KASU

Arkansas

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Officials say three more Arkansas counties have been added to the list of counties that are eligible for disaster unemployment assistance because of severe weather earlier this year.

Arkansas finance officials say the state ended its fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus after a boost in sales tax collections over the past two months helped restore most of the budget cuts enacted earlier.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Wednesday the state ended the fiscal year with $5.3 billion in net available revenue, which was $19 million below the previous fiscal year. Arkansas' fiscal year ended Friday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is recommending Arkansas not provide all voter information requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Trump set up the commission to investigate claims of voter fraud in November's presidential election.

In a statement Wednesday on Twitter, Hutchinson said he has spoken with Secretary of State Mark Martin and concluded the request is "too board and includes sensitive information" about Arkansas voters.

Two weeks ago, in a remarkable move, the State Plant Board of Arkansas voted to ban the sale and use of a weedkiller called dicamba. It took that action after a wave of complaints about dicamba drifting into neighboring fields and damaging other crops, especially soybeans.

That ban is still waiting to go into force. It requires approval from a committee of the state legislature, which will meet on Friday.

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JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — No one was injured when a short-lived tornado swept through Jonesboro, damaging an apartment complex and downing trees and power lines in the northeast Arkansas city.

The National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee, said the Monday morning storm had winds of up to 105 mph (168 kph). More severe weather moved through central and northern Arkansas on Tuesday afternoon as well, with electricity knocked out to thousands of people. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The state of Arkansas today begins accepting applications for marijuana licenses, both to grow it and sell it commercially. It becomes the first so-called Bible Belt to do so, and the 29th state nationally to have a state-regulated marijuana cultivation and retail industry.

Of course, it’s still a  Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act and illegal under federal law.

On the eve of this Independence Day weekend, Arkansas Public Media offers you this interview of John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of Marijuana: A Short History, by managing editor Bobby Ampezzan. 

Arkansas university and college administrators and faculty have been busy this summer drafting new policies to accommodate a new state law allowing concealed weapons on campuses this coming school year. Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, with an enrollment of 12,000 last semester, formed a special task force in April to consider the change. 

Teresa Taylor is the interim executive director of Institutional Policy, Risk Management and Compliance for the college.

“We held very open public town hall meeting forums to explain the laws that exist already, and what that means for our campus,” she says.

CLARIFICATION: Michele Reba is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Delta Water Management Research Unit. Her affiliation was misrepresented in an earlier version of this story.

Four Arkansas farms have made a deal with the world’s largest software maker, Microsoft. The Whitaker Farms in McGehee, Isbell Farm in Stuttgart, Hooks Family Farm in Hazen and Florenden Farms in Burdette join two farms in California and one in Mississippi as the first recipients of carbon credits for rice production. 

The program rewards farmers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from rice, considered among the more environmentally damaging of all crops.  With a carbon credit, companies can exceed emissions caps by paying for reductions elsewhere, such as on a farm. 

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas announced Monday he's pursuing charges against the rapper Finese 2Tymes.

Meanwhile, local authorities are still calling for the community to come forward with information about the Power Ultra Lounge mass shooting Saturday.

On Facebook, Ricky Hampton, aka Finese 2Tymes, posted his condolences for the shooting.

“THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE," he wrote Saturday. "WE ALL COME WITH 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN."

This week the Arkansas Legislative Council may decide whether to approve a 120-day ban on the sale and use of the herbicide dicamba.

Before the start of the next school year, Arkansas may be among the few states providing high-speed internet access to all of its public school districts.

In the 1990’s Arkansas developed a system for providing internet access to schools, but its capabilities were limited and it became outdated quickly. Now, fiber optic cables running throughout the state have replaced the old infrastructure and currently reach 233 of the state’s 238 school districts. The updated system, known as the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) will increase access speeds from 5 kilobits per student to 200 kilobits per student.

