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bart hester
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

An Arkansas lawmaker says the state should cut funding for public colleges and universities as much as $14.6 million.

Republican Sen. Bart Hester of Cave Springs on Tuesday said he'll propose cutting higher education funding by 1 percent or 2 percent in the coming fiscal year. Hester said the money saved could go instead toward tax cuts or other needs such as pre-kindergarten.

The speaker of the Arkansas House says he hopes to have the legislative session mostly finished by the end of the month.

Jeremy Gillam spoke Tuesday at a breakfast hosted by the bipartisan Political Animals Club of Little Rock and said Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Senate president support the March end date, but that the session could spill over into early April.

An Arkansas House committee is scheduled to consider a proposal to criminalize some transfers of adopted children to unrelated families.
 
Republican Rep. David Meeks of Conway says he plans to present his bill before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Most transfers of adopted children without state oversight would become felony offenses, punishable by up to five years in prison. The practice is only regulated in five states.
 

The Arkansas Senate says individuals who take certain job-training benefits or other aid for their families must be able to pass a drug test.

A bill by Sen. Blake Johnson to set up a pilot program for two years of drug testing passed on a 24-3 vote Monday. It requires the Department of Workforce Services to ask applicants questions to root out possible drug abuse. Those who give suspicious answers would be referred for actual drug testing.

Justin harris
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas lawmaker who gave his adopted daughters to a man who later admitted to sexually assaulting one of the girls plans to resign from two leadership posts.

A House spokeswoman said Monday that Republican Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork told House leaders that he wants to step down as vice chairman of the Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee and from the Joint Performance Review committee.

An independent panel has approved more than doubling Arkansas legislators' salaries and granting substantial pay hikes to the state's other elected officials.

By a 5-2 vote, the Independent Citizens Commission on Monday gave final approval to its review of salaries for Arkansas' legislators, constitutional officers and judges. The seven-member commission was created through a voter-approved constitutional amendment in November.

Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan has agreed to pay a $1,000 fine for hiring his cousin to work in the treasurer's office and is reimbursing the state nearly $7,000 in salary his cousin was paid. Milligan and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the agreement Friday.

An Arkansas House committee has endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to reinstate a voter identification law. The committee on Friday advanced five proposals to a joint committee that will consider which ones should be placed on the 2016 ballot.

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to cutting unemployment benefits, a move that an opponent cast as hypocritical since the Legislature is about to receive a hefty pay raise.

The bill approved by the Senate on a 22-7 vote Thursday would reduce the number of weeks someone can receive unemployment assistance from the state from 25 weeks to 20. The measure also reduces weekly unemployment benefits by changing the way they're calculated.

The proposal now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

John Glasgow
Arkansas Business

The remains of a Little Rock construction executive who went missing in 2008 have been found in Petit Jean State Park.

Conway County Sheriff Mike Smith confirmed that hikers found a skull on Wednesday afternoon about 150 yards off Red Bluff Drive in the park. The remains were taken to the State Crime Laboratory Thursday morning.

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