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Arkansas Week March 14, 2014

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(Recess) All that's left to do is sine die, and of course manage. (2015) A new team arrives next year with new leadership. However, to confront what? (Salaries) Perhaps teacher pay, in the long shadow of Lake View. (Scandal) And with the primaries upon us and November around the corner, public officials behaving badly.

TRANSCRIPT

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE.  THANKS FOR JOINING US FOR ARKANSAS WEEK. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HAS LEFT LITTLE ROCK FEW TO COME BACK NEXT WEEK ENOUGH TO SINE DIE AND THAT'S WHERE WE WILL START WITH THE FISCAL SESSION JUST ENDED.  ROB MORITZ JOINS US INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST AND LANCE TURNER FOR ARKANSAS BUSINESS AND JACOB KAUFFMAN REPORTER FOR KUAR PUBLIC RADIO CENTRAL ARKANSAS. THANKS FOR COMING IN.  ROB WE HAD A RECESS.  SINE DIE IS NEXT WEEK AND AT TIMES IT WAS A TENSE SESSION.  WE HAVE THE PRIVATE OPTION THROUGH OR THE ADVOCATES GOT IT THROUGH.

YES, THE LEGISLATORS WENT HOME EARLIER THIS WEEK HAVING WRAPPED UP THE SESSION.  THEY DID GET THE PRIVATE OPTION THROUGH BARELY, AND NEXT WEEK WHEN THEY GO SORT THROUGH THE BILLS AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS AND ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO GO BACK FOR RECONSIDERATION OR GOVERNOR'S VETOES THEY VOTE TO OVER TURN AND MEET NEXT WEDNESDAY AT 130 I THINK.  THE BIG VETO THAT IS EXPECTED IS A SALES TAX -- IS ELIMINATING THE SALES TAX ON THE PURCHASE OF SAND OR WHAT I THINK IS CALLED PROPONENT, AND IT'S THE SAND THAT IS USED IN OIL AND GAS FRACKING.  THEY APPROVED -- THEY APPROVED THE ELIMINATION OF THE SALES TAX AND THE GOVERNOR HAS NOW CONSIDERING WHETHER HE'S GOING TO VETO THAT OR NOT BECAUSE IT COULD BE A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW IN THAT ONLY BUDGET MATTERS CAN BE DISCUSSED DURING A IF I HAVE GONIAL SESSION AND THERE IS ARGUMENT OVER WHETHER IT'S A BUDGET ITEM OR NOT.

ABSENT OF THE TWO THIRDS VOTE.  IT'S IMPORTANT TO THE INDUSTRY.

YEAH DEFINITELY THE INDUSTRY WOULD SAY IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO THEM.  THEY HAVE AN EXEMPTION USED IN THE WHOLE FRACKING AND DRILLING PROCESS AND THIS WAS INTRODUCED BY A SENATOR OUT OF SEARCY SO YEAH THERE IS DISPUTE HOW THAT CAME ABOUT AND THAT COULD BE THE VETO THAT HAPPENS NEXT WEEK.

YEAH, THE OTHER THING THAT TIES INTO THAT THE COMPANY -- I GUESS AN OIL AND GAS COMPANY FILED A CHALLENGE IN CIRCUIT COURT ABOUT THE TAX AND THE COURT RULED IN THEIR FAVOR AND THE STATE APPEALED TO THE SUPREME COURT AND DURING THE SESSION SOMEONE WITH DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION WANTED TO WAIT FOR CONSIDERING THIS APPEAL UNTIL THERE WAS RULING BY THE SUPREME COURT, BUT THE LEGISLATURE MOVED FASTER AND DOING THAT.

YEAH DFNA STERNLY OPPOSED -- BUT FIRMLY OPPOSED THIS IN HEARINGS BEFORE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEFORE THE VOTE, AND AFTER.

