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Arkansas

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The Arkansas Department of Education is recommending that the Blytheville School District no longer be classified as being “in academic distress.”

That classification is given to individual schools and school districts when over a three year period 49% of their students score at or below proficiency in math and reading.  Proficiency is measured by state mandated testing.

Tribal representatives and environmentalists are promising an encampment similar to the ongoing protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota to oppose the Diamond Pipeline planned from Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee.

Mekasi Camp Horinek of the Ponca Nation and the Bold Oklahoma protest group said Monday there "definitely" will be an encampment in Oklahoma, but declined to say where or when.

Critics of the project say the pipeline threatens the environment, rivers and Indian burial grounds.

The Arkansas House advanced a restriction on food stamps, or SNAP, that would ban the purchase of junk food.

If approved by the federal government, the measure would make Arkansas the first state to ban the purchase of junk food with food stamps. 

In what was an unusually close vote for the chamber, 55-39, state Representative Mary Bentley of Perryville pushed through her bill.

A bill to restructure how Arkansas’s higher education funding is determined is advancing to the state Senate. The switch from enrollment-based funding to productivity-based funding comes at the direction of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office. State Representative Mark Lowery, a Republican from Maumelle, carried the bill on the House floor Monday.

The Arkansas House overwhelmingly passed a measure to enhance penalties for those who target law enforcement or first responders in a crime. State Representative Dwight Tosh, a retired state police officer from Jonesboro, indirectly referenced Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, and targeted shootings throughout the nation last year.

State Senator Eddie Joe Williams has filed legislation requiring anyone seeking unemployment benefits that doesn't have a G.E.D. or high school diploma to take adult education courses to recieve benefits. The Republican from Cabot filed the bill on Monday.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that contradictions between state and federal law regarding medical marijuana usage will ultimately be a decision that federal prosecutors must reconcile. In the interim, Rutledge is advising state lawmakers to follow through with their duties to incorporate a voter-approved amendment into Arkansas code.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University is working with some members of the Jonesboro campus who are impacted by President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' U.S. senators aren't criticizing President Donald Trump's immigration restrictions as protests spread throughout the country, including in Little Rock.

Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton issued statements Sunday regarding Trump's executive order that bans travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Cotton said it's "simply wrong" to describe the ban as a religious test, but he said there should be "proper procedures" for green-card holders and immigrants who have served alongside U.S. troops to enter the country.

Arkansas voters took to the ballot box in November to put in place a medical marijuana program. They did so in the form of a Constitutional Amendment. But that doesn’t mean the state Legislature can't have something to say about it.

State Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican representing Conway and Bigelow talked to KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman about a bill to stop the program from going into effect unless the federal government legalizes medicinal use first.

This interview was taped on January 27.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

The Jonesboro Police Department is looking to increase the ranks of our Reserve Unit and, for the first time since 2008, is accepting applications for appointment to Reserve Police Officer. 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on an Arkansas measure that would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

Planned Parenthood says it will support "any and all" efforts to defend its patients' rights after Arkansas enacted a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure.

Several medical doctors today hinted that they would not prescribe medical marijuana to patients even when such treatment is available because its risks and benefits are scientifically unproven.

Still, the Arkansas Board of Health unanimously (with one abstention and a few absences) approved the health department's draft rules and regulations for medical marijuana. It now begins a phase of adoption that includes public hearings. 

In the autumn of 1965, on a 640-acre parcel near the tiny Ozarks community of Strickler, ground was broken on a secret nuclear fission energy test reactor operated by the Atomic Energy Commission and a consortium of 17 southern electric utilities.

After just four years, the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor went dark. It was acquired a few years later by the big university up the road 20 miles—totally decommissioned. University scientists hoped to use it for nuclear research, but the program failed to launch. The site remained sealed. Now the U.S. Department of Energy has offered money to help tear it down.

But first media — as well as hundreds of curious locals — were briefly allowed inside.

The historic Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor, referred to as SEFOR, located 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas will finally be dismantled, and some nearby residents are wondering what might leak out.

A proposal to erect a satanic monument on the Arkansas state Capitol grounds has advanced to a public hearing.

A subcommittee of the state Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission on Wednesday cleared the proposal by the Satanic Temple to build a Baphomet statue. A date has not been set for the public hearing, but a spokeswoman said it'll likely be held after this year's legislative session.

A revamped effort to establish a voter identification requirement in Arkansas is making headway in the state Legislature.

Republican Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle is the sponsor of HB1047, which would amend the Arkansas Constitution and require voters to show photo identification at the polls. It’s the second attempt to bring a voter ID statute to the state.

The Attorney General’s office has gotten complaints of people receiving phone calls, often from a number with a Jamaican area code, claiming to the be with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The person receiving the call is told they’re the winner of a $2.5 million giveaway and to claim their prize, they must wire an $850 processing fee.

In Washington the Republican-controlled Congress is speeding toward a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. While GOP leadership at the Arkansas state Capitol has said lawmakers should wait and see what happens, some conservative members of the legislature want action now.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has completed review of a drilling study beneath two wastewater sewage lagoons on C&H Hog Farms, an industrial swine breeding operation located six miles upstream of the Buffalo National River near Mt. Judea in Newton County. C&H Hog Farms is currently permitted to house 4,000 piglets and 2500 sows at any given time.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas-based Windstream Holdings says it has eliminated 164 jobs, including 25 in Little Rock.

Windstream spokesman David Avery says the job cuts came from various areas, including engineering, finance and information technology. Avery tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2jNgATd) that Windstream has about 12,000 employees, including 1,450 in Little Rock.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $50 million tax cut plan won approval Monday in the Arkansas House and Senate. But a final vote is needed before the legislation heads to the governor’s desk for signature. 

Speaking on behalf of the bill in his chamber, Sen. Jim Hendren, Republican-Gravette, said the plan would save money for nearly 660,000 low income Arkansans.

Travel Writer for Arkansas Parks Kim Williams LOVES January.  She loves this month so much that she wanted the weekend of the 27th to start a day earlier... on the 26th!

Williams tells KASU's Mark Smith about a special concert taking place in Southeast Arkansas honoring the Bee Gees on the 26th.  She also has the "dish" on another event for that weekend revolving around "B's" and "G's", as in "Beans and Greens."  It's a cook off for the best beans, greens, and cornbread in the South.

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

A campaign to attract more jobs to Jonesboro is underway.  Jonesboro Unlimited is starting a 5 year approach to economic development called Momentum Jonesboro.  The goal is to raise three-point-seven million dollars over the next five years to being more than five thousand high-paying jobs to Jonesboro.  Chairman of Jonesboro Unlimited Brad Edwards says the focus areas are for business attraction, talent attraction and community enhancement.  

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

A partnership is formed to bring job opportunities to young adults with disabilities in northeast Arkansas.  St. Bernards Medical Center is working with Little Rock-based ACCESS and Arkansas Rehabilitative Services.  Educators from area schools are being trained on the program, which is called Project SEARCH.  Vice President of Human Resources at St. Bernards Lori Smith says the project will bring job training and employment assistance for those with disabilities.

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