It was a good week for ...
EXPANSION. The federal government has agreed to give Arkansas unprecedented flexibility in expanding health coverage to residents. Employing an obscure provision of the Social Security Act, Arkansas has permission to offer health coverage to the entire Medicaid expansion population through the health-care exchange. Instead of expanding the Medicaid program, the government will pay for low-income people to purchase private health insurance. The deal appears likely to tip previously reluctant Republican legislators towards agreeing to expansion.
WALTER HUSSMAN. In a letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett said the "main exemplar for local newspapers is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette," published by Hussman.
THE ASCENDANCY OF JASON RAPERT. To a woman on Twitter who disagrees with his 12-week abortion ban, Sen. Rapert tweeted, "If you are a Christian, and you believe God's word, then our beliefs would be the same."
REYNIE RUTLEDGE. Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Rutledge, chairman and CEO of First Security Bank, to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees. Rutledge is a longtime friend and neighbor of Beebe in Searcy. He replaces John Tyson, who resigned last month.
It was a bad week for ...
WOMEN. Arkansas's congressional delegation was nowhere to be found among the 87 Republicans in the U.S. House who joined 199 Democrats to pass the Senate's bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The measures reauthorizes a 1994 law that provides support for organizations that serve domestic and sexual violence victims. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack each refused to support the bipartisan legislation. Instead, they voted in favor of an amendment to the bill that would remove specific protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims and strip protections of Native American women living on reservations. Rep. Tom Cotton voted against the bipartisan legislation AND the Republican amendment.
MINIMUM WAGE EARNERS. A measure to raise the state's minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.25 failed by one vote in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. One former Republican state representative who testified against the bill called the pay raise "cruelty in the guise of compassion," arguing that history (1890-1930, for example) shows that businesses won't hire the undereducated — minorities and students — if they have to pay their workers more.