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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 12:39:00

Bill to (mostly) require electronic filing of campaign finance reports heads to House floor

A bill by Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) to improve campaign finance reporting is headed to the House floor after passing out of committee Wednesday. Much like Rep. Clarke Tucker's bill to regulate electioneering communications, Della Rosa's HB 1233 started out as a stronger piece of legislation but was watered down in the face of opposition. It remains a good bill, but now contains a major loophole that could be exploited by candidates seeking to avoid transparency.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 11:10:00

Anti-gay legislation prompts Human Rights Campaign to run ad in Silicon Valley newspaper

At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 11:07:00

House committee OKs bill to create pilot program to drug-test TANF recipients

The House committee on Public Health this morning voted to pass a bill that would require the Department of Workforce Services to create a pilot program to drug test people who receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, or TANF.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 10:35:00

Stonewall Democrats condemn gay discrimination bill

Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, sends along a statement excoriating Arkansas legislators for moving forward on Rep. Bob Ballinger's discriminatory HB 1228. She also notes that Ballinger, who previously said he would debate the merits of HB 1228 in a public forum, hasn't responded to a number of attempts to schedule the debate.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 09:36:00

Light swill

I guess the harried pace of lawmaking is getting in the way of wining and dining.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 08:48:00

Demographics for the private option, which now has 240,000 enrollees

Through the end of February, just under 240,000 Arkansans had gained coverage via the private option. As always, worth noting: that's 240,000 folks who would lose their insurance plans if the rump group of Tea Partiers in the legislature got their way and ended the coverage expansion in two years. Here's the demographic breakdown of those 240,000.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 07:54:00

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson peddles fantasy of raping and torturing atheist family

Oh dear. Paradigm of conservative cultural authenticity, Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," conjured up a gruesome fantasy of the rape and torture of an atheist family in a speech to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, later broadcast on the “Trunews” radio program by host Rick Wiles.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 21:01:51

Ask Uber: Is a California life more valuable than an Arkansan's?

Bigelow Republican Sen. Jason Rapert's SB800 (and amendment) which the city attorney of Little Rock says will allow Uber and other "transportation network companies" like it to get away with "woefully inadequate" insurance requirements, got a do pass from the House Insurance and Commerce Committee today. The Senate has already approved the bill.

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Today in Arkansas: Flipped and for what

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 19:52:00

Mike Preston of Florida tapped as next director of Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Mike Preston, vice president for Government Relations with Enterprise Florida, is Gov. Asa Hutchinson's choice as the next director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, reports Roby Brock at Talk Business. Preston will be tasked with doling out millions in corporate welfare to bring in and retain businesses in the state. Hutchinson decided not to keep Grant Tennille, who served in the role under Gov. Mike Beebe, on the job.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 18:06:00

Gov. Asa Hutchinson would sign Ballinger's "conscience" bill in current form, says he did not pressure Barnett

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's spokesperson J.R. Davis tells the Times that the governor would sign Bob Ballinger's so-called "conscience protection" bill in its current form. Davis said that the governor did not pressure Democrat David Burnett to flip his vote, but did meet with him two weeks ago to encourage him to pass it out of committee.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 17:52:09

UPDATE: Amended Tucker bill to close campaign finance loophole passes committee

A House committee voted down a bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) that would have required the reporting of "electioneering communications" — such as the advertising featuring then-Attorney General candidate Leslie Rutledge in the last election — as a campaign contribution.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 17:33:00

Private option per capita costs flat in 2015, state now well below budget targets

Good news for the private option on the cost front. The data is in from the Department of Human Services for March and the trend for 2015 is continuing: the per-person costs of the private option are a hair lower than they were in 2014. This is a big deal because typically per capita health costs go up up up. Instead, private option per capita costs are basically flat in 2015 as compared to last year. These flat per capita costs also mean that Arkansas is on pace to come in well under the budget targets set by the federal government over the three years of the federal Medicaid waiver used to enact the private option. Many opponents of the private option spent a lot of time shouting about costs in 2014, when the monthly costs were coming in above the budget targets. They have been utterly silent about the fact that costs have come in lower than expected for 2015.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 17:25:00

