Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Does an Arkansas law allow husbands to sue doctors to prevent their wives from undergoing a newly banned abortion procedure?

Abortion opponents say no. A group preparing to challenge the ban says such a lawsuit is theoretically possible but not likely.

The little-noticed clause is included in several state laws banning dilation and evacuation, but the Arkansas provision has prompted a backlash on social media.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is suggesting the Arkansas Legislature might be able to wrap up the 2017 session earlier than expected. Wednesday he praised lawmakers for "setting aside peripheral issues" and focusing on important matters.

The Republican governor has seen passage of three key issues he had for this session: a tax cut for low income residents, an exemption of income taxes for the pensions of military retirees and a change to the state’s higher education funding model. Hutchinson's comments came immediately after signing the bill moves funding for public colleges and universities from being based on enrollment to a "performance-based" formula.

Higher Education Funding
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a bill that links college and university funding to factors such as the number of students who complete their degrees.

Hutchinson on Wednesday signed the bill that requires the state to adopt a "performance-based" model for funding higher education rather than basing the money on enrollment.

Hutchinson has said he'll call for increasing higher education funding by $10 million in 2018 if the plan was approved.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Tuesday (Feb. 7) introduced a bill meant to reduce legal immigration levels by 50%, which he said would increase wages earned by American workers.

According to Cotton’s office, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would reduce overall legal immigrants to 637,960 in its first year and to 539,958 by its tenth year, compared to 1,051,031 immigrants in 2015.

When he was running for president, Donald Trump pledged to reduce immigration — both the illegal and legal varieties.

His allies in Congress hope to make good on that promise, and two Republican lawmakers have introduced new legislation targeting legal immigration.

The landmark Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 eased the path across the nation's borders for people from Asia and Africa — parts of the world that previously had limited opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

Governor Asa Hutchinson sign into law Military retirees tax break
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill giving a tax break to retired military veterans and imposing additional taxes on digital downloads, treats and unemployment benefits.

The $13 million exemption is intended to boost economic development. Its supporters hope veterans retire in Arkansas to begin second careers and say shifting the tax burden to others was necessary to make it happen.

Federal law says if you've purchased tax-free online, you need to pay a tax to the state. But, no one's really doing that. The problem: Arkansas relies heavily on sales tax to support essential government services.

When it comes to federal legislation requiring online merchants to collect sales tax, Republican U.S. Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas has long been one the more prominent GOP backers of such a measure.

KUAR's Karen Tricot Steward spoke with Representative Womack on the issue.

Update:

A bill that would defund Arkansas universities, were they to shelter undocumented immigrant students from federal law enforcement in the course of a criminal investigation, failed on a voice vote before the House Education Committee Tuesday morning.

Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) and Arkansas Department of Higher Education Director Maria Markham at a committee hearing. File photo 2017.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers have given their final approval and sent to the governor to a plan to link college and university funding to factors such as the number of students who complete their degrees.

The Senate on Monday voted 32-1 for a bill requiring the state to adopt a "performance-based" model for funding higher education rather than basing the money on enrollment. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he'd call for increasing higher education funding $10 million in 2018 if lawmakers approve the plan.

Jake Files
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Senate has approved a bill that would require Amazon and other major online retailers to collect state sales taxes. The measure passed Monday by a vote of 23-9 and now moves to the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith, told his colleagues that Arkansas is one of only six states that don't collect sales taxes and is missing out on potential revenue.

"In 2014 it was estimated in one study that Amazon sales alone would have brought $32 million into the state, and then I've heard anywhere up to $100 million," Files said.

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