Speaking to members in the House on Tuesday, while the Senate joined digitally, Hutchinson said the legislature’s “first responsibility” should be addressing the current public health emergency brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  

 

U.S. Capitol
Stock Photo

All members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation have condemned the actions of pro-Trump extremists who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, causing violence and the evacuation of the building.

The rioting began as the House of Representatives and Senate were scheduled to count and certify the Electoral College results for president.

 Jonelle Fulmer (center) will serve as chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arkansas after being elected to the position Saturday.
Republican Party of Arkansas

The Republican Party of Arkansas elected a new chairperson for the first time in 12 years. In early December, the party elected Jonelle Fulmer to serve as chair. KUAR spoke with Fulmer about her ideas for the future of the Republican Party in Arkansas. Below is the transcript of the aired conversation.

KUAR: What are some of your short-term goals for the party and what are some long-term goals?

French Hill
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

This story has been updated.

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Arkansas’ 2nd district said Friday he remained “cautiously optimistic” that Congress would pass a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus economic relief package. With talks moving slowly and lawmakers not able to pass a bill by a Friday midnight deadline, he joined a majority in voting to pass a two-day stopgap spending bill that night to avert a partial government shutdown.

City of Little Rock

The Little Rock Board of Directors decided to postpone taking a vote regarding the city’s 2021 budget for two weeks, as well as a resolution that “express[ed] concern” regarding the continued employment of the city’s police chief.

Board members ultimately tabled consideration of the budget Tuesday night, after not accruing the needed eight votes to push the ordinance to a third reading, with a vote of 7-3.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

During a primetime television address delivered Thursday night, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated many of the talking points he has been making for months. In a post-speech interview with Talk Business & Politics, Hutchinson expounded on what he hoped to accomplish in the speech, why he’s seeking more legislative input, what is frustrating him with the federal response, and how he’ll handle the potential for rising cases after the Christmas holidays.

The following transcript is a Q&A with Talk Business & Politics' Roby Brock.

Andrew DeMillo
Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

With the Arkansas 2021 Legislative Session set to begin in just over a month, state lawmakers have already begun to file bills, effectively giving a preview of some of the issues that will be debated and voted on. 

KUAR News spoke with Andrew DeMillo, Capitol Correspondent for the Little Rock bureau of the Associated Press to discuss the upcoming session and what topics that have already emerged as ones to pay attention to.

KUAR: What do you think are the major topics that the upcoming session is going to address this year?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shows a graph during Tuesday's weekly press briefing of the daily increase in hospitalizations in Arkansas.
Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held the first of his planned community meetings, this one in Benton, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, after an unplanned meeting with about a dozen Arkansans who disagree with his actions.

Hutchinson met inside the Benton Event Center with elected officials, school and community leaders and a few other invited Saline County residents. Attendees were spaced far apart along tables set in a square. After brief remarks by the governor, members of the media were asked to leave.

 Jonelle Fulmer (center) will serve as chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arkansas after being elected to the position Saturday.
Republican Party of Arkansas

Jonelle Fulmer of Fort Smith was elected as the new chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arkansas on Saturday in Benton. She will succeed Doyle Webb of Benton, who has served as chairman for the last 12 years. Fulmer has served as the Party’s National Committeewoman since 2012.

Laura Bridges

North Little Rock voters will decide who will serve as their next mayor in a runoff election Tuesday. The two candidates, former mayor Terry Hartwick and former Democratic state lawmaker Tracy Steele, failed to get more than 50% of the vote in what was a four-person contest on Election Day. Steele says he’s confident he’ll emerge victorious from the runoff.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new bill would make nearly all forms of abortion a crime in Arkansas, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, and Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, allows abortion to be performed legally only when the mother’s life is threatened or to remove an ectopic pregnancy.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on this week's Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson anticipates a lot of negotiation over taxes in the upcoming legislative session. With an expected $240 million surplus,

Hutchinson has laid out proposals to:

  • Reduce the top individual income tax rate for new residents to 4.9% for five years. Doing so would attract tech and manufacturing talent and retirees, he said.
  • Lower the sales tax on used vehicles from 6.5% to 3.5% for those with sale prices between $4,000 and $10,000. There is no tax for cars sold for less than $4,000.
  • Place $100 million in the state’s long-term reserve account.

Governor's Office / YouTube

Arkansas lawmakers will soon vote on whether to require all high school students to take a computer science course.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday the state legislature will take up a bill creating the requirement sponsored by Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, in the January general session.

