Arkansas Legislature

The latest news about the Arkansas Legislature.

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.

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.

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A former Arkansas lawmaker whose uncle is the state's governor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges that he spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds on trips, groceries and other personal expenses.

Former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson made his first court appearance Tuesday. He was charged last month with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false tax returns. His case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker and is tentatively set for trial on Oct. 22. Hutchinson is the nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Both are Republicans.

A former Arkansas state representative has been sentenced to three years' probation for his role in a bribery scheme.

Former Rep. Micah Neal was sentenced Thursday to probation, the first year of which he must serve under house arrest. Neal also must complete 300 hours of community service and pay $200,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said Neal and former state Sen. Jon Woods directed state funds to two nonprofits in exchange for kickbacks which were funneled through a consulting company. Neal pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.

insidehighered.com

The former president of a private Christian college in northwest Arkansas has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in a kickback scheme involving former state lawmakers.

Oren Paris III was also ordered to pay $621,500 in restitution. Paris was president of Ecclesia College. He admitted to funneling bribe money to the lawmakers in exchange for state grants.

Activists on both sides of tort reform say they’ll proceed with their voter education campaigns despite a judge’s ruling stated that so-called Issue One is not qualified for the November ballot in Arkansas.

At a Northeast Arkansas Political Animals forum held at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce on Friday, speakers debated the merits of caps limiting medical malpractice awards and said the conversation will continue, despite Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce’s ruling on Sept. 6 that the proposed amendment does not meet a “single-subject test.” 

That ruling is being challenged by Arkansans for Jobs and Justice.

Jon Woods
Ashley Gardner

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jon Woods was sentenced Wednesday to more than 18 years and four months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme. The Republican must also serve three years of supervised release and pay over $1.6 million in restitution.

Woods was convicted in May of 15 felony charges. Prosecutors alleged he took kickbacks in exchanging for steering state money to a private Christian college. Woods co-defendant, Randall Shelton Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.

Jon Woods
Arkansas Times

A sentencing hearing is to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. for former Arkansas state Senator Jon Woods. He and several others have been convicted or pleaded guilty as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation. Woods' co-defendant Randell Shelton Jr. will be sentenced Thursday, while their accomplices are scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Doug Thompson, a reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, covered Woods' trial from start to finish and spoke with KUAR about Woods' case.

Jeremy Hutchinson
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Attorneys say a nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to resign from the state senate to focus on defending himself from corruption charges.

Attorneys for Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson Attorneys on Friday called the new accusations that he had spent campaign funds on personal expenses, including a Caribbean cruise and tuition payments, inaccurate. But they say he's stepping down so that Capitol business can proceed without "unnecessary distraction."

Pages