RIGHT, YEAH, IT'S MORE MONEY OFF THE BOTTOM LINE FOR THE STATE AT A TIME WHEN WE'RE -- WE NEED -- THE STATE GOVERNMENT SAYS WE NEED WHAT WE CAN GET AND I THINK THERE WAS A LITTLE DISTATE AMONG SOME THIS WAS SLIPPED IN THERE AND OUT OF EVERYONE'S VIEW AND NOW IT'S UP TO THE GOVERNOR AND WE WILL SEE WHAT HE DOES.  AND HIS COMMENTS ARE "WELL, IT'S UP TO ME WHETHER I DO SOMETHING"  AND YOU KNOW GOVERNOR BEEBE AND WILL I DO IT? MAYBE.

I THINK HE HAS AN IDEA.

I THINK HE HAS AN IDEA BUT THAT'S THE LAST PIECE OF BUSINESS WE'RE WAITING ON.  IT COULD COME TODAY OR NEXT WEEK.

IT'S A KIND OF INTERESTING ARGUMENT BECAUSE THE COMPANY IS ARGUING THAT THE SAND IS A PIECE -- THE EQUIPMENT THAT THEY USE IN MANUFACTURING AND THE LEGISLATURE SEVERAL YEARS AGO BASICALLY CUT TAXES ON ALL EQUIPMENT USE AND MANUFACTURING, AND SO IT'S AN INTERESTING ARGUMENT THAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED, AND I THINK IT'S ONLY A $5 MILLION IMPACT TO THE STATE BUDGET, SO I THINK THE GOVERNOR PROBABLY IF HE REALLY FEELS A CONCERN ABOUT IT BEING A CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE AND WHETHER IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED DURING THE SESSION I THINK THAT'S WHAT IT WILL COME DOWN TO.

IT'S A DEPARTURE OF THE OTHER LEGISLATURE PASSED AND THERE ARE LAWS REGARDING ABORTION AND THE LEGISLATURE WERE TOLD TIME AGAIN AND AGAIN IT MAYBE CONSTITUTIONAL AND WE WILL SPEND MONEY TO TEST THE LAW AND IT'S NOT NEW TO TEST THE LAW ANYWAY.

WITH THE THREAT OF LITIGATION ANYWAY.  THAT'S LIFE.

BUSINESS.

THAT'S THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA OR ARENA.  WE ENDED THE FISCAL YEAR WITH ABOUT $131 MILLION WHICH IS NOT A LOT OF MONEY NOR IS $5 MILLION -- MORE THAN I MADE LAST WEEK BUT MEASURED AGAINST A $5 BILLION GENERAL REVENUE BUDGET IT'S NOT A LOT OF MONEY AND YET THE TRADITIONAL FEAST OVER GENERAL IMPROVEMENT FUNDS WE DIDN'T SEE THIS TIME AROUND.  THERE WAS I THINK LESS 20% -- ABOUT 20% COMMITTED AND THE REST OF IT STUFFED AWAY IN THE COOKIE JAR FOR NOW.

I THINK SO.  THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF THE CONSERVATIVE BUDGETING OF GOVERNOR BEEBE BUT ALSO I THINK THE LEGISLATURE HAS BEEN WANTING TO REDUCE SPENDING AND THEY'RE CONCERNED ABOUT HAVING A RAINY DAY FUND SO REALLY THE POLITICS OF IT WHAT WAS CAUSED SO LITTLE OF THE GENERAL IMPROVEMENT KNOW FUND MONEY TO BE USED BY THE LAWMAKERS.

AND WE HAVE CUTS PHRASED IN THAT WERE ENACTED FROM THE PREVIOUS SESSION AND GRADUATED IN.  WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME TURN OVER IN BOTH CHAMBERS, BOTH OF THE HOUSE THEN THE SENATE AND ALWAYS A NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM IN THE HOUSE.  WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT IT ROB AT THIS POINT? THERE IS A NEW SPEAKER --

YEAH, NEXT WEDNESDAY THEY WILL CHOOSE A NEW SPEAKER AND THERE ARE THREE REPUBLICANS WHOSE NAMES ARE BOUNCED AROUND. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY GILLHAM, MATTHEW SHEPHERD AND KIM HAMMER AND THEN DEMOCRAT FRED LOVE IS ALSO A CANDIDATE, BUT WHAT IS INTERESTING IS THAT TWO YEARS AGO DARREN WILLIAMS, THE DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE --

MAYBE WE SHOULD SAY WE MAY CHOOSE A NEW SPEAKER.

