Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson Is Working To Let Schools Mask Up Kids Again

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Thursday that he will be calling for a special session of the state legislature in order to amend state law to give school boards the ability to implement mask mandates on schoolchildren and faculty. The moment came during a press conference in which the Republican governor reinstated Arkansas’ public health emergency, attributing it to rising COVID-19 cases in the state.

Hutchinson reportedly plans to call for a special session “most likely next week” to “give local school boards, local decisionmakers the authority to make a decision for the public health of those who are 12 and under, or their entire school environment,” by amending Act 1002.

Under Act 1002, state agencies, including schools, are prohibited from mandating that individuals wear face coverings. “The use of a face mask, face shield, or other face covering shall not be a condition for entry, education, or services,” the legislation reads. Private entities and state health care facilities are exempt under the law, however.

During his remarks, Hutchinson claimed he has no plans to issue any statewide mask mandate or constraints on businesses, arguing that “there’s not going to be those kind of restrictions” in Arkansas.

“This is not about a debate about mask mandates for those that can make their own decisions and have the means to get vaccinated,” he said. “This is a discussion about the school environment where schools can make decisions to add to the public health for their own school environment for the children they have the responsibility to protect.”

Despite Hutchinson’s rhetoric, scientific data has long indicated that children are at exceptionally low risk for COVID-19. Moreover, medical studies have consistently shown that children are not primary vectors of the spread of the respiratory virus.

“In this study we estimate susceptibility and infectivity of children compared to those of adults using households data,” a comprehensive Israeli study read. “Using a mathematical model to fit the data, we estimate that children are about half as susceptible to infection as adults, and are somewhat less prone to infect others compared to adults.”

Shawn Fleetwood is an intern at The Federalist and a student at the University of Mary Washington, where he plans to major in Political Science and minor in Journalism. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson takes over governors group as virus resurges

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican whose state is struggling with a resurgence in coronavirus cases and lagging vaccinations, called combatting vaccine resistance a priority as he took over as head of the National Governors Association.

Hutchinson was elected Thursday as the association‘s chairman, moving into the role as the Delta variant of the virus causes a resurgence in red states like Arkansas. Hutchinson’s state has been at or near the top of the country in new cases per capita, and Arkansas this week saw its biggest one-day jump in hospitalizations since the vaccine became available.

“We have much work to do to overcome vaccine hesitancy, but we can do it together,” he said at the group’s summer meeting, which was held virtually for the second year in a row because of the pandemic.

Hutchinson is taking the reins from New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is leaving the chairmanship at a time he’s facing multiple probes. They include allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, whether he unethically used state resources for a $5 million deal for his COVID-19 memoir, and his administration’s manipulation of data about COVID-19 outbreaks among nursing home residents.

Cuomo said the pandemic highlighted the importance of governors, as the federal government left it largely up to states to set up massive testing regimes and purchase scores of masks, ventilators and others supplies. He commended Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, a former NGA chairman, for speaking “truth to his own party even when it was hard.” Hogan had said former President Donald Trump left his state vulnerable amid the pandemic.

“Governors have a new credibility, governors have a new status,” Cuomo said. “Let us use it well, and let us use it to do well.”

The NGA chairmanship is the latest national spotlight for Hutchinson, who has gained attention for distancing himself from former President Donald Trump and his state’s embrace of Trumpism. Hutchinson has appeared frequently on cable news and Sunday shows, also talking about the state’s increasingly ominous COVID-19 situation.

Hutchinson warned that Arkansas’ experience could be a grim preview of what awaits other states.

“What I see that we’re experiencing in Arkansas right now with the surge of the Delta variant is going to be a likely experience in the coming months in other states as well,” Hutchinson told The Associated Press in an interview.

Hutchinson this week kicked a series of town hall-style “conversations” he‘ll hold around the state aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated. The first one was scheduled in Lonoke County, a rural county outside Little Rock where a little over a third of the population is fully vaccinated.

