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Spring Arts 2015

Spring Arts 2015

March 19, 2015

Vol 41 • No 28

Read the print version

Spring Arts Calendar

Starting March 26.

Kehinde to Basquiat to Rothko

Big names on gallery walls this spring.

Action!

Spring film festivals in bloom.

Arkansas theaters packed with variety

From 'Mary Poppins' to 'Million Dollar Quartet.'

2015 spring music preview

Concerts from Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson, Sheryl Crow, Girl Talk and The Roots on the horizon.

2015 Arkansas Spring Arts Guide

Our guide to the season's biggest music, art and theater events in Arkansas.

Harris therapy controversial

But DHS site recommends it.

Mark Martin identifies the real problem

What's the point of public comment, marriage is so sacred in Arkansas we do it over and over again, Bookout booked, Glasgow remained and the daily newspaper business by the numbers.

Practically perfect

"Mary Poppins" at The Rep.

Cotton put U.S. at risk

Tom Cotton got his name scrawled across the heavens for two weeks for writing a letter to the potentates of Iran, undoubtedly a good thing for a young Arkansas politician only two months in his exalted office, and his party probably suffered only a momentary embarrassment.

Tom Cotton, Bond villain

As near as I can determine, Sen. Tom Cotton's biggest worry about Iran is that its government is as bellicose and fanatical as he is.

John Willis, late romantic

The Little Rock singer-songwriter premieres his new release at White Water Tavern.

Liam Neeson, Action Hero

'Run All Night' works well enough.

Braying over Bray

The sandwiches stand out.

Brewing for this fight

Historically, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has brewed for every First Amendment fight he can generate. His proclivity for social and political commentary as a judge has always been his platform. Perhaps he does not believe any other platform would be available to him with as much credibility and notoriety. In any event, the current controversy is made to order for him.

Dear Tom

Greetings, senator! Hope all is well there — that you're settling into your new office, and that you're finally getting around to opening the boxes marked "Misc" in quick, too-tired-to-mess-with-it handwriting instead of just leaving them in the hall closet where they've been since they came off the moving truck, the way Spouse and I did.

Razorback reemergence

Rest easy now, Arkansas fans. Basketball is essentially reborn here, and for a change, the renaissance seems to have legs and a sense of gender equity.

Court 13 Showcase at Ron Robinson

Also, Dirty Dozen Brass Band at South on Main, DYSE and Felix Martin at White Water Tavern, Valley of the Vapors in Hot Springs, Films on Feminism at Central High and Trina at Discovery.

A warning about school privatization

Arkansas is considering a grand education experiment in House Bill 1733 to privatize your public schools. Take it from us in New Orleans and Chicago: The experiment won't work.

"Women Phenomenal: A Celebration of Women Entrepreneurs" at Mosaic Templars

Also, "Beyond Hunger: Communities of Change" at Heifer.

Mockingbird

Photo by Paul Barrows from our Eye On Arkansas Flickr group.

Additions and deletions

The absolute worst thing about Wikipedia — even worse than having all the information you ever wanted about pilonidal cysts and the Kardashians — is that anybody can edit it. While that makes Wikipedia a fairly crummy source for everything from term papers to news stories, it does make for entertaining reading once you find the little tab at the top of every page that says "View History."

Who'll run public schools?

Will the Walton billions take over the Little Rock School District?

Party today, but big parties tomorrow are 'invitation only' You get one?

Freebies today, freebies tomorrow. Arkansas legislature ain't worried about Amendment 94. But we do have some questions about tomorrow night's "Speaker's Ball" and "Pro Tem dinner."

The memo that set off hot response from two Supreme Court justices

Here's the memo that prompted blistering letters from two Supreme Court justices about recent pay raise deliberations that produced a 11 percent increase for them.

Mother Jones finds 33-year-old unflattering remark about Bill Clinton

The Mother Jones investigation of the past of the Clinton family turns up an astonishing scoop: In 1982, Dale Bumpers thought Bill and Hillary Clinton were really, really ambitious. (Sarcasm intended.)

Judge Griffen won't stop hearing on injunction in Little Rock school suit

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has just issued an order that means a scheduled hearing on a preliminary injunction against the state takeover of the Little Rock School District will proceed as scheduled this morning.

