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Politics

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Shelby County Commission has decided against naming an interim replacement for a Republican state House member who resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation.

The Commercial Appeal reports (http://memne.ws/2niIydu) that commissioners voted 6-5 against a resolution to schedule the appointment to replace former Rep. Mark Lovell. That means nobody will hold the seat until after the general election scheduled for June 15.

The primary will be held on April 27.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Mae Beavers, the sponsor of a bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms of the sex on their birth certificates, says she is exploring a bid for Tennessee governor.

The Mt. Juliet Republican tells WKRN-TV (http://bit.ly/2nOkX1T) she's considering entering the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam in the event Sen. Mark Green gets appointed to President Donald Trump's administration.

Arkansas’s 91st General Assembly has hosted serious discussions on healthier eating (only) on food stamps and on Sharia Law, guns on college campuses and sanctuaries on those same campuses for undocumented immigrants. Less attention until late had been given to the roughly two dozen bills that seek to shape up — or water-down, depending on your bent — the state’s half-century old Freedom of Information Act.

An attempt to ban the smoking of medical marijuana fell short in the Arkansas Senate while a bill to ban edibles was deferred. But both measures altering the voter-approved constitutional amendment could come up later this week.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday, Republican Jason Rapert of Bigelow said inhaling smoke is not good medicine.

“You mark my word. People will be hurt, they will be injured, and some will die as a result of this loose amendment,” said the senator.

Arkansas drivers may soon have access to a digital driver’s license in addition to a hard copy. The Arkansas Senate advanced a bill on Monday that would create and offer a digital license as an equivalent to the physical license at traffic stops and the like.

Alongside a physical license drivers could pay $10 for a digital copy provided by the Office of Drivers Services.

NPR

President Trump will address a joint session of Congress for the first time on Tuesday evening at the Capitol, around 9:00 PM Eastern Time.

Democratic Party Response

Feb 28, 2017
Pixabay

Shortly after the president concludes, Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will deliver the Democratic Response to President Trump’s address

A late attempt to significantly alter a resolution limiting attorneys fees and injury lawsuit awards failed to get approval from the Arkansas House of Representatives Friday. 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, faced more than 2,000 people at his town hall Wednesday evening in Springdale. Many of those in attendance expressed anger and frustration about issues ranging from the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the proposed border wall with Mexico. You can listen to the full town hall below. It's been divided into two parts. Cotton began the town hall with the Pledge of Allegiance.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is shunning the state plane and instead relying on private donors and campaign funds to pay for his flights.

Since taking office in January, the Republican governor has not flown on a state airplane. That's a significant departure from his Democratic predecessor, Jay Nixon, who frequently used state airplanes.

Greitens' Chief of Staff Michael Roche says the governor is committed to spending as little of the taxpayers' money as possible on travel.

In a new survey, Arkansas voters made it clear they prefer the implementation of medical marijuana to allow for smoking cannabis and not waiting for federal law to allow for statewide usage.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll asked 440 Arkansas voters for their preferences on two debates occurring at the state legislature regarding medical marijuana’s implementation. Voters approved the measure last November by a 53-47% margin. In the latest survey conducted Tuesday, Feb. 14, voters were asked:

The latest in a series of bills to exempt security details from the Freedom of Information Act has been filed in the Arkansas Legislature. Keeping information about the Governor’s Mansion secret from the public is the objective of Republican State Representative DeAnne Vaught of Horatio in southwest Arkansas.

A drug testing program for Arkansans seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, is one step closer to becoming law. A House committee on Tuesday passed the bill to extend a two year trial run indefinitely.

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

A push to call for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution to redefine marriage and abortion rights narrowly failed in the Arkansas Senate. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for states to join together to propose amendments. It’s never been used before, but speaking on the floor on Monday state Senator Jason Rapert said it’s the only tool he has left.

Rapert proposed two separate resolutions. The first would redefine marriage as between one man and one woman. The second would say life begins at conception and effectively ban abortion.

Sales tax on soda will go up from 1.5% to 6.5% in Arkansas next year, under a bill signed by Gov. Hutchinson that aims to raise millions for military retiree tax cuts.  The increase is coupled with a tax reduction on the wholesale price for the syrup used by beverage makers, which has advocates for the poor complaining that the higher tax will be paid only by consumers.

The increase comes at a time when soda has largely fallen out of favor with consumers, as they seek healthier alternatives.  PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) spent its advertising dollars this year on a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl promoting its new LIFEWTR premium bottled water instead of its traditional cola drinks.

Talk Business & Politics

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.

Trump Meets Netanyahu, Annotated

Feb 15, 2017
NPR

President Trump is the latest in a succession of U.S. presidents pledging unbreakable support for Israel. Last year, for instance, the US signed a $38-Billion military aid package with the Israelis even as Washington pressed Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump signaled an intent to bolster Israel in even more demonstrative ways. But lately, in the early days of the Trump administration, the language of support has become somewhat less robust. 

Another concern is being raised about legislation that would require public universities and colleges in Arkansas to allow licensed faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus.

John Pijanowski, chair of the campus faculty senate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, believes the campus carry bill could be in conflict with existing laws regarding guns in churches.

State legislators are beginning to consider proposals for constitutional amendments that could eventually go to a vote of the people. Wednesday was the deadline for members of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate to file such proposals. In the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Thursday, lawmakers discussed two of the nearly thirty proposals filed in both chambers.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are scrambling to get their legislative proposals submitted before Thursday's filing deadline.

Among the last batch of bills is a renewed effort to require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates. Other recently filed bills would allow people with handgun carry permits to be armed in schools, drop a ban on Sunday liquor sales and get rid of open primary voting in Tennessee.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawmakers are questioning a newly revised policy allowing visitors to bring firearms into the Missouri Capitol.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2k83UVx) reports that Gov. Eric Greitens' administration lifted a month-old prohibition Monday on allowing people with concealed-weapon permits to carry their guns into the statehouse.

Members of a Senate panel recommended Wednesday to look at potentially changing the rules that govern what happens with firearms inside the Capitol.

Pixabay

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill proposed in Tennessee's legislature would create a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition.

The bill, filed Wednesday by Republican Rep. Dennis Powers, calls for a "Second Amendment sales tax holiday" on the first weekend of September each year.

Knoxville station WBIR reports that Tennessee already has a sales tax holiday at the end of the summer that's meant for back-to-school shopping. Last year, Louisiana and Mississippi each hosted sales tax holiday weekends on guns.

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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