As in other red states, Arkansas’ ability to impose new restrictions because of the latest surge has been curbed by lawmakers angry about restrictions imposed last year. The measures approved by the majority-Republican Legislature include a ban on mask mandates or vaccine requirements by government entities, including schools.

The forums follow other efforts to encourage vaccinations that have had limited success. That included an incentive – offering lottery tickets or gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses for those who get the shots – that so far has had few takers.

“There’s not much more I can do from a weekly news conference or a daily news conference from the state Capitol,” he said. “I want to get out in the community because it’s each community and local leadership that can greatly expand on what we’re trying to do at the state and national level.”

One way to build confidence at the national level, Hutchinson said, would be for the Food and Drug Administration to grant final approval for the vaccines. That would eliminate the justification used by some who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, he said.

Hutchinson said the NGA‘s role in responding to the pandemic will primarily remain communicating with the White House and the federal government, and advocating on behalf of the states. But he said they can also share ideas on how to increase vaccination rates.

“What we’ve learned as governors is communicating between the red and blue states, communicating between the governors, helps us all get the best ideas to address it, to be more innovative,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said governors also need more flexibility from the Biden administration on how they can use funding from the latest round of coronavirus relief funds, and clarity on how they can be used.

The NGA will also likely play a major role in promoting the bipartisan pared-down infrastructure deal. But Hutchinson said there’s not agreement among the association‘s members for a second, more expansive package backed by Democrats.

Hutchinson said he‘ll also use his chairmanship to promote computer science education in public schools, an initiative he‘s advocated at the state level in Arkansas.

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Asa Hutchinson refuses to rule out 2024 GOP presidential bid

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Sunday refused to rule out a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Hutchinson, who is term-limited as Arkansas’ governor, was asked about his interest in a White House run during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I am concentrating on the present, which is getting through this pandemic, supporting Arkansas through my term,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “I want to be engaged for a national debate. It is important for the direction of our party and our country.”

“That is my immediate concentration,” he added. “We’ll see what the future holds.”

If he were to run, Mr. Hutchinson would be a long shot for the GOP nomination. In recent months he has sparred over transgender issues with  conservative activists, who are an influential cohort of the Republican base.

Mr. Hutchinson drew widespread rebuke in April for vetoing a ban on gender-reassignment drugs and procedures for minors. At the time, the governor said his decision was made from a desire to keep the government out of individuals’ private lives.

“I’m a person of faith, but at the same time, I’m a person [who believes in the] limited role of government. I sign pro-life bills, I signed many bills that would be looked at as very conservative, but this is one that crosses the line. There’s no need for it,” said Mr. Hutchinson.

Activists and high-profile conservative media personalities, most notably Fox News’ Tucker Carlson saw the move as a sellout. Mr. Carlson, in particular, suggested the governor’s veto came after pressure from corporate America, including the Arkansas-based retail giant Walmart.


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Asa Hutchinson, Republican governor of Arkansas: Donald Trump is ‘dividing our party’

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke out Tuesday against former President Donald Trump and urged fellow members of the GOP not to band together behind somebody he believes to be so divisive.

“Whenever we do not have the president in power from our party, you have divided leadership — you have many different voices,” Mr. Hutchinson said on CNN.

“And former President Trump is dividing our party, and so it’s important that we not unite with somebody who is dividing our party,” the outgoing two-term governor added.

Mr. Hutchinson, who is barred from running for reelection in 2022 because of term limits, also said he does not support the push to remove Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as Republican Conference Chair.

House Republicans are set to vote Wednesday on stripping Ms. Cheney of her standing as the party’s third-most powerful member of Congress following months of her facing backlash from within the GOP.

Ms. Cheney has repeatedly challenged Mr. Trump recently and his false assertions of voter fraud while the former president has continued to make baseless claims about his failed race for reelection. She was also the highest-ranking of the 10 House Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to impeach Mr. Trump for allegedly inciting his supporters to riot at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.

“I don’t believe Liz Cheney should be ousted for a vote of conscience,” said Ms. Hutchinson. “I believe that we need to concentrate on more things that bring us together than to separate us. And going down and seeing former President Trump, to me, causes more division than anything else.”

