Category Archives: Business

Lawyers vs. legislators

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

It could be argued that two of the three most important votes this year in Arkansas state politics occurred Feb. 16 and Feb. 27, and the third will occur this Friday.

The first two votes are when the Arkansas Senate and Arkansas House advanced a proposed constitutional amendment limiting lawsuit awards. We voters will decide its fate in the November 2018 elections.

The third will be in Hot Springs June 16, when the Arkansas Bar Association’s House of Delegates votes on whether to pursue a dueling proposal barring such lawsuit limits that also would appear on the November 2018 ballot.

Castro’s death moves Cuba farther into the market for Arkansas rice, ideas

By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Fidel Castro is dead. How does that affect people in Arkansas? Maybe a lot, especially if they work in the rice industry or are elected to represent people who do.

Cuba’s 11 million people import 400,000 tons of rice each year, mostly from Vietnam, which means the rice arrives after a long boat ride from a country on the other side of the globe. Rep. Rick Crawford’s eastern Arkansas 1st District includes half of America’s rice acreage, so it’s understandable that his reaction to Castro’s death focused on the future, not the past.

“Fidel Castro’s death is an opportunity for America to end its ineffective policies so we can influence the future direction of that nation,” he tweeted, then added, “Through my own visits to Cuba I’ve seen people ready for change. With Fidel dead, America needs to help lead Cuba toward a better future.”

In West Memphis, it’s all connected

Junior Jeremy Paige is learning to become an aircraft mechanic, while senior Summer Abram plans to use the skills she learned in high school as a diesel mechanic to pay her way through school as she becomes a psychologist.
Junior Jeremy Paige is learning to become an aircraft mechanic, while senior Summer Abram plans to use the skills she learned in high school as a diesel mechanic to pay her way through school as she becomes a psychologist.
By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The late Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller used to say that the education system is like a string of water pipes laid end to end but not connected. In West Memphis, they’re connected.

The high school, known as the Academies at West Memphis, has a conversion charter, which is an arrangement with the Arkansas Department of Education where some of the usual rules don’t apply and the school can experiment and innovate.

Arkansans of the year

arkansasFlagBy Steve Brawner
© 2015 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Time magazine names a “Person of the Year.” Sports Illustrated has a “Sportsperson of the Year.” Who are the Arkansans of the year?

In politics, it’s not even close. On issue after issue, Gov. Asa Hutchinson either achieved his objectives or appointed a study commission to buy time to achieve his objectives. He wants to continue but change the private option, the controversial program that uses Medicaid dollars to buy insurance for lower-income Arkansans, so he asked the Legislature to fund it two years while a replacement can be found. That’s what’s happened – so far. He and the State Board of Education butted heads over the Common Core-related PARCC exam. He wanted to replace it; the Board wanted to keep it. It’s gone. In the debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Hutchinson was perhaps the only elected official who pleased (too strong a word?) both sides. His signature education issue, requiring high schools to teach computer coding, has resulted in 4,000 students taking a class. The only downside to Hutchinson’s year is that next year can’t be this good.