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March 9, 2017

Vol 43 • No 27

Read the print version

Resistance roadmap

Born of frustration, the 'Indivisible Guide' is the lens that has focused Trump's foes.

Resist, Arkansas!

Surveying the state's grass roots resistance to Donald Trump and the Republicans who back him.

The Foilies 2017

Recognizing the year’s worst in government transparency.

Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Finals: A Preview

It's the 25th anniversary.

House of horrors

Private option restructuring coming, Broadway Bridge reopens and more.

Radical Zinn

Re: the bill to remove Howard Zinn books from school libraries: When "alternative" books are removed from school libraries and class curriculums, it is the beginning of broader suppression of education and civilian participation in politics, not the end of it.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Leave Jeremy Hutchinson ALONE! Edition

Play at home!

Trump: not so smart

You know, along with having the impulse control of a 7-year-old boy, it's becoming increasingly clear that Donald J. Trump just ain't real smart. He's a cunning self-promoter, but dim. He did manage to go bankrupt in the casino business, you know. That's really hard to do.

Hogs going dancing

Even in a week where a modest winning streak went by the wayside at Gainesville, Arkansas authored one more earnest surge toward an NCAA Tournament berth that not long ago seemed beyond its grasp.


Ignorance may not exactly be bliss, President Trump and a lot of other politicians are discovering, but it is a good operating model as long as wisdom doesn't rear its ugly head.

Leopold and His Fiction play Stickyz

Also, Ibby Caputo gives the keynote address at 'Women in the Media.'

GOP health care

There is this little thing called the Affordable Care Act that screams "danger ahead" for Republicans in Arkansas.

Liking Mike's pho-ever

Noodle soups a standout at Vietnamese cafe.

Bernard Lafayette speaks at Bowen School of Law

Also, Fox 45, Second Friday Art Night, Love Moor, SXSW Takeover at Discovery, St. Patrick's Day Parade, Hawtmess and Witchsister, Sunny Sweeney, ASO plays Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf'

Mangold's 'Wolverine' saga goes down swinging

It's Jackman's last ride.

A few of the great new laws the legislature is proposing

NY Times editorial faults Arkansas's execution rush

The New York Times editorial page today criticizes Arkansas's rush to execute eight people in 10 days in April because of vagaries in supplying the three drugs used in the lethal injection process.

Former Shannon Hills police chief reported killed in house fire

Shannon Hills Mayor Mike Kemp reports on his Facebook page that  Shannon Hills Police Chief Bobby Hale is believed to be the victim in a fatal fire last night at Hale's home on Charlotte Drive.

NRA plans another campus carry push in Senate

The NRA says it expects an effort on the Arkansas Senate floor today to pull the campus carry bill from committee for a floor vote.

School voucher bill in House committee today

HB 1222, a sweeping school voucher bill, is on the top of the agenda for the House Education Committee today.

Green Day at Verizon Arena: A Slideshow

Green Day performs live at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Legislation to opt out of punitive section of federal welfare law advances

Hey, hey. The legislature took a break beating up on poor people today. The House Judiciary Committee advanced on a voice vote a bill that would have Arkansas opt out of a section in President Clinton's sweeping 1996 welfare reform law.

'Freedom of conscience' health bill defeated in House committee

The bill was defeated in committee, 8-11, but can be presented a second time. Questions were raised about the bill's definition of a "deeply held belief." And when does a medical condition become "life threatening," and thus protected even against a moral objection?

School voucher bill clears House committee

The House Education Committee today, after a couple of hours of debate, approved a bill to create a school voucher program in Arkansas.

The argument against a cap on workers compensation benefits

A Fort Smith lawyer and former Bar Association president lays out the reasons why legislation to cap state workers compensation benefits for permanently disabled workers is a bad idea.

Gas tax proposals start moving in House committee

The House Public Transportation Committee this morning began work on proposals to increase the gas tax for highways.

