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11:28 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Gov. Beebe Signs Into Law 'Private Option' Plan

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Gov. Mike Beebe has signed into law a measure reauthorizing Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion for another year.

Beebe on Friday signed the budget bill for the "private option" plan that was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Through the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Nearly 94,000 people are receiving subsidized insurance through the program, the first of its kind approved by the federal government.

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Local & Regional News
7:58 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Trespassers Suspected In Majestic Hotel Fire

File photo of the Feb. 27 fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel.
Credit Save Her Majesty: Restore The Majestic Hotel Facebook Page

Hot Springs' fire chief says the fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel was likely set by trespassers - but that the cause may never be determined because it wasn't safe to send investigators inside the building before it was torn down.

Fire Chief Ed Davis says investigators believe the Feb. 27 fire was likely set by either "urban explorers" or homeless people who were inside the abandoned building on a regular basis.

Davis tells The Sentinel-Record that someone may have set the fire to keep warm, not as an attempt to burn the building down.

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Local & Regional News
6:51 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Prisons and Pre-K: Legislators Look to State Surplus

Senators Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) and Larry Teague (D-Nashville) talk before the Joint Budget meeting. Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) and Johnathan Dismang (R-Beebe) confer in the background.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The debate over re-authorizing funds for the private option is over for the time being and legislators are moving on to other areas of the budget. The Joint Budget Committee met Thursday afternoon to allocate surplus funding for additional projects.

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Local & Regional News
1:05 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Testimony Begins In Trial Of Former Treasurer Martha Shoffner

File photo of Shoffner and attorney Chuck Banks leaving a court hearing in June 2013.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The first witnesses in the bribery and extortion trial of former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner detailed Thursday how the office would make decisions about the state’s investments and how one broker came to get a disproportionate share of that business.

Shoffner is accused of taking $36,000 from bond broker Steele Stephens, in exchange for steering state business his way.

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Local & Regional News
1:02 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Arkansas Lawmakers Try To Whittle Surplus Requests

Arkansas legislative leaders are trying to whittle down a list of more than $92 million in requests to tap the state's surplus as they finalize a proposed $5 billion budget bill.

The chairmen of the Joint Budget Committee on Thursday said they hoped to release that afternoon the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, the state's budget bill, but are still negotiating over requests to use the state's projected $126 million surplus for various one-time needs.

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Local & Regional News
12:30 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Judge Drops Out Of Arkansas Appeals Court Race

A circuit judge in Conway has withdrawn from the race for an Arkansas Court of Appeals seat after an online report questioned comments that the judge made anonymously on a message board.

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio acknowledged Wednesday that he made the statements online about women, sex and actress Charlize Theron's adoption proceedings.

Maggio says he takes "full responsibility" for the comments and apologized for a lapse in judgment.

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Local & Regional News
6:16 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Jury Seated, Opening Statements In Martha Shoffner Trial

Federal prosecutors say former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner corruptly accepted $36,000 in exchange for steering state business to a bond dealer.

But Shoffner's attorney argued in opening statements Wednesday that his client committed nothing more serious than an ethics violation by not reporting the cash.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jana Harris explained to the federal court jury how bond dealer Steele Stephens had twice as much state business as any other dealer and said it was in return for the $36,000.

Local & Regional News
5:16 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Arkansas Lawmakers Shift Focus Back To Budget

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

Lawmakers are beginning to discuss how to craft Arkansas' budget bill, with debate centered on how much money should be spent from the state's surplus.

Sen. Larry Teague, co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, says legislators are continuing to discuss which proposals should be funded by surplus funds from Arkansas' General Improvement Fund. That surplus is about $126 million, according to the state's Department of Finance and Administration.

Lawmakers are seeking about $83.3 million in total in various proposals from the state's surplus.

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Local & Regional News
3:50 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Arkansas Petition Regulations Ruled Unconstitutional

Attorney David Couch
Credit twitter.com

A Circuit Judge in Pulaski County has put a stop to provisions of a new law intended to regulate the petition process. Act 1413 sought to place stricter requirements on petitions, paid canvassers and groups sponsoring ballot measures.

In an opinion Tuesday Judge Mary McGowan ruled all six sections of the act are unconstitutional due to placing poorly defined conditions on petition gathering efforts, thus hampering and impairing the ability of Arkansans to exercise their rights.

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Local & Regional News
2:25 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Hot Springs's Mountain Valley Spring Water Acquired

Credit wikipedia.org

The nation’s oldest company to continually bottle water, based in Hot Springs, is being acquired by an investor group in Kansas City. Collins Pugh the Director of Marketing for Mountain Valley Spring Water Company said in addition to a change in control of the company they are increasing production.

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