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Associated Press

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a bill to make it legal for organizations to provide free needles to drug users.

House members voted 135-13 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate.

Republican Rep. Holly Rehder has said Missouri groups now pass out clean syringes to intravenous drug users with the goal of preventing the spread of hepatitis C and HIV through dirty needles. But state law bans possessing drug paraphernalia, which puts the needle exchanges in murky legal waters.

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CORNING, Ark. (AP) - State health officials say people who visited a Taco Bell restaurant in northeast Arkansas may have been exposed to hepatitis A after an employee tested positive for the virus.

The health department says the affected restaurant is in Corning, about 150 miles (241 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. The department says anyone who ate food from that Taco Bell between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7 may have been exposed to the virus, which can cause fever, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and other symptoms.

Gov. Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens Official Facebook Page

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Investigators from the St. Louis prosecutor's office have visited the Missouri Capitol in the investigation of Gov. Eric Greitens, and one lawmaker suggests the probe has expanded to include a look at the Republican governor's use of "dark money."

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation in January after Greitens admitted to a 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser. Greitens has denied taking a compromising photo of the woman as potential blackmail.

SEARCY, Ark. (AP) - A public school in north-central Arkansas has removed Bible verses from the walls after an anonymous complaint was made to a nonprofit supporting the separation of church and state.

The Daily Citizen reports that posters displaying scriptures had been hung in the choir room of Searcy High School.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Student journalists would largely be shielded from censorship by their schools under legislation that has won first-round approval in the House.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the idea started to gain traction in the 2016 legislative session. It stemmed from frustration over University of Missouri communications professor Melissa Click, calling for "muscle" to remove student journalists during November 2015 protests.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - People with misdemeanor convictions of domestic violence would be barred from having access to guns under proposed legislation.

Confederate Park in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Jefferson Davis statue
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee comptroller's report says Memphis officials followed state open meetings law when they sold two parks to a nonprofit, which removed three Confederate statues.

The report Wednesday also says Memphis followed municipal law by selling the parks in December to Memphis Greenspace Inc. for $1,000 apiece.

Auditors said Memphis didn't make the nonprofit submit a financial stability application. The city said it met with the group to discuss finances and cited three other property sales without applications.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A judge is weighing on whether to void the Missouri Board of Education's decision to fire the former education commissioner.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that attorneys representing the board argued in circuit court Tuesday against lawyers representing Springfield teacher Laurie Sullivan, who sued the board in November.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A former St. Louis judge who sentenced a teenager to more than 240 years in prison says she "deeply" regrets her ruling and is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to give him the opportunity for reform.

Evelyn Baker sentenced Bobby Bostic in 1997 for the 1995 robbery of people delivering Christmas presents for the needy. He was 16 at the time of the robbery.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas has received 15 more reports of flu fatalities in the past week, raising the death toll to 140 in what's already become the state's deadliest flu season in at least 17 years.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the 15 deaths were reported to the Health Department in a seven-day span ending Tuesday. Of those deaths, 10 were 65 years or older.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say two people are dead after a shooting that was reported outside of a cosmetics factory near Little Rock.

North Little Rock Police Sgt. Amy Cooper says officers found two people dead after responding to call about gunshots at about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Cooper tells Little Rock television station KTHV that the two people were found in the factory's parking lot.

Police have not released any information about a possible suspect.

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TRUMANN, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge has found probable cause to hold a Tennessee man on $1 million bail pending formal charges in what authorities say may have been a sex-trafficking ring.

Authorities arrested 52-year-old Craig Gillum of Dover, Tennessee, on Feb. 1 in an O'Neill, Nebraska, hotel room where he was found with a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing five days earlier from Trumann, Arkansas.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Revenue collected by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery in fiscal 2018 is exceeding the totals from the same period in previous years, but net proceeds are about average for recent years.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the lottery has provided its latest monthly report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council's lottery oversight subcommittee.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican primary voters were selecting nominees for two Arkansas Senate seats and a representative for a House seat in north-central Arkansas.

In balloting Tuesday, three Republicans from Russellville sought the party's nomination to replace Greg Standridge, who died in November. Bob Bailey, Breanne Davis or Luke Heffley would face Democrat Teresa Gallegos in May. If necessary, a runoff would be held March 13.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the start of Arkansas' legislative session (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

Arkansas' governor says he wants to cut the income tax for the state's top earners by $180 million, and says his plan to set aside $48 million in surplus money will help set the stage for that reduction.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers Monday he'll push for cutting the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. Hutchinson issued the recommendation as lawmakers convened for an abbreviated session focused on the state's budget.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are conducting a study to gauge residents' views of medical marijuana before and after it's available in the state.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that representatives from several colleges outside the state approached university researchers last year about the survey opportunity.

STUTTGART, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas waitress who complained that a co-worker stiffed her after they won $300,000 in the state lottery says she has received an undisclosed share of the prize and is dropping a lawsuit.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Recent state figures show the average cost per person of subsidized private health insurance under Arkansas Works increased more than 14 percent last month.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the spike is in part due to premium increases that had taken effect Jan. 1.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says the mother of a television news anchor killed in a 2008 attack can move forward with a complaint that hospital employees not involved in the journalist's medical care acted outrageously as the woman was dying.

Justices said Thursday that St. Vincent Infirmary could be released from part of a lawsuit filed after the workers looked at Anne Pressly's medical records. The court dismissed a cross-appeal, however, which will let a Pulaski County judge decide whether the employees acted in an "extreme and outrageous" manner.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties for protesters who block highways.

The Columbia Missourian reports that a Missouri Senate committee heard the bill this week.

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