Quote of the week
"This is our last chance." — Governor Hutchinson on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana). Republicans are trying to push it through the Senate before Sept 30. Hutchinson joined with three other Republican governors — in Mississippi, Arizona and Wisconsin — to have input on the legislation. The American Medical Association is among the groups opposing the bill because it says millions would lose health coverage.
New H.Q. for Walmart. With state help?
Walmart will build a new headquarters in Bentonville, CEO Doug McMillon said last week. The project is expected to accommodate 14,000-17,000 employees now spread across 20 buildings in Bentonville. It's expected to be built in stages and take five to seven years to be completed. The retailer also said it plans to apply for a grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
One of the world's largest corporations, which has been headquartered in Bentonville for almost 50 years, needs state money to help it build a shiny new campus with, according to a Walmart statement, "improved parking, meal services, a new fitness center, and natural light"?
Won't touch race
On Friday, the Arkansas Legislative Council soundly rejected a bipartisan effort by two senators to create a temporary legislative subcommittee to study race relations in the state.
The proposal, forwarded by Sens. Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) and Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), would have created an eight-member panel composed equally of Republicans and Democrats "with the goal of providing recommendations on ways to address historic and current divisions within the State, including proposals for legislative and non-legislative changes" related to racial equality, "reciprocal understanding and acceptance" and equal opportunity. Nothing produced by the proposed subcommittee would have been binding.
That was still too frightening for legislators on the ALC, which is the General Assembly's policymaking body when it's not in session. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass, and fell far short, getting nine votes from House members and needing 22. Members of the Senate did not vote.
More Little Rock charters
The state Board of Education last week allowed three charter school operators to proceed with plans to open new schools in Little Rock, disregarding pleas from Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore to institute a "pause" on charter growth in the city.
The three proposals were given preliminary approval in August by the Charter Authorizing Panel, but the state board has the power to review any of the authorizing panel's decisions. The state board declined to do so for Einstein Charter Schools, ScholarMade Achievement Place and Friendship Aspire Academy in Little Rock, along with two other charters proposed for Pine Bluff. Had the state board opted to review any of the applications, another hearing would have been held next month on the merits of the proposals.
Medical marijuana, by the numbers
Monday, Sept. 18, was the deadline for applications to grow or sell medical marijuana in Arkansas. KARK/Fox 16's Jessi Turnure rounded up some numbers at the close of the application period:
224: dispensary applications
32: dispensary permits to be awarded
98: cultivation applications
5: cultivation permits to be awarded
182: approved patients
600 pages: the shortest application
3,000 pages: the longest application