Local & Regional News

Arkansas local and regional news

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

A bill that establishes a statewide warranty of habitability for residential rental properties in Arkansas has stalled in a House committee. 

The House Insurance and Commerce committee failed to pass the bill by a slim margin on Monday, coming up one vote short of the 11 needed to pass. Currently, Arkansas is the only state in the country without an implied warranty of habitability.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

State lawmakers are proposing a $100 million tax cut for Arkansans making less than $22,200 per year. 

The cut would come from a three-part bill proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren on Thursday. Hendren said the bill, like last month's $97 million cut for the state's top earners, came about through recommendations by the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force. 

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

An Arkansas House committee has passed legislation allowing students who meet the requirements for state residency or have lived in Arkansas for a certain period of time to qualify for in-state tuition at a state-supported university.

In order to qualify, the person must be an Arkansas resident under current code or have lived in the state for three years at the time of applying for the college, and either graduated from a public or private high school in Arkansas or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in the state.

Arkansas Legislature

An Arkansas House committee failed to take action on a bill would allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The proposal would have allowed patients who have a disease verified by the appropriate physician as life ending, the option to seek medication that would kill them.

Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, presented the bill to the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday. He said it would just give another option of care for patients who are suffering.

Asa Hutchinson highway funding bill
Governor's Office

Arkansas motorists will pay 3 cents more for a gallon of gasoline and 6 cents more for diesel after Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed part of what he called “the largest highway plan in the state’s history” into law Tuesday.

Act 416 by Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, will raise $95 million annually for the state’s highway system. Of that, $58 million will come from the fuel tax increases. Those taxes then can increase by a maximum of one-tenth of one cent per year.

The bill will increase gasoline taxes to 24.5 cents per gallon and diesel taxes to 28.5 cents per gallon.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

The state Senate on Monday easily approved a bill that would further veil the confidentiality of the lethal drugs used to execute Arkansas inmates on death row.

Under Senate Bill 464 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, the legislature would give the state Department of Corrections broad powers to conceal the state’s method of capital punishment and ability to acquire the drugs necessary for lethal injection. The bill was approved by a vote of 25-9 strictly along party lines with one lawmaker, Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, voting present.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Arkansas could join 10 other states with refundable bottle deposits as the result of legislation filed Monday in the state legislature. Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) is sponsoring the bill to introduce a Container Deposit Law.

The proposal would increase the cost of certain bottles by 6 cents. A refund of 5 cents would be available at certified drop-off locations. Flowers said the program could reduce litter on Arkansas roads, bring recycling to many rural communities that currently have no access, and generate revenue for a variety of state and local organizations.

Highways traffic Big Rock Interchange interstate
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate on Thursday approved the final piece of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $300 million highway funding package, albeit with a procedural twist that left some lawmakers shaking their heads during the chamber’s two-and-half hour session. Senators also passed a resolution in honor of the late Matt DeCample, a former spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe.

Little Rock Police Department

The Little Rock Police Department has released a video of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire last month. 

Prior to the video's release, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. held a press conference at City Hall, saying he has turned over the investigation into Officer Charles Starks to prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. 

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

A bill that would bar Arkansas prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for those convicted of a crime and with a diagnosed serious mental illness failed in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

According to the legislation, qualifying medical conditions would include symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, extremely disorganized thinking, and mania.

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