RIGHT.  THE CURRENT SPEAKER CAME IN AT THE LAST MINUTE, DAVY CARTER AND LOBBIED AND ACTUALLY WON THAT POSITION, BUT THE INTERESTING THING IS TWO YEARS AGO SEVERAL OF THE CANDIDATES WERE SUPPORTED BY THE TEA PARTY. THIS TIME AROUND THE THREE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE TRYING TO BECOME HOUSE SPEAKER SEEM A LITTLE MORE ON THE MODERATE THAN TEA PARTY SIDE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

I'M SORRY.  JEREMY GILLHAM THE FARMER AND MATTHEW SHEPHERD, THE ATTORNEY I THINK BOTH VOTED FOR THE PRIVATE OPTION AND HAD CHAIRMANSHIPS DELEGATED BY THE CURRENT SPEAKER DAVY CARTER SO ALREADY YOU SEE IN THOSE TWO CANDIDATES KIND OF A MORE MODERATE CONSERVATIVE VOICE IN THAT VAIN.

TIM HAMMER AND ON THE FINAL VOTE CHANGED HIS MIND AND VOTED FOR IT BUT VOTED AGAINST IT THE FIRST FOUR TIMES.

ONE THING TO LOOK FOR IS THE DEMOCRATIC STRATEGY GOING INTO THIS AND THEY HAVE 49 OF THE SEATS IF YOU COUNT THE GREEN PARTY REPRESENTATIVE AS WELL AND MY UNDERSTANDING THEY WILL HAVE A INITIAL ROUND AND VOTE FOR THE FOUR CANDIDATES AND IF NO ONE GETS A MAJORITY AND WIDDLE DOWN TO TWO AND IT'S INTERESTING IF THE DEMOCRATS THROW THEIR WEIGHT BEHIND THE MODERATE ONE OR MAYBE BEHIND FRED LOVE.

AND OF COURSE WE HAVE AN ELECTION COMING UP AND COULD ALTER THE CHEMISTRY OF THE VOTE ITSELF LIKE TWO YEARS AGO IF CONTROL OF THE HOUSE SHIFT SO WE HAVE 51 AND 49 AND I AM TRYING THE GREEN IN THERE BECAUSE HE CAUCUSES WITH THE DEMOCRATS.

AND HE FILED THEM.

AND THAT COULD BRING UP THE CHANGE THAT WE SAW TWO YEARS AGO AT THE LAST SECOND BUT THEY'RE ALL FRIENDS OR BEHAVE AS FRIENDS ANYWAY.

I DON'T SEE THE MAKEUP CHANGING -- EXCUSE ME.  I KNOW THE REPUBLICANS WILL RETAKE THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE.  THERE MAYBE MORE REPUBLICAN CONTROL IN THE SENATE SIDE.  I THINK IT WILL BE REAL CLOSE ON THE HOUSE SIDE.

ALL IN ALL DAVY CARTER SPEAKERSHIP AND THE DEMOCRATS THAT SUPPORTED HIM TO GET THERE SEEMED TO WORK OUT PRETTY WELL WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED FOR THE DEMOCRATS AND HE SEEMED TO -- IT TOOK FIVE VOTES TO GET THE PRIVATE OPTION BUT THEY GOT IT, SO HE SEEMED TO HAVE BEEN THE RIGHT PERSON AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR THAT AND YOU COULD SIT AROUND ALL DAY AND THINK ABOUT WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ANOTHER CANDIDATE WON THE SPEAKER SHIP, MR. RICE, BUT I THINK FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE TWO SESSIONS IT WAS A PRETTY GOOD WIN FOR DEMOCRATS THAT DAVY CARTER WAS IN THAT POSITION.

