Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Marissa Marisa Pavan Birth Certificate certificates same-sex marrriage
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bill that would allow married gay couples in Arkansas to list both spouses' names on their children's birth certificates without a court order has failed to advance out of a Senate committee.

Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill failed to advance Monday from the Senate Judiciary Committee due to a lack of a second motion. The proposed measure would have changed the presumption of parentage under the state's artificial insemination and surrogacy laws.

Next month the state of Arkansas will execute eight of its 33 inmates, in pairs over four evenings and by lethal injection.

For more than 18 years Damien Echols was one of those on death row. He knows all eight men and says Don W. Davis, scheduled to die April 17, "kept me alive." 

Here's his full Arkansas Public Media interview with reporter Ann Kenda in which he talks about the justice of capital punishment, life on death row, life after death row and his wife, Lorri, whom he married while on the block. 

Echols was reached at his home in New York. 

House Minority Leader Michael John Gray
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas House Minority Leader and State Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, was elected as the new chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He succeeds Vincent Insalaco, who steered the state’s Democrats for two election cycles.

“To the hundreds of Arkansas Democrats who gathered today to elect new leadership, I am humbled and overwhelmed to be the next chair of the Party. To all of the Democrats across our state, I look forward to serving all of you and fighting for a brighter future for all of our fellow Arkansans. To our new officers, congratulations and thank you to all who stepped up to run,” Gray said.

Arkansas Nuclear One, a few miles northwest of Russellville, is among 61 commercial nuclear power facilities in the U.S. operating ninety-nine nuclear fission reactors. Constructed in the late 1970s and currently owned by Entergy, Arkansas Nuclear One operates two pressurized light water reactors with the capacity to generate 1,776 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 355,000 homes and businesses.

The reactors are cooled by water drawn from Lake Dardanelle. Thick white steam rising from the power plant's iconic six-story hyperbolic cement tower is visible for miles. Locals, Russellville Mayor Randy Horton says, divine weather conditions from the plume. 

“In the old days, we would drive to the base of the cooling towers and fish in the hot water discharge stream. It never was threatening, never been scary.”

A lawsuit contends Arkansas is violating the state’s open records law and its own execution policy by refusing to release documents proving they obtained lethal drugs from legitimate sources ahead of four double-executions set for next month.

Steven Shults says he can no longer receive product labels from the Arkansas Department of Correction. The agency used to release the material, but said it will no longer do so after The Associated Press used the label’s distinct typography to unmask the manufacturers in 2015.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he believes Congress will ultimately agree on a replacement for the federal health overhaul despite House Republicans failing to dismantle the law.

The Republican governor said Friday he has no doubt Congress will revisit the issue, but said he'll move forward with a plan for new limits on the hybrid Medicaid expansion Arkansas enacted under the law.

Arkansas’s unemployment rate dropped from 3.8 percent to 3.7 percent in February. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported Friday that the drop from of a tenth of a percent to the February level means a new all time unemployment low for the state. About 1.3 million people were employed in Arkansas in February.

The DWS says the business and professional sectors added 6,300 jobs last month. Government jobs grew by 5,000. The educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and construction sectors also showed modest job gains. 

Arkansas' governor has signed a measure requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, reinstating a voter ID law that was struck down by the state's highest court more than two years ago.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed the measure, which allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to exempt college sporting events from a new law greatly expanding where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns that the sweeping gun rights measure would lead to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas.

Arkansas Suicide Prevention Hotline Bill Heads To Full Senate

Mar 23, 2017

Arkansas’s first non-natural cause of death is by suicide, just slightly ahead of car accidents, and more than twice as often as homicide, according to the  Arkansas Department of Health.

It is also one of two states in the nation without a state suicide hotline. 

Pages