Roby Brock with Talk Business & Politics delivers Monday’s Election Central Daily Brief.
Supporters of raising the minimum wage and a group wanting a statewide vote on expanding alcohol sales have both turned in additional numbers of signatures to potentially qualify their measures for the November ballot.
Give Arkansas A Raise Now turned in an additional 69,000 signatures on Monday to the Secretary of State’s office. The group wants to see the state minimum wage incrementally raised to $8.50 per hour over the next 3 years.
Let Arkansas Decide, a group seeking a constitutional amendment to allow alcohol sales in all 75 counties, turned in an additional 41,000 signatures to Secretary of State Mark Martin on Friday.
MARTIN HOMESTEAD TAXES
Speaking of Mark Martin, the Democratic Party of Arkansas issued a statement Monday saying Martin’s response to reportedly receiving additional homestead tax credits was “despicable.” Martin had said he deplored “gotcha” politics when asked for comment by a reporter.
“Does that mean he thinks it’s OK to cheat on his taxes, even when he got caught?” asked DPA chairman Vince Insalaco. The Blue Hog Report blog first reported on Martin improperly taking several years worth of homestead tax credits.
The AP is reporting that Martin repaid $2,100 to Benton County on Monday and planned to possibly pay more. Martin faces Democratic candidate Susan Inman in the Secretary of State’s race this fall.
NEW TV ADS
GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson up on air with a new TV ad today featuring his granddaughter, Ella Beth. In the ad, Hutchinson touts her as inspiration for his initiative to expand computer science and coding in “every Arkansas high school.” Hutchinson faces Democrat Mike Ross in November.
Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee John Burkhalter also airing a new ad featuring his childhood pastor. Democrat Attorney General nominee Nate Steel with a new ad touting his toughness on child predators. Burkhalter faces Republican Tim Griffin, while Steel faces GOP attorney Leslie Rutledge.
You can view the ads here.
Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson addressed state employees’ concerns in a forum on Saturday. Hutchinson, who wants to implement a hiring freeze if he wins to assess agency needs, said he would have supported a one percent COLA hike. Ross said he thinks a hiring freeze is a bad idea and wants to use revenue growth to fund a COLA increase for state workers. The two square off in a forum on Friday with the Association of Arkansas Counties.
Finally, if you missed yesterday’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Arkansas Ethics Commission director Graham Sloan said his agency will ask the state legislature for funding for 3 more positions. The staff positions would help with an increased workload that is 40% higher than two years ago.
The Ethics Commission has been front and center in the wake of several high-profile ethics scandals in the past 18 months, including controversies surrounding former Lt. Governor Mark Darr, former Treasurer Martha Shoffner, and former Senate President Paul Bookout.