WELL, MOVING ON.  WE HAVE PRIMARIES COMING UP AND THEN A NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION AND IN EVERY SURVEY THAT I HAVE SEEN PUBLIC -- LET'S CALL IT DISSATISFACTION RATHER THAN SATISFACTION BECAUSE THERE BEING MORE OF THE FORMER THAN THE LATTER, REMAINS AT ALMOST RECORD HIGH.  CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL IS DOWN IN SINGLE DIGITS AND OCCASIONALLY MONTH TO MONTH POP UP TO THE 10- 11% RANGE AND THERE IS DISSATISFACTION OUT THERE AND ONE HAS A DIFFICULT TIME IT HAS BEEN A MEALIATED AT ALL BY RECENT EVENTS IN ARKANSAS.  WE HAVE A NUMBER OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS THIS PAST WEEK -- ROB YOU WERE THERE IN THE COURTROOM WITH THE FORMER STATE TREASURER WAS CONVICTED.

YEAH FEDERAL JURY FOUND MARTA SHOFFNER GUILTY OF BRIBERY AND EXTORTION.  SHE WAS EXCUSED OF ACCEPTING $6,000 EVERY SIX MONTHS FOR ABOUT THREE YEARS FROM A BROKER WHO IS DOING BUSINESS WITH THE STATE, AND IN RETURN THE ALLEGATIONS WERE THAT SHE WAS PROVIDING MORE BUSINESS TO HIM.  THE JURY DIDN'T STAY OUT THAT LONG.  THEY WERE OUT THREE TO FOUR HOURS AND DESPITE THE VOLUME OF CHARTS AND EMAIL AND EVERYTHING THAT THEY HAD TO LOOK AT.  THE INTERESTING THING IS THAT MARTA SHOFFNER STILL FACES 10 COUNTS OF MAIL FRAUD FOR ALLEGATIONS THAT SHE MISUSED THE CAMPAIGN FUNDS.  ORIGINALLY SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE ONE TRIAL FOR ALL OF THOSE BUT HER ATTORNEY WAS ABLE TO GET THE SECOND CHARGES POSTPONED.  IT'S SUPPOSED TO START AT THE END OF THE MONTH ON THE 31ST BUT THERE IS TALK IT MIGHT BE DELAYED A LITTLE BIT.

I WOULD PUT MONEY ON THAT ANYWAY JUST FOR TIME TO PREPARE AND A ROUTINE CONTINGENCY SEEMS LIKE BUT IN THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS WE'VE HAD FORMER RANKING EXECUTIVE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS CONVICTED.

YEAH.  THAT IS JACK GILLIAN THE FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF HERE AT UCA AND CONVICTED ON SEVERAL ACCOUNTS AND GAVE KEYS TO A STUDENT TO STEAL TESTS AND ABUSE OF PUBLIC TRUST THERE TAKING PLACE.  THAT HAPPENED WEDNESDAY AND SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON AND 10 YEARS PROBATION AND FINES FOR THAT INSTANCE AND YEAH ANOTHER INSTANCE OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS BEHAVING BADLY.

WELL, THIS IS ON THE HEELS OF THE RESIGNATION OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR THIS YEAR AND ADD TO THAT THE REPORTS OF CONTINUING FEDERAL SCRUTINY OVER THE FORMER SENATOR FROM JONESBORO, MR. BOOKOUT WHO RESIGNED LAST YEAR.

LAST YEAR.

YEAH, LAST YEAR AND WE HAVE ANOTHER -- WELL, WE HAVE MENTIONED FOUR HERE AND THAT'S PLENTY WHICH SEEMS TO UNDERSCORE OR TO POWER ANYWAY A PRETTY BROAD PUBLIC DISCONTENT.

WE HAVE A DEVELOPING SITUATION WITH A JUDGE, MIKE MAG IO.

YEAH.

