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Local & Regional News
12:45 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Osceola Kicks In $2 Million For Big River Steel

The city of Osceola is the latest governmental body to approve incentives for the planned $1.1 billion Big River Steel mill in northeast Arkansas.

The Blytheville Courier News reports that the Osceola City Council approved $2 million this week for
the new steel mill.

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Local & Regional News
12:39 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Arkansas House Approves Tax Hike For Forestry Agency

A proposal to increase the tax that private timberland owners pay to help the financially troubled  Arkansas Forestry Commission's firefighting efforts is headed to Gov. Mike Beebe's desk.  

By a 75-10 vote, the House approved legislation that would increase the fire protection tax from 15 cents an acre to 20 cents an acre.

The tax increase would be effective for assessment years beginning in 2013. The measure is expected to raise about $700,000 a year.  

The proposal was approved a year after the commission's director resigned over questions about finances.

Local & Regional News
12:38 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Arkansas Unemployment Rate Unchanged At 7.2 Percent

The Arkansas unemployment rate for March was unchanged at 7.2 percent.

The state Department of Workforce Services said Friday that the state's number of unemployed people declined, but not enough to change the jobless rate.  

The national unemployment rate for March fell from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent.  

For the month, Arkansas jobs increased in 10 major industry sectors and declined in one sector, manufacturing.  

Local & Regional News
12:36 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Arkansas House Backs Income, Capital Gains Tax Cuts

Credit flickr.com

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to cutting the state's taxes on taxes and capital gains, part of a package of reductions that is expected to eventually cost the state more than $140 million a year.

The House on Friday approved four tax cut measures that also include breaks for volunteer firefighters and farmers.  

The total tax cut package is estimated to cost the state $10.7 million in the coming fiscal year and will eventually cost more than $140 million annually.

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Study To Expand Arkansas 10
12:14 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Arkansas Highway Experts Continue With Plans To Widen Cantrell Road

Officials with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department are still drafting plans to widen Cantrell Road in Little Rock. 

Department spokesman Danny Straessle says recent findings from an improvement study of an 8-mile section of the road shows expansion is necessary to alleviate traffic congestion. 

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Local & Regional News
9:37 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Arkansas Lawmakers Handed Bill Outlining $4.9 Billion Budget

Arkansas lawmakers are considering boosting funding for public schools and Medicaid while also giving state employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise under legislation outlining the state's proposed $4.9 billion budget for the coming year.  

Legislators were handed copies Thursday night of the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, the budget bill for the state. The measure prioritizes spending based on expected revenue and is scheduled to go before the Joint Budget Committee Friday. 

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Legislative Ethics
7:04 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Ethics Amendment Passes Arkansas Senate

Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) says HJR1009 that he sponsored with Sen. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) is very similar to a proposal the group Regnat Populous tried to get onto the ballot last year.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

A proposed constitutional amendment that would, among other things, prohibit state legislators and constitutional officers from accepting gifts from lobbyists is closer to being on the 2014 ballot after passing the Senate Thursday.

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Local & Regional News
3:52 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Arkansas Lawmakers Advance Ethics, Campaign Rules

An Arkansas legislative panel has advanced an effort to outlaw most lobbyist gifts to elected officials, ban corporate campaign contributions and loosen term limits for state lawmakers.  

The Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments on Thursday approved a proposal to let voters decide on adding a package of ethics and campaign finance rules to the state's constitution.

A previous version of the proposal cleared the House earlier this month, but was rejected earlier this week when the backers sought to make several minor changes to the bill.  

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Local & Regional News
2:26 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Governor Beebe To Sign Medicaid Bill Monday

A spokesman says Gov. Mike Beebe will sign legislation next week that authorizes Arkansas to accept federal Medicaid funds and use them to buy private insurance for low-income residents.  

Beebe will sign the bills at a ceremony next Monday at 9:30 a.m. The Legislature gave final approval to the plan Wednesday night.  

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Local & Regional News
12:18 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Officials Give Update On Oil Spill Cleanup In Mayflower

The Mayflower Incident Unified Command Joint Information Center receive questions and comments.
Credit KUAR

In a press conference Thursday, officials heading the Mayflower Oil Spill clean up efforts say the air and water qualities in the affected area remain at safe levels for residents.  6,750 cubic yards of solid waste materials have been removed from the site, but more decontamination must be done to remove the 5,000 barrels of oil spilled.  

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, the local on-scene coordinator, assures residents that the Mayflower Incident United Command team has experts and trained staff to handle all aspects of the clean up.

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