Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas' House speaker has taken the first step toward removing a lawmaker who pleaded no contest to not paying state income taxes and who has refused to step down.

Speaker Matthew Shepherd on Friday filed a resolution to remove fellow Republican Rep. Mickey Gates, who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Gates in July pleaded no contest to one count of not filing or paying income taxes.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas's attorney general is seeking to move lawsuits challenging a measure giving the prison director authority to determine an inmate's competency to be executed to federal court.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday filed notice to move the lawsuits by death row inmates Bruce Ward and Jack Greene from Jefferson County Circuit Court. The state Supreme Court in November struck down an earlier version of the mental competency law.

Legislators this year approved a reworked version of the law, and the inmates are seeking to have it overturned.

UA Little Rock

Less than two weeks after University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson announced his resignation, his acting replacement will now serve officially in that role.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas System on Thursday unanimously accepted system President Donald Bobbitt's recommendation to name Christina Drale to the position. Drale had been named acting chancellor following Rogerson's resignation on Sept. 1.

In a news release, Drale thanked Bobbitt for the appointment.

Vaping
ecigarettereviewed.com / Wikimedia Commons

Clinicians are being urged to report any cases potentially involving vaping-related illnesses to the Arkansas Department of Health. Nationwide, 450 possible cases of vaping-induced illnesses are being investigated, including six deaths, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Arkansas, the ADH says as of Thursday there are eight possible cases. Two have been confirmed, two are probable and four are under investigation.

Earthquake
U.S. Geological Survey

A 3.7 magnitude earthquake was felt early Thursday in north Arkansas. The U.S.Geological Survey says the epicenter was located 19 kilometers southeast of Gassville and felt by residents in Baxter and Marion counties.

No damage was reported, according to USGS geophysicist Julie Dutton. She says 387 people within a 100 kilometer radius contacted the agency to report feeling the quake.

Baxter County resident Carol Eberhard says she was awakened by the earthquake.

Jason Rapert Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge is temporarily restricting who can see the video deposition of a legislator who sponsored a measure requiring a Ten Commandments statue at the Arkansas Capitol in a lawsuit challenging the monument.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary order Wednesday preventing additional copies of state Sen. Jason Rapert's deposition from being made or distributed. An attorney for Rapert, a Republican who sponsored the 2015 law requiring the privately funded monument, had asked that the video only be available to attorneys in the case.

Deborah Baldwin
Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

The Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust has pledged $2.25 million to the UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture. The funds will be managed by the University of Arkansas Foundation.

During a news conference on Tuesday, University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt announced that the gift is to support the Winthrop Rockefeller Collection and its other activities and collections in an effort to perpetuate continual support.

Harding University
www.harding.edu

Private colleges and universities in Arkansas are having to change their strategies for recruiting students amid a reduction in prospective students. A number of factors are forcing the schools to rethink their business plans and marketing. The top factor is simply that Americans are having fewer children.

Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz wrote about that for a story in this week's issue:

Twitter

After months of relatively dry weather, parts of Arkansas are now seeing an increased threat from wildfires. The National Weather Service says burn bans have been put in place as the wildfire danger has been going up, primarily affecting the southern half of the state. 

David Monteith / KUAR News

As part of his goals related to education in Little Rock, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. is focusing on chronic absenteeism, after school initiatives, workforce training, literacy and advocacy. Scott hosted a meeting Monday for more than 60 city and state leaders from a variety of education organizations representing everything from pre-natal care to adult education.

After sharing their individual approaches to meeting Little Rock's education needs, the organizations were invited to be a part of workgroups on each topic.

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