Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Will Bond Bryan King Dan Greenberg
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Monday that would require offenders sentenced three times previously to the Department of Correction to serve at least 80% of their sentences on the next commitment.

Senate Bill 177 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed by a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate.

Across the country, women in their 30s are having babies at the highest rate since the 1960s, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Arkansas, the number of births in 2015 among women age 30 to 39 was 11,215. This is a 22.9% jump since 2007. 

Also, the number of births to women of other ages in Arkansas in 2015 was 27,671. This is a 14.2% decline since 2007. 

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET Tuesday

With the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson separated a holiday that has for decades celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state.

Under the bill that Hutchinson signed into law, King now has the third Monday of January entirely to himself, as dictated by federal law; Lee will now be commemorated in a state holiday on the second Saturday of October.

Millions of Americans will experience major changes to their health coverage if both chambers of Congress pass the Republican health care bill that's currently under consideration in the House of Representatives.

The bill would no longer require that Americans buy health insurance, and it would eliminate the current subsidies that are used to bring down the cost of premiums. NPR's full coverage explains how those subsidies would be replaced with a fixed refundable tax credit and there would be big changes to Medicaid.

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.

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