Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate has voted to shield publicly owned utility ratepayer information from release, months after the state Supreme Court said the records weren't exempt from the open records law.

The Senate voted 33-0 Wednesday in favor of legislation that would exempt municipally owned ratepayer's addresses, phone numbers and usage data from the state Freedom of Information Act. The measure now heads to the House.

The legislation would also exempt municipal utilities' plans for generation, transmission and distribution systems from the FOI law.

Employees seeking public information would be guaranteed protections under a proposal approved by an Arkansas House committee.

The House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs unanimously supported the bill on Wednesday. The proposal would make it illegal for any public employer to fire, discipline or reprimand an employee who uses the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The law allows the citizens to access most public data, such as governmental contracts and employee salaries.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to cut income taxes for the middle class by $102 million a year is heading to a final vote in the state Senate.

The Senate Revenue and Taxation on Wednesday advanced an amended version Hutchinson's proposal to cut income taxes 1 percent for those making between $21,000 and $75,000 a year. Senate President Jonathan Dismang said he expects the Senate to vote on the proposal Thursday.

Project Manhattan / Wikimedia Commons

  Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office has cleared the way for a group calling for legalizing alcohol sales statewide to begin gathering signatures to put the proposal on the 2016 ballot. Rutledge's office on Tuesday certified the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties. The proposal must be certified before supporters can begin gathering the nearly 85,000 signatures from registered voters needed to put the proposal on the ballot November 2016.

Rep. Kelley Linck (R-Yellville) and Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) presenting Arkansas's plan on Medicaid expansion to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, branded as the private option, is headed to the House floor. The governor’s proposal to continue the plan through 2016 and to create a task force to recommend Medicaid reforms afterward passed out of committee Tuesday.

The Arkansas House Committee on Education voted on several bills Tuesday, including Governor Asa Hutchinson’s proposed statewide computer science class, state certification of yoga teachers schools, and expanding class sizes in public schools.

The bill bill on class sizes would have added two extra students to classrooms on a temporary basis. 

“I believe school districts are just being non compliant with (current) law. I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation they’re going to hire a school teacher seven weeks into school,” said Rep. Jim Dotson-R.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Arkansas will receive $21.5 million as a result of a $1.375 billion state-federal settlement involving Standard & Poor’s Financial Services.

Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of 18 other states and the District of Columbia reached the settlement with Standard & Poor’s resolving allegations that S&P misled investors when it rated structured finance securities in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

A federal appeals court has agreed to hear arguments this spring from three more states defending gay marriage bans.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday granted a request to consider an appeal from South Dakota at an expedited pace. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says the court also combined the arguments with cases from Arkansas and Missouri.

All three states are appealing federal judges' decisions to overturn gay marriage bans.

Arkansas River
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Funding for a key project to protect commercial river traffic on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is included in President Barack Obama’s 2016 federal budget, which was delivered to Congress Monday.

With many similar projects vying for funding, officials with the Arkansas Waterways Commission are celebrating the news.

Tchaikovsky And Mozart Festival

Feb 3, 2015

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's fourth concert in its 2014-2015 Stella Boyle Masterworks Series featured Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

The program included The Polonaise from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, Mozart's Concerto for Violin No. 5 in A Major and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F Minor were the featured works.