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Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

County officials across Arkansas have sent out notices to remind state residents who did not vote in the past election to update their ballot information.

The decision complies with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which permits people to register to vote while acquiring driver's licenses.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission
Facebook

Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas are set to begin around May 12 as cultivators plan to begin harvesting the plant in the coming days and regulators finish the approval process for state's first dispensaries.

Department of Finance and Administration Spokesman Scott Hardin said Friday the final decision for licensing Doctor's Orders RX in Hot Springs, which would be the state's first operational dispensary, will be made within the next two weeks.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Trump administration is appealing recent rulings by a federal judge that blocked work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid.

The rulings last month by Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., blocked work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. The Arkansas requirements were already in effect, while in Kentucky they are a top priority for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Justice Department filed notice on Wednesday appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bills outlining Arkansas' proposed $5.7 billion budget for the coming year are heading toward their first votes in the state Legislature.

The Joint Budget Committee on Monday approved the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, which calls for increasing state spending by $124 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The House and Senate are expected to vote on identical versions of the legislation on Tuesday. Lawmakers hope to wrap up this year's legislative session by Wednesday.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers have sent the governor a measure imposing a new requirement on doctors who perform abortions over the objections of medical groups that call the move unnecessary.

The House on Thursday voted 70-15 in favor of the proposal, which would require doctors who perform abortions to be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. The measure now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

Medical groups have called the requirement unnecessary. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it opposes such restrictions.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Library of Congress/ National Park Service

Arkansas is moving closer toward replacing its statutes at the U.S. Capitol with ones depicting civil rights leader Daisy Bates and singer Johnny Cash.

The House approved Tuesday by 71-12 vote legislation to replace the state's statues at the Capitol depicting Uriah Rose and James P. Clarke. Rose was a 19th century attorney and Clarke was a governor and U.S. senator in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who plans to sign it into law.

Arkansas House
ArkansasHouse.org

The Arkansas House has approved a proposal banning abortion 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy, moving the state toward enacting what could be the strictest prohibition in the country.

The House on Monday approved the ban by a 77-13 vote. The measure now heads to the state Senate.

Terry Rice
www.arkleg.state.ar.us

The Arkansas Senate has approved a plan to raise fuel taxes and tap into expected casino revenue to increase funding for the state's highways.

The Senate voted 27-8 Thursday for a key part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's $300 million highway funding plan. It now heads to the House.

Terry Rice
Arkansas Legislature

An Arkansas Senate panel has endorsed a proposal to raise gas taxes and tap into expected casino revenue to increase funding for the state's highways.

The Senate Revenue and Tax Committee on Wednesday approved the first part of a $300 million highway funding plan that Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders unveiled last week. The measure is expected to go before the full Senate for a vote on Thursday.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen taking part in an anti-death penalty demonstration in front of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion in April 2017.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision dismissing a lawsuit filed by a judge in Arkansas who was barred from overseeing execution-related cases after he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration.

The justices said Tuesday that they wouldn't get involved in the lawsuit filed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Governor's Office / You Tube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's $97 million plan to cut the state's top income tax rate has passed the Senate, a day after it fell short of the votes needed.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 28-5 in favor of the proposal to cut the top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent over the next two years. The measure needed at least 27 votes in the 35-member Senate to advance to the House.

The proposal fell short by two votes on Tuesday. It won the support Wednesday of two Democrats and a Republican who didn't vote a day earlier on the measure.

LGBTQ Flag
wikipedia.org

Arkansas' highest court says a city can't enforce an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, saying it's already ruled the measure violates a state law aimed at preventing local protections for LGBT people.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a Washington County judge's decision to allow Fayetteville to continue enforcing its anti-discrimination ordinance while the city challenged the constitutionality of a 2015 law preventing cities and counties from enacting protections not covered by state law.

Interstate highway big rock interchange interstates 630 430
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas lawmaker has proposed tapping into tax revenue from car sales and imposing a new tax on motor fuels to raise money for the state's highways, combining two approaches that have faced significant opposition in the predominantly Republican Legislature.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas filed a bill Monday that he said he hoped would start the conversation on highway funding, which legislative leaders and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have called a priority for this year's session.

Southland Gaming and Racing
Wikipedia

A greyhound track in east Arkansas is spending $250 million to build a new casino complex and high-rise hotel.

Delaware North, the parent company of Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, said Thursday it plans to begin construction this summer on its new 113,000 square-foot casino complex and 20-story hotel tower. The expansion is expected to add as many as 60 live table games and expand its gambling machines from 2,000 to 2,400.

Gilbert Baker
Arkansas Legislature

A former Arkansas lawmaker has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to bribe an ex-judge who admitted to lowering a jury's award in a negligence lawsuit in exchange for campaign contributions.

A federal judge on Thursday set a Feb. 25 trial date for former Sen. Gilbert Baker, who is charged with conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud in the alleged scheme. Baker was ordered to enter an inpatient substance abuse treatment program and surrender his passport.

Alan Leveritt
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A federal judge has let stand an Arkansas law requiring contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel, ruling that such a boycott is not protected by the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit the Arkansas Times had filed challenging the 2017 law. The newspaper had asked the judge to block the law, which requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don't sign the pledge.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bill heading to the Arkansas Senate would ban sex offenders from participating in Halloween activities with children, including wearing costumes or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal prohibiting Level 3 and 4 sex offenders from distributing candy or other items to minors as part of a Halloween-related event.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas lawmaker has filed legislation that would ban abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark 1973 decision that legalized the procedure across the nation.

