Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Arkansas voters will be asked next year to limit damages awarded in civil lawsuits, cap attorneys' fees and give the Legislature power to write court rules under a measure given final approval by lawmakers.

The Senate approved by a 20-11 vote on Wednesday a resolution to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot next year. The measure, if approved by voters would place a $500,000 limit on punitive and non-economic damages awarded in civil lawsuits, and limit attorneys' contingency fees to 33.3 percent of the net amount recovered.

Attorneys for eight Arkansas death row inmates scheduled to be put to death next month are asking the state's highest court to void Gov. Asa Hutchinson's orders setting their execution dates.

The inmates asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to invalidate the proclamations scheduling their executions. On Monday, Hutchinson set four double executions during a 10-day period in April, though the state is lacking one of the drugs needed to put the men to death.

Bill and Hillary Clinton's political careers took off in Arkansas and the state capital, Little Rock, is filled with tributes to the former president, the only native of the Natural State who has made it to the Oval Office.

Now a state lawmaker wants to erase the Clintons' names from the Little Rock airport.

"The state of Arkansas would just like to forget the Clinton era," said state Sen. Jason Rapert, a Republican.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A bill that would freeze enrollment in Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion program has advanced out of a state House committee.

Republican state Rep. Josh Miller's proposal would require the state to ask federal officials for permission to end enrollment. The bill calls for new enrollment to end as of July 1, 2017.

The proposal now heads to the full House.

Miller says more people have enrolled than anticipated and lawmakers have expressed concern about the program's costs amid uncertainty about the fate of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Like a lot of artists who try to make it in Hollywood, Bill Paxton spent a big chunk of his career just trying to survive. The thing is, no one was ever better at getting killed.

Outside the Arkansas House chamber in the state Capitol building.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas House has voted to place on the ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ask voters to limit some attorney's fees and punitive damages in lawsuits.

The House voted 66-30 Monday for the joint resolution and sent it back to the state Senate to consider a House amendment. A previous version of the proposal passed the Senate earlier.

Supporters say the proposal would reduce legal judgments against health care providers, which they say would lead to a decrease in medical malpractice insurance rates.

Execution dates have been set for eight Arkansas death row inmates, but attorneys for the men argue their appeals have not been exhausted. The state hasn’t carried out an execution since 2005.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation Monday scheduling four double executions on four separate days in April. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected a request by the inmates to review a state court ruling upholding an Arkansas law that keeps the source of lethal injection drugs secret.

It's a chilly February day as we set out from the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River. We're in a 24-foot cypress canoe, paddling south, with John Ruskey guiding in the stern.

The first stretch of journey, just south of Helena, Ark., is far from wild. We paddle past lots of industry lining the riverbanks: Along the shore, we see grain being pumped from a giant grain elevator into barges on the river. We pass coal and petrochemical docks, too, supplying or offloading the barges that ply this river up to Minnesota, and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

From Sen. John Boozman's Office:

Sen. John Boozman will be holding a telephone town hall on Monday night, Feb. 27. Boozman will be holding the town hall from his Washington D.C. office starting at 7:30 p.m.

During the town hall, Arkansans can phone in with questions for the senator. Anyone who is interested in participating in the phone conversation can sign up on Boozman’s website so they can be dialed into the call.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set execution dates for eight death row inmates, even though the state lacks one of three drugs needed to put the men to death.

The Republican released a statement Monday saying he signed a proclamation scheduling executions for the eight inmates, though no dates were released.

The move comes days after the state's attorney general told the governor the men had exhausted their appeals and there were no more legal obstacles to their executions.

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