Mr. Hutchinson suggested Republicans concentrate on strengthening the GOP rather than become divided because of internal strife amid Democrats maintaining control of the White House and Congress.

“Let’s talk about those ideas, let’s talk about the future, let’s talk about the differences with the Biden administration. And that’s what builds our party. That’s what brings people together. And that has to be our focus,” said Mr. Hutchinson.

In a plea to fellow Republicans last week, Ms. Cheney said Mr. Trump is “seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work” by denying he legitimately lost.

“We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process, Ms. Cheney wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post published last Wednesday.

Mr. Trump has since called on Republicans to replace Ms. Cheney as conference chair with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.

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Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson Signs Bill to Block Planned Parenthood From Teaching Sex Ed

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson today signed legislation that would block the Planned Parenthood abortion business from teaching kids sex education in public schools.

The measure prohibits public schools from entering into any transaction with individuals or entities that perform, induce or provide abortions.

“If the entity does that, I think the state of Arkansas has no business in any form…contracting with them to do anything,” said Republican Sen. Bob Ballinger, a sponsor of the measure.

The Arkansas Family Council supports the bill and told that Planned Parenthood has a history of pushing is pro-abortion sex ed agenda on Arkansas children.

“This good bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R – Maumelle) prohibits public schools in Arkansas from engaging in transactions with abortion providers. It previously passed the Arkansas House of Representatives,” it said.

REACH PRO-LIFE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE! Advertise with LifeNews to reach hundreds of thousands of pro-life readers every week. Contact us today.

“In March, Family Council obtained nearly 1,400 pages of documents that revealed how Planned Parenthood has worked in public schools in Pulaski County for several years. H.B. 1592 will help make sure Planned Parenthood and other abortionists don’t access Arkansas’ public schools.”

Jerry Cox of the pro-life group told LifeNews that abortion-focused sex ed is responsible for driving up both the abortion and teen pregnancy rates.

“We know from experience that the kind of sex-education that Planned Parenthood promotes simply is not as effective as other programs. In the 1980s and 1990s liberals in Arkansas promoted Planned Parenthood-style sex-education in Arkansas’ public schools. From 1991 to 1997 Arkansas’ teen birthrate decreased by 11% and Arkansas teen abortion rate decreased by 18%,” he explained. “In 1997 the Arkansas Legislature and the Mike Huckabee Administration began promoting abstinence education in Arkansas. From 1997 to 2005, Arkansas’ teen birthrate decreased 17%, but Arkansas’ teen abortion rate plummeted a staggering 48%.”

Governor Huckabee’s abstinence education model was so successful in Arkansas that it drew national recognition, he added.

“In 2016 — while President Barack Obama was still in office — the federal Centers for Disease Control released a 208-page report concluding teenagers who practice abstinence are healthier in nearly every way than teenagers who are sexually active. The CDC’s report looked at everything from seatbelt and bike helmet use to substance abuse, diet, exercise, and even tanning bed use. Their conclusion was that sexually-active teens were less healthy and engaged in riskier behavior across the board,” he said.

Cox oncluded: “H.B. 1592 will help make sure that abortionists don’t have access to Arkansas’ public school students, and it will help encourage schools to seek out better sex-ed curricula than what Planned Parenthood has to offer.”

To thank Governor Hutchinson for signing the bill, go here.

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Signs Pro-Life Bill to Help Women Injured in Botched Abortions

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a pro-life bill to help women injured in botched abortions to obtain urgent medical care.

On Tuesday Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed pro-life measure S.B. 527 into law. It is now Act 740 of 2021 and the new law by Sen. Ben Gilmore (R – Crossett) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) requires abortion facilities to have transfer agreements with hospitals to handle complications from abortion.

Jerry Cox of the Arkansas Family Council told the new law is a good one that confirms abortion is not health care.

