Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Roughly 50 Arkansas state employees to be furloughed in potential federal shutdown

BY: - September 28, 2023

This story was updated at 5:44 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, with new information from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Arkansas officials estimate that 50 state employees would be out of work or go without pay next week if the federal government can’t come to a funding agreement before Monday. That number […]

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands at a lecturn that looks similar to one her office paid $19,000 for this summer.

‘Podiumgate,’ ‘Lecterngate’: No matter what you call it, it’s a questionable mess

BY: - September 27, 2023

If we lived in a better world, we’d all be willing to believe the governor’s spokesperson when she says the purchase of a $19,000 lectern with a state credit card was an “accounting error.” Of course, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where the purchase of a platform for giving […]

Jimmie Cavin, right, is escorted from the Senate State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee meeting by a State Capitol Police officer after being told to leave by committee chairman Sen. Blake Johnson, R-Corning.

It’s a good idea to embed public’s right to know in Arkansas Constitution

BY: - September 25, 2023

An effort to ask voters to enshrine the state’s sunshine law in the Arkansas Constitution should come together quickly, says Nate Bell, the former lawmaker leading the charge.  Bell, an independent from Mena, told the Advocate he hopes to announce the core members of a ballot question committee this week. He hopes to release a […]

Arkansas Food Bank CEO Brian Burton, right, says a 240,000 pound donation of rice from Arkansas rice growers will benefit the hungry statewide. At left is rice farmer Jeff Rutledge, who announced the donation at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock on Sept. 20, 2023. At center is Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Arkansas growers donate 240,000 pounds of rice to state’s food banks

BY: - September 20, 2023

Food banks across Arkansas will share in a 240,000-pound donation of rice from the Arkansas Rice Federation, Arkansas Food Bank CEO Brian Burton said at an event at the Food Bank on Wednesday. The donation, equivalent to 1.8 million servings, will “help alleviate food insecurity” in all 75 Arkansas counties, said Newport rice farmer and […]

large plume of smoke

Arkansas firefighters deployed to Louisiana to help with wildfire suppression efforts

BY: - September 20, 2023

Six wildland firefighters from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division will assist with Louisiana’s Tiger Island Fire for a two-week period beginning today. Investigators believe the wildfire, which started on Aug. 22 and has affected more than 31,000 acres, is the result of arson, according to the Louisiana lluminator. The fire was 84% contained […]

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders shakes hands with Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, at a bill signing event Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, applauds. One of the bills Sanders signed was an amendment to Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act that exempts Arkansas State Police records regarding her security. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Secrecy added to Arkansas public records law serves only those with secrets

BY: - September 15, 2023

This commentary was updated at 5:25 p.m., Sept. 16, 2023, to correct the day when the Legislature submitted the bill to the governor. This week’s hastily called — and unnecessary — special session of the Arkansas Legislature yielded some ugly changes to the state’s sunshine law but also provided a shining example of democracy at […]

Sanders, Arkansas Legislature enact income tax cuts on final day of special session

BY: - September 14, 2023

Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday once again slashed the state’s top income tax rate after debate over whether the relief should more precisely target the state’s lower- and middle-income citizens. The Arkansas House voted to enact the cuts for the state’s top earning individuals and businesses and create a one-time, $150 tax credit shortly before adjourning […]

Arkansas Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester speaks to people waiting to speak on a bill on Sept. 11, 2023.

Tidal wave of opposition swamps Arkansas governor’s FOIA battleship

BY: - September 11, 2023

UPDATE: Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester late Monday night introduced a new version of the bill to add exemptions to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. It can be read here. Proposed new exemptions to Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act drew strong opposition across the political spectrum over the weekend, forcing legislative leaders to scramble […]

Rep. Matthew Shepherd, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. Jonathan Dismang

The Arkansas special session tax cuts explained

BY: - September 11, 2023

UPDATE: Senate Bill 8 passed the Senate on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. It is now under consideration in the House of Representatives. The Arkansas Legislature on Monday gaveled into an extraordinary session at the call of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  The Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation quickly passed an income tax cut package through […]

Rep. David Ray, R-Maumelle

Officials can’t say they serve the people while taking shots at the public’s right to know

BY: - September 9, 2023

Pardon me if you’ve heard this before: Arkansans’ right to know how their state and local governments operate is enshrined in a 56-year-old law called the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. During this year’s legislative session, some lawmakers attempted to punch gaping holes in the FOIA’s defense against government secrecy, large enough to make much […]

Arkansas governor calls special session to alter FOIA, cut taxes

BY: - September 8, 2023

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023, to include comments from the Arkansas Press Association. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is asking the state Legislature to convene next week to cut income taxes, ban vaccine mandates for state employees and significantly curtail what state government records are available to the […]

Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva (left) listens as Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders outlines her education initiative on Feb.8, 2023, at the state Capitol. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

An embarrassing week for Arkansas education leadership

BY: - August 20, 2023

The Arkansas Department of Education embarrassed itself and the state last week with its handling of what should be known as the African American Studies fiasco. First, the ADE botched the delisting of the Advanced Placement class from courses qualifying for graduation credit. Botched because the department didn’t alert teachers to the course’s removal until […]