The House met briefly this afternoon at the Old State House to being a three-day special session. The Oaklawn bill to limit lottery expansion, amended to have temporary effect until March, cleared House committee without opposition.
Today on our program: Tom Cotton says he thinks the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling is great. The Arkansas General Assembly appears to have reached a compromise on legislation that will limit the Arkansas lottery from expanding into video-style games. Staffers for the Arkansas lieutenant governor's office end their time doing nothing. And more.
Hobby Lobby, which won a Supreme Court ruling that it need not cover certain forms of birth control, invests its retirement money in funds whose holdings include makers of those forms of birth control, as well as insurance companies that cover abortions.
At this minute, multiple sources tell me this is the deal for the fight over the Oaklawn casino-backed effort to prohibit the Arkansas lottery from beginning electric monitor-provided keno-style games, now set for late September:
Legislation to ban the games will pass, but it will include a sunset provision in March 2015.
The lieutenant governor's office shuts down today, though its $300,000-a-year staff has had nothing to do for five months, since Mark Darr's resignation. Some will head to other state jobs, though the only staff member we can reach doesn't want to talk about what those jobs are.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today in the lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to deny coverage of certain types of contraceptives (including the Plan B morning after pill) in its employee health insurance plan.
I got two reports last night of robocalls urging calls to Little Rock City Board members to vote Tuesday night against the proposal for a MAPCO gas station at the dangerous Third and Broadway intersection, near the heart of the city/county government and convention district.
Two people were killed with two trains collided near Hwy. 67 early this morning, and State Police are evacuating residents of the southern end of the city while the trains burn. U.S. 67 south of Hoxie and U.S. 63 are closed. The trains were carrying hazardous chemicals.
Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group seeking to qualify a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017, turned in an additional 69,070 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today.
American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."
Ceramicist Barbara Satterfield, one of the Arkansas Times' "Visionaries" in 2013, has announced the creation of a touring, interactive sculpture exhibit that will be installed in public places in Helena, Heber Springs, Dardanelle and Warren before the final exhibition at the Cox Creative Center.