Psych of the South: Dead on Arrival's 'Run Hide Get Away' (1969)

Dead on Arrival’s story starts in the San Francisco psychedelic scene and ends in Ashdown, Arkansas. Mike Hubrel was a pre-teen in the golden era of the West Coast sound and was born in South San Francisco. By age 11, he was soaking up the city's burgeoning music culture, frequenting the stores in the Haight-Ashbury district, and formed his own group, The Daytonas. They played a battle of the bands and won the chance to perform at the Cow Palace, an indoor arena on the Daly City border. He felt he was becoming a part of the legendary music scene that he adored. However, his father feared for his son amid the city's emergent drug culture, and in a bold decision to 'save' him from this path before it was too late, he moved the family back to his hometown of Ashdown in Southwest Arkansas in 1968, when Hubrel was 13 years old.

Jury convicts Rogers man in abduction case

U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge announced today that a jury in Fayetteville had convicted Theron Vance, 22, of Rogers of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping of a Dallas woman, apparently to keep her from testifying in a trial.

Landlord-tenant bill gets a rough ride. Arkansas remains worst in country

The House Insurance and Commerce Committee is hearing testimony this morning on HB 1486 by Rep. Greg Leding to put minimum habitability standards in Arkansas law for rental property. Special interest lobbyists turned out in force to protest the bill and few of the Republicans on the committee seemed likely to disagree with them.

Will the Arkansas Supreme Court get into middle of school hearing?

At 10:19 a.m. this morning, the state Education Department filed an "emergency petition" for an immediate stay of proceedings in the lawsuit challenging the state's takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Sports and politics: Republicans plot takeover of the Arkansas Activities Association

The Arkansas legislature has multiple proposals on file to change or take over regulation of high school athletics.

Despite opening jitters, Damgoode finds a River Market home

A look at the new Damgoode Pies River Market location — despite a few kinks in the system, we've got to say that the pizza and beer are fantastic.

Blue Hog dissects Deathstar Hester's anti-1st Amendment bill

Blue Hog Report beat me to the punch on another of Deathstar Sen. Bart Hester's seemingly unlimited supply of bad legislation. He writes about Hester's effort to limit use of public records — nursing home inspections — in advertising.

Presbyterians embrace marriage equality

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), representing some 1.8 million people, has ended long years of debate by ratifying recognition of same-sex marriage.

Blair collection goes to Native American museum

The Jim and Nancy Blair Meso-American Art Collection goes on exhibit Friday, March 20, at the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville, a private museum founded by garden center owner David Bogle. The collection has been donated to the museum.

South on Main leads to V.L. Cox bridge

"River Bridge" unveiled at South on Main; see it tonight, when the John Bush Group performs at 7:30 p.m.

House approves expense bill to clear way for pay raise

The House voted 90-1 today for a personal expense bill that will clear the way for a 150 percent pay raise.

Mix of the Week: A partial list of songs that mention 'Bangin' In Little Rock'

The Rock Candy mix of the week is a partial list of songs that mention the 1994 HBO documentary "Gang Wars: Bangin' In Little Rock." I've omitted local songs, because I'm more interested in the way the movie defined the city for outsiders in a strange, metonymic way. I'm sure I'm still leaving out plenty, feel free to suggest more in the comments.

There's money in charter schools, Waltons say

The Walton Family Foundation last week sponsored a meeting to help encourage hedge funds to invest in charter schools. There's profit there, speakers said.

Tom Cotton's body man at work

A Huffington Post writer has Tweeted a photo of a very stern young man blocking a photographer from taking a snap of Sen. Tom Cotton.

The line is open. Two days to go. Also: A plea for another vote on LRSD

An open line and news headlines. Plus a request for another vote on the Little Rock school takeover.

It's official: Amendment 94, the 'ethics amendment,' is meaningless

Amendment 94, the no freebies amendment, it's a joke. And now the legislature has a new wrinkle — a lavish dinner and bill, free to legislators and closed to the public. And they don't much like to talk about it.

Plaintiffs' witnesses testify in opening round of lawsuit challenging LRSD takeover

Today, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen heard testimony from plaintiffs' witnesses in the opening round of the lawsuit challenging the state Education Department's takeover of the Little Rock School District. The plaintiffs are asking Griffen for a preliminary injunction, which, if granted, would presumably reverse the January 28 decision of the State Board of Education to dissolve the local LRSD board and seize control of the district. The testimony lasted all day and will resume tomorrow at 10 a.m.

