The Thursday night line is open. Final words:
* STOP THE VIOLENCE: The city of Little Rock announced that Mayor Mark Stodola and City Director Kenneth Richardson were in New Orleans for a program aimed at developing strategies to reduce violent deaths among young black men. Inaugural Cities United was formed to do something about violent deaths. Homicide is the leading cause of death for black males aged 15-24. Topics of the conference included engaging young men; juvenile justice; restorative justice; education; philanthropy and strategy.
* FILINGS CONTINUE WITH LT. GOV. AND ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATES: Democrat John Burkhalter joined the race for lieutenant governor today. He emphasized his roots as a successful businessman. Three Republicans are in, Rep. Andy Mayberry, Rep. Debra Hobbs and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin. Also today, Rep. Nate Steel filed as a Democratic candidate for attorney general. Republican Leslie Rutledge filed today. David Sterling also is running as a Republican. Check the list of filings here.
* UCA GETS A NEW PR LEADER FROM KATV: The University of Central Arkansas announced today that Christina Madsen, a TV anchor known on-air at KATV as Christina Munoz, had been hired as associate vice president for communications, public relations and marketing. A South Dakota native, she’s been in Arkansas 10 years. UCA President Tom Courtway said Madsen was “widely recognized as one of the best communicators of our time.” She’ll be paid $125,000.
* A LEGISLATIVE PREDICTION: A Democratic legislator predicts a Tuesday climactic vote on Medicaid expansion, with enough Republican votes falling in place to get the job done. There will be a figleaf amendment of no practical meaning. In terms of the money that Republicans always like to talk about, the deal described by David Ramsey will mostly cost a little additional administrative money without saving anything in health insurance expenditures. But it will be cover. And that it will make enrollment more cumbersome for poor working people. Republicans always like that. Republicans know that the Democrats are good for only one more vote, then they get tired of voting quietly for a Republican-designed bill with Republican-amendments for a program that, in the end, is being used against them in elections. No passage by Tuesday, no state budget. That means a summer special session and blame on Arkansas Republicans the same as that put on congressional Republicans when they put pet policy peeves ahead of the good of the people and shut the government down. The rational ones see the writing on the wall. Republicans this weekend will decide which additional two members will fall in line. The candidates are not the usual suspects — S. Meeks, Hammer, Gossage and Cozart, oddly enough, are mentioned. It could happen Monday, but my source thinks Tuesday is more likely.