News

One of eight Arkansas death row inmates facing lethal injection next month is asking the state's highest court to block his execution so evidence from his murder trial can be retested.

Stacey Eugene Johnson asked the state Supreme Court Wednesday to stay his execution scheduled for April 20, one of the four double execution dates the state has set over a 10-day period.

Johnson asked justices to allow him to seek new testing of evidence from his conviction in the 1993 death of Carol Heath. The evidence includes hairs found at Heath's apartment.

State Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville).
Arkansas Times/Brian Chilson

A proposal for Arkansas to start collecting sales taxes from online retailers – like nearly every other state does – appears to be dead. A bill fell short in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday. It’s the third time this legislation session the measure has failed to advance.

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate has approved keeping the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion another year after Republican efforts to repeal and replace the federal health law that created the program failed in Congress.

The state Senate voted 27-1 Tuesday for the budget for the state's Medicaid program that includes the hybrid expansion. The bill that now heads to the state House had failed to get the three-fourths majority vote needed on two separate votes Monday.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
oversight.house.gov/

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is praising President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday telling federal agencies to rewrite environmental regulations. She was part of a coalition of 29 entities involved in litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

In a written statement Tuesday, Rutledge said:

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

An Arkansas judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection law, the latest setback for efforts to block the state's unprecedented plan to conduct four double executions over a 10-day period next month.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen granted the state's motion Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit filed by eight inmates facing lethal injection next month. Griffen said he has no jurisdiction over the case after the state Supreme Court upheld the lethal injection law and protocol.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas legislators Monday received an outline of the state’s general revenue budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year as the session began what is expected to be its final week.

The $5.5 billion general revenue budget does not differ significantly from the governor’s budget presented late in 2016.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

An effort to continue the hybrid Arkansas Medicaid expansion another year has failed in the state Senate, days after Republican efforts to repeal and replace the federal health law that enabled the expanded coverage faltered in Congress.

The Senate voted 19-1 and later 20-1 in favor of the budget for the state's Medicaid program, including the hybrid expansion, short of the 27 votes needed to advance. More than 300,000 people are on the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Arkansans on death row have filed a lawsuit arguing the state’s 10-day timetable to execute eight inmates, with a controversial drug, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The motion for a preliminary injunction, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, asks for a stay in executions until the lawsuit is resolved.

Marissa Marisa Pavan Birth Certificate certificates same-sex marrriage
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bill that would allow married gay couples in Arkansas to list both spouses' names on their children's birth certificates without a court order has failed to advance out of a Senate committee.

Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill failed to advance Monday from the Senate Judiciary Committee due to a lack of a second motion. The proposed measure would have changed the presumption of parentage under the state's artificial insemination and surrogacy laws.

House Minority Leader Michael John Gray
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas House Minority Leader and State Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, was elected as the new chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He succeeds Vincent Insalaco, who steered the state’s Democrats for two election cycles.

“To the hundreds of Arkansas Democrats who gathered today to elect new leadership, I am humbled and overwhelmed to be the next chair of the Party. To all of the Democrats across our state, I look forward to serving all of you and fighting for a brighter future for all of our fellow Arkansans. To our new officers, congratulations and thank you to all who stepped up to run,” Gray said.

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