DHS worker firing raises more questions about maltreatment reporting

Division of Children and Family Services head knew about abuse allegations, but did not report, according to sources.

St. Paul High, a public school that works. So do many others, Diane Ravitch notes

A tiny Arkansas high school turns itself around. It's a good anecdote to go with a reminder from Diane Ravitch that the school situation is not as dire as those seeking to privatize public schools want you to believe.

No word from Supreme Court on request for halt to School District lawsuit

The Arkansas Supreme Court's weekly report included nothing this morning on the state Education Department's request for a halt to proceedings in Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's court on the lawsuit attempting to overturn the state takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Run for president to make money? Say it ain't so

The Los Angeles Times offers this on ulterior profit motives of presidential candidates. Mike Huckabee naturally gets a mention.

Who'll get the $20 million lawsuit windfall

A class action lawsuit all but completed during Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's tenure produced a $21.5 million windfall for the state of Arkansas from Standard and Poor's over misleading financial ratings.

Arkansas Supreme Court upholds death penalty law rewrite

The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld in a 4-3 decision the 2013 law changing the state's procedures on lethal injection. It overturned Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's decision that the law delegated too much discretion to Correction Department officials.

Arkansas moving toward most unfair tax bill in history

A House committee today began movement on another tax-cut bill that will contribute to what might be the most unfair tax cut in Arkansas history.

Republicans defeat bill to assess "constitutional" cost of legislation

Of course the House Rules Committee (controlled by House Speaker Jeremy Gillam) defeated Democratic Rep. Camille Benett's proposed HB 1822 to allow the request of a "constitutional issue assessment" by the attorney general.

$122.5 million verdict for Medical Board chair injured by car bomb

Arkansas Business reports on a $122.5 million jury verdict against Randeep Mann, the Russellville doctor now serving a federal prison sentence for the car bombing of Dr. Trent Pierce, the West Memphis doctor who was chair of the state Medical Board.

Moody blues, hot yellows: Daniel Coston at Cantrell Gallery

Daniel Coston says in his artist's statement for his show "Arkansas, As Is," opening Friday, March 20, at Cantrell Gallery that he never tries to "represent the rural scenery with a 'halo.' Always painting scenes with bright, golden sunshine glimmering off old home places wouldn't seem true to me." Meet him at the opening reception, 5-8 p.m.

UPDATE: Little Rock Mayor Stodola gives state of the city address today

Today is State of the City speech day by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. I predict the mayor will find things lovely.

Stream the new Let's Talk Figures spring compilation

Let's Talk Figures, the prolific, slightly scary, wildly uneven and utterly inspired Fayetteville art-rock label we profiled in December, is back with a new compilation, "Spring Mix 2015." The mix features the best and worst of their roster, many of whom we've posted about here in the past, including Comfortable Brother, High Lonesome, Dividend, Devin Nu Phlo, Bob For Apples and many more. It sounds like an Miami-related acid flashback, or like diving headfirst into the molten core of the Internet.

Supreme Court grants halt of Little Rock School lawsuit

The Arkansas Supreme Court has just granted the state Education Department's request for an emergency stay of further proceedings in the lawsuit challenging the state takeover of the Little Rock School District.

An open line and a dreary legislative report: Secrecy; anti-AEA; pro-freebies; anti-pet; pro-pipeline; anti-Saving Time

The open line, video update and legislative lament. Openness in education and the Arkansas Education Association were a couple of victims today. Legislators party tonight on the tab of the Republican Party of Arkansas, which won't say who's paying for the galas.

Angela Davis Johnson: 'When the Sun and the Moon Stood Still ..."

Angela Davis Johnson has created an art project that seeks to give a name to missing African American women, "When the Sun and the Moon Stood Still, I Witnessed: Making Missing Women of Color Visible Through Art," coming Friday to Pulaski Technical College at 11 a.m. and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at 1 p.m.

The freebie report: Questions linger about last night's legislative galas UPDATE

The legislators' freebie load is light today, but given the big soirees last night, they might need a light day. Questions remain about the financing of last night's events to honor the House speaker and Senate president.

No constitutional amendments for the 2016 ballot?

They say the legislature won't refer any constitutional amendments to voters this session. I say it ain't over until it's over.

Local 'leaders' fuss about Quapaw plans for a casino

Local officials are suddenly worried that an Oklahoma Indian tribe might build a casino east of Little Rock near the Little Rock Port. Why do they hate economic development?