House passes bill to force building sales to charter schools

The Arkansas House today took another vote on the bill to force public school districts to sell vacant buildings to charter schools and today it passed 53-32.

Newton County assessor faces new charge; TV station gets rude welcome

KSPR in Springfield, Mo., has a salty report on an encounter in Newton County Assessor Sheila McCutcheon's office. McCutcheon was re-elected last year despite a pending charge that she'd stolen public money.

Senate pulls campus carry bill from committee and approves it

Rep. Charlie Collins' to allow concealed weapons on college campuses has broken out of a Senate trap and reached the Senate floor today with a new amendment and is heading to a final vote.

Sweet Thursday

The open line and the daily video. What's sweet about it?

Legislation to keep minors from being sentenced to life without parole clears House panel

A bill that would prevent minors from being sentenced to life without parole passed the state House Judiciary Committee Thursday. The legislation would also allow parole board hearings for those currently in prison that were sentenced as minors to life without parole for homicide offenses.

More on the vouchers-by-another-name bill

House Bill 1222 would be funded through a tax-credit scholarship in which individuals and corporations could donate to a nonprofit organization that would provide money to parents seeking a private or home school education for their children.

Legislators threaten Arkansas Tech with financial reprisal for sex ed event that included sex toys

A sex education event by a student group at Arkansas Tech — and other legislator unhappiness with the Russellville college about support for minority students — has led to financial pressure on the college from legislators and a Board of Trustees called meeting.

Little Rock Margarita Festival is coming May 4

Cinco de Mayo. The holiday in which tequila is consumed in the United States in honor of a Mexican holiday that is not as widely celebrated in Mexico.

Payday lenders on the march at legislature

Payday lenders are working hard to get legislative cover for the reintroduction of their usurious loan business to Arkansas. Some are fighting back.

Café 501 pleases the palate

Service and eats please in Conway.

Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney resigns

Ruth Carney, mayor of Hot Springs since 2010, resigned this morning.

Simmons Bank buys Acxiom building in downtown Little Rock

Arkansas Business reports that Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff has acquired the Acxiom headquarters building in the River Market neighborhood.

Jury awards $46.5 million in malpractice case in Camden UPDATES

A Ouachita County jury awarded a total of $46.5 million in damages in a lawsuit over permanent disability suffered by a child born

Friday's open line

Here's the open line and today's news report.

Justice Department changeover begins

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked for the resignations of the 46 U.S. attorneys who remain as holdover appointees of President Barack Obama.

Liquor stores battle on

Independent liquor stores lost a battle with Walmart, grocery stores and a handful of county line liquor stores with passage of the bill to allow expanded wine offerings in grocery stores that sell wine.

Declining enrollment forces pay cuts at Arkansas Baptist College

Arkansas Baptist College, which would hoped a federal loan refinancing plan would secure its operation, apparently isn't out of the financial woods.

The Everything Is Awful Edition

Proposed massive changes to health care law at the state and federal level, the despicable successful lobbying by some elected officials to keep vacant federal facility in Garland County from being used as a shelter for refugee children and one of the worst weeks ever in the state legislature — all covered on the podcast this week.

Court says Texas voting districts drawn to discriminate; but that's Justice these days

Of course Texas drew its congressional districts to dilute minority voting strength. A U.S. Appellate court agrees.

Flyover country gets its thanks in Republican health plan

If you thought Donald Trump felt the pain of working America and would deliver to those who elected him, check the House GOP health plan and think again.

An open line. Plus, an Arkansas 'victory' over Texas

An open line and a report on debate on an anti-aboriton bill pending in Texas that just became law in Arkansas.

The charter school tide turns. Outside Arkansas, anyway

Around the country, if not in Arkansas, charter schools are losing their luster as even former advocates come to understand they damage real public schools and don't produce much in the way of better education.

Why not a straight voucher bill? Here's a clue.

