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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Greitens has been many things in his 42 years, including a Navy SEAL officer, Rhodes scholar, White House fellow, charity founder, best-selling author and inspirational speaker.

On Monday, he'll begin his new life as a public servant when he is sworn in as Missouri's 56th governor during a ceremony in front of the Capitol building.

Greitens, a Republican who has portrayed himself as a political outsider, has been promising to spur economic growth and shake up the state capital.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Divisions within the Republican Party over tax cuts and questions about the launch of the Bible Belt's first medical marijuana program are expected to dominate the agenda when Arkansas lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to start their 2017 session.

Wikipedia.org

  This is Governor Asa Hutchinson's weekly address as he talks about the legislative session that starts Monday:

This week, the State Capitol was buzzing as the final days of preparation before the upcoming legislative session came to an end. Monday, January 9, 2017 will mark the beginning of the 91st General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature.

Yesterday

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart says it named John Furner as CEO of its Sam's Club stores to replace Rosalind Brewer, who is retiring next month.

Furner, who is 42, will head the membership-only warehouse chain next month. Furner has been Sam's Club's chief merchandising officer since October 2015. Wal-Mart says he first joined the company as an hourly store associate in 1993.

Brewer will leave her position February 1. The 54-year-old has been CEO of Sam's Club for five years and has had a variety of executive roles since joining the company about 11 years ago.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The lawyers who secured a $45 million settlement for Marlboro Lights smokers in Arkansas have asked a judge to decide how much they should be paid.

The lawyers didn't ask for a specific amount in their payment petition last month, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2iQBov5 ) reported. But they said there is precedent that would allow them between $12.4 million and $30 million from the settlement fund, based on the value a judge places on their representation.

Gov. Hutchinson and Facebook Announce Arkansas & Facebook Techstart Partnership

Jan 5, 2017
pixabay.com

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the details of an agreement with Facebook, Inc. to launch the company’s Techstart program in Arkansas high schools. The Arkansas & Facebook Techstart Partnership is a first-of-its-kind partnership with the social media giant. Under the agreement, Facebook will donate 500 Virtual Reality (VR) classroom kits, including computers, cameras and the Oculus Rift equipment necessary to administer the Techstart program.  

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

 Almost 700 veterans from Northeast Arkansas are taken to the Veterans Administration hospitals in Little Rock and Memphis.  Disabled American Veterans is getting a new van to replace one that had over 170-thousand miles.  Vans take veterans to Little Rock on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and to Memphis on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Lloyd Davis has been volunteer driving for six years.  He says the service is one that is needed in this region.

Craighead County-Jonesboro Public Library

In 2017, the Craighead County-Jonesboro Public Library turns 100 years.   Public Relations Manager Brandi Hodges talks with KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves about the history of the museum and how the museum is evolving in a digital age.  Click on the Listen button for the entire interview.  

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he expects a tougher fight over his $50 million tax cut plan than what he encountered two years ago when he won approval for a much larger reduction for thousands of middle-income taxpayers.
 
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press ahead of the legislative session, Hutchinson said he wouldn't support rolling back a grocery tax cut enacted in 2013 to help pay for a larger tax cut. The Republican governor has proposed cutting taxes for thousands of low-income residents.
 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican state Sen. Mark Green is the first among a bevy of potential candidates to take a formal step toward entering the Tennessee governor's race in 2018.

Green in his Registry of Election Finance filing named Bob Yates as his political treasurer. That step is required for candidates to begin raising or spending money for their campaigns.

Andrea Allen Named Delta Center Deputy Director

Jan 5, 2017
Arkansas State University

JONESBORO —The Arkansas State University Delta Center for Economic Development has named Andrea Allen as deputy director, according to Executive Director Shawnie Carrier.

“With almost 20 years of experience in government and public affairs, Andrea understands rural Arkansas, and she knows how to connect local, state, federal and private sector resources for the betterment of our communities. I know she will serve the Delta Center and our region well,” said Carrier.

