The Arkansas Legislature convened for the second day of a month-long fiscal session Tuesday to consider state budgetary matters and other issues. Behind the scenes, lawmakers continue to plan possible changes to the state’s private option expansion of Medicaid in an effort to make reauthorizing funds for the program more palatable to many of the Legislature's conservative members. While House and Senate leaders were confident the program for low-income Arkansans can be reauthorized, House majority Leader Bruce Westerman told reporters that he didn't see that happening.
Arkansas students have shown continued improvement in scores on Advanced Placement exams.
The College Board reports that 4,390 of Arkansas' 27,492 graduates in 2013, 16 percent, scored a 3, 4 or 5. A score of 3 or higher is general accepted for college credit.
The College Board's report says 12,670 Arkansas students took an AP exam during high school. The exams cover various subjects in math and science; English, history and social science; and arts and world languages.
A national Republican group is targeting Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross with a new television ad that tries to paint the former Arkansas congressman as too closely aligned with President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Republican Governors Association announced Tuesday it would begin airing a 30-second spot around Arkansas criticizing Ross. The group said it was spending six figures on the spot, which was set to begin airing Tuesday.
Arkansas lawmakers are moving closer toward keeping the lieutenant governor's office vacant rather than holding a special election to fill former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's office for just a few months.
The Arkansas Senate voted 32-0 on Tuesday to consider changing the law to give Gov. Mike Beebe the choice to not hold a special election. Current law requires Beebe to call a special election within 150 days of declaring the office vacant.
Darr resigned Feb. 1 over ethics and campaign finance violations.
After a week and a half of searching, the Arkansas Forestry Commission is hopeful it will find its missing pilot.
Commission spokeswoman Adriane Barnes said the sunshine on Tuesday will allow the search crew to do a very detailed search.
“We have real visibility paired with some very detailed maps with layered pieces of information in there about areas already searched, about areas of priority based on communication with Jake’s cell phone provider, and most valuable is all of the leads are mapped.”
Arkansas lawmakers are gathering for the second day of a legislative session focused on the state's budget, with questions remaining about the future of a compromise Medicaid expansion approved last year.
The House and Senate were scheduled to convene Tuesday afternoon as lawmakers faced a light schedule for the start of the fiscal session. This is the third fiscal session under a constitutional amendment approved in 2008 requiring the Legislature to meet and budget annually.
The popular "Stuck on a Truck" contest at Conway's annual Toad Suck Daze festival is off this year.
Centennial Bank, which sponsored the annual vehicle giveaway, announced Monday that it won't be bringing back the contest during this year's festival in May. The giveaway began in 2001 as "Hug a Bug" and has become a major attraction at the festival in downtown Conway.
Before lawmakers milled about in the two legislative chambers, state police color guards posted their flags and roll was called Monday, preparations for the month-long fiscal session had long been underway with months of hearings and reviews of budget proposals. The session will deal with those budget proposals for various state entities as put forward by Governor Mike Beebe. Members of the House and Senate must reach three-fourths majorities to approve them, amending certain sections along the way.