Too little and too late, but the Arkansas Democratic Party today rapped Gov. Asa Hutchinson for holding jobs hostage to his takeover of a couple of state commissions, which I mentioned earlier this morning. worth more investigation: Big spending at the Governor's Mansion by Asa and First Lady Susan Hutchinson.
The Arkansas legislature meets today — the House at 9 a.m. and the Senate 10 a.m. — to complete Gov. Asa Hutchinson's special session agenda. It will be remembered for executive takeover of the History and Governor's Mansion Commission and free lunch highway program.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson names existing staffer Alison Williams to be his new chief of staff. The name might ring a bell for those who recall when Hutchinson got scrutiny for leaving a Bush administration job for higher pay in a sector related to his government work, with assistance from Williams and another current staffer.
The Hutchinsons have schedujled some mansion money-raising events at the Capitol, perhaps a sign of increased gubernatorial control of the state housing. This also brings to mind the question of whether an official like Hutchinson can get away with diverting attention from office furniture expenses by saying they were paid with money from private contributors.
Still awaiting a public discussion is SB 5 by Sen. David Burnett of Osceola and Rep. Monte Hodges of Blytheville to provide exceptions from the state's earthquake resistant design standards by which money could be saved on some targeted building projects.
Rev. Gwen Fry, an Episcopal priest and president of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, shares a letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson that others would do well to read for some background on the shortcomings in his blast of President Obama for reminding states of the need not to discriminate against transgender students.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the "call," or agenda, for the special legislative session that begins Thursday and it includes a number of items besides highway spending, the main issue. A contentious workers comp issue has made the call, despite objections by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
Dianne Curry of Little Rock, the Democratic candidate for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill, issued a prepared statement in response to President Obama's guidance on equal facility access for students, aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students: It's a welcome measured remark as Republican seize on bathrooms to promote a broader discrimination agenda.
Will more than highways be discussed at next week's special session? The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce fears an anti-business change in workers compensation law could be on the table. And there's school elections. And bathroom hysteria. And who knows what else?
The budget session of the legislature passed without action on Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr's idea to build a new building for his agency, big enough to house him and perhaps the state bank and securities divisions, both housed in leased space.
The Joint Budget Committee today passed the Medical Services appropriation, which funds the state's Medicaid program, on a voice vote. That includes both "Arkansas Works," the governor's plan to continue the private option Medicaid expansion, as well as the traditional Medicaid program (everything else, such as ARKids and the aged, blind, and disabled).