Legislative pressure tactics failed today to persuade the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to pay any legal or engineering fees incurred by Dan Eoff in Clinton as a result of his construction of an unpermitted earthen dam in Van Buren County. Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest and Rep. Josh Miller of Heber Springs, both Republicans, had pressured the agency to pay the fees and had held up the agency's budget to force the payment.
Republican Rep. Josh Miller of Heber Springs caught my attention last week with an impassioned speech against Medicaid expansion for Arkansas's working poor. I knew Miller, who has a rental housing business, was a recipient of significant past and current Medicaid help himself. I asked him to explain his viewpoint. He talked candidly and extensively about how he suffered a serious injury, the help he received from Medicaid and how he views his situation and that of others somewhat differently.
There's no surer sign of the growing strength of the Republican Party than meaningful division in the ranks, both personal and political.
We've seen it in the deep split in the Republican delegation on the private option Medicaid expansion. And now it's my pleasure to pass along this remarkably lucid warning from Secure Arkansas — an extreme right group — that decries the influence of money, the Koch brothers and outside organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council on an issue dear to Secure Arkansas, fluoridation of water.
This morning, the situation looks dire on winning conventional House approval — 75 votes — of the Human Services appropriation bill that includes money for the private option expansion of Medicaid. Proponents haven't given up finding the two missing votes but a letter from 27 Republicans (of 51 in the House) demanding negotiations complicates matters.
Will the House vote this afternoon on the private option for Medicaid expansion? House leadership says it's a "game-time decision." The measure has already passed the Senate and has 73 votes in the House, but needs two more for the needed supermajority. Can the last two votes be found to re-appropriate the private option, or will the session end without a DHS budget at all?
My apologies. I got the batch of UA lobbyist applications late and posted them before a thorough review, in part because I suspect it's an academic exercise. But, among the applicants is someone who needs work, former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr.
Will Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home file for re-election to the Senate this week? Or will he decline to do so as he pursues the job of lobbyist for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, a $202,000 job from which Richard Hudson is retiring July 31? In theory, the job is wide open, hotly contested and won't be decided until well after the filing period is over, based on information I've received from the UA through FOI requests and other questions.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux this morning as saying there'd be no severance package for the four-person staff of the lieutenant governor's office. As reported yesterday, they've decided to resign effective June 30.
No severance package? They had a great one. Six months of pay and benefits for very light labor.
The possibility of a government shutdown has been raised in the context of the Arkansas House's failure so far to adopt the state human services budget with its continuation of the Obamacare-enabled expansion of Medicaid. Who gains politically from a shutdown? In Arkansas, the answer might not be so clear as it seems.
Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux sent the Tweet above moments ago, signaling a resolution of the matter of employing a four-person staff for a non-existent lieutenant governor. They will all quit June 30.
An editorial in the Arkansas Leader, written by our Ernest Dumas, provides some arithmetic, public policy and hospital economics education to Republican Rep. Joe Farrer of Austin, a dedicated foe of the Medicaid expansion. He's an administrator at a Jacksonville hospital if you can believe it.
Gov. Mike Beebe, attending a national governors conference in Washington, told reporters today that, by his count, supporters of private option Medicaid expansion were two votes short of the 75 needed in the House. But he counted two House members as undecided, enough to get the job done if they come over by tomorrow's vote.
A solid majority of the members of the Arkansas legislature enjoy low-cost state subsidized health insurance. But, state officials say, federal privacy laws prohibit identifying the recipients. It would be otherwise interesting to compare the recipients with the roll call on the private option Medicaid expansion vote.
An FOI request shows little in the way of e-mail crossing the desk of the $51,000-a-year director of government relations in the office of the Arkansas lieutenant governor. But it was a good week for Josh Curtis. He announced for Saline JP and the Senate president pro ten protected his paycheck for the year.
A roundup of today's shenanigans at the Capitol as the Arkansas House continues to debate the private option. The policy fell a handful of votes short of a supermajority for the fourth time today. What will happen when the House votes on Tuesday?
Four the fourth time, the Arkansas House failed this morning to pass the private option version of Medicaid expansion. Needing 75 votes, it got 71, with 18 opposed and 13 not voting . The House adjourned until another vote Tuesday morning. Two Aye votes were out of their seats, putting the count at 73. Leadership continues to believe it will gather the 75 votes, but the hunt for two last votes goes on...
House leaders continue to believe 75 votes are committed to another year of the private option version of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Uncertainty continues to exist about when the planets will align. Growing consensus seems to be that it won't occur until Tuesday.
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-organization that is continuing a desperate battle against Obamacare, has spent more than $1 million on advertising to defeat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. But a new $700,000 buy in Arkansas is the latest to fail a fact check.
The Student Press Law Center reports that Sheridan High School administration ordered the school yearbook to scrap six planned student profiles rather than include one on a gay student who talked about his experience.
Gov. Mike Beebe today exercised a line-item veto of a $5 million tax break grafted onto an appropriation bill. The next question is whether the legislature will attempt an override when it meets to adjourn Wednesday.
The tween-pop Elvis is coming to Verizon for what is guaranteed to be the most frenzied concert Little Rock sees all year. Now, the Biebs has gotten more than his fair share of criticism since his astronomical ascent from YouTube scrubbery to international megafame, but we're not interested in calling out the omnipresent young pup for his fortunes, deserved or otherwise.
Mike Huckabee, who left Arkansas, where he built the platform for his media success and which, incidentally, has an income tax, is putting down expensive roots in a beach development in Walton County, Fla., east of Destin — a $3 million home.
Last week, Rep. Josh Miller, a Republican legislator from Heber Springs, spoke against the private option Medicaid expansion last week. He invoked FDR's New Deal — a "hand up," he said, not a "handout."