News

On this week's podcast, two bills are awaiting the governor's signature.

One got final approval late Friday afternoon, capping years of debate about whether the state should end the practice of having dual recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on the same day.

The other greatly expands where concealed handguns can be carried.

We also discuss how two Congressmen from Arkansas helped advance a Republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare. And we have the latest on eight executions scheduled over a 10-day period next month.

arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted Friday to give final legislative approval to a bill that ends the official recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day. The House passed SB519 on a 66-11 vote, with five members voting present and 18 not voting.

The state is poised to hand over control of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the city of Pine Bluff. A bill passed in the Arkansas House on Friday would transfer the operation from the state Department of Parks and Tourism to the city’s Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission.

Update: The Department of Parks and Tourism provided KUAR with attendance figures for the Hall of Fame. It reveals a dramatic decline in recent years.

2017 – To date 2,675

2016 – 5,793

2015 – 7,125

2014 – 16,932

2013 – 21,102

npr.org

Legislation is advancing in the Arkansas House of Representatives that would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state.

Rev your engines! Well, not yet. The Arkansas House overwhelmingly backed a bill on Thursday to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on interstates and 65 miles per hour on other highways. If it becomes law, the five-mile per hour bump would still be subject to studies from state highway officials.

State Representative Justin Gonzalez, a Republican from Okolona, nestled between Prescott and Arkadelphia, is a fan of faster driving.

“I’d say that this bill couldn’t get here fast enough wouldn’t you agree?” Gonzalez joked to bill sponsor DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio).

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Senate passed a number of bills Thursday regulating medical marijuana. One of those, HB1460, allows employers to establish marijuana-free workplace policies. It would allow employers to bar workers with physicians’ written certifications from showing up on the job if they are high. 

Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Masingill and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Funding for the Delta Regional Authority would be eliminated under President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. The federal agency is set up to help encourage and coordinate economic development in eight states, including Arkansas, tied to the beleaguered Mississippi River Delta region.

Jason McGehee
Department of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an effort to block the execution for one of eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death next month.

Justices on Thursday denied a motion to recall the mandate in the case of convicted murderer Jason McGehee, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27. McGehee's attorney had asked justices to vacate his death sentence and send his case back to a lower court for resentencing, citing problems with the verdict forms in his resentencing.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A bill that expands where trained Arkansans can bring concealed firearms is now heading to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk after the Legislature gave its final approval on Wednesday.

arkansashouse.org

A bill that would have extended the period of time state or governmental entities can comply with a Freedom of Information Act request failed to advance out of an Arkansas House of Representatives committee on Wednesday morning.

Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Bob Johnson’s bill would have extended the time that agencies or entities could comply with FOIA requests from three working days to 15 days if the request they receive is “unduly burdensome.” Johnson said it was needed in cases of requests for large amounts of records, which can be difficult to gather even in the age of computers.

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