Jacob Kauffman

Jacob Kauffman is a reporter and anchor for KUAR. He primarily covers the state legislature and politics beat while juggling anchoring Morning Edition Monday through Friday. 

Jacob is a long-time Little Rock resident who started out working with Hendrix College's KHDX and the Arkansas Legislative Digest. His work has appeared on NPR, our other wonderful public radio stations across Arkansas, PBS News Hour, TalkBusiness.net, Arkansas Money & Politics Magazine, ArkansasBlog.com, and the Nashville News. He also runs KUAR's Arkansas Politics Blog.

He regularly appears on Arkansas Educational Television Network's (AETN) weekly roundtable politics program Arkansas Week. Jacob also served on the board of the MacArthur Military History Museum. If you see him you should ask him about the experience of German-Arkansans during World War I.

Phone: 501-683-7393

Arkansas has a practice of cutting off witness access to an audio feed in the state’s death chamber after the soon to be executed inmate’s opportunity to give last words. After lethal injection drugs are administered witnesses have to rely only on sight to evaluate an execution. The state is the sole audial observer once the execution begins.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch ruled in his first big case late Thursday night. It allowed Arkansas to move forward with executions after a nearly 12 years lull.

The newest Supreme Court Justice’s vote helped reconstitute the court’s 5-4 conservative majority. Gorsuch joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito in denying death row inmate Ledell Lee’s appeals. He was executed last night.

Central Arkansas Congressman appeared before constituents in a town hall format for the first time of the Trump era on Monday. Hill faced a raucous, but politically split crowd. He was joined by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.

The Republican senator said he talked with Governor Asa Hutchinson that morning about executions originally slated to begin Monday evening.

“I told him that I 100 percent support his decision to execute the verdict that was rendered by a jury of his peers,” said Cotton to a mix of jeers and cheers.

Arkansas-born, best selling author John Grisham penned an editorial in USA Today calling for a stop to Arkansas’s plan to kill eight death row inmates from April 17th to 27th. One inmate has a stay on his sentence. 

A beleaguered bid in the Arkansas Legislature to collect sales taxes from online purchases from companies without a physical presence in the state narrowly failed in the House on Monday. Representative Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, said it didn’t make sense to collect a tax on his blue jeans at a local store but not when he bought them online.

“They’re the same brand of blue jeans, the same style, the same size, used on the same fat body for the same purpose and they didn’t collect sales tax,” said Douglas. “Now is that fair?”

A proposal for Arkansas to start collecting sales taxes from online retailers – like nearly every other state does – appears to be dead. A bill fell short in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday. It’s the third time this legislation session the measure has failed to advance.

Arkansans on death row have filed a lawsuit arguing the state’s 10-day timetable to execute eight inmates, with a controversial drug, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The motion for a preliminary injunction, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, asks for a stay in executions until the lawsuit is resolved.

The state is poised to hand over control of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the city of Pine Bluff. A bill passed in the Arkansas House on Friday would transfer the operation from the state Department of Parks and Tourism to the city’s Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission.

Update: The Department of Parks and Tourism provided KUAR with attendance figures for the Hall of Fame. It reveals a dramatic decline in recent years.

2017 – To date 2,675

2016 – 5,793

2015 – 7,125

2014 – 16,932

2013 – 21,102

Rev your engines! Well, not yet. The Arkansas House overwhelmingly backed a bill on Thursday to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on interstates and 65 miles per hour on other highways. If it becomes law, the five-mile per hour bump would still be subject to studies from state highway officials.

State Representative Justin Gonzalez, a Republican from Okolona, nestled between Prescott and Arkadelphia, is a fan of faster driving.

“I’d say that this bill couldn’t get here fast enough wouldn’t you agree?” Gonzalez joked to bill sponsor DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio).

Funding for the Delta Regional Authority would be eliminated under President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. The federal agency is set up to help encourage and coordinate economic development in eight states, including Arkansas, tied to the beleaguered Mississippi River Delta region.

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