Arkansas Government

Dennis Milligan treasurer
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Ethics Commission has dropped eight of the 13 allegations from its investigation of Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan.

Milligan's former campaign staff filed more than a dozen amended campaign finance reports on Friday to address complaints filed by Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell.

Under ethics law reforms passed by voters last year, Milligan had 30 days to fix any unintentional reporting violations and the Ethics Commission then does not take action on those matters.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new policy is prohibiting the use of unmanned aircraft near the Arkansas state Capitol.

The Arkansas Capitol Police on Tuesday announced a new ban on the use unmanned aerial vehicles, including model aircraft or drones on the state Capitol grounds. The ban includes aircraft for hobby or recreational use, commercial use, or for any other purpose.

The exclusion zone is bounded by Interstate 630 on the south side of the Capitol to Markham Street on the north and Victory Street on the east to the railroad tracks on the west.

Office of the Governor

Governor Asa Hutchinson is challenging Arkansas to raise its overall college graduation rate and increase college enrollment of adults.

Dennis Milligan treasurer
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Ethics Commission has told Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell it will investigate portions of an ethics complaint he filed against Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan last month.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the creation of the Arkansas Cooperative Disability Investigations Program (CDI), a joint state-federal initiative to prevent fraud in disability programs administered by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to Rutledge, Arkansas is now the 29th CDI unit to take part in the federal initiative, which began in 1998 to investigate questionable statements and activities of Social Security claimants, medical providers and other parties to prevent potential fraud in the federal program.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Starting Saturday through the first week in December, the Arkansas State Capitol building will be closed to the public on weekends.

Renovations on the first floor and to part of the House chamber pose safety concerns, says Chris Powell, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. The office oversees the Capitol grounds.

"There is a lot of scaffolding, so we were primarily concerned with the safety of the public," Powell says. "On the weekends we have a lot of visitors and we just wanted to make sure it was going to be safe for people."

Arkansas severance tax collections fell more than 50% in May from year ago levels as the state’s rig count plummeted to single digits and drilling crews are leaving the state for other richer wet shale plays across the U.S., according to state severance tax and employment data and industry reports.

That has left state tax revenue for natural gas production at just over $4 million in May, down 54.5% from $8.8 million a year ago, according to monthly tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that former state Rep. Duncan Baird will become the state budget administrator at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Hutchinson said Thursday that Baird will be involved in the state budget process and in Hutchinson's efforts to reform state government.

Baird is a Republican from Lowell who was first elected to the House in 2009 and served as House chairman of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for state treasurer in 2014.

Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A former employee fired from the Arkansas treasurer's office has filed a lawsuit against the treasurer's chief of staff, accusing his former boss of defamation.

David Singer filed the lawsuit Thursday in Pulaski County Circuit Court against treasurer's office Chief of Staff Jim Harris.

The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Harris published false statements about Singer's mental health to co-workers, Treasurer Dennis Milligan and to members of the media. Singer was fired from his job as outreach manager in late April.

Both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature have advanced proposals to move several smaller state agencies into larger ones.

Identical bills backed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson cleared the House 95 to 0 and the Senate 33 to 0 Wednesday.

Under the plan, the Department of Rural Services and the Science and Technology Authority would be merged into the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Hutchinson also wants to merge the Division of Land Survey into the Geographic Information Office and the Arkansas Building Authority into the Department of Finance and Administration.