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Arkansas

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

Talk Business & Politics

Doniphan Vitality, a non-profit organization, has received a $100,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority, DRA, to conduct an innovation hub feasibility study in four southern Missouri counties and Sharp and Randolph counties in Arkansas.

The University of Missouri Extension Office has also pledged a $20,000 match, DV Arkansas leadership point person Graycen Bigger told Talk Business & Politics.

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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.

A late attempt to significantly alter a resolution limiting attorneys fees and injury lawsuit awards failed to get approval from the Arkansas House of Representatives Friday. 

A bill requiring public universities to allow faculty, staff and students 25 years or older to carry concealed firearms on campuses may be coming up for a vote Monday afternoon in the Arkansas Senate. HB1249 is on the calendar after being amended in recent weeks to include provisions requiring additional training and extending concealed carry privileges to some students.

Erika Gee is on the government relations and regulatory team at the law firm of Wright Lindsey Jennings, and she's taken clients who wish to procure licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation facilities, a five- to seven-figure outlay before a single seed is planted or bud is sold. 

Andrew King is on the Cannabis Engagement Committee at another big firm, Kutak Rock, and he absolutely will not. King has written about why for Arkansas Lawyer. 

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

Arkansas State University System is having a board meeting Friday in Mountain Home.  Watch the board meeting to see what develops.

Read along with the agenda.

This morning, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that upheld the voter-approved city law, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The state's highest court ruled that the city law was in conflict with a state law that prohibits cities from enacting protections not already covered by state law.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, faced more than 2,000 people at his town hall Wednesday evening in Springdale. Many of those in attendance expressed anger and frustration about issues ranging from the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the proposed border wall with Mexico. You can listen to the full town hall below. It's been divided into two parts. Cotton began the town hall with the Pledge of Allegiance.


The Arkansas Senate is expected to take up a bill Thursday that attempts to resolve problems with the state’s criminal justice system. The proposal has been controversial, requiring many revisions as lawmakers have worked with prosecutors, judges and prison officials.

The goal is to resolve problems that led to Arkansas in recent years having the fastest-growing prison population in the country, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Public school districts in Arkansas regularly buy and sell property, pending approval of local education boards, of course. But today, the Arkansas Senate approved a bill that would take some of that control away.

Senate Bill 308 would allow charter schools the right to purchase or lease unused public school buildings, a seemingly small concession that nonetheless raises big questions about local versus state control of schools and inspired a heated back and forth between senators this week.

Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) said Tuesday that some public school districts let buildings sit empty, a misfortune he equated to murdering a building.

“We have had schools literally rot to the ground rather than let someone use them for educational purposes. That should never happen.”

Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) had a lot of questions for Clark. She told a Senate Education Committee Tuesday that the bill is heavy handed, and she said it takes local control from public districts.

The bad-boy of Enrico Fermi High School is less than welcome when he unexpectedly returns to school as a revenant zombie in Arkansas State University Theater’s production of Zombie Prom, which opens on Friday in the Drama Theatre at the Fowler Center.  After all, Rule Number 7, Subsection 9 of the Handbook of Student Life clearly states “no zombies,” according to the school’s principal, Miss Strict.

Still, Zombie Jonny, who died three weeks earlier when he flung himself into the cooling tower of the Francis Gary Powers nuclear plant in a fit of teenage heartbreak, is determined to graduate and win back the heart of good-girl Toffee and take her to the prom.

“I have to go back behind stage and I have a whole amazing crew that helps me get the makeup on and prepare for that, and it all has to happen in less than 10 minutes, so it’s going to be awesome to see it on stage,” said theater major Zac Passmore, who plays Jonny.  He was attracted to the role of the only actual zombie in the story because of its lead vocals — Zombie Prom is, of course, a musical — and the challenges of playing a larger-than-life character authentically.

Under a bill that cleared the Senate Education Committee Tuesday on a voice vote, all private schools would be given public funds to take special needs kids if parents so choose, even if they haven’t achieved what’s called “accreditation.”

The Arkansas Department of Education says it can take four years to get that status. State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D- Little Rock) says accreditation is evidence that the schools are doing a good job.

“I don’t think you do it by allowing kids to be put some place for four years that’s not accredited and may never be accredited.”

There are many lessons to be learned from one of the most infamous tweets in social media history.

“It was like misogyny, within the warm glow of self-righteousness,” said Welch author and filmmaker Jon Ronson.

The Little Rock-based Psych of the South record label recently released "Baby Doll," a CD featuring music by a 1960s band called the Playboys, which was a group of teenagers from Pine Bluff.  The group performed regularly in the region around Pine Bluff in the early 1960s.  Under the name The Magnificent Seven, the group released a 45 rpm single in 1962 on the Vee-Eight record label.  An unreleased, live recording of the band from 1963 was discovered, and the new CD features that recording and both sides of the 45 rpm record. 

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Arkansas State Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) says he will continue to push his health care bill, despite its defeat in a House committee last week.

House Bill 1181, or the "Transition to Prescriptive Authority Act", would extended the prescription powers of Advance Practice Registered Nurses, or APNs.

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.

In a new survey, Arkansas voters made it clear they prefer the implementation of medical marijuana to allow for smoking cannabis and not waiting for federal law to allow for statewide usage.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll asked 440 Arkansas voters for their preferences on two debates occurring at the state legislature regarding medical marijuana’s implementation. Voters approved the measure last November by a 53-47% margin. In the latest survey conducted Tuesday, Feb. 14, voters were asked:

The latest in a series of bills to exempt security details from the Freedom of Information Act has been filed in the Arkansas Legislature. Keeping information about the Governor’s Mansion secret from the public is the objective of Republican State Representative DeAnne Vaught of Horatio in southwest Arkansas.

A drug testing program for Arkansans seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, is one step closer to becoming law. A House committee on Tuesday passed the bill to extend a two year trial run indefinitely.

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

Arkansas State University

In this interview, KASU's News Director Johnathan Reaves talks with Dr. Adam Long with the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggot.  Dr. Long talks about the center and the upcoming spring trip to Cuba.  Several openings are still available for the trip.  Learn more by listening to the entire interview.    

A push to call for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution to redefine marriage and abortion rights narrowly failed in the Arkansas Senate. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for states to join together to propose amendments. It’s never been used before, but speaking on the floor on Monday state Senator Jason Rapert said it’s the only tool he has left.

Rapert proposed two separate resolutions. The first would redefine marriage as between one man and one woman. The second would say life begins at conception and effectively ban abortion.

A bill to open-up membership in the public charter school authorizing panel to anyone in the public – without requirement – sailed through the Arkansas Senate on Monday. Currently the panel that makes recommendations on whether charter schools should open, close, or expand is made up of Department of Education employees.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren said establishing criteria for holding the posts is a burden on the state.

Sales tax on soda will go up from 1.5% to 6.5% in Arkansas next year, under a bill signed by Gov. Hutchinson that aims to raise millions for military retiree tax cuts.  The increase is coupled with a tax reduction on the wholesale price for the syrup used by beverage makers, which has advocates for the poor complaining that the higher tax will be paid only by consumers.

The increase comes at a time when soda has largely fallen out of favor with consumers, as they seek healthier alternatives.  PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) spent its advertising dollars this year on a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl promoting its new LIFEWTR premium bottled water instead of its traditional cola drinks.

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