Local & Regional News

Local & Regional News
11:49 am
Thu March 20, 2014

In Advance Of Hearing Over Gay Marriage Bans, Filings Made In Court

Opponents and supporters of Arkansas' ban on gay marriage are sparring in court filings over whether the state's constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage serves a legitimate purpose and can be challenged at the state level.

Attorneys for the state and a group of same-sex couples filed competing arguments in Pulaski County court on Wednesday seeking summary judgment over the challenge to a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

A hearing is scheduled on April 17 over the motions.

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Local & Regional News
10:53 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Arkansas Court Tosses Out $1.2 Billion Judgment Against Johnson & Johnson

File photo of the Arkansas Supreme Court building.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has thrown out a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit challenging its marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The Thursday ruling comes in an appeal of lawsuit filed by Arkansas against the drugmaker and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The state says the companies didn't properly communicate the drug's risks and marketed it for off-label use, calling the practices fraudulent.

Johnson & Johnson said there was no fraud and Arkansas' Medicaid program wasn't harmed.

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Local & Regional News
9:23 am
Thu March 20, 2014

AHTD Withdraws Projects Due To Funding Questions

Credit arkansashighways.com

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has withdrawn 10 construction projects from its planned list of projects scheduled for award in April.

The department said in a news release that the decision is the result of the uncertainty of federal funding through reimbursements available from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

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Local & Regional News
9:15 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Arkansas Education Board To Review Snow Day Waivers

Credit arkansased.org

The Arkansas Board of Education is set to review requests by school districts across the state to reduce their academic years after winter storms that forced some students to miss almost a month's worth of classes.

The state board is meeting Thursday and will consider waiver requests from 75 districts. If the waivers are granted they would shorten the required 178 days of instruction for Arkansas schools seeking not to extend classes into mid-June.

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Local & Regional News
6:06 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Arkansas House Elects Speaker-designate

Speaker-designate Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia)
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Members of the legislature met for the final time Wednesday for the biennial fiscal session and looked forward selecting a new Speaker. 

After a whirlwind session dominated by the future of the private option, and a last minute override of a veto by Governor Beebe, granting the natural gas and oil industry a $5 million tax break, House Speaker Davy Carter lowered the gavel for the last time.

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Local & Regional News
5:48 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Legislature Overides Veto; $5 Million Tax Break for Natural Gas and Oil

Natural Gas Drilling Site
Credit commons.wikimedia.org

The legislature acted on the final day of the fiscal session Wednesday to override a veto meant to halt a $5 million tax break for the natural gas and oil industries.

The sales tax exemption for sands used in fracking was inserted in a bill by a subcommittee but Governor Mike Beebe and others say that was not constitutional under the rules of the fiscal session. Republican Stephens Meeks represents some of the areas drilled for natural gas and said the move was in keeping with rules and will benefit the industry.

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Local & Regional News
6:22 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Bumpers' Papers Made Available To Public

Senator Dale Bumpers, 1989.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is announcing that the papers of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers are being made available to researchers.

The former Arkansas governor served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until 1999.

Timothy Nutt, head of special collections, says the papers document the Democrat's roots in Arkansas and career in the nation's capital.

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Local & Regional News
5:47 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Arkansas Business And Agriculture Leaders Push For Immigration Reform

Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, speaks to reporters, while Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Beau Bishop of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, listen.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new study by the Partnership for a New American Economy suggests labor shortages are increasing the reliance on imported produce and slowing economic growth in Arkansas.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, heads of chamber of commerce groups, the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Economic Development Commission, said it shows the need for the U.S. Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform.

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Local & Regional News
1:10 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidate Asa Hutchinson Proposes Workforce Training Changes

File photo of Asa Hutchinson filing to run for governor last month at the state Capitol.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson is proposing changing Arkansas' workforce training system, calling for the creation of eight councils around the state that would guide how funding for the programs are distributed.

Hutchinson on Wednesday proposed creating eight Workforce Education Councils to coordinate and expand the state's existing training programs.

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Local & Regional News
12:05 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

University of Arkansas System Plans Online-Only University

UA System President Dr. Donald Bobbitt
Credit uasys.edu

The University of Arkansas System is pursuing creating an online-only university geared toward non-traditional students. 

The idea has been in the works since at least 2012 when the Board of Trustees for the UA System passed a resolution calling for an expansion of online education. Dr. Donald Bobbitt, President of the UA System, discussed his intentions to faculty leadership on Monday and is expected to make a formal proposal Thursday in Fort Smith.

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