Three Fold Noodles, Whole Foods, That's So Raw and spring excitement

Your Friday Five open line is upon us. We're excited for springtime. What's got your blood up? Let us know!

Robert E. Lee holiday survives again

Another rip-roaring debate on Arkansas's honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same day was abruptly truncated this morning because of a lack of a quorum in the House committee.

Confirmed: Lobbyists rounded up money for last night's legislative galas

Lobbyists rounded up sponsors at $2,500 each to pay for dinners honoring legislative leaders last night and brunches for spouses today. Does laundering lobby money through a "special committee" make it legal under Amendment 94. We'll ask.

House passes bill to ban rehoming of adopted children

The House this morning voted 88-0 for Rep. David Meeks' HB 1676 to prohibit rehoming of adopted children. He put it succinctly. It would keep people from "giving away" adopted children.

Wired focuses on Hutchinson's computer education initiative

Wired gives a long and warm look here on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's push to get computer coding taught in every high school.

Come watch a Court 13 short film showcase at Ron Robinson tonight

On Friday, as part of the Arkansas Times Film Series, co-sponsored by the Little Rock Film Festival, we are screening a Court 13 shorts program that includes "Glory at Sea." There to talk about what the collective is all about will be Casey Coleman, who heads Court 13 Arts, and Nathan Harrison, who's head of casting for the "Beasts of the Southern Wild" follow-up, which director Benh Zeitlin has said is "about a young girl who gets kidnapped onto a hidden ecosystem where a tribal war is raging over a form of pollen that breaks the relationship between aging and time."

Tom Cotton attended Club for Growth's presidential cattle show

A piece of paperwork turns up that indicates Sen. Tom Cotton was on hand when the Club for Growth hosted potential presidential candidates in Palm Beach, Fla., at the end of February.

The number 5 in Frankenthalers: At Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced today the acquisition of five works by Helen Frankenthaler, including Helen Frankenthaler's "Seven Types of Ambiguity (1957)" from the Frankenthaler Foundation. The works will be displayed in the 1940s to Now gallery, which is being reinstalled with several new acquisitions since the closing of "State of the Art."

Judicial candidate admonished for ads claiming judicial experience

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has sent a letter of admonishment to Jeanette Robertson of Jonesboro, an unsuccessful candidate for circuit judge last year, for TV ads that showed her in a judicial robe and spoke of her judicial experience.

The night is Katchen's in Argenta

Look left, look right: You'll see work by Hot Springs artist Carole Katchen on both sides of Main Street at tonight's Argenta ArtWalk event. Both the Laman Library and Argenta Gallery are featuring retrospective exhibitions of the artist's paintings, pastels, woodblock cuts and etchings.

Another local control debate, this one on private club permits

The House today defeated HB 1792 by Rep. John Payton of Wilburn to allow city or county governments to veto issuance of a private club alcohol permits. It grows from a reaction in some dry areas to a proliferation of private clubs around the state in dry areas as nominal economic development tools. The vote was 25-40.

Third Friday ArtWalk, cont.: Perren, Justus, Cleary, Smith and many more

Shows tonight at Art Connection, Claytime Pottery, First Presbyterian, Greg Thompson Fine Art, The House of Art, Mugs Cafe, North Little Rock History Commission.

House saves Daylight Saving Time

Rep. David Meeks got his vote today on ending the observance of Daylight Saving Time in Arkansas as soon as a neighboring state did likewise. DST is apparently popular in the House. The bill failed 11-69, with one present.

Judge OKs sale of Helena-West Helena school to KIPP charter school

Andrew Bagley, who sits on the advisory committee to the Helena-West Helena School District, currently under state control, tells me Circuit Judge Chris Morledge has ruled against his wife Sandra's lawsuit to block the sale of a vacant public school, Beechcrest Elementary, to the KIPP charter school organization.

Former Lafayette County treasurer gets 2-year sentence for embezzlement of public money

Keesha Rose, 37, of Lewisville, the former treasurer and tax collector for Lafayette County was sentenced today to two years in federal prison for theft. She was ordered to pay restitution of $282,036, said U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge after sentencing in Texarkana.

Little Rock school takeover plaintiffs ask Supreme Court to hurry review

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the state takeover of the Little Rock School District today asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to expedite consideration of an argument that put a halt to proceedings yesterday.

Open line and Friday headlines

Here's the Friday open line and news headlines.