AND FROM THE REPORTING THAT WE HAVE SEEN FROM AN INDEPENDENT BLOGGER, BLUE HOG REPORT AND FOLLOW UP REPORTS AND THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE AND OTHER SOURCES SHOWING THAT SOME CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS INTELLIGENT INTERESTINGLY TIMED TO HIM AND THE CAMPAIGN FOR ANOTHER JUDGESHIP AND THE ALLEGATION IS THAT THE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE NURSING HOME GROUP MIGHT HAVE INFLUENCED THE DECISIONS IN CASES WITH NURSING HOMES AND THOSE AND ONE CASE HE REDUCED THE PENALTY OR FINE FOR NEGLECT IN A CASE.

ABOUT 80%.

YEAH AND THIS HAPPENED AROUND THE TIME HE GOT CONTRIBUTIONS INDIRECTLY FROM A NURSING HOME GROUP, A GROUP OF -- AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS BEEN GIVING ALL KINDS OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TO OTHER JUDGES WHO ARE RUNNING FOR JUDGESHIPS AS WELL, SO THE APPEARANCE THERE YET TO BE PROVEN BUT THE APPEARANCES YOU HAVE A JUDGE IN SOME WAYS ON THE TAKE WITH THE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, WHERE HE RECEIVES THE CONTRIBUTIONS.

AND UNDER SCORE APPEARANCE.

YEAH.  IT'S EARLY IN THIS AND THE FACTS NEED TO BE DRAWN OUT BUT THAT APPEARS WHERE IT'S GOING.  WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

HE ANNOUNCED FOR THE STATE COURT OF APPEALS AND THEN REPORTED HE HAD WRITTEN SOME BLOG POSTS CRITICAL OF AN ACTRESS' ADOPTION AND OTHER THINGS.

HE TALKED ABOUT CONFIDENTIAL THINGS, THINGS THAT A JUDGE SHOULDN'T TALK ABOUT, CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION ABOUT A CASE POSTED ANONYMOUSLY ON A MESSAGE BOARD AND BLUE HOG REPORT TRACED IT BACK TO HIM AND THAT'S HOW THIS GETS STARTED.

YEAH I SPOKE TO MATT AT BLUE HOG REPORT AND HE GETS THE STORY AND HAS A FRIEND THAT IS A LSU FAN PAGE AND POSTED UNDER GO JUDGE AND IN ADDITION TO THE SERIOUS ACCUSATIONS ABOUT THE RULE AND CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND MADE HOMOPHOBIC AND SEXIST COMMENTS AND CAME TO THE ABILITY OF JUDGING MULTIPLE PARTS OF SOCIETY.

HE HAS SINCE DROPPED OUT OF THE RACE.

HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE COMMENTS.

THAT'S RIGHT.

IS THERE THE POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER SANCTIONS OTHER THAN HIS WITHDRAWING?

HE IS BEING REVIEWED BY A JUDICIAL REVIEW COMMISSION BUT WE HAVEN'T HEARD FROM THEM BUT THEY'RE LOOKING INTO IT.

IT ALL PLAYS INTO THE PERCEPTION OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND IT'S NOT GOOD AND OF COURSE I THINK REPUBLICANS AT ONE POINT WERE THINKING THEY COULD USE A LOT OF THIS STUFF PARTICULARLY WITH MARTA SHOFFNER AND BOOKOUT AND UNTIL MARK PRYOR AND ALL OF THE TROUBLE AND IT'S BAD ENOUGH TO HAVE THE SHOFFNER TRIAL TAKING PART IN THE ELECTION YEAR AND PART TWO WILL TAKE PLACE IN AN ELECTION YEAR BUT YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE REPUBLICANS ABLE TO TAKE AS MUCH ADVANTAGE OF IT AS PERHAPS THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD ONE OF THEIR OWN HASN'T GOTTEN IN TROUBLE AS WELL.

I THINK IF YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENED WITH MARTHA SHOFFNER AND THE CAMPAIGN FUNDS IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME OR IF I WAS FORMER SENATOR PAUL BOOKOUT OR FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR I WOULD BE CONCERNED BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS LOOKING THROUGH THE FINANCING OF MS. SHOFFNER AND BOTH DARR AND BOOKOUT RESIGNED BECAUSE OF CONCERNS OR ISSUES WITH THEIR CAMPAIGN SPENDING SO I BET YOU THE US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IS LOOKING AT THEM TOO.

