Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

On this week's podcast, two bills are awaiting the governor's signature.

One got final approval late Friday afternoon, capping years of debate about whether the state should end the practice of having dual recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on the same day.

The other greatly expands where concealed handguns can be carried.

We also discuss how two Congressmen from Arkansas helped advance a Republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare. And we have the latest on eight executions scheduled over a 10-day period next month.

arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted Friday to give final legislative approval to a bill that ends the official recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day. The House passed SB519 on a 66-11 vote, with five members voting present and 18 not voting.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Senate passed a number of bills Thursday regulating medical marijuana. One of those, HB1460, allows employers to establish marijuana-free workplace policies. It would allow employers to bar workers with physicians’ written certifications from showing up on the job if they are high. 

Jason McGehee
Department of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to block the execution for one of eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death next month.

Justices on Thursday denied a motion to recall the mandate in the case of convicted murderer Jason McGehee, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27. McGehee's attorney had asked justices to vacate his death sentence and send his case back to a lower court for resentencing, citing problems with the verdict forms in his resentencing.

Two joint resolutions sponsored by Arkansas Republican Senator Jason Rapert calling for a Convention of States to propose, under the power of Article V, amendments to the U.S. Constitution to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman and that life begins at conception-- effectively banning abortion--passed the Arkansas Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives late Tuesday.

In February, Senator Rapert, District 35, Conway made his case for social change to the Arkansas Senate.

“It’s kinda like sittin’ there and somebody’s attacking the house," he said. "They’re coming through the front door, and you got a shot gun over in the corner and you know you can use a shot gun to stop the aggressor. But you don’t go pick up the shotgun to stop the aggressor. Pick it up. Article 5. Pick it up. Propose an amendment. Pick it up. And stand up for what you believe in.”

arkansashouse.org

A bill that would have extended the period of time state or governmental entities can comply with a Freedom of Information Act request failed to advance out of an Arkansas House of Representatives committee on Wednesday morning.

Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Bob Johnson’s bill would have extended the time that agencies or entities could comply with FOIA requests from three working days to 15 days if the request they receive is “unduly burdensome.” Johnson said it was needed in cases of requests for large amounts of records, which can be difficult to gather even in the age of computers.

U.S. Representative Steve Womack
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, says he is whipping votes for Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare reform proposal and hopes to see it move to the House floor as early as tomorrow.

Appearing on “Connect with Congress” through KATV Channel 7, Womack visited with Talk Business & Politics host Roby Brock on Wednesday morning.

They sit in rows, 150 closely shaven men in yellow uniforms and white identification badges, before opposing walls, in a cinder-block walled gymnasium.  

A selected group of four sit in plastic chairs forming a circle before their co-residents. Two stand up and shake hands, and the others say, “Squash it!” and clap.

These residents at Little Rock’s all-male Community Corrections Center have a daily ritual, a conflict resolution practice, meant to teach them interpersonal skills before they return to the real world.

Charlie Collins
www.arkansashouse.org

An Arkansas House committee has advanced revised legislation to greatly expand the carrying of concealed firearms in the state, but not before getting flak Tuesday from opponents of the bill, as well as gun rights supporters.

The original legislation approved by the House last month was limited to college campuses, but the Senate modified the bill to also allow guns at some government buildings, including the state Capitol, and private establishments like bars and restaurants.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The agency that protects Arkansas' state Capitol and grounds now has the authority to operate in secret after the governor let a Freedom of Information exemption become law without his signature.

A spokesman said Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not sign the bill, which was intended to close loopholes that some believed would let anyone access security assignments. Spokesman J.R. Davis said he could comment later.

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