Panelists for Issues That Matter: A Recap and Look Forward of the 2020 Election include: Jason Davis, a former member of the Pulaski County Election Commission; Dr. Janine Parry, who is a professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the Director of the Arkansas Poll; Arkansas Sen. Missy Irvin, who represents District 18; and Michael John Gray, Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

nbcnews.com

Arkansas’s Republican Governor says President Donald Trump should begin the transition process to the administration of president-elect Joe Biden.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he expects Biden to be the next president of the United States.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson meeting with cabinet secretaries at the Department of Corrections office in North Little Rock.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson touted his proposal to cut the state’s top individual income tax rate for new residents, called for reducing the used car tax, and said his new budget includes a $240 million surplus during a speech at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas’ Annual Meeting Tuesday.

Hutchinson said his budget calls for reducing the top individual income tax rate for new residents to 4.9% for five years. Doing so would attract tech and manufacturing talent and also retirees.

The police chief of a small town in Arkansas resigned Saturday after posts attributed to him calling for violence and harassment against Democrats were widely circulated. The town's mayor says the inflammatory remarks don't reflect the community.

Two supporters of President-elect Joe Biden walked among backers of President Trump Saturday afternoon at the Arkansas state Capitol. At times there were heated confrontations, with Little Rock police officers eventually arriving to make sure the imprompt
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the 2020 U.S. Presidential election after it became clear Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral college votes would fall for the Democratic candidate.

“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country,” Biden noted in a Saturday morning statement after the Pennsylvania vote. “The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans – whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”

Joyce Elliott
Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

The Democratic candidate for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District has officially conceded the race, but also called for the counting of each absentee ballot in the district.

Arkansas State Sen. Joyce Elliott lost to incumbent congressman French Hill by around 10%, which amounted to around 30,000 votes. The race had been the closest congressional race in the state, and Democrats’ best change at flipping a seat. Polling showed less that one percentage point separating Elliott and Hill up to Election Day.

Election voting
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

President Donald Trump along with five Republican members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation cruised to victory in the state Tuesday night. Some candidates further down the ballot saw victories by large margins, while some races remain undecided.

Candidates for Arkansas' 2nd District Congressional seat speaking with the Delta Grassroots Caucus on Oct. 14. Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott (left) spoke first, followed by U.S. Rep. French Hill.
Delta Grassroots Caucus

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., was headed to re-election in his closely watched race with state Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock. The Associated Press called the race for Hill at about 10 p.m. Hill represents the 2nd District covering seven counties.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., easily won re-election Tuesday, while U.S. Reps. Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman were well ahead in their re-election efforts. The Associated Press called the race for Cotton not long after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

Cotton was leading with 66% of the vote facing only Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington. At 9:30 p.m., Cotton had 437,000 votes while Harrington had 223,000.

UA-Monticello Political science professor John Davis (left), KUAR's Michael Hibblen (right) and UCA political science professor Heather Yates.
Zoom

As polling has continued to show the race for Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district to be extremely tight, outside political groups have spent millions of dollars in advertising to try and influence the race. Republicans are hoping to keep the state’s congressional delegation solidly red, while Democrats view this as an opportunity reclaim a district that had been a longtime stronghold for the party.

Incumbent Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, a banker, is being challenged by state Sen. Joyce Elliot, a retired educator.

Arkansas PBS

In the final stretch before polls close in Arkansas for the 2020 election, the candidates for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District race are making their final appeals to voters across the district.

Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, the Democratic candidate running to unseat incumbent Congressman French Hill, a Republican, called today a "tiebreaking day" and is visiting polling places throughout the district.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News

It’s a fall Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium, and there’s a crowd of over 100 cars assembled at its parking lot. However, this isn’t a football game, this is a drive-in political rally for Joyce Elliott, who’s running for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District seat.

Volunteers are checking in attendees and directing cars, which are spaced out with one parking spot in between. Others are passing out signs and buttons while the stage is being assembled in the front. Everyone volunteering, and almost all attendees in their cars, are wearing masks.

Talk Business & Politics

President Donald Trump leads former Vice President Joe Biden in Arkansas, 65%-32%, Sen. Tom Cotton appears headed to an easy re-election, and ballot measures to continue a sales tax for highways and amend legislative term limits laws had broad support in the annual Arkansas Poll released Oct. 28 by University of Arkansas political science professor Dr. Janine Perry.

Election early vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With the general election less than two weeks away, Arkansans currently have three ways to vote: on Election Day, Nov. 3, during early voting which runs until Nov. 2, or with an absentee ballot, where the deadline to apply to receive one by mail is Oct. 27. 

On the Arkansas absentee ballot application itself, voters must choose between three options for requesting a ballot.

They are:

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