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Arkansas governor issues first executive orders imposing hiring freeze, regulation review

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A day after being sworn in as Arkansas' 46th governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday imposed a hiring freeze on most state agencies and ordered that any new regulations or rules be approved by his office.

Hutchinson, who took office Tuesday, issued both as executive orders on his first full day as the state's top elected official. The ex-congressman and former federal Homeland Security administrator had said leading up to his inauguration that both would be among his first official acts.

PHOTO: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, left, speaks with reporters after a meeting of the State Board of Finance in the governor's conference room at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, left, speaks with reporters after a meeting of the State Board of Finance in the governor's conference room at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

"A new day warrants a new perspective," Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. "The executive orders I signed today will help provide that new perspective, which is critically important as we find new ways to make state government work more efficiently for all Arkansans."

The hiring moratorium requires most state agencies and departments to submit all requests for filling vacancies or new positions to the governor's office. The order says positions can be filled "upon determination of legitimate business need" by Hutchinson.

The freeze doesn't apply to the Legislature, constitutional officers or the judicial branch. It also doesn't apply to higher education institutions, the Highway and Transportation Department and the Game and Fish Commission.

The other order requires all state agencies to submit new rules and regulations, or amendments to them, to Hutchinson for approval, unless granted an exemption by the governor. The order says a rule or regulation can't go to the Legislature for approval or take effect until the governor determines that it doesn't "unnecessarily" burden businesses.

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