Why a so-called education savings account instead of a straightforward voucher program to transfer tax money to private schools? In Florida, it was done this way to avoid legal questions about giving public money to church schools.

Belatedly, LR Board moves on resolution on city school closures

The Little Rock City Board may take a vote on a resolution asking for a study of the impact of state-recommended Little Rock school closures. It's only symbolic. But the symbolism is important.

Sunday, the open line and unhappy GOP Trumpcare talk

An open line and some unhappy Republicans comment on Trumpcare.

Cache lunch a luxury

Cache offers an above-par lunch menu with items for every taste.

Good week for free eats for legislators UPDATE

Can't tell where your legislator is eating free this week without a scorecard.

The U.S. attorney shakeup: Questions linger

The U.S. attorney shuffle raises questions about the future of politically related investigations, including in Arkansas.

Arkansas unemployment rate continues to fall

The Arkansas unemployment rate in January was 3.8 percent, down from 3.9 percent the month before, continuing at a historic low level.

Democrat-Gazette probes police fatal shootings

A note of praise for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette series on police use of deadly force in Arkansas, an average of almost one death a month over a six-year period, with an overwhelming number of those killed black men.

Anti-whistleblower bill nearing passage, humane group says

A humane organization activist reports that an anti-whistleblower bill is nearing passage in Arkansas. It's aimed at preventing undercover work to expose animal cruelty, but critics say it could affect many other sensitive busiensses, such as nursing homes.

State obtains new execution drugs

AP reports that the state has obtained a fresh supply of one of the three drugs used in the lethal injection process.

Lucie's Place work for LGBT young people gets lift from Daughters of Charity

Lucie's Place, a doughty Little Rock charity that provides shelter for homeless LGBT young people, has received a $50,000 grant from Mission and Ministry Inc., an arm of the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise, a worldwide organization of women devoted to serving the marginalized and poor.

Senate again defeats bill to ban marijuana smoking

On an 11-15 vote, the state Senate today against defeated the bill to prohibit smoking medical marijuana

Senate approves stiffer penalties for texting while driving

On his second try, Sen. Will Bond of Little Rock today passes his bill to stiffen penalties for texting while driving, SB 374.

Chris Thyer confirms his resignation as U.S. attorney; Patrick Harris to serve in interim

Chris Thyer has distributed a news release making official what I reported earlier today — that he had resigned effective last Friday as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Study: Trumpcare would cause 24 million to lose insurance coverage

The Congressional Budget Office report on the impact of Trumpcare, the House idea to revise Obamacare, would cause 24 million people to lose insurance coverage. It would save $337 billion.

Bill to stop class action suits for deceptive trade practices fails in House

The House today defeated HB 1002 to curb the ability to file class action lawsuits over deceptive trade practices. The vote was 38-41.

Monday's open line

The open line and daily video.

UPDATE: Big voucher bill back to committee for conversion to 'pilot program'

The House calendar includes two bills to send public tax money to private schools, without regard for the qualifications of those schools. UPDATE: A big change in the major voucher bill indicates it will be scaled back dramatically. It had met strong resistance.

Senate passes bill against 'mass picketing'

Sen. Trent Garner's free speech-chilling bill to criminalize "mass picketing" passed the Senate today and goes to the House. Shades of George Wallace, Bull Connor and all the rest.

More on voucher expansion for foster kids

A bill that would expand a special-needs education voucher program to include foster children passed in a 82-3 vote in the House Monday.

Trumpcare: 'What were they thinking'

Paul Krugman scratches his head at the calamitous House version of Trumpcare. But .... doesn't mean it won't happen.

U.S. Rep. Steve King is a racist. But he keeps getting re-elected

It's a given. U.S.Rep. Steve King is a racist. So why not be part of the solution. Help somebody who'd like to defeat him. The same for others in Congress

Expanded campus gun bill approved by House committee

The dramatically expanded bill that began as an effort to allow university staff members to carry concealed weapons on campus was approved this morning in a House committee. It concurred in a Senate amendment on a voice vote.

Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway and Tel Aviv)

Sen. Jason Rapert wants to add the state of Israel to U.S. government debt that qualifies for state investment.

Revised school voucher bill clears House committee

Though Rep. Jim Dotson has scaled back HB 1222, the school voucher bill,  to a $3 million annual program that Gov. Asa Hutchinson is apparently willing to accept, strong opposition continues.

When they say it's not about LGBT discrimination .....

Give the so-called Christians at the Religious Right Family Council credit: They make no bones about their desire to preserve legal discrimination against gay people.

USDA files complaint over wildlife park in Northwest Arkansas

An animal welfare group today distributed news of a USDA complaint against Wild Wilderness, a wildlife display  in Gentry, for mistreatment of animals.

House narrowly defeats 2nd try on bill to limit class action lawsuits

The House voted 50-31, one vote short of passage, for HB 1742 to essentially bar class action lawsuit under the deceptive trade practices act.

A move for another constitutional amendment starts in House

The House took the first step today to enable House Speaker Jeremy Gillam to add another constitutional amendment to the 2018 ballot, one that would make it much harder for the people to put amendments on the ballot.

House defeats highway bill in first vote

The House Tuesday got its first look at highway funding bills and defeated the critical referendum on a bond issue on the first vote.

Tuesday's open line. And some comment

Today's open line and a roundup of news and comment.

House bucks constitutional convention calls on abortion, same-sex marriage

The House Thursday defeated a couple of resolutions from the Senate, pet projects of Sen. Jason Rapert, on social issues.

Arkansas House committee endorses bill to end dual Robert E. Lee-ML King holiday

The House Education Committee this afternoon approved a bill to end the dual observance of a state holiday for Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr.The approval came on a voice vote, over some objections, but nobody requested a roll call. The bill now goes to the House for final action.

Destroying Nixon's legacy: Cleaner air and water

Government can work, Ernest Dumas writes this week. See the Environmental Protection Agency and the cleaner air and water it produced, a great legacy of Richard Nixon. The EPA is now on the chopping block in the Trump Administration.

Governors get encouragement on work rules for Medicaid

Sarah Kliff reports on a letter to the country's governors that indicates the Trump administration will look kindly on states that want to impose work rules on Medicaid recipients, good news for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

NCAA tourney sites in Arkansas? Not likely.

The NCAA has affirmed its intent not to hold tournament events in places that don't provide a safe, respectful and non-discriminatory environment for LGBT people. In other words: Arkansas, you're fired.

Dead Corps: A Q&A with The Dead Deads

A Q&A with "Billy Dead" and "Meta Dead" of The Dead Deads.

Shucked Surf & Turf lacks excitement

Shucked Surf & Turf offers genuine beach vibe with unexciting menu.

The school voucher push lacks accountability

A Georgia report on an effort to expand school vouchers there includes many of the shortcomings of a voucher proposal now pending in Arkansas under the euphemism of an education savings account program.

Committee rejects bill to close 'coordination' loophole in campaign finance

According to Tucker, Arkansas may be the only state in the nation that permits such coordination between candidates and independent groups. However, after the committee heard testimony from a representative of such an independent group, Americans for Prosperity, the bill failed on a voice vote.

Arkansas native dropped for Defense post over politics; Tom Cotton part of the blame

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has withdrawn the appointment of an Arkansas native to a top department job because of political objections. Another Arkie stood in her way.

House completes passage of expanded campus gun bill

The House today concurred in amendments to the campus carry gun bill added in the Senate, completing action on the legislation. The vote was 71-18, with two voting present.

Two dead in accident on Main Street bridge

Two people were killed in a wrong-way accident on the north end of the Main Street bridge this afternoon, forcing closure of the bridge to traffic for investigation of the accident.

Wednesday's open line

The Wednesday open line and today's news roundup.

