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3:39 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Prominent Legislators Weigh Private Option Compromises

Incoming Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam of Judsonia speaks to reporters after the Political Animals Club meeting in Little Rock.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

At the Governor’s Mansion Friday four of the state’s more prominent legislators recalled and analyzed, for the Political Animals Club, some of the dilemmas over amending the private option in order to gain enough votes for it to pass this last fiscal session.

They were in agreement their peers exhibited remarkable civility and capacity for solutions but some compromises stuck out. Senator Linda Chesterfield of Little Rock spoke critically about an amendment removing funding for non-emergency transportation.

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Local & Regional News
2:48 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

UAMS Students Hosting Free Health Screening For Men

Credit healthon12th.uams.edu

A free wellness event offering men’s health related services, like blood pressure checks, glucose, cholesterol, dental and testosterone screenings, is scheduled for Saturday.

The UAMS student-led clinic, the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center, is hosting the event.

Rachel Stamp-Siegfried, a student of the UAMS College of Medicine, said this is the first time that they are holding the event, which is titled “March Man-ness.”

The idea, she said, started with five students in November.

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Local & Regional News
12:18 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Martha Shoffner Seeks Acquittal After Conviction On Federal Charges

Martha Shoffner leaving federal court last week after being convicted of bribery and extortion charges.
Credit Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Lawyers for former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner have asked a federal judge to acquit her on bribery and extortion charges, saying prosecutors didn't prove the case against her.

In a court filing Friday, Shoffner's lawyers said no government witness offered proof that interstate commerce was impacted "by robbery or extortion" and that no money changed hands in return for "official acts" by Shoffner.

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Local & Regional News
12:15 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Judge Orders Alamo To Pay Seven Abused Women $525 Million

File photo of Tony Alamo being escorted into the courthouse in Texarkana.

An Arkansas judge has awarded another $525 million to seven women abused by Tony Alamo after no one showed up to defend the evangelist.

Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson entered a default judgment against Alamo awarding an identical amount to the sum the Twenty First Century Holiness Tabernacle Church was ordered last month to pay in actual and punitive damages. The church is affiliated with Alamo Ministries.

Alamo was convicted in 2009 of taking young girls across state lines for sex. He's serving a 175-year prison sentence.

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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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