Ark. Business: Engage Cuba, fiscal session, Dave and Buster's

KTHV CBS Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A coalition of Arkansas business and academic leaders are joining a growing group calling for the end of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba.

A group called "Engage Cuba" announced Monday the creation of an Arkansas State Council. Among the 37 people on that council are Dow Brantley, the chairman of the USA Rice and Arkansas Rice Federation — Wes Ward, Arkansas' agriculture secretary — and Mark Simmons, chairman of Simmons Foods of Siloam Springs.

The group said Cuba would pledge to buy a significant amount of rice from the U.S. should the Congress allow trade on credit between the countries. Arkansas is the country's top rice producer, so members of Engage Cuba believe more trade with Cuba would big benefit to the state.

Ahead of Wednesday's fiscal session start, some lawmakers are showing off what could happen if the Legislature doesn't vote to fund the Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion.

Arkansas House leaders released an alternate budget Monday that showed a host of state programs — public schools, prisons and colleges facing cuts.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has supported the expansion, pointed out that a $10.9 million funding cut to the state's foster care system would be possible.

A minority of legislators have said they'll vote against funding the program, which requires a three-fourths majority vote in the House and Senate.

And finally, Dave & Buster's plans to open its first Arkansas location at the Outlets at Little Rock in mid-June.

The Arkansas arrival comes 34 years after the original Buster's Bar & Restaurant opened in Little Rock in 1982. That concept inspired James "Buster" Corley and Dave Corriveau to create the modern Dave & Buster's concept.

The franchise is coming to Arkansas after State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson of Little Rock sponsored a bill that raised the cap on how much a player of arcade games can win. That bill accommodates the prizes that Dave & Buster's sometimes awards its patrons.