Quotes of the Week:
"At my core, I think we're going to be OK."
— Former President Barack Obama, signing off at his final news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. ... From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first."
—President Donald J. Trump, in his inaugural address Friday, Jan. 20.
"We are here, and we are here to stay."
— Crystal Mercer, the emcee at the Women's March for Arkansas at the state Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 21. In cities from Washington, D.C., to Little Rock and around the world, millions rallied to protest the incoming presidential administration.
Hotter and hotter
Three government agencies — two American, one British — released findings that global temperatures in 2016 were the highest on record, according to data collected from satellites and surface stations around the globe. That's the bad news. The worse news is that the previous hottest year was 2015, which itself beat the temperature record set all the way back in ... 2014. Scientists expect 2017 to be slightly cooler thanks to the end of an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific, but over the long run the pattern is clear: Global temperatures are rising in concert with the level of atmospheric carbon, which is driven largely by human activity. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Trump signed documents clearing the way for construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the Obama administration had blocked.
Major tax cut sails through ledge
Governor Hutchinson's $50 million tax cut for low-income Arkansans passed both legislative chambers this week with broad bipartisan support, despite the presence of a competing proposal from Democrats and early signals of dissatisfaction from some Republican lawmakers. The governor's proposal would give a break to the 657,000 Arkansans who earn less than $21,000 a year. That didn't sit well with certain Republican supply-size zealots — such as Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) — who wanted to slash taxes for the wealthy rather than the poor. In the end, they were placated by Hutchinson's promise to create a legislative task force on broader tax reform, which will present a final report in 2018. Meanwhile, Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) filed a competing proposal to create a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit, which Democrats (and a few Republicans) argued would be a better vehicle to provide tax relief for low-income earners than Hutchinson's proposed cut. But although Sabin's bill passed out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee along with the governor's preferred measure, the EITC did not get a vote on the floor of the House. Instead, Hutchinson's proposal passed out of the House, 90-2, while an identical bill passed in the Senate 33-0.
And now for the really hefty Capitol news: Arkansas is now one step closer to having an official dinosaur, thanks to a resolution from Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) to bestow that honor upon Arkansaurus fridayi. Joe B. Friday discovered the dinosaur's fossilized foot in a gravel pit near Lockesburg in 1972 when he was out looking for a cow. Arkansaurus, a bipedal therapod, is the only dinosaur whose remains have been found in Arkansas to date (though fossilized footprints have been found in the state). The resolution passed the House unanimously by voice vote.
Gay jokes evidently not back on after all
Hunter Hatcher, an outreach coordinator for the office of state Treasurer Dennis Milligan, resigned after complaints about comments he made on social media. "Y'all in Trump's America now! Time to flick that chip off ya shoulder and quit being so offended. Gay jokes are back on ya bunch of homos!" Hatcher tweeted on Inauguration Day. He took to Facebook to weigh in on the Women's March for Arkansas: "If all these women are at the Capitol, who's making lunch?" Unfortunately for Hatcher, low-level staffers evidently have less latitude than presidential candidates in making offensive comments: On Monday, he resigned from his post. Milligan called the comments "absurd, insulting, unprofessional."