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Local & Regional News
6:28 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Arkansas's Same Sex Marriage Ban Awaits Its Ruling

Plaintiffs Kendall Wright and Julia Wright
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A decision on whether or not Arkansas’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage will be re-affirmed or lifted is still being weighed after litigators presented nearly three hours of arguments Thursday. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said he will have a written judgment within two weeks.

Speaking afterward, Jack Wagnor, an attorney for the plaintiffs, framed the court’s future decision in the context of similar litigation nationally.

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Local & Regional News
4:46 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

What Survey Finds About The Economics Of Race In Pulaski County

A panel moderated by Senator Joyce Elliott discusses the economics of race at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.
Credit Karen Tricot Steward / KUAR

A telephone survey of residents in Pulaski County shows whites are significantly more likely to be very satisfied with their quality of life and education level than blacks and Hispanics.

The findings are part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's annual survey on racial attitudes. This year's survey focused on economic issues.

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Local & Regional News
8:53 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Ouachita County Names New Interim County Judge

The Ouachita County Quorum Court has named an interim county judge after the county's previous leader resigned.

The court this week named Amy Varner-Olvey as interim leader of the county. She takes over after the resignation of former judge Mike Hesterly.

Hesterly is awaiting trial on federal fraud charges that accuse him of awarding a Federal Emergency Management Agency contract in exchange for a campaign contribution. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Local & Regional News
8:46 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Hearing Set In Challenge To Arkansas Gay Marriage Ban

Advocates of ending Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage are to make their case before a circuit judge in Pulaski County.

More than three dozen people are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Arkansas' voter-approved ban on gay marriage. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is to preside over the hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday in Little Rock.

Late last year, Piazza refused to grant a motion by the state that sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but he also refused to grant a motion by the couples suing, who asked him to block enforcement of the ban.

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Local & Regional News
4:52 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

ACLU of Arkansas Files Suit Against Voter ID Law

ACLU's Rita Sklar (stock photo)
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

The state’s 2013 voter ID law is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center. The lawsuit argues the act presents an unconstitutional barrier to voting.

ACLU’s Executive Director Rita Sklar said the law targets populations with poor access to resources.

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Local & Regional News
3:17 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Lottery Commission Votes For Monitor-Style Games

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has voted to introduce monitor-style games in the state. The panel voted Wednesday, but also expressed concern that some legislators have indicated they're opposed to the games in which players use interactive video monitors to pick numbers and see quickly whether they have won.

The commission wants to reverse a slide in revenues and the monitor games, which could include keno and bingo, may be a way to boost the revenue which provides money for college scholarships.

Local & Regional News
2:17 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Interstate 49 To Run Through Western Arkansas, Connecting LA and MO

Credit Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

The state highway department is preparing for major construction in the western part of Arkansas, developing Interstate 49, that will run from New Orleans to Kansas City.

A few dozen other new highway projects are also part of the Connecting Arkansas program, which seeks to revitalize 31 highways around the state and is funded with a 10-year, half- cent sales tax that was approved by voters.

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Local & Regional News
8:43 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Judge Lets Conviction Of Arkansas Treasurer Stand

Martha Shoffner
Credit David Goins / KARK-TV

A federal judge has upheld the corruption conviction of Arkansas' former treasurer,
rejecting her request to have the case heard by state authorities.

Lawyers for Martha Shoffner said the Arkansas Ethics Commission - not federal jurors - should have addressed claims that she accepted $36,000 from a bond broker who did business with the state. A federal jury convicted Shoffner on March 11.

The defense team said the federal government wasn't harmed by Shoffner's actions and wanted U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes to dismiss the charges against her.

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Local & Regional News
8:24 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Ruling: Faulkner Judge Can Remain On Ballot

Another Arkansas judge has been ruled eligible for office after his candidacy was challenged because of a temporary license suspension.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled Tuesday that Circuit Judge H.G. Foster is eligible for the ballot. Foster's candidacy had been challenged because his license was temporarily suspended because of late payment of annual dues.

State law says a person must be a licensed attorney for six years to be eligible for a judgeship.

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Local & Regional News
6:35 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Arkansans Critical of Corporate Tax Structure Rally at Capitol

Neal Sealy with Arkansas Community Organizations
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A loose affiliation of citizens, advocacy groups, and unions gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday, the last day to file taxes, condemning what they argue is a tax system favoring large corporations.

Justin Nickels, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, criticized tax exemptions being granted to profitable corporations while cuts to social services are made.

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