KASU

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems closely divided about whether an Alabama death row inmate should get a new sentencing hearing because he did not have a mental health expert on his side when he was tried and sentenced to death more than 30 years ago.

The court has ruled previously that poor defendants whose mental health might be a factor in the criminal charges they are facing have a right to an expert's evaluation. The justices on Monday took up a case about whether the expert must be independent of the prosecution.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed into law statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft.

The governor signed the bill Monday at St. Charles Community College. It requires app-based companies to conduct driver background checks and pay a licensing fee.

The law will also exempt such companies from local and municipal taxes, require drivers to submit to background checks and to buy vehicle liability insurance.

Uber and Lyft say the law will allow them to expand throughout the state.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee local official has been arrested after police said he choked his girlfriend at a fast food restaurant.

Memphis police said Monday that Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford has been charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Police said Ford's girlfriend told officers he physically assaulted and choked her during an argument at a Church's Chicken on Sunday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of a Memphis neighborhood are being told to avoid approaching, detaining or feeding a black bear that's been roaming the area for two days.

Memphis police say officers are looking for the bear, which was seen by people in the Frayser neighborhood in north Memphis on Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials are leading the investigation into the bear's whereabouts. Frayser has woods that could attract the bear and allow it to avoid people as it moves through the area.

Arkansas State University

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State University might be adding metal detectors at athletic events this fall.

The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/2pHgsHw) reports the preliminary discussions for the detectors comes after the approval of an act last month to allow concealed handguns at public colleges and universities.

Pixabay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials say the state's first human case of West Nile virus this year has been found in west Tennessee.

The health department in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said Friday the virus was recently confirmed in a person who lives in the county. Officials did not identify the patient.

Officials said there were six human cases of the virus in Tennessee in 2016. One case was fatal.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is signaling that it'll rule for a Missouri church that wants state money to put a soft surface on its preschool playground.

The case is being argued before the justices Wednesday — and it's being closely watched by proponents of school vouchers.

Liberal and conservative justices alike seem troubled by Missouri's decision to exclude the church from a grant program that pays for playground surfaces made of recycled tires.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — After two weeks of surveying farmers for its annual farm production forecasts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it expects Arkansas farmers to plant 500,000 acres of cotton, up from 375,000 last year.

Bill Robertson, a cotton agronomist with the University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division, says he is surprised by the numbers. The division works with the department in gathering the estimates.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas health panel has recommended limiting coverage of opioid prescriptions in health plans that cover tens of thousands of state employees and teachers.

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas community college has been placed on probation after a regional accrediting agency said it didn't meet three criteria related mostly to assessing student learning and could fail another five.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2nP9vUe) reports Black River Technical College must provide evidence to the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission that it's worked on the criteria by July 1, 2018. The Pocahontas community college must also host an on-site visit no later than September 2018.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states remains healthy, despite a slight slip in a monthly survey of business supply managers, an economist said in a report released Monday.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report said the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is expected to announce on Tuesday a new education plan that will emphasize more accountability, especially when it comes to teaching traditionally underserved kids.

The plan outlines how Tennessee will comply with a federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two northern Arkansas school boards have temporarily ceased prayer before meetings.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2n3xYoE) reports Springdale and Harrison boards are researching the legality of the public prayers after receiving a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. The foundation monitors matters regarding separation of church and state.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Shelby County Commission has decided against naming an interim replacement for a Republican state House member who resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation.

The Commercial Appeal reports (http://memne.ws/2niIydu) that commissioners voted 6-5 against a resolution to schedule the appointment to replace former Rep. Mark Lovell. That means nobody will hold the seat until after the general election scheduled for June 15.

The primary will be held on April 27.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would create a school voucher pilot program for Shelby County has passed in a House committee following rancorous debate.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, a Republican from Knoxville, would allow public school children to use taxpayer money to go to private schools.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Mae Beavers, the sponsor of a bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms of the sex on their birth certificates, says she is exploring a bid for Tennessee governor.

The Mt. Juliet Republican tells WKRN-TV (http://bit.ly/2nOkX1T) she's considering entering the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam in the event Sen. Mark Green gets appointed to President Donald Trump's administration.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — 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.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest manufacturing is boosting economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Wednesday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 60.5 in February from 54.7 in January. It's the highest figure since April 2014 and the fourth monthly increase in a row.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the increases point to the improving regional manufacturing economy.

Wikipedia

An emergency management official says storms that swept through a northern Arkansas county damaged 40 homes and injured at least 10 people.

Pixabay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Severe weather is in the forecast early this week in Arkansas as a strong storm system is set to cross the state.

AState Carl R. Reng Center Student Union
Arkansas State University Jonesboro Website (astate.edu)

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas State University has suspended all fraternity and sorority social events until April 1 after a student was accused of raping a woman at a fraternity party.

The letter was sent out Tuesday by the university's Greek Life officials. The suspension includes "all registered social events, drop-ins, formals, semi-formals, date nights" or any other social events.

The university says it will host mandatory "risk-reduction" training sessions in March for fraternity and sorority members.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Middle Tennessee State University poll finds that registered voters favor Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to pay for a new road program primarily through a fuel tax hike by a margin of 38 percent to 28 percent.

The remaining third of the 600 people surveyed said they weren't sure about the governor's plan. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Wikipedia

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, Soundgarden and Sturgill Simpson are among the musical acts scheduled to perform at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis in May.

Festival officials also announced Wednesday that Widespread Panic, Death Cab for Cutie, Wiz Khalifa, Booker T. Jones, Bush, Ludacris and Jill Scott also are in the lineup for the 41st installment of the annual three-day festival.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is shunning the state plane and instead relying on private donors and campaign funds to pay for his flights.

Since taking office in January, the Republican governor has not flown on a state airplane. That's a significant departure from his Democratic predecessor, Jay Nixon, who frequently used state airplanes.

Greitens' Chief of Staff Michael Roche says the governor is committed to spending as little of the taxpayers' money as possible on travel.

Wikipedia

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to talk about job growth while visiting an equipment and engine dealer in Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will join Pence on Wednesday at the Fabick Cat headquarters in Fenton, Missouri, outside of St. Louis. Pence will meet with workers, get a tour of the facility, and give a speech at 1:30 p.m.

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