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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.

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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.

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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.

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's outgoing Democratic governor says he's made plenty of "solid accomplishments" during his two terms as the chief executive.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Gov. Jay Nixon cites increased funding for education and mental health services and billions of spending cuts that have helped keep the budget in balance as tax revenues declined from a recession.  There also have been other events that have shaped Nixon's tenure. He's had to manage numerous natural disasters. Most notable was the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon set an aggressive agenda to attract jobs after the Great Recession.

An Associated Press analysis shows the Democratic governor promoted business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives.

As Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,000 employees. The state so far has paid about $166 million of incentives to those firms.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Soaring numbers in a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions are improving in nine Midwest and Plains states.

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Three schools in Craighead County are being recognized in a list of the best schools in the nation.

The Jonesboro Sun reports Valley View High School, Buffalo Island Central High School, and Nettleton High School were listed in the 2016 Best High School Rankings report.

 

More than three dozen organizations have accepted invitations to take part in the inaugural parade after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in Jan. 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced. More than 8,000 participants will represent the various groups. A list of the organizations:

— 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas

— 1st Infantry Division Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, Fort Riley, Kansas

— Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team, Burlington, Kentucky

(Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - One-year-old formerly conjoined twin girls from Nigeria are continuing their recovery at a Tennessee hospital.

The Commercial Appeal  reports the parents of Miracle and Testimony Ayeni are delighted by their progress. Mary Ayeni says her daughters "eat whatever you put in front of them."

governor.arkansas.gov

UPDATE 1/6/17:  Due to Inclement Weather, the Political Animals Meeting has been canceled today. 

Ice, Food, and Birds -1/7 Weekend

Jan 2, 2017

The first full weekend in 2017 is full of fun events that will satisfy everyone, from the foodie to the bird watcher. Travel Writer Kim Williams talks with us about upcoming events for the weekend of January 7th.

The last weekend to enjoy a winter wonderland is here! Williams tells us about a fun holiday season on the river, full of ice skating, carriage rides, and a light show, in its last weekend.

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