“Act 740 is similar to a Kentucky law that has been upheld in court,” he said. “Abortion carries a number of serious risks — including risk of laceration, hemorrhaging, and death. That’s why it is important for state law to protect women from dangerous abortion procedures.”

Cox added: “We have written repeatedly about ambulances sighted at the surgical abortion facility in Little Rock over the years. Act 740 is a good law that will help protect women from botched abortions and life-threatening complications from dangerous abortion procedures.”

Act 740 also requires abortionists to post and share literature regarding human trafficking at their facilities.

REACH PRO-LIFE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE! Advertise with LifeNews to reach hundreds of thousands of pro-life readers every week. Contact us today.

One prominent abortion company has been caught injuring dozens of women in botched abortions in Arkansas.

An ambulance was called to Little Rock Family Planning, a troubled abortion facility located in Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 29, 2019, for a woman suffering a medical emergency — one of over sixty that have been documented there.

But the recording of the actual call placed to 911, which was obtained by Operation Rescue, was so heavily redacted that the woman’s condition remains largely unknown.

However, the unredacted portions the recording left unintentional clues that fill in some of the blanks and indicate the emergency was serious in nature.

A caller from Little Rock Family Planning began the call by saying, “I need an emergency ambulance transport.”

The dispatcher then asked, “Okay, what’s the address of the emergency?”  The caller responded by reciting the address of the abortion business and confirms the name of the business as “Little Rock Family Planning.”

That interaction alone verified that an emergency was in progress, and that someone needed to be transported to the hospital quickly.

It is also confirmed by the 911 dispatcher’s questions that the person requiring emergency transport is female.

“Is she awake? . . . Is she breathing?” the dispatcher is heard asking.

The caller told the dispatcher that medical staff was with the patient, indicating that the woman was an apparent patient of Little Rock Family Planning.

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Asa Hutchinson Doubles Down On Genital Mutilation For Minors Under The Guise Of ‘Limited Government’

Last week, America watched as a Republican governor invoked the names of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley to qualify his position in favor of genital mutilation for minors. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas was pounded with questions by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, doubling down after vetoing a measure that was subsequently overridden by the state legislature. Hutchinson did much of the same in his discussion with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” this Sunday.

“Are we going to be a narrow party that expresses ourself [sic] in intolerant ways, or are we going to be a broad-based party that shows conservative principles but also compassion in dealing with issues that parents face, that individuals face?” Hutchinson said. “I’ve got to remind my wonderful Republican colleagues that we are the party of Ronald Reagan that believes in the role of limited government.”

Spencer Klavan synthesized the key part of the Hutchinson debacle in The Daily Wire. “We also want [our government] to be just, or else they are hardly governments at all. We want our leaders restrained and humble, not neutered and incapacitated,” Klavan wrote. “We want our federal powers chastened, not nonexistent.”

Why We Need Ordered Liberty

Perhaps the Arkansas governor would be more fit to join the Libertarian Party, where there is an enduring belief that government has no role in ensuring virtues persist – and that ultimate freedom yields prosperity. But to those who concurrently believe that both the government ought to not infringe upon our negative rights and that virtue is dependent upon a fully functioning civilization, we rely on ordered liberty.

We do not rely on copouts in favor of violating human rights in order to stay the path on aphorisms about limited government. The government must be limited, but it also must be functional and serve the purpose of facilitating a morally just society.

“The historic role that we’ve played which is a voice for smaller government, not bigger government, not government solutions, but free enterprise solutions,” Hutchinson said. “While I’m also a social conservative, I do believe we have to balance that with the important question [of] if this is a fight government needs to get in or is this a role of the church?”

What kind “free enterprise solutions” exactly would stop providers from being permitted to provide puberty blockers and cut apart a minor’s genitals? The Arkansas measure, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, takes direct action against the private sphere in performing such activity.

If Hutchinson felt strongly about this issue or if he cared for the youth of this nation who are struggling with gender dysphoria or those who may be influenced by external forces to receive controversial treatment, he would no doubt have supported the measure. He didn’t and it showed.

