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Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission
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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.

The Delta Queen
www.save-the-delta-queen.org

After a decade in dock, the historic 1920s-era Delta Queen riverboat will cruise again.

President Donald Trump signed legislation on Tuesday authorizing the 285-foot-long (87-meter-long) riverboat immortalized in poems and songs to cruise again along the Mississippi and several other rivers.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

A banking executive and former highway commissioner has become the first African-American elected to lead Arkansas' capital, six decades after it was the center of a school desegregation crisis.

Frank Scott defeated Baker Kurrus in Tuesday's runoff for Little Rock mayor. The 35-year-old Scott is a former adviser to former Gov. Mike Beebe and served on the state's Highway Commission.

The 64-year-old Kurrus, who is white, is an attorney and businessman.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Voters are casting ballots in an election that could result in Little Rock's first popularly elected black mayor,  six decades after Arkansas' capital city was the center of a school desegregation fight.

Frank Scott and Baker Kurrus are in Tuesday's runoff for the nonpartisan, open seat.

If Scott wins, he would be the first African American elected mayor of Little Rock, where divisions linger long after nine black students were escorted past an angry white mob into Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Bus Accident
KATV-Channel 7

A former member of a Tennessee youth football program that lost a player in a pre-dawn bus crash in Arkansas says the program can keep children from being lured into a world of drugs and crime.

One child from the Orange Mound Youth Association in Memphis was killed Monday when a charter bus veered off Interstate 30 near Benton, Arkansas, and tumbled down an embankment. At least 45 other people were hurt in the crash.

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

Attorneys for an Arkansas judge say they're asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the judge's complaints against members of the state Supreme Court.

Attorney Mike Laux says the petition was filed Friday on behalf of Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen. It comes after previous complaints were dismissed by a district judge, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and a judicial oversight commission.

Laux said he's confident the high court will take the case because he believes the appeals court "got it wrong."

Planned Parenthood Great Plains

Three Arkansas abortion clinics are appealing a state board's ruling that they violated a law barring them from charging a patient seeking an abortion for related services during the waiting period before the procedure.

Betty Bumpers
Jason Masters

Betty Bumpers, a former Arkansas first lady who advocated for childhood immunizations nationwide and pushed for limiting nuclear arms proliferation, has died. She was 93.

Bumpers, long married to former Arkansas governor and four-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, died Friday at her home in Little Rock following a recent fall and complications with dementia, according to her daughter, Brooke Bumpers.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state Department of Youth Services say two of the state's juvenile treatment centers will be closed and the five others will be run by private operators under contracts with the state as part of a plan to improve juvenile justice.

Hutchinson said Friday the treatment center at Dermott will close and the center at Colt will be merged into one in Harrisburg.

The state-run centers are separate from county juvenile detention centers, some of which have been plagued by allegations of mistreatment and poor infrastructure.

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

Arkansas has removed more than 12,000 people from its expanded Medicaid program over the past three months for not complying with a new work requirement.

The state Department of Human Services said Thursday more than 3,800 people lost their Medicaid coverage in October for not complying with the rule, which requires them to work 80 hours a month. Beneficiaries lose coverage if they don't meet the requirement three months in a calendar year. Nearly 8,500 people had lost coverage over the previous two months.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas's governor is proposing a $5.7 billion budget for the coming year that sets aside money for raising the minimum salaries for public school teachers and for his tax cut plan.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday proposed increasing state spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1 by more than $129 million.

Planned Parenthood says it's now complying with an Arkansas law that was put on hold requiring doctors providing abortions pills to contract with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

Kenton Buckner LRPD Little Rock POlice CHief
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The police chief for Little Rock, Arkansas, has been chosen to lead the Syracuse Police Department.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh has introduced Little Rock Police Department Chief Kenton Buckner during a news conference Friday morning at Syracuse City Hall.

Buckner has been police chief in Little Rock since 2014. He was chosen from among three finalists after an eight-month search to select a successor to Frank Fowler, who's retiring.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that gives the state's prison director authority to determine whether an inmate is mentally competent to be put to death, siding with two convicted murderers who were spared from execution last year.

