matthew shepherd

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs a slew of bills passed during the special legislative session held from Sept. 11-14, 2023, in Little Rock. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Arkansas officials’ security records shielded from public under altered FOIA law

BY: - September 14, 2023

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law Thursday altering the state’s Freedom of Information Act, one of her stated goals of the special legislative session she called for this week. Senate Bill 10, which passed the Senate on Wednesday and the House on Thursday, shields from public access all records and communications concerning the […]

Rep. Matthew Shepherd, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sens. Jonathan Dismang and Jimmy Hickey

Arkansas lawmakers say surplus shows need for tax cuts, but ’23 special session unlikely

BY: - August 4, 2023

Arkansas legislative leaders agree the state’s $1.2 billion surplus means taxes should be cut further, but diverge on whether to wait until next year to act.  The General Assembly could convene in a special session this year to further reduce state income taxes, as it did following a surplus in 2022. But a consensus on […]

Arkansas House attorney, former state representative picked to be next House parliamentarian

BY: - June 16, 2023

Arkansas House Speaker Matthew Shepherd has tapped House Chief Legal Counsel John Vines to be the chamber’s next parliamentarian. Vines, who has been the House’s top attorney since 2017, will replace retiring Parliamentarian Finos “Buddy” Johnson, who has served in the role since 2012. Vines was a Democratic state representative from Hot Springs between 2011-2017 […]

Arkansas House parliamentarian retiring after a decade advising speakers and members

BY: - June 12, 2023

The man who sits to the left of the Arkansas House Speaker rarely speaks.  From atop the Speaker’s rostrum, he whispers instructions and watches for members who wish to be recognized.  As former House Speaker Jeremy Gillam put it, he “keeps the train running on time and out of the ditches.” After 11 years, House […]

Pictured is exterior of a hospital in El Dorado, Arkansas.

UAMS will train medical residents at nonprofit-acquired El Dorado hospital

BY: - May 3, 2023

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will adapt the hospital in El Dorado into its ninth regional campus to train young medical professionals, the institution announced Monday in a press release. The former Medical Center of South Arkansas will be called the South Arkansas Regional Hospital, sharing its name with the local nonprofit that […]

SESSION SNAPSHOT: The 94th Arkansas General Assembly adjourns

BY: - April 7, 2023

That sound you hear is the rejoicing of lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and legislative staff that the 2023 legislative session is over. The Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate each met Friday morning to consider the final bills of the session before adjourning. They will still return in a few weeks to override any vetoes (none […]

Anti-abortion activists celebrate Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a woman's right to abortion.

SESSION SNAPSHOT: With a week to go, the Arkansas Legislature kicks it into high gear

BY: - March 31, 2023

It happens every legislative session. As adjournment nears, Arkansas lawmakers cram their biggest priorities through before it’s too late. House and Senate floor sessions go longer, and committees meet well into the night. Trying to keep up with all the legislation advancing, failing and stalling felt like drinking through a fire hose at times this […]

Arkansas committee votes to expand NIL to college-bound athletes

BY: - March 30, 2023

University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek appeared before the House Insurance and Commerce Committee on Wednesday to speak in favor of a bill about student athletes’ publicity rights. “This is a very important bill for us,” Yurachek said. “It keeps us in the forefront. It keeps us competitive not only in the Southeastern Conference […]

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)

SESSION SNAPSHOT: Legislation marches on and a sneak peak at the governor’s education package

BY: - February 10, 2023

The fifth week of the 2023 legislative session finally brought us Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ education plan — sort of. The bill hasn’t been filed (more on that later), but she outlined some of the key components of a sweeping piece of legislation that would bring drastic changes to K-12 education in Arkansas. Vouchers, a […]

SESSION SNAPSHOT: What you need to know from the first week of the 94th Arkansas General Assembly

BY: - January 13, 2023

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE ruled most of the first week of the 2023 legislative session at the Arkansas State Capitol. Lawmakers and legislative leaders were sworn in on Monday, but that was just an opening act for Tuesday’s inauguration of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders — the state’s first female governor — set the tone for […]