The reference to whether this is a “fight government” should be involved in, or if it should be up to “the church” is also odd. Clearly, this is a fight government should be involved in, in the same way the government involves itself in underage drinking or sex. The point is that lawmakers are not elected to just sit in their offices until the end of time and sing the praises of “limited government” so nothing can ever be accomplished on behalf of their constituents.

“It’s a conservative position to say that’s not the role of government,” Hutchinson told Tapper, referencing the bill veto. “It is compassionate to say we care for all our young people whether they’re trans-youth or otherwise. We care for them and that’s the message of compassion and conservatism that we need to have as a party.”

The governor claims his veto of the bill shows “compassion and conservatism,” but it is unclear what he even means by that. Allowing doctors to enact such anti-science procedures on minors is not conservatism. And is it compassionate to the interests of families, and to all the people in this country, to allow a mental illness to make way for minors to be abused in the private sector?

Parents Need Legal Backing

Perhaps this entire argument would be different if this bill pertained to adults who wish to receive treatments. There is a fair argument in favor of a government allowing a consenting adult who is 18 or older to choose what they do to their own body. But when we are talking about America’s youth, there is no leeway. Aside from children not being fully developed enough to make such a consequential decision, there have been cases where parents have disagreed over the proper developmental steps to take, pitting children against their guardians.

Take the case of nine-year-old James Younger, whose parents have two different visions of his sex. The father believes the boy is a boy, but the mother, Dr. Anne Georgulas, claims James wants to be a girl. In August 2020, a judge in Texas ruled in favor of the mother to grant the boy a “gender transition.” Meanwhile, James continues to express interest in masculine activities — such as playing flag football a few days ago. Regardless of the intricacies of this case study, the point is that two ideologically dissenting parents have two different visions for their child.

“Limited government” will not simply solve these disputes. Legislation is needed to prohibit doctors from administering treatments and becoming involved in anti-science disputes that inevitably abuse children before they have the time to make determined, prudent decisions.

If Hutchinson wants to be paraded around on CNN as a somehow more “legitimate” conservative, more power to him. There is always room for Republicans to be court jesters in the left’s political correctness kingdom. Kristi Noem knows this well. He should not expect to be welcomed back by real conservatives with open arms.

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Gov. Hutchinson continues defending decision to veto bill banning transgender services for minors

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Sunday continued defending his decision to veto legislation that will ban gender transition surgeries and services like cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for minors.

“It’s a conservative position to say, that’s not the role of government. It is compassionate to say, we care for all our young people whether they’re trans youth or otherwise, we care for them. And that’s the message of compassion and conservatism that we need to have as a party,” the governor said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

The Arkansas legislature overrode the GOP governor’s veto, but Hutchinson has contended that his move was politically conservative.

“In Arkansas, gender reassignment surgery is not performed on anyone under age 18. If House Bill 1570 simply prohibited gender reassignment surgeries, then I would sign the bill,” Hutchinson said on Monday. “But the bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment. In other words, the young people who are currently under a doctor’s care will be without treatment when this law goes into effect. That means they’ll be looking to the black market or go out of state if they can afford it to find the treatment that they want and need. This is not the right path to put them on,” the governor said.

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Asa Hutchinson Vetoes Transgender Bill

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., December 21, 2012. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters )

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would ban doctors from performing gender transition surgery or offering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to minors.

The bill “would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients, and health care experts,” Hutchinson told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.”

Hutchinson  added, “Government under a conservative philosophy should be restrained…This is an example of where restraint is better than over-broad actions that interfere with important relationships in our society.”

Hutchinson acknowledged that the Arkansas General Assembly, the state’s legislature, could override his veto by a simple majority vote. Under the bill, medical professionals who offer gender transition services would be in danger of losing their medical license.

If the General Assembly overrides Hutchinson’s veto, Arkansas would be the first state to ban gender transition services to residents under age 18. Other states are considering similar legislation, including Tennessee, which is considering a ban on most gender transition services to minors unless they have the consent of three physicians.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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