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Local & Regional News
4:54 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Jonesboro School Shooter Loses U.S. Supreme Court Appeal

One of two people convicted in the 1998 Jonesboro school shootings has been turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court in an appeal of drug and gun convictions out of Fayetteville.

Mitchell Johnson was arrested during a 2007 traffic stop for illegally using a controlled substance and possessing a firearm.

In 2008, he was sentenced to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Johnson, now 29, began serving the federal sentence in December 2011 after being paroled from state prison on separate theft and drug charges.

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Local & Regional News
12:57 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Amnesty Period for Arkansas Parole Absconders Nears a Close

Pulaski County Jail
Credit www.pcso.org

There is a little over a week remaining for parole absconders to take advantage of an amnesty period in Arkansas. Reforms to the system have created stricter penalties for those failing to report to probation officers after a repeat absconder was charged with committing a murder last year.

The Department of Community Correction is now working to address the cases of 2,000 people. Deputy Director Dina Tyler said there are typically two reasons for people to abscond.

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Local & Regional News
12:24 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Jacksonville To Vote On School District Separation

Jacksonville residents will be able to vote on whether they want to detach from the Pulaski County School District.

The Arkansas Education Board on Thursday unanimously approved a measure promoted by several Jacksonville groups to establish a separate school district in the city.

A settlement of a lawsuit that will end special desegregation to the Pulaski County, Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts contains a provision that allows Jacksonville form an independent district.

Local & Regional News
12:13 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

After 20-Plus Snow Days, Arkansas Cuts School Year

Arkansas' Board of Education says dozens of school districts that lost class time due to snow and brutal cold won't have to extend their academic year into a brutal summer.

The board granted waivers to 75 districts Thursday, requiring them to make up at least 10 of their missed days. Without the waivers, some districts faced holding classes into mid-June.

Schools are required to have class for 178 days each year. To qualify for a waiver, districts had to close for at least 10 days because of weather. Some districts have missed 23 days.

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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