Opponents and supporters of Arkansas' ban on gay marriage are sparring in court filings over whether the state's constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage serves a legitimate purpose and can be challenged at the state level.
Attorneys for the state and a group of same-sex couples filed competing arguments in Pulaski County court on Wednesday seeking summary judgment over the challenge to a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
A hearing is scheduled on April 17 over the motions.
The Arkansas Board of Education is set to review requests by school districts across the state to reduce their academic years after winter storms that forced some students to miss almost a month's worth of classes.
The state board is meeting Thursday and will consider waiver requests from 75 districts. If the waivers are granted they would shorten the required 178 days of instruction for Arkansas schools seeking not to extend classes into mid-June.
Members of the legislature met for the final time Wednesday for the biennial fiscal session and looked forward selecting a new Speaker.
After a whirlwind session dominated by the future of the private option, and a last minute override of a veto by Governor Beebe, granting the natural gas and oil industry a $5 million tax break, House Speaker Davy Carter lowered the gavel for the last time.
The legislature acted on the final day of the fiscal session Wednesday to override a veto meant to halt a $5 million tax break for the natural gas and oil industries.
The sales tax exemption for sands used in fracking was inserted in a bill by a subcommittee but Governor Mike Beebe and others say that was not constitutional under the rules of the fiscal session. Republican Stephens Meeks represents some of the areas drilled for natural gas and said the move was in keeping with rules and will benefit the industry.
Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, speaks to reporters, while Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Beau Bishop of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, listen.
A new study by the Partnership for a New American Economy suggests labor shortages are increasing the reliance on imported produce and slowing economic growth in Arkansas.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, heads of chamber of commerce groups, the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Economic Development Commission, said it shows the need for the U.S. Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson is proposing changing Arkansas' workforce training system, calling for the creation of eight councils around the state that would guide how funding for the programs are distributed.
Hutchinson on Wednesday proposed creating eight Workforce Education Councils to coordinate and expand the state's existing training programs.