New facilities are being opened to provide assistance for people and businesses impacted by the destructive storms that hit parts of Arkansas in the spring. Centers opened last week in Fayetteville, Conway, Pocahontas, and Walnut Ridge to serve people from 16 counties who are eligible for government aid.

Daniel Green with the Federal Emergency Management Agency works with victims of the storms to expedite the process of receiving loans and other government aid.

The new Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas State Capitol was destroyed Wednesday less than 24 hours after it was unveiled. A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office says a driver intentionally sped toward the six foot tall granite tablet at about 4:45 a.m. and was immediately apprehended by Capitol Police.

Mark Smith, KASU News

A collaborative project between Arkansas State University and Centennial Bank leads to the groundbreaking of a new Welcome Center on the Jonesboro campus.  The center will have a full bank branch, as well as services to introduce visitors to Arkansas State.  Interim Chancellor Dr. Doug Whitlock says public-private partnerships, such as the Welcome Center, is something that is needed in higher education today.

pixabay.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.

In the midst of an overseas trade mission, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke to reporters Wednesday about his meetings with industry leaders in Germany and France. Via teleconference from Frankfurt, Germany, Hutchinson said he’s trying to quell anxiety among European business leaders who are concerned about the anti-globalist rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

As Republicans in the U.S. Senate near completion of an initial bill that could vastly alter or replace Obamacare, a  group of demonstrators gathered outside the Victory Building in Little Rock. They delivered the offices of Republican Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman each about a thousand post cards from residents in the state. The cards, collected by activists with Arkansas Community Organizations and the group Health Care for America Now, ask the Senators to preserve Medicaid expansion and other benefits made available through federal health law. 

The Arkansas Department of Health will begin accepting applications for medical marijuana patient cards at the end of the month, according to an agency news release. The cards will be distributed to qualifying patients and caregivers in order to allow the purchase of medicine from licensed dispensaries. The Health Department says it will distribute the cards approximately 30 days before medical marijuana is available for sale in the state. That could be next year.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday morning, two Arkansas congressmen joined their colleagues in questioning intelligence officials on foreign attempts to compromise American voting systems in the 2016 election.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Forecasters have issued a flash flood watch for eastern and southern Arkansas as Tropical Storm Cindy heads toward the state.

Talk Business and Politics

An intramural battle among Republicans for a coveted state senate seat has sparked in northern Arkansas. State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, will muster a primary challenge to incumbent State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, for the District 19 seat.

Sturch, a Southside native and certified social studies teacher, began his career in public service 15 years ago when he worked on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s re-election campaign.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin in early June pronounced the American veterans health care system to be in “critical condition.” 
 
One northwest Arkansas VA hospital, however, appears to be thriving, and that prompted U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-3rd District) to invite Shulkin to take a look.

After an early morning tour of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville Monday, Shulkin, at a press conference on the grounds, characterized the forested campus facility as extraordinary.

 
 “It is a five-star facility. That means it is the very top of performance across the country in VA’s.”
 

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Several businesses are in talks with Walnut Ridge officials about possibly building in the town…this only a month after U-S Senator John Boozman announced that U-S Highway 67/167 now has a “Future I-57” designation.  

Jonesboro's Home Ice Company on National Register

Jun 19, 2017
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

LITTLE ROCK—The Home Ice Company at Jonesboro in Craighead County is among 11 Arkansas properties that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the country’s official list of historically significant properties.

      The Home Ice Company at 700 Cate Avenue is a 1907 industrial building with a Spanish Revival-style addition.

The interests of Arkansas’s agricultural leaders went unheralded by President Trump on Friday as he announced a move back toward Cold War relations with our Caribbean neighbor, Cuba. Much of the state’s Congressional delegation has also chimed in on the prospect of tougher relations as a move in the wrong direction.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau wants a “normalization” of trade relations with the communist nation and promises it’ll be an economic boon for the state. Arkansas is the largest cultivator of rice in the nation and not far behind that in poultry production.

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