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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The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has withdrawn 10 construction projects from its planned list of projects scheduled for award in April.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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Local & Regional News
6:22 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Bumpers' Papers Made Available To Public

Senator Dale Bumpers, 1989.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is announcing that the papers of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers are being made available to researchers.

The former Arkansas governor served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until 1999.

Timothy Nutt, head of special collections, says the papers document the Democrat's roots in Arkansas and career in the nation's capital.

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Local & Regional News
5:47 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Arkansas Business And Agriculture Leaders Push For Immigration Reform

Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, speaks to reporters, while Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Beau Bishop of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, listen.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new study by the Partnership for a New American Economy suggests labor shortages are increasing the reliance on imported produce and slowing economic growth in Arkansas.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, heads of chamber of commerce groups, the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Economic Development Commission, said it shows the need for the U.S. Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform.

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Local & Regional News
1:10 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidate Asa Hutchinson Proposes Workforce Training Changes

File photo of Asa Hutchinson filing to run for governor last month at the state Capitol.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson is proposing changing Arkansas' workforce training system, calling for the creation of eight councils around the state that would guide how funding for the programs are distributed.

Hutchinson on Wednesday proposed creating eight Workforce Education Councils to coordinate and expand the state's existing training programs.

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Local & Regional News
11:22 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Contractor Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy In Case Involving Judge

A contractor has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in a case that accuses the Ouachita County judge of awarding a disaster-relief contract in exchange for a campaign contribution.

Harry Clemons Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with major disaster benefits. He was indicted in January 2013 along with County Judge Mike Hesterly.

The indictment alleges Hesterly hired Clemons to help clean up the county following October 2009 storms in exchange for a campaign contribution.

Local & Regional News
10:38 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Arkansas House To Decide New Speaker In Secret Ballot

File photo of the Arkansas House chamber.
Credit wikipedia.org

Arkansas House members are expected to vote for the next speaker in a closed-door session on Wednesday.

Three Republicans and one Democrat say they're running for the office. The vote will take place after the chamber adjourns the fiscal session.

The Republicans are state Reps. Jeremy Gillam, Kim Hammer and Matthew Shepherd. State Rep. Fred Love is the sole Democratic candidate who says he wants the post.

Republicans hold a 51-48 seat lead over Democrats.

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Local & Regional News
10:33 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Hitchhiker Accused in Arkansas deputy's death

File photo of Lafayette County Chief Deputy Pete Richardson.
Credit Sarah Nemeth / KSLA

Prosecutors say an Arkansas deputy was performing a good deed when he was killed in a traffic wreck this week while driving a hitchhiker to a homeless shelter.

Prosecuting Attorney Carlton Jones says Lafayette County Chief Deputy Pete Richardson was "just trying to do the right thing" when he offered to drive Michael Ackart to a shelter in Texarkana, Texas.

According to an affidavit, Ackart, of Tulsa, Okla., told police that he grabbed the steering wheel while Richardson was driving, causing the deadly crash.

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