Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Gov. Mike Beebe
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

In a rare public disagreement with his Republican successor, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday called the proposed Graham-Cassidy amendment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “a terrible bill” that would hurt the state’s economy and healthcare marketplace.

Central Arkansas Library System / Central Arkansas Library System

"Harry Potter," "Like Water For Chocolate," and "To Kill A Mockingbird" are some of the books being highlighted by the Central Arkansas Library System as part of Banned Books Week.

It's part of an annual, nationwide celebration of the First Amendment is sponsored by the American Library Association. Brad Mooy, with the library system, says this year’s series of events will be the largest yet for CALS.

“I think we had about four, or five, or six programs last year,” said Mooy. “And I think we have 16 this year and they are all free in ten different venues.”

UCA / University of Central Arkansas

A preview of a scene from an opera depicting the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 is scheduled for Monday evening at the University of Central Arkansas.

The event is one of several commemorating the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school. UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication commissioned the opera, entitled “The Little Rock Nine,” which is being composed by Tania Leon. In an interview for KUAR’s Arts Scene program, Leon said she didn’t know much about the event when she was first approached to compose the opera.

Seven months after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Fayetteville's LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance did not comport with state law, a lower court must now decide if that law is even constitutional.

In Washington County Circuit Court before Judge Doug Martin, lawyers on both sides argued over discovery motions and the right to stay administration of Fayetteville's civil rights ordinance and enforcement commission. In place for two years, the ordinance was established explicitly to protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination -- because state law does not. 

Arkansas is on the verge of banning the use, during the growing season, of a Monsanto-backed weedkiller that has been blamed for damaging millions of acres of crops in neighboring farms this year.

The weedkiller is called dicamba. It can be sprayed on soybeans and cotton that have been genetically modified to tolerate it. But not all farmers plant those new seeds. And across the Midwest, farmers that don't use the herbicide are blaming their dicamba-spraying neighbors for widespread damage to their crops — and increasingly, to wild vegetation.

Little Rock Nine
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Four days of events marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School got underway Friday with the eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine speaking to reporters. It comes amid a time of uncertainty for public schools as Arkansas has seen a rapid growth of publicly funded charter schools and what some view as a resegregating of schools.

The Saint Louis-based company that makes dicamba is responding to a proposed ban on the high-tech weed killer for the 2018 growing season.

Ty Vaughn, global regulatory vice president for Monsanto, said the company is disappointed and troubled by a vote from the state plant board to pursue a ban on farm applications of dicamba after April 15.  Vaughn said dicamba is being used successfully in other states.

“We’ve seen growers in 33 states over the past year have really good success with our system.  Our main goal here is to allow growers in Arkansas to have the same access,” said Vaughn.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Little Rock Central High School is honoring the Little Rock Nine’s 60th anniversary this week, and teachers from around the country are coming to Little Rock to participate. They aim to use their experiences and first-hand accounts gathered this week to take back with them to their students.

Joe De Pasqua, an American history teacher from Hartford, Connecticut who has been teaching about Little Rock for the past twenty years, will be in town this week for the ceremonies.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Potential operators of medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries came together at a half-day symposium in Little Rock Wednesday to discuss their expectations of what the new industry will be like.

Among the attendees was TV host Montel Williams, who gave the keynote address at the event organized by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association. Williams has multiple sclerosis, and has long advocated for medicinal cannabis use. His visit had added significance, since he recently accepted a position on the association’s board.

Arkansas' highest court says Pulaski County judges can hold resentencing hearings for seven inmates sentenced to life terms as juveniles, potentially setting a course for how courts statewide should handle cases from similar inmates in other counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life terms without at least a chance at parole. Arkansas legislators subsequently declared such inmates parole-eligible after a term of years, but Pulaski County judges want each inmate to receive an individualized resentencing hearing.

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