THAT WAS ONE OF HER ARGUMENTS -- CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, AND THOUGHT IT WAS A STATE MATTER FOR AN ETHICS REVIEW AND NO JAIL TIME.  THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING SIMILAR TO WHAT DARR RECEIVED.

AND THE RESIDING JUDGE IN MS. SHOFFNER'S CASE DID ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE WOULD GIVE SOME CONSIDERATION AT ALL OR SOME CONSIDERATION ANYWAY TO THE DEFENSE ARGUMENT THAT PERHAPS SHE WAS MISCHARGED OR BASICALLY THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REALLY LACKED JURISDICTION IN THIS CASE.

RIGHT, YEAH.

WE HAVEN'T HEARD --

BUT THE SECOND TRIAL COMING UP -- THAT'S A HARDER ARGUMENT TO MAKE SINCE IT REQUIRES WIRING MONEY ACROSS STATE LINES.

OKAY.  ABSENTEE BALLOTS A LITTLE CONTROVERSY THERE OR ACTION ON A SIMILAR CONTROVERSY.

WE HAD THIS AND PULASTY TECH AND THE COMMISSION HAS SUED THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF COMMISSION ESSENTIALLY IN PERSON VOTERS GET ABOUT ONE WEEK TO PROVE THEIR -- COME BACK TO THE COURTHOUSE WITH THE ID IF THEY CAST A PROVISIONAL BALLOT FOR IT AND NOT A SIMILAR ONE FOR ABSENTEE VOTERS AND YOU DON'T GET A SECOND CHANCE TO BRING IT BY LATER AND THE COMMISSION THOUGHT IT WAS A PROBLEM SO THEY AMENDED THE RULES AND GRANTED ONE GRANTING ABSENTEE VOTERS ANOTHER WEEK TO THEIR PRESENT ID AND THE PULASKI COUNTY COMMISSION AND THE CLERK SAID IT WAS AN ILLEGAL MOVE ON THEIR PART.  THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED TO CREATE THIS RULE OUT OF THIN AIR AND IT'S UP TO THE LEGISLATURE AND THEY HAVE MET SEVERAL TIMES AND OPTED NOT TO AMEND THE LEGISLATION.

WHERE DO WE GO?

WELL, ONE OF THE ELECTION COMMISSIONERS CHRIS BURKES ASKED FOR A EXPEDITED REVIEW OF JUDGE FOX TO REVIEW THE ISSUE AND MIGHT BE IN COURT IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS IS THEIR CLAIM AND WE WILL SEE WHETHER OR NOT THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF ELECTIONS CAN KEEP THE RULE GRANTING MORE TIME TO PRESENT THE ID OR LIKE THE ELECTION COMMISSION SAYS THAT'S IT.  YOU DON'T GET TO CAST A VOTE AGAIN AND THAT IS PART OF THE LAW.

ONTO THE ECONOMY.  NORTHEAST ARKANSAS GOT SOME WELCOME NEWS AND NOT ALL TOGETHER UNEXPECTED.

YEAH, ARKANSAS BUSINESS HAS BEEN REPORTING ON THIS SINCE NOVEMBER AND TEAKO FOODS OUT OF ALABAMA WAS LOOKING AT PUTTING A PLANT IN CLAY COUNTIES AND WE LEARNED MORE DETAILS BEFORE THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT THAT IS INDEED WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO AND THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT TOOK PLACE ON MONDAY SO YEAH IT'S A THOUSAND JOBBINGS GIVE OR TAKE AND A COUPLE OF THE COUNTESS AND LOOKING AT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE DOUBLE DIGITS AND APPRECIATE THE JOBS AND A LOT OF ANCILLARY STUFF AROUND IT.

BY INTEGRATED WE MEAN WHAT?

