KASU

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The top Republican in Arkansas' Senate says he expects lawmakers to begin modifying the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion even before the future of the federal health law that enabled the expanded insurance program is settled in Washington.
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas finance officials say higher than expected sales tax collections helped keep the state's revenue in December above forecast and last year's numbers. But Arkansas is still behind what was predicted so far for the fiscal year.
 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Events begin Thursday in Memphis to mark what would have been Elvis Presley's 82nd birthday, with a cake-cutting ceremony on the front lawn of his home at Graceland.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers will start the 2017 legislative session with a new ally for Republicans: Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.

Legislators will meet for the first day of session Wednesday at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Republicans hold commanding majorities in both the House and Senate. But GOP lawmakers for eight years were checked by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon was barred by terms limits from seeking re-election. His Republican predecessor takes office Jan. 9.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Within the next five months, President-elect Donald Trump could appoint a majority of the board for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest government-owned utility.

Three Democratic members of the board, including Chairman Joe Ritch, are leaving the board Tuesday after the Republican-controlled Senate failed last year to confirm President Barack Obama's reappointment of the three directors, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (http://bit.ly/2iLc2fs).

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson hasn't formally announced his plans to seek a second term, but is already raising money for his re-election bid.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2hNx6Fc) a fundraiser for the Republican governor's 2018 campaign is set for Thursday night at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - The first phase of a makeover of a 5-mile stretch of highway in Branson could be finished by Memorial Day.

The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/2hLDtUI ) reports the construction aims to alleviate traffic congestion along West Highway 76 by creating a wider, continuous pedestrian walkway in the area, which includes Branson's entertainment district.

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's outgoing Democratic governor says he's made plenty of "solid accomplishments" during his two terms as the chief executive.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Gov. Jay Nixon cites increased funding for education and mental health services and billions of spending cuts that have helped keep the budget in balance as tax revenues declined from a recession.  There also have been other events that have shaped Nixon's tenure. He's had to manage numerous natural disasters. Most notable was the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon set an aggressive agenda to attract jobs after the Great Recession.

An Associated Press analysis shows the Democratic governor promoted business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives.

As Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,000 employees. The state so far has paid about $166 million of incentives to those firms.

Pixabay

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Soaring numbers in a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions are improving in nine Midwest and Plains states.

 

More than three dozen organizations have accepted invitations to take part in the inaugural parade after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in Jan. 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced. More than 8,000 participants will represent the various groups. A list of the organizations:

— 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas

— 1st Infantry Division Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, Fort Riley, Kansas

— Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team, Burlington, Kentucky

(Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - One-year-old formerly conjoined twin girls from Nigeria are continuing their recovery at a Tennessee hospital.

The Commercial Appeal  reports the parents of Miracle and Testimony Ayeni are delighted by their progress. Mary Ayeni says her daughters "eat whatever you put in front of them."

DELLWOOD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has named leaders for his public safety team.

Greitens announced Monday that Drew Juden, director of public safety in Sikeston, will be his director of public safety. Greg Favre, command staff officer for the St. Louis Fire Department, will be deputy director.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Ethics and right-to-work bills are among the top priorities for Missouri Republican legislative leaders and GOP Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.   Lawmakers return Wednesday to the Capitol for the roughly five-month 2017 session.   Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers but have been checked by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. He was barred by term limits from seeking re-election.   Greitens might be a closer ally to GOP lawmakers.

pixabay.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee group of businesses is charging into the fiery debate over how to balance LGBT rights and religious conviction.

About 300 companies, from health-care giant HCA to FedEx, have joined under the moniker Tennessee Thrives to oppose religious objection and bathroom bills, like the one in North Carolina that has stirred a months-long uproar.

Companies in other GOP-led states have successfully voiced opposition under similar names: Georgia Prospers, Opportunity West Virginia, Missouri Competes.

Wikipedia

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The stakes confronting Republicans determined to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law were evident in one recent encounter between an Ohio congressman and a constituent.

"He said, 'Now you guys own it. Now fix it. It's on your watch now,'" recalled GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, chairman of a pivotal health subcommittee. "And this is a supporter."

LITTLE ROCK (AP) --A former U.S. senator who defended an impeached president and a former U.S. representative who helped draft articles of impeachment against another president are among the notable Arkansans who died during 2016.

Former governor and Sen. Dale Bumpers died New Year's Day at age 90 and former U.S. Rep. Ray Thornton died April 13 at age 87.

Pixabay

  LONSDALE, Ark. (AP) — Damon Helton had one problem when he bought a 160-acre farm in Lonsdale four years ago — he didn't know the first thing about farming.

Three years out of the military, the retired Army Ranger was still transitioning back to civilian life. He had a well-paying sales job, but it took him away from his wife and children too often.

So he bought the Farm at Barefoot Bend in Garland County.

"Then, it was like 'Holy crap, what did we just do?'" he said.

Pixabay

  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas could be in for some wild weather next week as spring-like temperatures give way to thunderstorms and a cold front that could be packing snow and freezing rain.

The National Weather Service says high temperatures will reach into the 60s and 70s Monday before a cold front pushes in from the Plains to the state, triggering showers and thunderstorms. Forecasters say some of the storms could be severe across southeast Arkansas.

Wikipedia.org

  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of Arkansas residents participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has decreased by nearly 25,000 since new federal requirements were imposed in January.

The state began enforcing requirements that limit the food stamp program to three months for able-bodied, childless adults ages 18 to 49, unless they're in school or participating in volunteer or job-training programs.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A trial date has been set for a man accused of fatally shooting a northeast Arkansas farmer over a dispute about herbicide use.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2isVn2W ) Missouri resident Allan Curtis Jones will stand trial March 13 in the death of 55-year-old Monette resident Mike Wallace.

Circuit Judge Melissa Bristow Richardson also set a plea date of March 6 for Jones. Jones will go to trial if he fails to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.

Jones has pleaded not guilty.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — More than 300 people from law enforcement, medicine and other specialties gathered in Memphis for the Heroin and Opioid Training Summit to discuss growing use of the drugs.

Media outlets report that the summit, organized by the U.S. Attorney's Office of West Tennessee and held Tuesday at the Bass Pro Pyramid, was the first of its kind in Memphis. U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton says the purpose of the summit was to share information among the disparate groups represented and discuss options to combat the problem.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission

OSCEOLA, Ark. (AP) — Production is beginning at a new, $1.3 billion steel mill in northeast Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Big River Steel has begun operations in its melt shop and hot mill at the new facility in Mississippi County. The steel mill was the first "superproject" to be approved under a 2004 state constitutional amendment that allows the state to borrow money to help lure major employers.

ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) — A man who has been on death row for the 1986 killings of a man and a woman has been resentenced to life in prison without parole.

The Batesville Guard (https://guardonline.com/?p=225354) reports Steven Victor Wertz was resentenced Tuesday by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Pixabay

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Some rice farmers can use much less water and get the same yield by flooding their fields at the start and end of the season, and letting them dry out a bit in between, Mississippi State University researchers say.

That's a radical change from recommendations across the Rice Belt to keep two to four inches of water in the fields, irrigation specialist Jason Krutz said in a news release. Instead, he recommends letting fields dry until water is 4 inches below the soil surface, then re-flooding them.

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