Associated Press

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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.

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