Michael Bowman appointed Interim Assistant Dean

Jan 5, 2017
Arkansas State University

JONESBORO – Dr. Michael Bowman, assistant professor in creative media production, is picking up new responsibilities this semester as interim assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Communication.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission is discussing whether to revive a $10 million cost share program for improving state roads and bridges.
 
The program discussed during a budget workshop Wednesday would match state dollars with local funds to complete projects that otherwise would not have been done so quickly if they relied solely on state funding.
 
The program was suspended in January 2014 amid declining revenues.
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson has approved proposed regulations by the Arkansas State Plant Board to limit use of herbicides containing dicamba.
 
Hutchinson said Wednesday that he's determined the proposal will not cause unnecessary burdens on businesses, but said the methods and research used by the board must be clearly defined and he wants the board to provide "clear rules" within 45 days.
 

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Prosecutors say an Arkansas lawmaker set to leave office next week has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for arranging bribes while he was a member of the state House.
 
The U.S. Attorney's office says 42-year-old Republican Rep. Micah Neal of Springdale pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. A sentencing date was not announced.
 
A phone call to a number listed for Neal was not immediately returned.
 

Arkansas State University

As the Arkansas General Assembly gets ready to go back into session Monday, a lot of eyes will be focused on what happens at the Capitol.  Arkansas State University’s System President Dr. Charles Welch says he will be looking at how state lawmakers will address the budget.  One of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s legislative priorities is for a $50 million dollar income tax cut.  Welch says some tax cuts can have a negative impact on the budget for higher education.  He says the Governor’s idea for a tax cut is a good one, as long as lawmakers don’t make major changes or deeper cuts.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The top Republican in Arkansas' Senate says he expects lawmakers to begin modifying the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion even before the future of the federal health law that enabled the expanded insurance program is settled in Washington.
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas finance officials say higher than expected sales tax collections helped keep the state's revenue in December above forecast and last year's numbers. But Arkansas is still behind what was predicted so far for the fiscal year.
 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Events begin Thursday in Memphis to mark what would have been Elvis Presley's 82nd birthday, with a cake-cutting ceremony on the front lawn of his home at Graceland.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers will start the 2017 legislative session with a new ally for Republicans: Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.

Legislators will meet for the first day of session Wednesday at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Republicans hold commanding majorities in both the House and Senate. But GOP lawmakers for eight years were checked by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon was barred by terms limits from seeking re-election. His Republican predecessor takes office Jan. 9.

pixabay.com

A staggering amount of growth occurred last year in Jonesboro.  

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin told members of the city council that over 180 million dollars in building permits approved by the city in 2016.  That is about 40 million dollars more than in 2015.  Perrin says well over half of that number is in residential permits, the rest are business permits.  He expects those numbers to continue to climb this year. 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Within the next five months, President-elect Donald Trump could appoint a majority of the board for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest government-owned utility.

Three Democratic members of the board, including Chairman Joe Ritch, are leaving the board Tuesday after the Republican-controlled Senate failed last year to confirm President Barack Obama's reappointment of the three directors, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (http://bit.ly/2iLc2fs).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson hasn't formally announced his plans to seek a second term, but is already raising money for his re-election bid.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2hNx6Fc) a fundraiser for the Republican governor's 2018 campaign is set for Thursday night at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock.

Pixabay

The unemployment rate in Northeast Arkansas remains low.

The Jonesboro Sun reports, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday released its report of their most recent jobless rate data.

Employment in nonfarm jobs in the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area rose by about 1,300 with over 55,300 people employed since November 2015.  Last year, the sector saw an increase in November with around 56,800 residents employed, bringing the jobless rate in the area to 2.9%.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - The first phase of a makeover of a 5-mile stretch of highway in Branson could be finished by Memorial Day.

The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/2hLDtUI ) reports the construction aims to alleviate traffic congestion along West Highway 76 by creating a wider, continuous pedestrian walkway in the area, which includes Branson's entertainment district.

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