Rutledge sues to stop Arkansas haze cleanup effort by EPA

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has added another front to her effort to prevent the EPA from cleaning up haze that affects pristine areas of Arkansas such as the Buffalo National River and national forests.

Collins-Smith pulls down bathroom bill in Senate committee

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) this afternoon pitched a bathroom bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the kind of legislation Gov. Asa Hutchinson had hoped to discourage because of the damage it could do to the state economically.

Bid to eliminate corporal punishment in schools fails

A bill that would have banned corporal punishment in public schools failed on a voice vote in Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

Grocery stores can bulk up wine departments

Grocery stores with wine permits will be able to expand their selections come Oct. 1 under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Legislative attack on sex at Arkansas Tech raises accreditation question

A showdown expected this morning at the Capitol over legislature unhappiness about a sex education event at Arkansas Tech University may be delayed. In the meanwhile, the legislative interference has raised questions about a loss of accreditation for the campus.

La Estrella offers authentic Mexican food in Conway

La Estrella has tacos and pastries worth a mention.

Mike Huckabee with legal advice for Trump relies on Trail of Tears support

Mike Huckabee. There he goes again.

Faith group urges end to death penalty

It is sometimes easy to forget, but there are people in Arkansas fighting to abolish the death penalty. Success is not in reach, perhaps, but the fight goes on — with good reason.

Centerton teen finds 7-carat gem at Crater of Diamonds

Kalel Langford, 14,  of Centerton found a 7-carat diamond Saturday at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the 7th largest found at the park since 1972.

Trump budget cracks down on popular programs

The Trump budget would increase defense spending and cut just about everything else, with many cuts hitting hard in areas that voted for him. So what, he says.

Big ball in Rocktown to fete House Speaker Jeremy Gillam

You won't find it on the list of scheduled events of the House of Representatives, but you can find many if not all of the legislators at the refurbished Robinson Center tonight for Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam's formal ball. He recently engineered a law change to make sure the free wining and dining and swag bags wouldn't run afoul of the ethics law.

Trump budgets slashes public schools, moves money to private schools

Public schools get the knife and private schools get money under Donald Trump's budget.

Agreement reached on corporate giveaway transparency

Arkansas Business reports that Rep. Warwick Sabin of Little Rock has withdrawn a bill to require the state to compile data on incentives given to lure business in return for a promise from the Arkansas Economic Development Department to begin reporting such information online.

Update: State reps' effort to strip Arkansas Tech funds delayed, ATU board issues resolution

The assault on the budget of the diversity department, which is being led by Reps. Trevor Drown (R-Dover) and Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), stemmed from a sex education event sponsored by a student group. Russellville's mayor urged legislators to reconsider the move.

No, Ole Miss doesn't allow guns on campus as Arkansas is about to do

The Arkansas bill to allow concealed weapons on college campuses has been touted as similar to policy in Mississippi. It isn't.

School voucher bill fails in House

The House today fell 14 votes short of passing a school voucher bill, getting only 37 votes when it needed 51.

Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.

Thursday's open line: Plus Park Plaza's new rule on young people

Here's the open line, the day's video and news from Park Plaza on a new policy to reduce loitering.

House approves an increase in highway speed limits

The House voted 93-0 today for a bill that could lead to increased speed limits — 75 miles per hour on freeways and 65 on other highways for cars, or 5 mph lower for big trucks.

Arkansas Made, Arkansas Proud market coming March 31, April 1

The Arkansas Made, Arkansas Proud market opens at War Memorial Stadium March 31 and April 1. The event, brought to you by the Arkansas Times and the War Memorial Stadium Foundation, highlights Arkansas makers, who'll be selling jewelry, art, bath and body products, pottery, clothing, woodwork, edibles and more!

Loca Luna still a crowd pleaser

Food with a Southern twist pleases.

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Arsaga's at The Depot a hit for coffee and breakfast anytime

Fayetteville spot serves up good coffee and a unique menu.