Staff Picks: Photoshop Your Dreams, Particle Physics, Harper Lee and the Noose

For whatever reason — lagging enthusiasm for the middle school literary canon; the opposite of nostalgia for middle school itself — I haven't been able to get too worked up over the forthcoming, possibly exploitive publication of Harper Lee's lost first novel, a draft of which was apparently recently discovered by her attorney (who, to an almost comical extent, doesn't seem trustworthy).

Nate Bell passes half measure on lying at the legislature

The House today voted 59-6 to pass Rep. Nate Bell's HB 1985 to make it a Class A misdemeanor to give false testimony to a committee of the General Asssembly. What about lying legislators?

The Big, Big Swill Edition

The highs and lows of the week at the legislature, the lawsuit challenging the state takeover of the Little Rock School District and the latest on Rep. Justin Harris and Arkansas’s child welfare system — all covered on this week's podcast.

Little Rock education ferment: Takeover protest, Common Core testing

A quick look at social media this morning indicates that people do care what goes on in the public schools. Protests crop up over the Little Rock school takeover and Common Core testing.

Early swill report

I'm heading out of town this morning for a few days so I want to get the news out now on Monday's free events for legislators.

The Hogs vs. Heels open line

67-64, Hogs. That's my prediction. 

The unedited Dale Bumpers

Can there be any doubt that those are Dale Bumpers' words in the transcriptions unearthed at the University of Arkansas? I welcome them for the good memories.

Late Sunday line

Sorry, all. It's been a typical Sunday at the Millar household.

Springfield, Mo. better than Fayetteville when it comes to equality

Last year, a few months after the Fayetteville City Council extended civil rights protections to its LGBT citizens, the Springfield, Mo. City Council did the same. Much like in Fayetteville, a repeal effort driven by the religious right got enough signatures on a referendum petition to ultimately let Springfield voters decide on a repeal. The difference between Fayetteville and Springfield? Springfield business and religious leaders have been outspoken against repeal.

Hearing on Hot Springs' Stanley family returns 4 of 7 children to home for 60 days

At a hearing this morning to determine the future of seven children taken from their parents' home by state authorities in January, a Hot Springs judge returned the four youngest kids in the "Stanley family" to their parents. KARK's Shannon Miller says on Twitter that the three older kids in the household will be allowed home on weekends and during Spring Break (which is this week), and that the next hearing on the children has been set for May 13.

Diamond Chef competition has grown along with Pulaski Tech

Guest blogger Christie Ison shares with us some information about Arkansas's biggest culinary challenge, Diamond Chef. She's been involved with the competition for several years and has a unique perspective on how the event has grown.

Cotton speech draws protest

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."

Bill would require state to clear waiting list for Medicaid developmental disabilities waiver

Tomorrow, the House Public Health committee is expected to vote on a bill by Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) that would pave the way for implementing the Community First Choice Option (CFCO). Expect the nursing home lobby to put up a fight.

UPDATE: "Electioneering" advertising bill fails in committee this afternoon

HB 1425, the bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) to require reporting and disclosure of "electioneering communications," is expected to come up for a vote in the House State Agencies committee today. It faces a steep climb.

Lindsey's Resort on Little Red River to close after 50 years

A note on the website of Lindsey's Resort, the popular trout-fishing destination on the Little Red River at Heber Springs, says the resort will be forced to close due to a bank foreclosure.

Muskie Harris to ask for use permit for group home again

Muskie Harris, the former Razorback football player who operates a group home at 20th and Broadway for men with first-time alcohol and substance abuse arrests, is again seeking a conditional use permit for the home from the Capitol Zoning District Commission.

New music from Love Ghost, Liquid Skulls, Kidd B, Livesosa and more

Love Ghost has been around for several years but is rarely seen, could even be considered elusive. Helmed by Jason Weinheimer, of Fellowship Hall Sound and a thousand beloved local records, the band also includes — or has, in the past — Jesse Aycock and Jeff Matika and Eric Ardnt and Dylan Turner and Dave Easley. Here's a great preview of their forthcoming album, "Skies Are Grey," which you can expect sometime this spring.

Renewable energy bill dies in committee

HB 1885, a bill sponsored by Rep. Warwick Sabin to promote renewable energy and distributed generation (producing smaller quantities of power closer to the point of consumption) was killed in the Joint Energy Committee today when Rep. Jim Sorvillo moved for immediate consideration of the bill, which was voted down without hearing from eight citizens present to testify for the bill.

