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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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Arkansas’s congressional delegation is returning to Washington D.C. following a July 4th recess and the state’s U.S. Senators are as tight lipped as ever about the GOP’s stalled bill to end much of the Affordable Care Act.

Does Senator Tom Cotton support the healthcare plan he helped draft with 12 other white male Republican Senators? Does Senator John Boozman support the plan backed by the majority of his party? These are basic questions Arkansans don’t have answers to.

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Craighead County has ten firefighting districts…mainly in rural areas.  The districts are mostly volunteer.  The Craighead County Quorum Court heard concerns from those fire districts about the need for communication upgrades.  

New facilities are being opened to provide assistance for people and businesses impacted by the destructive storms that hit parts of Arkansas in the spring. Centers opened last week in Fayetteville, Conway, Pocahontas, and Walnut Ridge to serve people from 16 counties who are eligible for government aid.

Daniel Green with the Federal Emergency Management Agency works with victims of the storms to expedite the process of receiving loans and other government aid.

The Arkansas Highway Commission has decided to seek a ballot measure to increase money for state roads next year after lawmakers refused to send voters a proposal that would have raised $200 million a year.

The panel voted Wednesday to pursue putting a proposal on next year's ballot to increase highway funding. The panel will spend the coming months studying the level of additional funding it wants to seek. It also will work on the specific type or proposal it wants to put before voters.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The six members of Arkansas' congressional delegation have written to President Donald Trump in support of a federal disaster declaration for the state as a result of severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that struck the state in April and May.

Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman say in a letter sent Tuesday that state and local officials are working to clean up and rebuild following the storms, but that federal assistance is needed to help in the recovery.

Ann Kenda, Arkansas Public Media

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today submitted his formal request for a federal disaster declaration to the Trump administration for 31 Arkansas counties affected by severe storms, flooding and tornadoes in April and May.

The 3rd Annual Tracking Report from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement finds that the state is having success with a new health care business model that puts the focus on improved outcomes and cost savings.  

Unlike fee-for-service, the model used by the vast majority of health care providers, the Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative offers no financial incentive for ordering unnecessary tests.  Providers instead earn bonuses for improved outcomes for patients and for reducing costs.

It’s already saved the state some $54 million in Medicaid costs, according to Mike Motley, assistant policy director at ACHI.  The tracking report found that total Medicaid costs predicted at $660.9 million came in at $606.5 million in 2015, due to cost avoidance.  The savings were then shared between the state and the providers who helped avoid unnecessary costs.

Motley said the value-based model benefits patients as well by emphasizing outcomes and putting them in closer contact with their caregivers.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's recent special legislative session cost taxpayers more than $66,000.

Gov. Eric Greitens called lawmakers into special session to authorize discounted electricity rates for a steel-works facility and aluminum smelter that are considering opening near the southeastern Missouri town of New Madrid.

Lawmakers passed the legislation in one week, and tried to hold down costs by coming to the Capitol in Jefferson City only on the days when votes were scheduled.

Arkansas is preparing an application for changes to the state’s Arkansas Works healthcare program even as federal lawmakers propose budget cuts that would significantly de-fund it.

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released an analysis of the possible impact of health care legislation passed by the U.S. House, the American Health Care Act, that found a proposed $834 billion in cuts would cause 23 million people to lose insurance under the legislation — 14 million of those would be Medicaid patients.

The U.S. Senate plans to spend the summer writing health care legislation to repeal, replace, or tweak the Affordable Care Act. The House has passed a bill that congressional analysts say would reduce the deficit and cut 23 million people from their insurance. Arkansas Public Media’s Sarah Whites-Koditschek spoke with Senator John Boozman about his goals for health care.

U.S. Senator John Boozman is applauding President Trump’s immigration enforcement budget proposals, but is cautioning that other parts of the Homeland Security budget are “unworkable.” The Republican senator convened his first meeting as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Thursday.

Boozman praised increases in spending for border patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Trump’s Proposed Cuts To Agriculture Could Have Dramatic Impact On Arkansas

May 25, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget includes deep cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture, and Arkansas farmers could feel the squeeze.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' highest court is seeking an 11 percent pay raise for its justices, a move the chief justice says is needed to be in line with what other state supreme courts in the country are paid.

Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Tuesday outlined the proposal to the Independent Citizens Commission, which sets salaries for the state's top elected officials.

By SUMMER BALLENTINE, KATIE KULL and DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers faced a Friday evening deadline to finish work in their annual session with several key proposals in limbo, including personal care services for low-income seniors and the disabled and pay raises for tens of thousands of minimum-wage workers in St. Louis.

Ten Republicans and six Democrats have been named to serve on a legislative task force that will recommend tax cuts before the 2019 session.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang on Monday named their appointees to the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force, created as part of a $50 million income tax cut plan approved by lawmakers this year.

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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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee legislative leaders appear to agree on a bigger property tax break for disabled veterans, which should put the finishing touch on months of work on Gov. Bill Haslam's bill that increases the gas tax to fund roadwork and cuts other taxes.

Both chambers passed the Republican governor's roads bill Wednesday, with the property tax break unresolved.

Senators amended the legislation to increase property tax relief to disabled veterans to up to $175,000 in property value, from $100,000 currently.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's road and bridge funding bill is headed for a showdown in the Tennessee House on Wednesday.

The sticking point is the governor's proposal to pay for new projects in large part through the state's first gas tax hike since 1989.

Supporters argue that a package of tax cuts made in the bill outweigh the amount raised from the fuel tax increases.

Opponents are calling for the fuel tax hikes to be stripped from the bill and to instead dedicate sales tax revenues from auto sales to highway funding.

A bill to create educational savings accounts for Arkansas students failed in the Arkansas House today on a 46 to 39 vote Friday.

The so-called “Parental Choice Program,” SB 746, was not written to be a traditional vouchers program financed directly by the state. Instead it would have created non-profit organizations to funnel contributions from taxpayers and corporations to parents for their children’s school of choice. Donors to those organizations would get a 65 percent tax credit at an estimated $3 million annual cost to the state for three of a four-year pilot.

A beleaguered bid in the Arkansas Legislature to collect sales taxes from online purchases from companies without a physical presence in the state narrowly failed in the House on Monday. Representative Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, said it didn’t make sense to collect a tax on his blue jeans at a local store but not when he bought them online.

“They’re the same brand of blue jeans, the same style, the same size, used on the same fat body for the same purpose and they didn’t collect sales tax,” said Douglas. “Now is that fair?”

Echo Soza lives at Our House, a homeless shelter for the working poor in Little Rock. The 47-year-old housekeeper was uninsured a few years ago when she had a stroke.    

“I actually was hospitalized and then lost my housing and then came here,” she says.  

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas says despite proposed changes to the federal healthcare bill introduced by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, he still cannot back the measure. He also doesn't think it will have the support needed to pass in the Senate.

In a statement Tuesday, the Republican said:

Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House health-care bill, nor would it pass the Senate. The amendments improve the Medicaid reforms in the original bill, but do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans. The House should continue its work on this bill. It’s more important to finally get health-care reform right than to get it fast.

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