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Asa Hutchinson

This is the 6:04 KASU newscast for Thursday, September 21th.  

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is in favor of a Republican plan for a straightforward repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Both of Arkansas's Republican senators, Cotton and John Boozman, have long favored ending the Affordable Care Act, but neither has spoken publicly about the now-flopped repeal and replace plan.

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced the creation of a multi-jurisdictional, investigative joint task force that will help the Little Rock Police Department respond to a recent spike in violent crimes, including the Power Ultra Club shooting last week.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas is cutting its budget for the coming fiscal year by $43 million, state officials announced Tuesday, days after the governor ordered reductions in this year's funding for state agencies.

The Department of Finance and Administration lowered its forecast for the state's revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to $5.4 billion. The reductions will affect programs for about a dozen agencies under a lower priority category of the state's budget.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers have approved an effort to scale back the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion by moving 60,000 people off the program and to require some remaining participants to work.

The Senate and House gave final approval to identical measures Wednesday allowing the state to seek federal approval for the new restrictions to the program, which covers more than 300,000 people. The program was created in 2013 as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health overhaul.

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson held a press conference in Pocahontas Tuesday after surveying the damage to Sharp and Randolph Counties from the severe storms that hit over the weekend.  The GOP Governor held the presser in the #4 Fire Station in Pocahontas with Mayor Kary Story and AJ Gary, Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey has died at the age of 77.

Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, confirmed Dickey's death, but did not give any details of his death.

Dickey was elected to Congress to represent Arkansas in 1993. He served until after being defeated for re-election in 2000. Dickey was the first Republican to be elected to his Pine Bluff-area district since Reconstruction.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — While outrage on social media is growing over Arkansas' unprecedented plan to put seven inmates to death before the end of the month, the protests have been more muted within the conservative Southern state where capital punishment is still favored by a strong majority of residents.

Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke to the media for an hour Thursday, saying he has visited with officials at the Arkansas Department of Correction and now has great confidence that the seven executions set for this month will be carried out successfully.

"I reviewed the protocols, procedures and training. But, obviously there's contingency plans. That's why we have communication directly from the chambers there to my office," said Hutchinson.

Seven Arkansas inmates are scheduled to be executed over 11 days this month, starting Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to talk with reporters Thursday morning about the pending executions of seven death row inmates. The governor scheduled the lethal injections over a 10-day period before the state's supply of one of the drugs used in the process expires.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The American Bar Association urged Arkansas on Tuesday to back away from its unprecedented plan to put seven men to death over 10 days starting next week, with the group saying it was worried the timeline could undermine due process for the inmates facing lethal injection.

ABA President Linda Klein asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to give more time between the executions, which are set to begin on April 17. Hutchinson scheduled the executions to take place before the state's supply of midazolam, a controversial sedative used in lethal injections, expires.

In the last two months, President Donald Trump has seen erosion in his job approval numbers from Arkansas voters, while Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s performance seems to have risen over the course of the Arkansas legislative session.

New polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College shows a seven-point decline for Trump and a three-point rise for Hutchinson. In the survey, taken Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 550 Arkansas voters expressed their views.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' governor says he has signed legislation expanding the locations where concealed handguns are allowed in the state to include colleges, some bars, government buildings and even the state Capitol.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to block the execution for one of eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death next month.

Justices on Thursday denied a motion to recall the mandate in the case of convicted murderer Jason McGehee, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27. McGehee's attorney had asked justices to vacate his death sentence and send his case back to a lower court for resentencing, citing problems with the verdict forms in his resentencing.

Funding for the Delta Regional Authority would be eliminated under President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. The federal agency is set up to help encourage and coordinate economic development in eight states, including Arkansas, tied to the beleaguered Mississippi River Delta region.

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Ahab Alammar has lived the American dream. The 28-year-old was born in Syria, but when he turned 13 his family was able to secure him a visa to come to the United States. He was the only person in his village of about 5,000 people to get one.

President Donald Trump’s popularity in Arkansas has not diminished since the November election despite national polling that suggests voter attitude shifts. Meanwhile, Arkansas voters still solidly approve of the job Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing a little more than halfway through his first term.

This week the Arkansas Legislature pushed forward a bill to collect sales taxes on out of state, online purchases. Some retailers, like Amazon, say they support the move and will preemptively start collecting taxes in March.

Governor Asa Hutchinson is roundly praising Amazon’s announcement that the Seattle-based company wants sales tax be collected for online retailers and will voluntarily help collect them. In a statement, the Republican said the company’s decision is “laudable and good news for the state.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday concerning Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Justices questioned whether the city ordinance, passed by voters there in September 2015, conflicts with a state law passed earlier that year which bans cities and counties from enacting protections not contained in the state's civil rights law.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a bill that links college and university funding to factors such as the number of students who complete their degrees.

Hutchinson on Wednesday signed the bill that requires the state to adopt a "performance-based" model for funding higher education rather than basing the money on enrollment.

Hutchinson has said he'll call for increasing higher education funding by $10 million in 2018 if the plan was approved.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is suggesting the Arkansas Legislature might be able to wrap up the 2017 session earlier than expected. Wednesday he praised lawmakers for "setting aside peripheral issues" and focusing on important matters.

The Republican governor has seen passage of three key issues he had for this session: a tax cut for low income residents, an exemption of income taxes for the pensions of military retirees and a change to the state’s higher education funding model. Hutchinson's comments came immediately after signing the bill moves funding for public colleges and universities from being based on enrollment to a "performance-based" formula.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue has fallen $57 million below forecast this year, with word coming the day after the state's Republican governor signed into law an income tax cut that'll take effect in two years.

The state Department of Finance and Administration on Thursday said the state's net available revenue last month totaled $535.9 million, which was $15.9 million below the same month last year and $47.1 million below forecast. The state's net revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals $3.1 billion.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a $50 million income tax cut that primarily affects people earning below $20,999 a year.

Under Act 79 of 2017, cuts to the affected income earners’ marginal tax rate would start in 2019. The law also commissions leaders of the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives to appoint members of a 16-person task force to consider future tax legislation.

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