Arkansas News

Arkansas News

News

Sarah Sanders is well on her way to being the next governor of Arkansas
CNN, Chris CillizzaNovember 11, 2021 (Medium)

If you need evidence of former President Donald Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party, you need look no further than what is going on in Arkansas at the moment.

Earlier this week, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge ended her campaign for the GOP nomination — and started her campaign for lieutenant governor. “At this crossroads in our country’s history, now is a time for Christian conservative leaders to unite and fight together against those who wish to destroy the America we know and love,” she said.

What’s the difference between the governor’s race and the lieutenant governor’s race, you ask? Sarah Sanders is in one — and it’s virtually impossible to beat her in a Republican primary. Because not only did she work in the Trump White House, but she has the endorsement of the former President, who called her a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct.”

And so, despite the fact that Rutledge entered the race six months before Sanders and had been elected and reelected as the state’s top cop, there was simply no way for her to keep up with her.

Former judge Mike Maggio released from federal prison
Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, Debra Hale-SheltonOctober 22, 2021 (Medium)

Former Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio has been released from federal prison after serving less than half of a 10-year sentence for bribery.

The development is the latest in a long-running and complex criminal case that dates back to 2014 and that has entangled a once-powerful Republican lobbyist, a wealthy nursing home owner, an Arkansas Supreme Court justice and others. Maggio was accused of reducing the amount of money a jury awarded in a 2013 civil case he presided over as a judge and expecting campaign donations in return.

Maggio, 60, was freed Wednesday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ website. Since he was first incarcerated on July 19, 2017, he has been held in facilities in Kentucky, Atlanta and other undisclosed places.

Maggio, who lived in Faulkner County before his imprisonment, could not be reached for comment Friday. Conway attorney James Hensley, who represented Maggio at one point, said Friday that he was not involved in this phase of the case.

When federal prosecutors first threatened Maggio with criminal charges, he was soon ready to cooperate. Under an agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock in January 2015, the U.S. attorney’s office said that if Maggio provided “substantial assistance” in prosecuting criminal conduct, including testimony before a grand jury or trial jury, the prosecution could recommend a sentence reduction to the court.

Arkansas lawmakers approve final redistricting map
KUAR, Daniel BreenOctober 7, 2021 (Short)

The Arkansas Legislature has given final approval to a re-drawn map of the state’s four U.S. congressional districts that splits Pulaski County among three districts. The proposed map now awaits a signature from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

With little debate, members of the state House and Senate passed identical versions of the map on Thursday. House Bill 1982, sponsored by Rep. Nelda Speaks, R-Mountain Home, passed the Senate by a vote of 21 to 12. Shortly afterward, the House approved Senate Bill 743, sponsored by Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, on a vote of 53 to 35.

The proposal would trisect Pulaski County among the 1st, 2nd and 4th congressional districts. Most of Little Rock would remain in the 2nd District, while areas on the southeast edge of the city would go to the 4th District, currently represented in the U-S House by Republican Bruce Westerman. All of Pulaski County is currently in the 2nd District, represented by Republican French Hill of Little Rock.

Maumelle, Sherwood, Jacksonville and most of North Little Rock would also remain in the 2nd District, though the eastern edge of North Little Rock would go to the 1st district, represented by Republican Rick Crawford. Unincorporated parts of southern and eastern Pulaski County would go to the 4th and 2nd Districts, respectively.

Critics of the proposal have said it seeks to dilute the voting power of minority communities in central Arkansas. While the governor has not indicated whether he will approve the map, Hutchinson said Wednesday he does not support any redistricting proposals that dilute minority districts.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported 2,181 new COVID-19 cases in the state Wednesday. While hospitalizations declined by 19, the number of deaths rose by 34.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during his weekly press conference on the pandemic That as of Wednesday morning, there were 23 reported intensive care unit beds available statewide for COVID-19 and general ICU. At least 10 of the available ICU beds are for COVID-19 patients. In addition, there are two pediatric ICU beds available in the state.

“That’s closer than we’d like, but it’s better than it has been,” said Hutchinson.

The governor announced there will be 27 new ICU beds coming online in the state this month.

“We are trying to get ahead of the curve. If there is a curve that goes up, hopefully it goes down,” Hutchinson said. “We want to bring on new beds in September to meet any additional needs that will be out there.”

Arkansas Budget Surplus Rises To All-Time High
KUAR News, Daniel BreenJune 2, 2021 (Short)

Arkansas’ revenue has outpaced expectations for the month of May, while the state’s budget surplus has risen to its highest level.

The state’s net available general revenue for the month of May totaled just over $655 million, nearly an 80% jump over this time last year and about $263 million above forecast.

The latest report from the state Department of Finance and Administration shows results were above forecast in all major categories. A change in the tax deadline caused growth in individual income tax revenue, while revenues from other tax categories like tobacco and gaming also came in above forecast.

Arkansas Term Limits Files Lawsuit Against Voter Petitioner Limits
KUAR News, Steve BrawnerMay 28, 2021 (Short)

Arkansas Term Limits and other plaintiffs filed suit Friday in the federal Eastern District of Arkansas to overturn a new state law that limits who can gather signatures for citizen-led constitutional amendments and other initiatives.

Act 951 by Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, and Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, limits paid petitioners to state residents, which Arkansas Term Limits said in a press release is not required for any other political job or for petitions used to gather signatures for candidates to run. It passed with an emergency measure.

The ban applies to gathering signatures for citizen-led constitutional amendments; initiatives, which have the force of law; and referenda, which allow voters to rescind a law passed by the state Legislature.

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