Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

On this week's podcast the KUAR news team digs into a few of the bigger issues facing the Arkansas Legislature, including guns on college campuses, a bathroom bill and its possible impact on tourism, and abortion restrictions that are advancing. We also talk about some non-legislative matters, including an effort to address crime in the state and details of this year's Johnny Cash Heritage Festival to be held this time in his boyhood hometown of Dyess.

KUAR's Chris Hickey discusses some of the top stories in Arkansas this week.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed bill dinosaur
Governor's Office

It's a designation more than 65 million years in the making.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed a resolution designating the Arkansaurus fridayi as the state's official dinosaur. The move makes Arkansas the 10th state to have its own official dinosaur.

The dinosaur was first discovered in a gravel pit near Lockesburg in 1972 by Joe Friday, for whom it was named.

State Rep. Greg Leding proposed designating it as the state's official dinosaur at the encouragement of Mason Cypress Oury, a high school student in his district.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's concerned about a draft proposal to use National Guard troops from Arkansas to round up unauthorized immigrants.

The Republican governor said Friday he hasn't had any contact from the Trump administration about a draft Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The Associated Press calling for mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops from Arkansas and 10 other states.

A DHS official has described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.

Arkansas state trooper police crash wrong way
KATV, Channel 7 News

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a $3.1 million bid for highway and interstate improvements aimed at reducing wrong-way crashes.

The commission awarded the contract to Ewing Signal Construction of Nixa, Missouri. The project calls for improvements on interstate off-ramps, including sign replacements, lowered signs and other projects that officials hope will cut down on the number of crashes caused by people driving the wrong way on the ramps.

The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to require college and university employees who want to carry concealed handguns on campus to first undergo additional training, prompting a Republican lawmaker to expand the campus-carry proposal to allow some students and visitors to participate.

The Senate voted 22-10 to add a provision mandating 16 hours of active shooter training to a House-backed measure requiring the schools to allow faculty and staff with a license to carry a concealed firearm on campus. The Senate is expected to vote next week on the proposal. 

Gary Eugene Holmes Acen King
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

The man accused of fatally shooting a 3-year-old boy in a road-rage incident in Little Rock has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

An attorney for Gary Eugene Holmes entered the plea Thursday. He's accused of fatally shooting 3-year-old Acen King as the boy was riding in his grandmother's car on Dec. 17.

Holmes' attorney, Ron Davis, requested a mental evaluation for his client, and a May 15 hearing has been set to discuss the results.

Davis told reporters that Holmes does not admit any guilt in the case.

A partnership between Arkansas’ two major universities will allow students to get a dual degree in poultry sciences.   

Arkansas leads the nation in poultry production.  With Tyson Foods in northwest Arkansas and Ozark Mountain Poultry and Peco Foods in eastern Arkansas, more graduates are needed in the field of poultry science. 

Gretchen Hall Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A proposed bathroom bill filed in the Arkansas Legislature targeting transgender people is raising the concern of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

SB346 doesn’t offer any specifics at this point and is essentially a shell bill, but Republican Senator Gary Stubblefield told the Associated Press it would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

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

Attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an Arkansas ruling preventing married same-sex couples from getting the names of both spouses on their children's birth certificates without a court order.

Attorneys for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and two same-sex couples are asking justices to weigh in on a December state Supreme Court ruling. The state court reversed a judge's decision to strike down part of Arkansas' birth certificate law.

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