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Rita Sklar ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas is retiring after nearly three decades heading the group.

The ACLU of Arkansas on Monday announced the retirement of Rita Sklar, who has served as the organization's executive director since 1992. The group said Holly Dickson, its legal director, will serve as interim director and a national search will be announced soon.

Attorney Benjamin Crump (center) with plaintiffs Roderick Talley (left) and Derrick Davis (right ) at KUAR Wednesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A candidate for state representative who has filed a lawsuit against the Little Rock Police Department has been arrested after filming a traffic stop in southwest Arkansas.

KATV reports that Roderick Talley was charged by Arkansas State Police on June 8 in Hope for impeding traffic, driving with a suspended license and obstructing governmental operations.

Talley had previously filed a lawsuit against Little Rock's police department for its use of no-knock warrants after police blew open his apartment door in a raid.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug wants state Supreme Court justices to disqualify themselves from hearing his request to handle execution-related cases again.

Planned Parenthood says it's stopped providing medication-induced abortions at its facility in northwest Arkansas while it seeks a new location, leaving the state with two abortion providers.

The chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains said in a court filing over the weekend that the organization stopped providing abortions at its health center in Fayetteville, located 140 miles (226 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, while it looks for a new site. Planned Parenthood says it's not renewing its lease in Fayetteville, which expires at the end of the month.

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A former Arkansas lawmaker who is the governor's nephew has admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to help a health nonprofit as part of a plea deal in a sprawling federal corruption investigation.

Little Rock federal courthouse
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge will hold a hearing on a challenge to three new abortion restrictions in Arkansas two days before the laws are set to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday scheduled a July 22 hearing on the new laws, including one that bans the procedure 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy. The laws are set to take effect on July 24 and are being challenged by the state's abortion providers.

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming

Sports wagering has begun in Arkansas with the first bets being placed at a Hot Springs casino.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyt said in a statement that Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort began offering sports wagering Monday morning and will allow gamblers to bet on games ranging from professional football and college basketball to cricket and rugby.

Hoyt says bets can be placed with tellers seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or at kiosks at the casino.

Linda Collins-Smith
Arkansas Legislature

A new judge has been named to handle the case surrounding the killing of a former Arkansas lawmaker who was found dead outside her home.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Thursday named retired Circuit Judge David Goodson to preside over the case involving the killing of former Sen. Linda Collins. Judge Harold Erwin had been presiding over the case and the order said he requested the reassignment but doesn't say why.

Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has ordered a review of the state's levees and is asking lawmakers to approve $10 million for immediate repairs after historic flooding along the Arkansas River.

On Thursday Hutchinson signed an executive order to create the Arkansas Levee Task Force to study and analyze the condition of the state's levees. Hutchinson said the panel will have about 20 members and will make recommendations to him by December 31 on ways to improve monitoring and maintenance of the state's levee system.

Abortion rights supporters are challenging three new Arkansas restrictions on the procedure, including one that bans abortions 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday and are asking a judge to block the restrictions before they take effect July 24.

Arkansas currently bans abortion 20 weeks into a woman's pregnancy. The restrictions challenged are among several approved by the majority-Republican Legislature this year.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

A federal judge has halted his order blocking Arkansas from enforcing a law that prevents candidates for state office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. on Wednesday granted Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request to stay his preliminary injunction against the law while Rutledge appeals his decision. Moody issued the preliminary injunction blocking the law on Monday.

Rebecca Becky Lynn O'Donnell being escorted into the Randolph County Courthouse Monday where she was formally charged with capital murder in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins.
KAIT-TV / Twitter

An Arkansas woman has been charged with capital murder in the killing of a former state senator whose body was found outside her own home.

A state judge also found probable cause Monday to charge 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, Jonesboro television station KAIT reported . The judge did not set bond for O'Donnell, who was arrested Friday in former Sen. Linda Collins' death.

Authorities haven't said how Collins was killed.

Flood Toad Suck Arkansas River
KATV-Channel 7

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says four more counties in Arkansas have been approved for disaster assistance as a result of damage from storms and flooding that began May 21.

Heavy rains produced record flooding in the state, especially along the Arkansas River.

FEMA announced that Arkansas, Desha, Logan and Pope counties have been added to a list of eight counties previously approved for federal assistance. The other counties are Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties.

Inside C & H Hog Farms near Mount Judea
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

Arkansas's governor says the operators of a large hog farm near the Buffalo River are receiving $6.2 million to shut down the facility under a deal reached with the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced the state had signed an agreement with the operators of C&H Hog Farm, which has been criticized by environmental groups who have warned about the facility's impact on the Buffalo River watershed since it was permitted several years ago.

Hutchinson said the bulk of the money will come from the state, with other funds coming from the Nature Conservancy.

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson arriving in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in his corruption case.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A former health care executive has admitted to taking part in a conspiracy to bribe a former Arkansas lawmaker who is also the governor's nephew.

Robin Raveendran pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

The 63-year-old former executive vice president of Preferred Family Healthcare says he and others bribed former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson in exchange for the lawmaker backing legislative actions that benefit Preferred Family.

An attorney for Hutchinson declined to comment.

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