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The period for written public comments on three air pollution control regulations has been extended until Feb. 17. Arkansas environmental officials announced the extension on Wednesday.

Officials say the proposed changes are necessary in order to adopt the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for things like lead, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone.

The proposed changes will give the state the authority to implement air pollution control programs and to issue permits.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Little Rock School District leadership is making a final push to avoid a state takeover of the district. The Arkansas State Board of Education will meet on January 28 to decide if the state should take over the entire district, just its six schools categorized in academic distress, or to allow district leadership to continue in place.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas Senate President Jonathan Dismang says he hopes to bring Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to cut taxes for the middle class by $100 million a year before lawmakers as soon as next week.

Dismang on Wednesday detailed the legislation outlining Hutchinson's tax cut plan. He said the legislation mirrors Hutchinson's campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class, with the reduction taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Hutchinson, a Republican, was sworn in Tuesday as Arkansas' 46th governor.

Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers had plenty of positive comments after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s speech to the 90th General Assembly. Hutchinson, who was sworn in as Arkansas’ 46th Governor on Tuesday, delivered a direct speech to a joint session of the legislature, touching on key issues that will be debated at the state Capitol for the next three months.

Those issues include tax cuts, education, health care, prisons, and much more.

Governor Asa Hutchinson shortly after being sworn in and about to give an inaugural address to the 90th General Assembly.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The transition to Republican control of the both the state legislature and every constitutional office is now complete. Asa Hutchinson took the oath of office to officially become Arkansas’s governor Tuesday and addressed onlookers at the Capitol.

Asa Hutchinson was welcomed into the House chamber with nearly two minutes of applause then sworn-in by Chief Justice Jim Hannah as the state’s 46th governor

HANNAH: Repeat after me, I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HUTCHINSON: I “W” Asa Hutchinson.

HANNAH: Do solemnly swear.

Unofficial results from the Arkansas Secretary of State show a runoff will be needed to choose the lawmaker who will replace former Senate President Michael Lamoureux.

Greg Standridge and Stan Berry were the two highest vote-getters in Tuesday's primary. The Russellville Courier reports they will compete Feb. 10 for the District 16 seat because no candidate received a majority.

According to the state agency's website, Standridge received about 47.8 percent of the total 4,438 votes. Berry received about 41 percent of the vote, and Thomas Akin received about 11 percent.

Arkansas growers set or tied state records for yields in six crops in 2014, exceeding the national average in per-acre yield in four categories.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Crop Production Annual Survey released Monday, Arkansas growers set state records for cotton, corn for grain, all rice and long grain rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes. Average yields for corn, cotton, long grain rice and soybeans all exceeded national averages.

The Arkansas panel reviewing elected officials' salaries will soon meet for the first time since the Legislature convened for this year's session.

The Independent Citizens Commission will meet Wednesday morning in Little Rock, the first of two meetings this week.

The commission is expected to hear from several witnesses, including the state budget administrator and two judges.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

It took workers using two excavators a little less than an hour to bring down the old Cinema 150 movie theater in Little Rock. The dome-shaped building at the corner of University and Asher Avenues ran many of the top films of its day.

Built in the late 1960s with a screen that curved at a 150 degree angle, it gave movies a big impact.  The theater was closed in 2003, considered functionally obsolete for having just one screen in an era of multiplexes. But it still had a very special place in the hearts of many who saw films there.

Asa Hutchinson Becomes 46th Arkansas Governor, Details Priorities

Jan 13, 2015
Governor Asa Hutchinson shortly after being sworn in and about to give an inaugural address to the 90th General Assembly.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Republican Asa Hutchinson has been sworn in as Arkansas' 46th governor. The ex-congressman and former federal Homeland Security official took the oath of office at the state Capitol Tuesday, succeeding Democrat Mike Beebe.

Hutchinson took office a day after lawmakers convened for the start of the 2015 session. He has said he wants lawmakers to move quickly on his campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class by $100 million a year. He's also expected to announce later this month whether he'll supporting continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion. 

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