Republican Sen. Jason Rapert's bill filed Tuesday would trigger the ban if the Roe v. Wade decision is overturned or the U.S. Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit abortions. The Guttmacher Institute says four other states have similar trigger laws in effect.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says it could cost millions more than first estimated to extinguish an underground fire at a landfill containing wood waste.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that cleanup at the Bella Vista stump dump could cost $21 million to $37 million. The project was initially estimated to cost up to $10 million.

Hutchinson says he's asked the state Department of Environmental Quality and engineering firm EnSafe to find a more cost effective solution.

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) in 2015.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Two Republican lawmakers in Arkansas are proposing exempting school employees, people under 18 and others from voter-backed increases in the state's minimum wage.

The bill filed by Sen. Bob Ballinger and Rep. Frances Cavenaugh on Wednesday comes two months after Arkansas voters approved an initiative to gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021. The state's minimum wage rose from $8.50 an hour to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas officials say the number of people who have lost Medicaid coverage for not complying with a work requirement has risen to more than 18,000.

The Department of Human Services on Tuesday said more than 1,200 people were kicked off the state's Medicaid expansion for not complying with the requirement for three months. The rule requires beneficiaries to work 80 hours a month. Beneficiaries lose coverage if they don't meet the requirement for three months in a calendar year. The months reset at the end of the year.

arkleg.state.ar.us

A former Arkansas lawmaker has been charged with conspiracy in an alleged bribery scheme with an ex-judge who admitted to lowering a jury's judgment in a negligence lawsuit in exchange for campaign contributions.

A federal indictment unsealed Friday shows that former state Sen. Gilbert Baker was also charged with bribery and wire fraud in connection to the scheme involving former Judge Michael Maggio.

marijuana
npr.org

Officials say thousands of Arkansas residents with valid medical marijuana licenses can receive a temporary medical marijuana adult license in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has issued more than 33,000 patient licenses since voters overwhelmingly authorized medical cannabis in June. And KFSM reports residents of Arkansas and other states with state-issued medical marijuana licenses can apply for a temporary license in Oklahoma.

The temporary license lasts for 30 days. It can be renewed but can't exceed the expiration date on the out-of-state license.

Federal Government Shutdown Central High National Park Service
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two major tourist attractions in Little Rock are at least partly closed becuase of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Clinton Presidential Center said Saturday that temporary and permanent exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum will be closed. A statement on the library and museum's website says National Archives facilities are closed due to the shutdown and websites are not being monitored or updated.

The center is located in Little Rock and is a top tourist attraction for Arkansas' capital city.

Ten Commandments Jason Rapert
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A federal judge is allowing the Satanic Temple to join a lawsuit challenging a Ten Commandments monument installed near Arkansas' state Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Monday granted the Satanic Temple's request to intervene in the lawsuit seeking to remove the privately funded monument. A 2015 law required the state to allow its construction.

Opponents argue the government has unconstitutionally endorsement religion.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission
Facebook

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission says it will wait until early next year to award licenses to the state's first dispensaries for the drug, which voters legalized for medicinal purposes more than two years ago.

The panel had planned to meet later this week to announce the dispensary scores, but the panel on Tuesday pushed back the meeting until Jan. 9 to allow newly appointed commissioners time to be briefed on the issues.

 Justice Courtney Goodson Judicial Crisis Network.
Arkansas Times / You Tube

An Arkansas court is dismissing a television station's appeal of an order that prohibited it from airing a conservative group's attack ad against a state Supreme Court justice during her re-election bid.

The Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed the appeal by Tegna, Inc., which challenged the ruling preventing several television stations from airing the Judicial Crisis Network's ad targeting Justice Courtney Goodson last spring. Goodson won re-election in November.

Alan Leveritt
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas newspaper is asking a federal judge to strike down a state law that requires government contractors to pledge to not boycott Israel or reduce their fees by 20 percent.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas challenged the law on Tuesday on behalf of the Arkansas Times LP, which says the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College refused to contract for advertising with the newspaper unless the Arkansas Times signed the pledge. The lawsuit argues the requirement violates the U.S. Constitution.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

An Arkansas panel has given initial approval to allowing restricted use of an herbicide that was banned following complaints that it drifted onto crops and caused damage.

The Arkansas Plant Board on Thursday approved new restrictions for the use of dicamba. The new restrictions prohibit dicamba's in-crop use from May 21 to Oct. 31. The rule includes a one-mile buffer zone around research stations, organic crops, specialty crops, non-tolerant dicamba crops and other sensitive crops for applications from April 16 to May 20.

A Tennessee rapper has been sentenced in Arkansas to five years in prison on a federal weapons charge that came after he was arrested with a gun a week before a shooting at an unrelated event at a Little Rock nightclub where he was performing.

Ricky Hampton, who performs under the name Finese2Tymes, was sentenced Thursday in Little Rock.

Hampton, who has a prior felony conviction, initially pleaded guilty in March to possessing a gun at a Forrest City nightclub in eastern Arkansas. He sought to withdraw his guilty plea in October, but withdrew the request two weeks later.

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