The pink Cotton video roundup and open line

It's the daily video roundup (with Benji!) and an open line.

Beyond rehoming crowdfunding update

In 10 days, we've raised nearly $10,000 to support our investigative project into the state's child welfare system. But to ensure that we can adequately develop the dozens upon dozens of leads we've gotten since the rehoming stories first appeared, we're shooting for $15,000. That'll enable us to hire at least one reporter and one intern (but possibly more) to help on this months-long project.

A private option in Georgia?

Georgia has the second highest uninsurance rate in the nation and has turned down billions in federal dollars in refusing Medicaid expansion. Perhaps a look to the west can offer this red state a way forward.

House Revenue and Tax committee to take up bill offering tax relief to working poor

The House Committee on Revenue and Taxation will take up Rep. Warwick Sabin's bill this morning to offer tax credits to low-income Arkansans. The Working Families Opportunities Act (WFOA) would give additional relief to 279,000 working Arkansans who already qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit: the state would fund a tax credit amounting to an additional 1.25 percent of the EITC amount received in 2016, 2.5 percent in 2017, and 5 percent in 2018.

A volcanic eruption in the Caribbean: Should Democrats go along?

A volcanic eruption from the Caribbean: Some Democrat please tell me what's been gained by going along to get along with Republican leadership. A free dinner courtesy of Doyle Webb?

Bill to reduce teen pregnancy among college students leaves out mention of contraceptives (but includes abstinence ed)

Yesterday, the House passed a bill by Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) that would require public colleges and universities in Arkansas to develop an "action plan" to combat teen pregnancy. It's a fine idea. It's also frustratingly incomplete because of what it doesn't mention: contraception.

The economic impact of the private option

The Arkansas private option projects to have an economic impact on the state's gross domestic product of $9.25 billion over ten years and job growth of 8,500 according to a report put out yesterday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Study finds that Arkansas is the worst state to retire

We're #50! A new study finds that Arkansas is the worst state in the nation to retire.

The daily swill: so much free grub, so little time

It's a busy day for legislators who are wining and dining.

Legislature proceeds with meaningless grandstanding gesture likely to confuse private option beneficiaries

The Senate yesterday passed Rep. Donnie Copeland's bill to send a letter to everyone enrolled in the private option telling them that "the program will end on December 31, 2016" and "the coverage provided by the program expires on December 31, 2016." In fact, the governor's task force is expressly charged with continuing coverage, so the letter is a meaningless gesture from grandstanding Republicans. It is likely to scare and confuse poor people in Arkansas, but that's just collateral damage.

Filmmaker Rebecca Thomas to present 'Electrick Children' April 22 at Ron Robinson

For this month's Arkansas Times Film Series screening, we'll be welcoming the writer-director Rebecca Thomas, who will present her 2012 debut feature "Electrick Children." The film follows a fundamentalist Mormon teenager who comes to believe she's been impregnated by listening to a cassette tape, her first experience with rock music, and runs away to Las Vegas looking for answers. The New York Times called it "a playful urban fable, about the collision of country and city mice that suggests a variation of 'The Wizard of Oz,'" and "neither comedy nor drama nor satire but a surreal mélange infused with magical realism."

Hutchinson: CFCO is issue for Healthcare Task Force, bill's time frame infeasible

It sounds like Gov. Asa Hutchinson will not be supporting the bill by Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) to require the state to clear its eight year waiting list for developmental disabilities waivers.

Justin Harris's return to social media

After briefly shutting down his Twitter account, Rep. Justin Harris is back, though his tweets are now protected. That doesn't mean only his friends are seeing them. Today, Harris tweeted, Psalms 37:12, "The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him."

Bill to provide tax credits to Arkansas's working poor fails to advance

Rep. Warwick Sabin's bill to offer tax credits to low-income, working Arkansans failed to advance from the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation on a voice vote this morning. The Working Families Opportunities Act would have corrected one of the great injustices of this legislative session: With the restoration of the capital gains tax cut and Gov. Hutchinson's middle-class tax cut, everyone is getting a tax cut except for the working poor.

Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton (Ted Cruz 2.0?)

Ted Cruz is running for president, but he's also running for to be the king of the extreme right wing of the GOP. Could Tom Cotton make a challenge for the crown?