Your long groan open line and daily video

It's an open line.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 16:20:00

In wake of Harris rehoming revelations, broader review of child welfare system begins

This morning, I spoke with Paul Vincent, the child welfare expert Gov. Asa Hutchinson has selected to conduct a review of the foster care and adoption system at the state Department of Human Services.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 15:09:00

Capital gains restoration sails through House

The Arkansas House today easily passed Rep. Matthew Shepherd's HB1402 to restore all of a 2013 capital gains tax, which were somewhat rolled back as part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's income tax cut bill.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 15:01:00

House panel OKs execution bill, another to end life sentences for juveniles

A North Little Rock legislator's bill that provides two lethal injection recipes for the state Department of Correction to choose from in executions was endorsed yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 14:27:00

Johnny Key confirmed by State Board as new Education Commissioner

The State Board of Education unanimously voted on Wednesday to approve former Republican state senator Johnny Key as the new head of the Arkansas Department of Education.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 13:19:00

Senate bill would 'increase lottery revenue' by killing funding for fight against gambling addiction

Just in time for the end of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the National Council on Problem Gambling released a statement today denouncing Senate Bill 404, which would kill the already meager funding the state sets aside to combat problem gambling through treatment, education and a helpline.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 11:48:00

David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee

Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee: HB1228, the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 10:16:00

State to misleadingly tell poor Arkansans their health coverage is going away, but that's probably not true

Rep. Donnie Copeland's silly, cruel, pointless, mean-spirited, misguided bill to send a letter to private option beneficiaries telling them that their health coverage is ending Dec. 31, 2016 passed the House yesterday 81-19. It's on to the governor, who will sign it into law. Has there ever been a more perfect example of lawmakers' yen for meaningless posturing over sensible policymaking? The thing is, Copeland's threat isn't just misleading, it's almost certainly wrong. The private option might get some re-branding, but it's very unlikely that coverage is going away.

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    Protesters greeted Tom Cotton today at an event held by the Foreign Policy Initiative, the neocon think tank founded by Cotton cheerleaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, called (of course) "Will Congress provide for the Common Defense? National Security priorities in an increasingly dangerous world."
  • Cruz and Cotton in the country of country

    Tea Partier than thou: When it comes to record collections, Ted Cruz can't keep up with Tom Cotton.
  • Nothing to show for making nice

    I'm at anchor on a ship lying off Grand Turk Island, and I should have known better than to pick up the digital Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, particularly given the painfully slow download time on the ship's satellite Internet. But I did and began a slow burn.
  • Stop presses: Clintons ambitious

    Here are a couple of earthshaking developments: It turns out that Hillary Clinton is obsessed with privacy and that across the years former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers detected ethical failings in other politicians, even friends like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
  • The loss of skepticism

    The manufacture and dissemination of didactic fables pleasing to the viewing audience is what many journalists do. And that's becoming almost as true at MSNBC as at Fox News. Particularly in stories involving race and sex, that is to say, a lot of them.

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  • Anti-gay legislation prompts Human Rights Campaign to run ad in Silicon Valley newspaper

    At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today.
  • Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson peddles fantasy of raping and torturing atheist family

    Oh dear. Paradigm of conservative cultural authenticity, Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," conjured up a gruesome fantasy of the rape and torture of an atheist family in a speech to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, later broadcast on the “Trunews” radio program by host Rick Wiles.
  • Stonewall Democrats condemn gay discrimination bill

    Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, sends along a statement excoriating Arkansas legislators for moving forward on Rep. Bob Ballinger's discriminatory HB 1228. She also notes that Ballinger, who previously said he would debate the merits of HB 1228 in a public forum, hasn't responded to a number of attempts to schedule the debate.
  • David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee

    Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee: HB1228, the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.
  • House committee OKs bill to create pilot program to drug-test TANF recipients

    The House committee on Public Health this morning voted to pass a bill that would require the Department of Workforce Services to create a pilot program to drug test people who receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, or TANF.

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