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Next week, the first in a series of sentencing hearings will be held for former Arkansas lawmakers, a college president and others who were convicted or pleaded guilty for their roles in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

The freshly minted Select Committee on Senate Ethics held its first meeting Thursday and elected its leadership. The Senate last week approved rule changes creating the committee to hear and investigate claims of corruption. Its formation comes on the heels of federal investigations that have led to five former lawmakers being convicted.

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Incoming Senate President Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs, says he wants members to vote later this year to open up the Senate chamber and its committee meetings for live-streaming.

Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam is resigning this month to take a governmental affairs job at the University of Central Arkansas.

The move opens up a leadership vacuum in the state legislature and is riling up democrats, who see it as a sign of a revolving door between lawmaking and lobbyist-like activity.

The Republican from White County had already announced he wasn’t running for re-election. The House will caucus June 15 to elect an interim speaker.

John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist
Talk Business and Politics

The primary elections in Arkansas are over.  Now, Talk Business and Politics’ Roby Brock and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett break down the results.


Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

One of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s most vocal critics within his own party lost her primary battle Tuesday night. State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, was defeated by State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, in the State Senate District 19 race. With 100% of the vote in according to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, Sturch tallied 52.9% (5,299) of votes cast while Collins-Smith garnered 47.1% (4,726).

Results are unofficial.

Justice Courtney Goodson and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling are headed for a runoff in the Arkansas Supreme Court race, while Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston was leading in the secretary of state’s race.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson won his Republican Party primary with room to spare Tuesday, beating challenger Jan Morgan by a margin of more than two-to-one.

Likewise, roughly 200,000 Arkansans chose a GOP ballot — almost twice the number who voted in the Democratic primary.  

Hutchinson didn’t extend any appreciation to his opponent in his election night speech or so much as mention her by name. And for her part, Morgan said afterward she would maintain her campaign promise and not endorse her party's nominee in the general election.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The new county judge for Craighead County will be Marvin Day. He will start his duties January first. I asked him on his reaction to winning the position.

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Democrats in central Arkansas will choose the party's nominee for a Republican-held U.S. House seat the party believes it has a chance to reclaim this fall, while a state Supreme Court justice is seeking re-election in a campaign that's marked by an onslaught of attack ads from an out-of-state group.

As Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson faces a challenge from the right in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, he now has the backing of President Trump.

The endorsement came in the form of a tweet Monday evening after Hutchinson and four other Republican governors dined with the president at the White House to discuss border security and other issues. Trump wrote on Twitter that Hutchinson had “done an incredible job with a focus on lower taxes, border security and crime prevention.”

Just minutes ahead of a scheduled hearing in Pulaski County Circuit Court, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked a federal court to take up a lawsuit against her that alleges she’s obstructing ballot initiatives.

It did, and the hearing was postponed.

In a statement afterward, her office said the attorney general “removed this case to federal court because the plaintiffs asserted claims under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the federal court is the proper forum to hear the case."

U.S. Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR)
Talk Business & Politics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas congressman has deactivated his office Facebook page after expressing concern over the social media platform's recent involvement in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

Talk Business and Politics

In the latest survey from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, Second District Democrats offered empirical proof of their overwhelming support for the state’s Medicaid expansion program and additional gun regulation. The numbers stand in stark contrast to recent polling of GOP voters.

Cynthia Barnhill / KASU Photojournalim-Graphics Designer Intern
Cynthia Barnhill / KASU Photojournalim-Graphics Designer Intern

The Arkansas primary elections are underway as residents cast their vote for candidates to run in November mid-term election.  Arkansas Republicans have a full roster of candidates competing for the GOP primary in positions for Governor and Secretary of State.  Democrats also have candidates vying for a gubernatorial position.  Also, a 3-way race is going on for a spot on the state Supreme Court.

State Rep. Dan Sullivan and Republican primary challenger Dr. Cole Peck believe the state should reconsider its telemedicine regulations, but each would have a different approach. The two men seeking the House District 53 seat debated Friday (May 4) at the Political Animals Club meeting held at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence by Ali Shaker/VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ali Shaker/VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

President Trump and Vice President Pence speak to the National Rifle Association in Dallas Friday. It's the second year in a row Trump has addressed the gun lobby organization, which was a strong backer of his 2016 campaign. This year’s speeches come amid renewed debate over gun laws, following school shootings in Parkland, Florida and elsewhere.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR
Annette Elizabeth Allen / NPR

President Trump is meeting with his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, today at the White House. The two leaders are discussing security and economic issues. They’re also holding a press conference featuring two questions from American news outlets and two questions from Nigerian media. Watch the event live.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the second key European leader to visit the White House this week. President Trump and Chancellor Merkel are not thought to have the personal rapport that was in evidence in meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. But Trump and Merkel are still holding a joint news conference and taking questions from reporters. Watch the press conference live.

Outside of the gates of the Arkansas Governor's mansion in Little Rock.
Wikipedia

A new survey of likely Republican party primary voters in Arkansas shows that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has a nearly two-to-one lead over challenger Jan Morgan.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll of 676 GOP voters puts Hutchinson with 57.5% support compared to Morgan’s 30.5%. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided. The poll was conducted on April 17-19 and has a margin of error of +/-3.8%.

U. S. Capitol
Liam James Doyle / NPR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is appearing on Capitol Hill for a second day of hearings about protecting its users' data. The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing follows hours of questioning by lawmakers in the Senate.

U. S. Capitol
Liam James Doyle / NPR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying on Capitol Hill to answer questions about protecting user data. The hearing held by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees follows news that the data-mining and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) speaking with Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business and Politics

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sees precedent in the past as hope for progress in the future when it comes to President Trump and foreign relations with Russia and North Korea.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Cotton cited examples of former President Ronald Reagan’s tenure with adversarial world leaders as a blueprint for Trump to follow.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump is hosting the leaders of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to mark 100 years of their independence and taking questions from reporters. Watch their news conference at the White House.

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  Earlier this week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation declaring Tuesday (March 20) as “Agriculture Day in Arkansas.” He met with state employees from the Arkansas Agriculture Department, which encompasses several boards, commissions and divisions, at their west Little Rock headquarters.

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  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill to require public schools to prominently display the national motto, "In God We Trust."

Jefferson County Courthouse - Pine Bluff, Arkansas
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PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas lawmaker who became Jefferson County's chief administrative officer after leaving the Legislature will resign after a federal prosecutor revealed he had received $100,000 in bribes while serving in state government, according to a newspaper report.

(Left to Right):  Rex Nelson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Wes Brown, Talk Business & Politics; and Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics
Talk Business and Politics

Everyone needed spring break this week to recover from last week’s end of the fiscal session and three-day special session of the Arkansas Legislature.  Two gentlemen who did not take the week off are Talk Business’ Wes Brown and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Rex Nelson.  Talk Business’ Roby Brock sits down with Brown and Nelson to talk about the sessions, medical marijuana, and Governor Hutchinson’s big “smaller” idea.


Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers wrapped up a three-day special session Thursday by completing work on legislation pertaining to pharmacy reimbursement rates, highway funding and college savings plans, just as Gov. Asa Hutchinson was saying he hopes such special sessions don't become routine.

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.

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