House committee passes bill granting maternity leave to state employees

Here's one bright spot at the legislature, at least: House Public Health this morning passed a bill by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) that gives up to six weeks of paid maternity leave to state employees.

Doors to new segregation at the Capitol: A V.L. Cox installation

North Little Rock artist V.L. Cox, who is known nationally for both abstract and work that references the South, decided to make a political statement today at the State Capitol with her "End Hate" installation of doors labeled "Whites Only," "Colored Only," etc.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge battles evil federal government protections of clean air and water

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is not a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed new rules regarding the Clean Water Act. Shocking, we know.

Perpetual fundraising: bill would increase legal time to fundraise before elections

Sen. David Sanders filed an amendment yesterday to a shell bill on campaign finance which would allow candidates to begin fundraising four years prior to an election

GOP opposition to tax relief for the poor leads to nonsense arguments

Republicans really, really don't want to give tax relief for the poor, but don't worry, they have some half-baked arguments as cover.

Huck hypocrisy

Mother Jones points out this morning, as Max did earlier this month, that Mike Huckabee probably isn't the one to be lecturing Hillary Clinton on government transparency, recounting a saga familiar to longtime readers.

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.

The nice try open line

Today, committees rejected two big pieces of very worthy legislation. So it goes.

Fresh bread lovers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your grains!

We’ve entered the WTF portion of bill filing. Here’s a strange one: a bill sponsored by Rep. Andy Davis to exempt baked goods sold for “off-premises consumption" from being subject to the A&P tax (the hamburger tax). It passed out of Revenue and Tax yesterday. Huh?

Trinity Church, a Walmart shareholder, suing retailer over vote on guns

Trinity Church, an Episcopal church in lower Manhattan, is challenging the company on its policy around selling guns and has sued the retail behemoth over its refusal to allow a shareholder vote on Trinity's proposal. Briefs are being filed this week with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a case with implications not just for the issue of gun sales but for corporate governance and shareholder activism.

Rep. Bob Ballinger: let felons have a muzzleloader

Sometimes my favorite part of bills at this point in the session is just the names. Rep. Bob Ballinger's "An Act to Permit a Person Convicted of a Felony to Possess a Muzzleloader" is set for the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

Hillary and the Democratic dilemma on education policy

The New York Times highlights a schism in the Democratic Party over public education that bears watching, given the state takeover of the Little Rock School District and the temporarily dormant campaign for wholesale privatization of distressed Arkansas schools.

The daily swill, from the Choo Choo Room to the Country Caucus,

The swill heads on a field trip to Bevis Farm in North Little Rock tonight.

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.

Stubby's makes old school barbecue fresh

When the barbecue is as good as Hot Springs' classic Stubby's, there's no need for anything beyond the basics.

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.

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.

Calling all screenwriters, choreographers, sculptors: Arts Council wants you

Calling screenwriters, choreographers and sculpture/installation artists: The Arkansas Arts Council is accepting applications for its $4,000 fellowships through April 17.

Sculpture stolen from Hot Springs museum

A bronze eagle sculpture, "U Wa Ha Li," by Arkansas artist David Harris was stolen yesterday from the Hot Springs Fine Arts Center, where it was on display as part of the Arkansas Sculptors Guild Exhibition. Executive Director Donna Dunnahoe said the 8-inch-tall, 7-pound sculpture was on a pedestal in the front gallery of the Fine Arts Center.

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.

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.

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.

Pre-order Mulehead's new album 'Forever Out Of Tune,' out April 28

Mulehead, the beloved Little Rock alt-country band who called it a day a decade ago but now very much rides again, have finished a new album, "Forever Out Of Tune," which will be out via Max Recordings on April 28. But! For those of you who can't wait that long or who feel inclined to support an important and deserving local cultural institution, you can pre-order the record today at Pledge Music and get immediate access to a free download.

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.

Your long groan open line and daily video

It's an open line.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

UPDATE: 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.

Cocoa Rouge is Easter Bunny approved

Easter time means chocolate, and Cocoa Rouge is the best we've found.

Design-Build architect Gluck at Arts Center tonight

New York architect Peter Gluck give a talk, "What's Wrong With Us," about his firm's "Architect Led Design Build" approach to architecture, which he describes on his website as addressing the "schism between the design and construction of buildings, compromising building quality, blowing budgets and dragging out schedules," at 6 p.m. tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center.
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