Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

A judge has ruled that a man who is charged in the kidnapping and killing of a Little Rock real estate agent will be allowed to represent himself.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 34-year-old Arron Lewis won his request after Judge Herbert Wright accepted a mental evaluation last week that deemed Lewis fit for trial.

When questioned about his ability to represent himself, Lewis said that he has some college education and that he can read and write. He also mentioned that he had "won a lawsuit against Benton County."

arkansashouse.org

Arkansas House members want to force a constitutional convention to take up a federal balanced budget amendment.

The body voted 54-32 Wednesday to join with other states calling for a constitutional convention. The convention application would be submitted once 38 states have joined the compact.

Republican Rep. Nate Bell of Mena said his proposal is needed because the nation faces a debt crisis. Supporters say two states have already joined and the legislation is pending before several others.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to put the state's plans to set up its own insurance exchange under the federal health law on hold while the nation's highest court weighs a lawsuit over the overhaul.

The measure was approved by the Senate on a 25-0 vote Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in a lawsuit centering on the federal subsidies granted by the overhaul. Opponents of the law say that only residents of states that set up their own insurance markets can get subsidies to help pay their premiums.

A federal judge says she won't allow same-sex marriages in Arkansas while the issue is pending before an appeals court.

Lawyers claim gay couples are suffering continuing harm by not being allowed to marry. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker struck down Arkansas' ban against same-sex marriages in November but issued a stay pending an appeal. The same-sex couples asked Baker to lift the stay, but the judge said Wednesday court rules won't let her.

An Arkansas Senate panel has endorsed lowering the amount of money incoming college freshmen would receive in from the state's lottery-funded scholarships and changing the program's eligibility requirements.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced a proposal to lower the scholarship amount incoming freshmen would receive from $2,000 to $1,000. The measure by Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana, however, would increase the amount students receive in the second year from $3,000 to $4,000.

House Speaker-designate Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives will talk to members of the Central Arkansas Political Animals Club later this month. Rep. Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, will be the March 17 speaker at the Central Arkansas chapter of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.

The meeting will be at the Little Rock Club on the 30th floor of the Regions Bank building on West Capitol Avenue.

A measure heading to the Arkansas House would prohibit judges in the state from basing any rulings on foreign laws, including Islamic Sharia law.
 
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday endorsed the bill to ban the state's courts from basing its rulings on any foreign law, legal code or system that doesn't grant fundamental liberties ensured under the U.S. or Arkansas constitutions. If signed into law, the legislation would make Arkansas the eighth state to have such a restriction enacted.
 

asa hutchinson tim griffin common core
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin is supporting a lawmaker's push for his office to no longer be a separate elected position and instead have the state's No. 2 constitutional officer appear on the ballot as the governor's running mate.

Griffin said Tuesday he supports a proposed constitutional amendment to have two people run jointly rather than appear separately on the ballot.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Julie Mayberry would take effect in the 2022 election if placed on the ballot next year and approved by voters.

The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill easing restrictions on the creation of new school districts.

By a 20-6 vote, the Senate approved and sent to the governor's desk a bill that would lower the amount of students a new district needs to splinter from an existing district. The legislation would lower the requirement from 4,000 students to 2,500.

Supporters of the measure say it would allow Maumelle or Sherwood to split from the Pulaski County Special school district after clearing state and federal hurdles.

Searcy Police chief jeremy clark
KARK-TV 4/ ArkansasMatters.com

The Searcy police chief has resigned after his home was searched by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Searcy Mayor David Morris told reporters at a brief news conference Tuesday afternoon that Police Chief Jeremy Clark resigned, effective immediately. Morris said he can't comment further because of an ongoing investigation.

Clark did not return phone calls seeking comment. KATV-TV reports that Clark denied wrongdoing and said he's the subject of an arson investigation.

Pages