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Judicial Discretion
6:07 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas House Panel OKs Alternative Sentencing Bill

An Arkansas House panel has advanced a proposal to allow judges in the state to establish court-directed rehabilitation programs where they can send defendants as an alternative to prison or probation.

Under the proposal, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, defendants would see their case dismissed and records expunged in exchange for successfully completing the program. The option would be available to people charged with certain felonies but excludes those accused of sex offenses or crimes committed against minors or people over 65 years old.

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Children's Health Care
5:51 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Children's Hospital To Accept Aetna Patients

Arkansas Children's Hospital says patients with Aetna health insurance will soon receive in-network care at the hospital and its clinics.

The hospital says it's finalized a contract with Aetna Health Insurance Company so those covered by the insurer can receive in-network rates beginning Friday.

Beth Petlak, the executive director of Children's Healthcare System Physician Hospital Organization, says the arrangement will allow the hospital to reach more families throughout the region. Aetna has more than 60,000 members in Arkansas.

Freedom of Information
5:44 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Senate OKs FOI Exemption For Accident Reports

The Arkansas Senate has unanimously approved keeping the names of children involved in motor vehicle accidents from being released to the public.

The Senate voted 35-0 Tuesday to exempt the identities of minors listed in motor vehicle accident reports from being released under the state Freedom of Information Act. The proposal now heads to the House for a vote.

Local & Regional News
5:09 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas House Approves Changes To Local Elections

The Arkansas House has approved a proposal to restrict when cities and counties can hold special  elections.  

Lawmakers approved the measure by a 68-22 vote on Tuesday - a day after the proposal fell two votes short of a majority in the chamber. 

The bill would require municipalities to hold special elections at the same time as state primary or general elections. 

During non-election years, cities and counties would have to hold elections on the Tuesday after the first Monday in either May or November.

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Local & Regional News
5:05 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Senate Approves Pawn Shop Data Bill

The Arkansas Senate has given final approval to a bill requiring all pawn shops in the state to electronically send law enforcement their records of who is selling property.

By a 34-0 vote, the Senate approved the bill requiring pawn shops to upload on a daily basis the data they already collect about purchases and sales to a centralized online database chosen by local law enforcement officials.

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Campaign Ethics
1:46 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Panel Rejects Campaign Finance Proposals

Sen. Bruce Maloch (D-Magnolia) wanted to tighten controls on campaign contributions in the state.
Credit Arkansas State Legislature / www.arkleg.state.ar.us

A Senate panel has rejected measures that would have prohibited using campaign funds to buy tickets to another candidate's event and barred campaign contributions from businesses sharing the same majority owner.

On Tuesday, the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee rejected by a voice vote the campaign finance measures by Democratic Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia.

The first proposal was aimed at preventing campaigns from transferring funds to another candidate by purchasing tickets to fundraisers and other events.

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Charter Schools
1:34 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Panel Backs Change To Charter School Process

Rep. Mark Biviano (R-Searcy) wants to amend the process for charter school approval in Arkansas.
Credit ArkansasHouse.org / Arkansas House of Representatives

A House committee has approved legislation that would change the way Arkansas approves charter school applications.

The House Education Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would designate the state Education Department and not the Board of Education as the primary authorizer of charter schools. The proposal by Republican Rep. Mark Biviano of Searcy now heads to the House for a vote.

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1:21 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas’s Abortion Ban and One Man’s Strong Will

Lead in text: 
The New York Times features Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, who designed the law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Fetal heartbeat laws are already under consideration by legislatures in Ohio, Kansas and North Dakota, and have a good chance of passage in the coming year, their proponents believe, even though legal experts say they have little chance of surviving in federal courts. Similar proposals are less far along in Kentucky, Mississippi and Wyoming.
Local & Regional News
1:20 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Arkansas Open Carry Bill Fails To Clear Committee

A proposal to allow the open carry of handguns in some parts of Arkansas has once again failed to  clear a House panel.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted 10-5 in favor of the measure, falling one vote short of the majority needed to advance to the full House. The bill failed before the panel by a two-vote margin last month.

The proposal would have allowed open carry in unincorporated areas of the state and would have protected concealed carry permit-holders who inadvertently display their weapons.

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Local & Regional News
12:21 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Google To Pay Arkansas For Violating Privacy

The Arkansas Attorney General’s office announced Tuesday a $7 million settlement has been reached with internet search giant Google over allegations it collected data from unsecured wireless networks.

The AG’s office says the information was collected by Google’s Street View cars, which took images for geolocation services.

Google acknowledges information gathered may have included addresses of requested web pages, email communications, as well as confidential or private information transmitted as the Google Street View cars were passing.

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