News

The state’s revenue forecast looks rosier thanks to a strong month of sales tax collections in February. Monthly sales tax collections spiked 5.7% above last year and 5% above forecast to bring in $176.5 million for the month.

The increase boosted year-to-date net available general revenues to more than $3.338 billion, up $127.2 million or 4% above year ago levels. After eight months into the fiscal year, net available revenue is above forecast by $94.6 million or 2.9%.

A national group is touting Arkansas businesses that it says are promoting diversity for gays and lesbians as it fights "conscience protection" legislation that critics say would justify discrimination.
 
The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday planned to announce its "Equality is Our Business" program at a news conference in North Little Rock. The group says the program is aimed at advancing protections in employment, housing and public accommodations.
 

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Of the many immigrants thought to be in the United States illegaly, the Arkansas United Community Coalition estimates 60,000 of them are in Arkansas. Of those, they say half would likely benefit from President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The state is now one of 26 fighting the President in court, but the AUCC continues to ready immigrants in case the President’s orders take effect.

Charlie Collins
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A bill passed in the Arkansas House of Representatives Monday would require public universities to allow faculty and staff with concealed carry permits to bring firearms on campus. It now heads to the Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville, said during debate that the proposal would serve as a deterrent to those considering committing a mass shooting.

The Arkansas attorney general's office is asking a federal judge who struck down the state's gay marriage ban to not allow same-sex couples resume marrying.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to not lift the stay she put on her ruling last year striking down a 2004 voter-approved amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Baker suspended her ruling while the state appealed, but the couples challenging the ban have asked her to lift that stay.

Twelve Republicans and four Democrats have been named to a legislative task force studying alternatives for covering the thousands of people currently on Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang on Monday named their members to the panel created last month to study the future of the state's "private option" program. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Johnny Key Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson has named University of Arkansas System lobbyist Johnny Key as his pick to head the Arkansas Department of Education. The former Republican state Representative from Mountain Home would replace former Democratic Governor Mike Beebe's appointee Tony Wood.

However, Key does not meet the post’s minimum requirements of having 10 years of experience in teaching and holding a master’s degree. In a press conference at the Capitol Monday, Hutchinson said he wants the Legislature to re-write the qualifications to allow Key to become Education Commissioner.

Another round of winter weather is expected this week in central Arkansas. Temperatures in the mid-50s are predicted for Tuesday, but then rain, sleet, and possibly more snow will likely arrive Wednesday night.

Marty Trexler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says significant accumulation is anticipated late Wednesday.

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Karen Baker
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Two members of the Arkansas Supreme Court are urging a panel reviewing elected officials' salaries to give justices a higher pay raise than what's initially been recommended.

Justices Jo Hart and Karen Baker told the Independent Citizens Commission on Monday that justices deserve a higher pay raise because of their workload and in order to ensure the state's most talented lawyers are running for the court. They were among five people to speak at a public hearing on the commission's pay proposal.

Texarkana Regional Airport
www.txkairport.com/

The director of the Texarkana Regional Airport says its status as a commerical regional airport could be in danger.

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