© 2024 Red River Radio
Voice of the Community
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Arkansas Shields Governor's Travel Records / Shreveport Needs 60 Officers for Two Parades

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. Cavin had been expressing his opposition to SB9, which would make changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act when he and Johnson exchanged heated words
John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate
/
Little Rock Public Radio
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. Cavin had been expressing his opposition to SB9, which would make changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act when he and Johnson exchanged heated words

Outrage gripped Arkansas in the past week about a bill that would have shielded a broad range of records from the governor’s administration from release to the public.

Arkansas Shields Governor Travel Records

Outrage gripped Arkansas in the past week about a bill that would have shielded a broad range of records from the governor’s administration from release to the public. Many members from all sides of the political spectrum delivered their response: No.
Many citizens spoke out against the measure during a Senate State Agencies and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday, September 12. One citizen, for example, testified “There’s a really good argument that if this bill passes, the sky here will have fallen when it comes to government transparency.”

City of Fort Smith, AR

By law, most government documents are public, which means they belong to the people. There are exceptions, of course. Those include, among others, criminal cases, some public employee information, along with security procedures and trade secrets.
But Arkansas Senate Bill 9 attempted to carve out new exemptions to the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The 1967 law allows public access to government meetings and documents through what’s called “FOIA requests.” Those request letters are then sent to the government agency where the documents in question are stored.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders had already called for a special legislative session focusing on tax cuts, with proposed changes to Arkansas’ sunshine law also becoming a key focus. And this is when Arkansas Senate Bill  9 came into consideration.  During a committee hearing last week, there were  five hours of public comments, many like these from a long line of citizens who wanted to have their worries about SB9 put on the public record, including these remarks: (Citizen 1) “Ask yourself, do you represent the bureaucracy? Or do you represent the people.” (Citizen 2) “Those of you that vote for this legislation: How are you going to respond to your constituents when your primary opponent or your general opponent, runs a mailer, a radio ad saying that you supported a state-secrets bill? I totally get that you don’t think the bill does that. But that’s how it's going to be.” Arkansas lawmakers eventually narrowed the focus with Senate Bill 10 to shield only the governor’s travel and security records. Sanders called for the new limits citing safety concerns for her and her family. She signed the bill into law on Thursday, September 14. Sanders vows to revisit the issue of more shielding of records at a later date.
Critics contend even the approved shielding is too much --  because there can be no oversight now of trips by the governor, whether it be where she’s going and why, who she is travelling with, and how much taxpayer money was spent on the trips.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a special session in a news conference at the Arkansas State Capitol on Friday, September 8. Sanders confirmed FOIA laws and tax cuts would be on the agenda when the session began the following Monday, September 11.
Governors Office/Facebook
/
Little Rock Public Radio
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a special session in a news conference at the Arkansas State Capitol on Friday, September 8. Sanders confirmed FOIA laws and tax cuts would be on the agenda when the session began the following Monday, September 11.

This also became the third legislative session in the last 13 months in which lawmakers considered tax cuts for the state’s top individual income tax rate [from 4.7% to 4.4] and corporate income tax rate [from 5.1% to 4.8%] for about 1.1 million Arkansas taxpayers. The state Department of Finance and Administration estimates these tax cuts will cost Arkansas $248.5 million in lost revenue this fiscal year, and another $184.5 the next year. Arkansas ended the previous fiscal year with a $1.2 billion surplus. Republican leaders have said such tax cuts are essential to keep the state economically competitive with neighboring Texas and Tennessee, in attracting new businesses to Arkansas. And the governor signed the bill to make those tax cuts official.

Previous Story: The Kids Count Data Book reports in 2020-21, 15% of children from birth to age 5 in Arkansas lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of problems finding or affording child care.
ShunTerra/Adobe Stock
/
Public News Service
Previous Story: The Kids Count Data Book reports in 2020-21, 15% of children from birth to age 5 in Arkansas lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of problems finding or affording child care.

This news, however also comes just days before a steep drop in federal childcare spending. According to government figures, more than three million children are projected to lose access to childcare nationwide. That means the closure of seventy-thousand childcare programs, including 91,216 Arkansas children, with 1,000 childcare programs expected to close. Arkansas was just ranked 43rd in the country in overall child well-being, back in June, for the second year in a row. The Annie E. Casey Foundation conducted the research for the rankings.

  *******

Shreveport Searching For More Officers For Parades

Shreveport-Bossier.org

The final plans are still up in the air for two major parades. That’s because those two parades take place on the very same day in Shreveport on Saturday, February 3, 2024.But the mayor of Shreveport says there are simply not enough police officers to cover both events.
The African American History Parade has seniority because it outdates the enormous Krewe of Centaur parade. Mayor Tom Arceneaux says the city still needs 60 police officers. “That 60 is basically to handle the African American History Parade. It is a smaller, more compact parade and it also typically requires a little less supervision than the Mardi Gras parade.”
On Monday, we’ll tell you all about the challenges the city faces for the Krewe of centaur parade. The city of Shreveport did make some changes in an effort to prevent the kind of violence that occurred earlier this year when two people were shot, one of whom died. A police officer was also assaulted as well. We’ll have more on that part of the story on Monday morning.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.