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Local & Regional News
1:29 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Arkansas Legislative Panel Rejects 'Conscience-Protection' On 3-3 Vote

A "conscience-protection" proposal that critics say is an attempt to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians has failed before an Arkansas legislative panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the proposal to ban any local or state laws or regulations that substantially burden religious beliefs unless a "compelling governmental interest" is proven.

The House-backed measure faced mounting criticism from businesses, local governments and advocacy groups. They said it targeted gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

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Local & Regional News
1:18 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

ACLU Opposes Abortion Restriction Signed By Gov. Hutchinson

The American Civil Liberties union says telemedicine legislation signed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson is aimed at blocking access to abortions.

A Hutchinson spokesman says the governor signed a bill earlier this week that requires a doctor to be physically present when a woman takes abortion-inducing medication.

The bill by Republican Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View was a top legislative priority of anti-abortion groups and was supported by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.

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Local & Regional News
1:04 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Governor Closes Arkansas State Offices In Little Rock For Snow

Snow falling at a shopping center along the UALR campus. The college closed at 11 a.m. Wednesday as snowfall began.
Credit KUAR News

A winter storm is prompting Gov. Asa Hutchinson to close state offices in the Little Rock area.

A statement from Hutchinson's office said state offices in the central portion of the state were closing at noon for non-essential personnel. Workers outside the Little Rock area were told to check with their supervisors on whether they could leave.

Forecasters issued a winter storm warning for southern and parts of eastern Arkansas and said up to 6 inches of snow could fall.

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Local & Regional News
12:47 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Arkansas Panel OKs Eliminating Death Sentence As Penalty

A proposal to abolish Arkansas' death penalty is heading to the state Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option in capital murder cases.

Arkansas has 32 inmates on death row but hasn't executed anyone in nearly a decade due to legal challenges over the state's lethal injection procedures.

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Weather
5:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Winter Weather Closings and Delays

The Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts are closed Wednesday, and Arkansas state offices in the Little Rock metropolitan area are closing around noon. UALR closed at 11:00 a.m.

Here is a more detailed list of schools, government offices, and other organizations that are closed, delayed, or under inclement weather policies for Wednesday, February 25.

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Local & Regional News
4:34 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Arkansas House Panel To Consider Robert E. Lee Memorial Day

An Arkansas lawmaker plans to revive an attempt to separate the state's practice of honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same day by creating a memorial day for Lee.

A similar bill failed twice to advance out of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee after an outpouring of public comment from people who said the change belittles southern heritage.

Local & Regional News
3:27 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Gov. Hutchinson Signs Measure Expanding Computer Science Classes

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs the computer science bill into law Tuesday at the Capitol.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure requiring public high schools to offer computer science courses in the coming school year.

Hutchinson signed the bill Tuesday, following through on a campaign promise he says was inspired by his 12-year-old granddaughter learning computer coding. Hutchinson, a Republican, was elected in November.

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Local & Regional News
3:22 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Arkansas Governor Says He Has Concerns About Religion Bill

Governor Asa Hutchinson says he's concerned about possible “unintended consequences” of legislation scheduled to be discussed at a Senate committee meeting Wednesday.

The Conscience Protection Act would allow someone to cite religious beliefs in denying someone service. Gay rights groups say it would sanction discrimination.

Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday he has questions about how it would be applied.

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Local & Regional News
2:50 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Arkansas House Passes Lottery Bill, Sends To Gov. Hutchinson

Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson's control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games' operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

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Local & Regional News
2:47 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Arkansas Attorney General To Testify To US House Panel About EPA

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in a file photo from Oct. 29, 2014, shortly before the November election. Part of her campaign message focused on "burdensome" EPA regulations.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will testify before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

Rutledge announced Tuesday that she has accepted an invitation to testify Thursday before the Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior and will discuss U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and the impact of those regulations on the states.

Rutledge said in a statement that "the EPA continues to pile on burdensome regulations" that she says harms Arkansas' existing industry and makes it difficult to attract new industry.

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