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Politics

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.

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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.

A bill to require Arkansas political candidates file their campaign finance reports through an online system advanced out of a committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives Wednesday.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed two new heads of the state's emergency management and fire safety divisions.

Greitens appointed Ernie Rhodes to be the director of the State Emergency Management Agency and Tim Bean as the state Fire Marshal in an announcement Wednesday at the St. Louis Fire Academy.

Rhodes currently serves as the fire chief for the West County EMS and Fire Protection District. He previously served as the director of Emergency Management in St. Charles, Missouri.

Wikipedia

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Wisconsin senator has accused the Department of Veterans of Affairs of firing a doctor for speaking out about alleged shortcomings at a Missouri VA hospital and then thwarting his efforts to get hired at another VA site.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote in a recent letter to the VA's acting secretary that the department should "cease all retaliatory actions" against Dr. Dale Klein.

Update:

A bill that would defund Arkansas universities, were they to shelter undocumented immigrant students from federal law enforcement in the course of a criminal investigation, failed on a voice vote before the House Education Committee Tuesday morning.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three months after losing his bid for the U.S. Senate, former Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is launching an organization that's taking a new approach to fight what he calls voter suppression efforts.

Kander on Tuesday announced an organization called Let America Vote. A 27-member advisory board includes elected officials from across the country, communications leaders, and activists that include Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain civil rights leader.

Lawmakers in the Arkansas House voted to allow foreign governments to pay for legislators’ travel expenses. In an 83-to-8 vote on Monday, the chamber advanced the measure which peels back a ban approved by voters in a 2014 constitutional amendment. State Representative Michelle Gray, of Melbourne in north Arkansas, said free travel for legislators will benefit the state.

A bill headed to the Arkansas Senate would give the governor more long-lasting authority to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Arkansas House approved the measure on Monday, which re-affirms the governor’s power to appoint a temporary, replacement Senator while extending the period of time before an election would be held.

Eric Greitens Official Facebook Page

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is signing a bill to make Missouri the 28th right-to-work state on Monday, delivering a big win for primarily GOP supporters who have worked for years to pass the measure banning mandatory union fees and dues.

The bill signing in Missouri comes amid a national push to implement the policy. Republicans in Congress have introduced a version of right-to-work legislation that would, for the first time, allow millions of workers to opt out of union membership.


A bill filed last week by state Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) would ban so called sex-selective or “family balance” abortions. 

 

 

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