The Senate passed a new version of the Medicaid expansion program, which is one of the most important bills of this year’s session because of the number of people it benefits and the amount of money that it generates in Arkansas.

More than 320 bills have been signed into law during the 2021 Regular Session. There are several hundred bills still making their way through the legislative process.

The average college debt among student loan borrowers in America is $32,731, according to the Federal Reserve. The majority of borrowers have between $25,000 and $50,000 outstanding in student loan debt. There is an increasing number of student loan borrowers who owe in excess of $100,000. S…

As the events of the past few months have unfolded, I have often found myself wondering what our Founders would have made of it all. Impossible to know, of course, but they had plenty of insight to offer.

Something unusual happened on the front porch of the Crossett Public Library a few Saturdays ago. That’s what seven year old Carter Thornton called it, anyway — “unusual.”  That is where fellow proud Crossett native Rosie Adcock Henry and I met up with Carter to thank him for taking the time…

February is Black History Month—a time to reflect on the influence of African Americans in our history and celebrate their achievements and contributions to the fabric of our nation. We honor the sacrifices of such brave men and women who persevered through countless challenges and we celebr…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for how schools can reopen safely, making President Biden’s stated goal of reopening all K-12 schools to five days a week by the end of April a reality. The science has been clear that schools are of low risk to …

There was an interesting moment in Washington at the end of January, on Antony Blinken’s first full day as secretary of state. Meeting with the press corps that covers the State Department, he called an independent press “a cornerstone of our democracy,” and told the assembled reporters, “Yo…

As we cross the one-year mark in fighting the global Coronavirus pandemic, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the great work of Operation Warp Speed, we have multiple safe and effective vaccines available to the public. I encourage everyone to take the vaccine once it bec…

President Joe Biden’s agenda to combat climate change gained momentum with his signing of several executive actions in just his second week in office. Those came on the heels of other significant environmental moves he made the first week – signing an order for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris c…

In the past six years, much has changed in the way we treat young people in state custody, and today I’d like to talk about the ways we have reformed juvenile justice.

Like many Arkansans, I believe every life is precious and that each person is made in the image of God with a unique purpose and undeniable worth. Whether we notice them or not, every human being possesses fundamental, unalienable rights that we must not deny.

With the handoff of power from one president to another, we enter this new phase of our national life in deep distress. We are divided and polarized, struggling to communicate reasonably with one another, and seemingly unable to find common ground on basic issues. Yet the path forward is nei…

Deeply rooted in the human condition is a need to belong. It is why gangs are as pervasive as they are. It is why sororities and fraternities exist. It is why drug communities pop up. Churches thrive. Cliques form.  Movements move. It is so deeply rooted that you might find yourself swallowe…

As of Jan. 20 at noon, the executive branch of the United States government is now headed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. As with any new administration, we congratulate and pray for them as they embark on this journey of leadership during a very difficult time for o…

Americans can expect more immigrants to enter our country in the months and years ahead. Most Americans aren’t opposed to more citizens. Many of us are not favorable to undocumented foreigners roaming about our country. 

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A dream came true last week for this hometown girl. I got to step into the little, one-roomed schoolhouse perched on the alley of Pine Street at Ninth Avenue, known to all of us Crossett natives as Mrs. Castleberry’s. Closed up since about 1996, it had held tightly the energies of kids gone …

When did life begin for President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden? Did Trump’s life begin when his father loaned him millions to start investing? Did it begin when he married Melania? Or, did life begin when he was elected President? Maybe his life is beginning now that his Presidency is over?

If the months since the November elections have shown us anything, it’s that the US is more deeply divided than we’ve experienced in a very long time. This has been building at least since the 1990s, starting in Congress and ultimately coming to be reflected in a polarized electorate, but it…

Joe Biden won’t become President of the United States for a few weeks yet, but it’s fair to say he’s already feeling the pressures of the office. I think being president-elect may be the second hardest job in the world.

As we stand together looking down the path of a new year, Crossett, the possibilities are endless. What does 2021 hold for our community? It’s a question some of us surely pondered 365 days ago as we chartered the new territory of 2020. And now, knowing what we know, perhaps  your pondering …

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This year brought incredible challenges. COVID-19 protocols required many of us to change the way we live and work and that meant finding a way for my staff and I to continue deliver critical help and provide answers to questions about federal agencies. Constituent service is always my top p…

As we close out 2020, I am also closing out my responsibilities as District 9 state representative, including these weekly articles. I hope my successor will find keeping you informed and traveling around Drew and Ashley counties as delightful as I have for the past four years.  

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I happen to have one of those jobs you can take home and still experience rest, relaxation and quality time with family.  That’s a good thing, too,  because I also happen to have one of those personalities that can’t leave work at work. 

We are smack dab in the middle of a season rife with traditions. Traditions comfort us with familiarity. They honor families with sanctity. They mark moments with a sense of importance. Traditions partner up with the concept of  time to give us a sense of life at a slower pace. They have a h…

Sherian Kwanisai stepped into Arkansas history this week as the first person in the state to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and today I’d like to talk about the significance of this in our nine-month battle against the coronavirus.

If you pay attention to global affairs, you know that increasing numbers of people believe US leadership in the world is coming to an end and the West more broadly is being eclipsed. I think these predictions are exaggerated, but they are not without some basis. Our challenges have grown. It…

Crossett is not a vacation spot. It is not a destination town full of white sands or lofty mountains or bustling tourist strips, neon lights, giant rollercoasters or headlining music acts. Crossett is not those things. Crossett is, however, a place people come home to. 

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On Thursday, the Advisory Committee of the Federal Drug Administration said “yes” to the emergency use authorization of the first Coronavirus vaccine in the United States, and today I’d like to talk about what that means for Arkansas.

This is the season of giving, and many of us have an opportunity to personally give back to those recovering from COVID-19. Blood donations have plummeted during the pandemic, and the Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) is in desperate need of donations, especially convalescent plasma to save the…

When the history of this era is written, special attention should be reserved for the prominent US politicians who dismissed or misrepresented the COVID-19 pandemic for political purposes.

Today I’d like to talk about the Natural State’s spirit of giving, which I’ve witnessed consistently through the years. When a friend or neighbor is in need, Arkansans show up in a hurry with pickaxes and open wallets.

I hope you enjoyed a safe Thanksgiving.  Spiking virus numbers across the state and concerns for the safety of loved ones made this Thanksgiving one that likely looked much different.  I hope you found ways to touch the lives of friends and family and to be thankful for the blessings in your life. 

The Bill of Rights was key to getting all of the original states to sign and ratify the U.S. Constitution. Our Founders had fought for freedom against the strongest military of that day, and they were still in a fighting mood if the new government threatened to act like the one they had just…

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At the Stagg house, westerns rule the television. It is just one of those things I had to accept when I took the Stagg name. At first, I hated it — I couldn’t even stand listening to the silly sounds of an actor talking out of a crooked mouth saying things like “Well, Pilgrim,” and “Sure as …

Every year right after an election, I’d find a small pile of requests waiting for me from journalists. They wanted some sort of comment on what it all meant. “What are the voters telling us?” they’d ask. 

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Get on board the Crossett Christmas express! Our town has so many holiday activities planned, you need to make a list and check it twice to make sure you don’t miss out on any memory-making moments!

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It has been said that a noble life has been led if one leaves the world even a tiny bit better than they found it. Your Parks and  Recreation Department hopes to apply that to our community. We aim to enhance our small town not just by providing events and programs meant to return annually, …