Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a package of bills aimed at reducing health insurance rate increases for thousands of teachers next year and laying groundwork to overhaul that insurance program.
The House and Senate approved the bills shortly after midnight, wrapping up a marathon special session that began Thursday afternoon to address the premium increases. The measures now head to Governor Mike Beebe, who plans to sign them into law as soon as Monday.
Members of the Arkansas Legislature are on the verge of wrapping up a special session to avoid rising insurance premiums for public school employees. Lawmakers are to return at 12:01 am Saturday to give a final approval to a number of bills. Arkansas Law forbids the House and Senate from voting on identical bills on the same day.
The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation is honoring six inductees in its 21st annual ceremony.
The event will be held at the State House Convention Center Saturday with over 900 people are expected to attend.
Inductees included a professional athlete, recording artist, and engineer.
Chairman of the foundation, Charles Stewart says donations and proceeds go to other non profits in Arkansas, "working to improve education, youth development, health and wellness in black and other underserved communities."
A plan to allow Arkansas to retain excess property tax revenue from a handful of school districts has stalled before a House panel. Supporters say the move effectively kills the proposal for this week's special session.
The House Education Committee rejected an effort Friday to bring the proposal up for a vote after it was tabled earlier in the day.
The Senate sponsor of an identical bill said he wouldn't bring it before that chamber due to the House objections.
Authorities say a Harding University graduate student was killed after she was struck by a patrol car driven by a White County sheriff's deputy.
The White County Sheriff's Office says 24-year-old Courtney Book was riding her bicycle Thursday night when she was struck by a patrol car driven by Lt. Brandon Grimes. A spokesman for Harding says Book was a graduate student in the college of education.
The Daily Citizen reports Book had been a Harding student since 2008, earning an undergraduate degree in history in 2012.
Candidates from Arkansas' closely watched political races in 2014 addressed members of the Delta Grassroots Caucus at a conference in Memphis.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor addressed the crowd in person Friday, while his challenger, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, spoke with members via speaker phone.
The caucus also included speeches from Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson, who are both running for Arkansas governor. The governor's office comes open next year because Democratic incumbent Mike Beebe is term-limited.
Leading candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor's races in Arkansas are scheduled to speak at a conference in Memphis.
Two-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, and the Republican opponent for his Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, will speak Friday at the Delta Grassroots Caucus at the Agricenter in east Memphis.
Also scheduled to speak are former Congressmen Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, who are competing to replace Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.
Arkansas lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Thursday to convene for a special legislative session addressing insurance premium hikes for public school employees. KUAR’s Chris Hickey was there for the opening and has this report.