Category Archives: State government

Drama in the Legislature over Arkansas Works? 3 reasons why not, this time

Arkansas Legislature, Arkansas WorksWill there be the usual drama over Arkansas Works when the Legislature meets for its fiscal session Feb. 12? Probably not so much.

Originally known as the “private option,” Arkansas Works is the Obamacare-funded program created in 2013 that purchases private health insurance for lower-income Arkansans. It’s helped a lot of people obtain insurance – currently 286,000 Arkansans. But it’s also a government health care expansion, which makes it controversial.

It’s always had the majority votes needed in the House and Senate. The challenge for supporters has been funding it. Arkansas Works is run by the Department of Human Services. All state agency appropriations require a three-fourths vote – 27 in the Senate and 75 in the House. In theory, nine senators or 26 representatives can kill Arkansas Works by refusing to fund the department. Continue reading Drama in the Legislature over Arkansas Works? 3 reasons why not, this time

Hutchinson sounds like he’s OK with medical marijuana, but when will Congress act?

Gov. Asa Hutcinson, medical marijuanaIs Governor Asa Hutchinson OK with medical marijuana? Sure sounds like he’s getting there.

In a meeting with reporters in his office Jan. 4, Hutchinson was asked to react to that day’s big announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions had said the Department of Justice will take less of a hands-off approach to marijuana, which is still illegal nationally, than it did under President Obama. Local federal prosecutors will decide who gets charged.

Hutchinson said Arkansas will be watching to see what the Justice Department does next.

“There needs to be a difference of view between medical marijuana and recreational use of marijuana,” he said. He said Sessions “should” follow the lead of President Trump, who “has recognized medical marijuana as an appropriate exception to federal enforcement policy, but he has not said the same thing about recreational use. I do not want Arkansas to become a recreational use state. People passed medical marijuana. They did not adopt recreational use, and I do not believe they would.” Continue reading Hutchinson sounds like he’s OK with medical marijuana, but when will Congress act?

A holiday for only a King

Martin Luther King, Joyce ElliottBy Steve Brawner

© 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Visitors to the Arkansas Capitol this January 15 won’t see a sign saying the building will be closed to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and Gen. Robert E. Lee.

This year, the holiday will be King’s alone.

Legislators voted last year to separate the days. The third Monday in January will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Robert E. Lee will be acknowledged on the second Saturday in October with a “state memorial day,” not a holiday. The law also requires schools to develop teaching materials about the Civil War and the civil rights struggle.

Continue reading A holiday for only a King

Hopes for a new year

By Steve Brawner

© 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Christmas is over, so it’s too late to make a wish list. But now arrives the new year, a time of hope and renewal. So here are my hopes for some of Arkansas’ leading public figures.

– Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislature. I hope the upcoming fiscal session, which starts in February, is brief and boring, as it’s generally supposed to be.

– U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. I hope eastern Arkansas’ congressman sees success with his continuing efforts to open up Cuban markets to Arkansas products. Doing so also opens up that country to democratic and free market ideas.

– U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman. I hope the Senate passes his Resilient Federal Forests Act. The California wildfires have demonstrated that current federal policies are not protecting our forests. Westerman, Congress’ only forester, has tried for several years to pass a fix. The House approved the bill Nov. 1. Continue reading Hopes for a new year