This update: The "private option" passes the Arkansas House of Representatives; The first week of former Ark. Treasurer Martha Shoffner's trial concludes; CEO of Little Rock Baptist Health System is retiring after 40 years with the company; Simmons First National Corp. will consolidate its subsidiaries into a single banking operation; Tyson wins a big contract with the US government; Mountain Valley Water is expanding after Great Range Capital acquired it; Union Pacific Corp sees positive signs in the US economy.
Four consecutive months of revenue from court fees and fines falling below projections are causing a 25 percent reduction in funding, from that revenue source, for a number of court-related entities.
The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission coordinates legal services for low-income Arkansans and is among several agencies facing budget constraints this month. The commission’s director Amy Johnson says cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable.
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.
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.
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.
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.