Justices ruled Thursday that the competency law violated due process rights guaranteed in the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions. Convicted murderers Bruce Ward and Jack Greene were granted stays last year so the court could hear their case. Ward was one of eight inmates whom Arkansas planned to execute in April 2017.

An Arkansas Supreme Court justice says she voted against a pay raise request cited in an outside group's attack mailer that she's trying to get a federal judge to halt.

Justice Courtney Goodson testified Wednesday that she was one of two justices who voted privately against the $18,000 raise the court's chief justice requested from a panel that sets officials' salaries. The panel rejected the request and instead raised justices' pay 2 percent, giving her a $3,330 raise.

A Tennessee rapper wants to withdraw his guilty plea from a weapons charge that was filed after he was arrested with a gun following a shooting at a Little Rock nightclub that left 25 injured last summer.

An attorney for Ricky Hampton said in a filing in federal court Monday that Hampton wanted a hearing on his request to withdraw his guilty plea and have substitute counsel appointed. Hampton in March pleaded guilty and admitted he possessed a gun at an eastern Arkansas night club a week before the Little Rock shooting.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas' governor has named seven special justices to hear an effort by members of the state Supreme Court to halt ethics charges they face for their decision to prevent a judge who participated in a death penalty demonstration from handling any execution-related cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed seven people Thursday to fill in for the justices, who have filed a lawsuit challenging a disciplinary panel's decision to charge them with ethics violations.

Arkansas House
www.arkleg.state.ar.us

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered election officials to not count votes cast for a ballot measure that would have imposed the strictest term limits in the country on state legislators.

Justices on Friday disqualified the proposed initiative, ruling that thousands of signatures submitted by supporters were invalid and should not have been counted. The court, however, did not rule on part of the lawsuit challenging the wording of the proposed amendment.

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

Five Arkansas Supreme Court justices are challenging efforts to sanction them over the court's decision to disqualify a judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration from hearing any execution-related cases.

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

Arkansas has nearly doubled the number of people removed from its expanded Medicaid program over a new work requirement that's the subject of a federal lawsuit.

The state Department of Human Services on Monday said more than 4,100 people lost their Medicaid coverage for not complying with the rule. It requires some beneficiaries to work 80 hours a month for three months in a calendar year.

Womack
KUAR News

A seventh member of the Arkansas Supreme Court now faces ethics charges over the court's decision to prohibit a judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration from handling any execution-related cases.

A Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission panel formally filed charges Thursday against Justice Shawn Womack over the court's handling of the case involving Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who was photographed lying on a cot outside the governor's mansion the same day he blocked Arkansas from using an execution drug last year.

Arkansas finance officials say the state's revenue last month remained above expectations and higher than the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue in September totaled $569.6 million, which is $50.7 million above the same month a year ago and $15.4 million above forecast. The state's revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 is more than $1.4 billion, which is $33.4 million above forecast.

James Womack
Benton County Sheriff's Office

The son of an Arkansas congressman has been arrested on multiple drug and gun charges.

Benton County jail records show that 31-year-old James Phillip Womack was arrested Thursday night on 11 counts, including possession of methamphetamine or cocaine with intent to deliver.

Womack is being held without bond Friday. He is the son of Republican Rep. Steve Womack, who represents northwest Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District.

James Phillip Womack pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The trial of former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, who is accused of using campaign funds for personal expenses, is being delayed until next year.

Online court records show U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker agreed Thursday to move the Republican's trial from Oct. 22 to July 8 in order to give the defense more time to prepare.

Prosecutors didn't object to the delay.

Hutchinson, who is the nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, resigned in August after being charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false tax returns.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Jon Woods
Arkansas Times

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jon Woods has reported to a federal prison in Texas to begin a more than 18-year prison sentence for bribery .

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows Woods is being held at a low-security facility in Fort Worth.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Woods arrived at the prison at 1 p.m. Wednesday, the deadline for him to report.

education schools
arkansas.gov

A federal judge has granted Jacksonville North Pulaski School District partial unitary status and says it has made good faith efforts toward becoming fully unitary.

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall said Tuesday he will declare the district fully unitary, or desegregated, after it constructs two new elementary schools and replaces two older ones. Marshall said the district must submit yearly progress reports, beginning next July, until it completes the facilities plan.

He also said the district should push for more incentives for black teachers to get certification.

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