Banner Year in Arkansas: The Top 10 Business Stories of 2013

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Reports following the rupture showed there were manufacturing defects in the pipe.

“Based on the metallurgical analysis, the independent laboratory concluded that the root cause of the failure can be attributed to original manufacturing defects — mainly hook cracks near the seam,” Exxon said in July. “Additional contributing factors include atypical pipe properties, such as extremely low impact toughness and elongation properties across the … seam.”

In November, the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration identified nine probable pipeline safety violations and proposed more than $2.6 million in civil penalties against Exxon.

Exxon disagreed with the administration’s findings.

“Regarding next steps, we are still reviewing the [proposal] and have not yet determined our future course of action,” Exxon said in November. “However, it does appear that PHMSA’s analysis is flawed and the agency has made some fundamental errors.”

Following these statements, the company formally challenged PHMSA’s proposed penalties, claiming the findings were inaccurate. Meanwhile, many of the families displaced by the spill have still not returned to their homes.

3. Arkansas’ Private Option

The private option became law in Arkansas in 2013.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, it left it up to the individual states whether to expand Medicaid as called for in the ACA. Arkansas, with a Republican-controlled state Legislature and a Democratic governor, decided on a unique alternate plan, the “private option.”

Under the program, the money designated for the expansion of Medicaid will be used instead to purchase health insurance from private insurers for low-income workers earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line, which comes out to $15,415.

State officials expect as many as 250,000 Arkansans will be eligible to participate in the private option program, and officials with the Department of Human Services predicted accepting the federal funding for the program could save hospitals as much as $670 million in unpaid hospital bills during the next decade.

The private option divided Republicans in the Legislature. Many had opposed the ACA and argued against any state-level participation that was not required by law.

“To my friends who are considering voting for this appropriation, but doing so against the convictions in your heart, I ask you this: Is this vote worth 30 pieces of silver,” Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, said during the debate, comparing acquiescence to the betrayal of Jesus Christ.



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