WELL, WE MEAN --

[INAUDIBLE]

YEAH.  WE WILL CHICKEN FARMERS IN THE AREA.  THAT IS ONE OF THE COOL THINGS THEY HAVE TO CONTRACT WITH AS MANY AS 90 FARMERS FOR CHICKEN HOUSES AND DEPENDING WHERE YOU LIVE MAY OR MAY NOT BE A GOOD THING.

DOWNWIND.

EXACTLY.  A GOOD JOB IS A GOOD JOB.  RAISING THE CHICKEN, PROCESSING THE MEAT, SHIPPING IT OUT AND HAVE GRAIN COMING AND GOING.  THEY WILL HAVE A MILL OPERATION IN BOTH AREAS SO THEY WILL BEGIN WORK ON THAT IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS AND HOPEFULLY BY NEXT YEAR SEE SOME PRODUCTION HAPPENING.  THEY'RE THE EIGHTH MEAT PROCESSER IN THE COUNTRY AND LIKE THAT PART OF THE WORLD AND THE WORK FORCE THERE SO THAT'S A GOOD ANNOUNCEMENT WE WERE HAPPY TO SEE.

WAGE RANGE?

LET'S SEE.  BETWEEN 10- $13 AN HOUR DEPENDING ON WHICH PART OF THE OPERATION YOU WORK AND I CAN'T REMEMBER HOW IT'S BROKEN DOWN AND IT'S ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE JOBS AND YOU LOOK FOR RIPPLE EFFECTS.  THESE OPERATIONS REQUIRE A LOT OF OTHER -- OR ATTRACT A LOT OF OTHER COMPANIES THAT CAN SUPPORT THOSE INDUSTRIES SO THEY'RE REALLY HOPING THIS IS SOMETHING THAT GROWS AND ATTRACTS AND BUILDS ON ITSELF IN THAT REGION.

YEAH.  ONE THING WE NEED TO GET IN BEFORE WE SIGN OFF IS AN AGENDA ITEM FOR NEXT YEAR AND THAT'S TEACHER COMPENSATION AND NOT JUST PAY BUT INSURANCE TOO AND ON THE AGENDA, PLAINLY ON THE AGENDA NEXT YEAR.

RIGHT AND I BELIEVE THE LEGISLATURE -- NO ACTION AVAILABLE FOR THAT OR THEY COULDN'T DO ACTION IN THE FISCAL SESSION BUT THEY'RE TAKING THE EARLY STEPS STUDYING WHERE ARKANSAS IS IN TERMS OF TEACHER COMPENSATION, LOOKING AT NEIGHBORING STATES AND HOW WE STACK UP AND SOME ACTION WILL COME IN THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

A CONCERN IS NOT THE NEIGHBORING STATES BUT THE DISPARITY.  THIS WAS A COMPONENT AND TEACHER PAY BETWEEN SPRINGDALE AND UDORA, PRETTY GLARING.

IT IS AND THAT IS ONE THING THEY HAVE TO REALLY LOOK INTO. GETTING BACK TO THE TEACHER INSURANCE OF COURSE THEY HAD A SPECIAL SESSION IN THE FALL AND DID A SHORT TERM FIX, BUT WITHIN THE LAST MONTH LAWMAKERS HAVE LEARNED THAT THE SHORT TERM FIX ISN'T GOING TO LAST LONG AND IF THINGS AREN'T CHANGED COME NEXT YEAR THE INSURANCE WILL RISE SUBSTANTIALLY, 40%, SO I THINK THE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING OUT HOW TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE BECAUSE A LOT OF THEM DON'T WANT TO PUT ANYMORE GENERAL REVENUE INTO THAT.  THEY'RE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET IT.

WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE BECAUSE WE'RE OUT OF TIME. GENTLEMEN THANKS FOR COMING IN. TO YOU THANKS FOR WATCHING AND SEE YOU NEXT WEEK. "ARKANSAS WEEK" IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY THE "ARKANSAS TIMES" KEEPING YOU INFORMED BY COVERING PEOPLE, EVENTS, AND POLITICS IN ARKANSAS. BY FM 89 KUAR LITTLE ROCK WITH IN DEPTH NEWS REPORTING, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION EACH WEEKDAY.

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