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Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015
State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, September 1, at 1:28 PM
LITTLE ROCK - The results of this year's ACT tests are now available. They're the commonly used standardized tests for college admission. Arkansas high school seniors averaged a composite score of 20.4 out of a possible 36. That is the same average score as last year. Nationwide, the average score was 21, and it too is the same as last year...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, August 25, at 1:09 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Last year the Arkansas tourism industry grew by about 7 percent, its biggest increase in 15 years. Almost 26 million people made a trip to an Arkansas destination last year and about two thirds of them were from out of state. They spent $6.7 billion, which is why tourism is one of the foundations of the Arkansas economy...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, August 18, at 3:30 PM

LITTLE ROCK - As Arkansas schools begin a new school year, at least 1,300 high school students are starting classes in how to program and code computers, the governor announced. In October, educators will have a more complete picture of how many students have enrolled in computer coding classes. They expect the number to exceed 1,300...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, August 11, at 9:18 AM

LITTLE ROCK --The state Human Services Department (DHS) will hire an additional 35 employees and reassign another 20 workers to speed up the process of verifying that people now on Medicaid are truly eligible for services. The governor lifted a hiring freeze for DHS so that it could add 35 employees. Also, the department has authorized employees to work overtime so they can more quickly clear the backlog of responses from Medicaid recipients...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, August 4, at 10:02 AM

LITTLE ROCK - For three years the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission has been working on a new water plan. At public hearings and during meetings with local business and civic leaders, the commission has gathered ideas on how to revise the current water plan, which was completed in 1990...

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Sales tax holiday Aug. 1-2
Posted Tuesday, July 28, at 11:46 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas will hold its annual sales tax holiday on Saturday, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2. Clothing and footwear that cost less than $100 per item will qualify for the exemption. Keep in mind that if you buy an item that costs more than $100 you must pay the state and local sales taxes on the entire amount...

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Decline in lottery revenue effects scholarships
Posted Tuesday, July 21, at 1:05 PM

LITTLE ROCK - When the state fiscal year ended on June 30, lottery scholarship revenue showed a decline for the third consecutive year. Lottery ticket sales in Fiscal Year 2015 were $409.2 million. Most of that amount was paid back to ticket buyers as prizes. The available revenue for Academic Challenge Scholarships was down about $9 million from the previous year, to $72.4 million...

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Conference to address foster families, inmates
Posted Tuesday, July 14, at 11:56 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas churches and religious organizations will be invited by the governor to a conference in late August at which he will ask their help in meeting two urgent needs - recruiting additional foster families and preparing inmates for life outside prison...

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Death penalty drug approved
Posted Tuesday, July 7, at 11:29 AM

LITTLE ROCK -- Immediately after the United States Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam, a sedative, in lethal injections of inmates on death row, the governor directed the state Correction Department to obtain a supply of drugs so that Arkansas can resume executions...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 30, at 10:37 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Flooding due to recent heavy rains has focused the legislature's attention on the need to improve oversight of the patchwork of levees throughout Arkansas. Two joint legislative committees - the Senate and House Committees on Insurance and Commerce and the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development - are working on a plan to modernize how levees are maintained, inspected and financed...

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Prison Reform
Posted Tuesday, June 23, at 9:20 AM

LITTLE ROCK -- Stricter parole policies are driving a sharp increase in the number of inmates in Arkansas prisons. Legislators are paying close attention to the effect of new state laws enacted earlier this year, which they hope will stabilize growth in the prison population...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 16, at 4:26 PM

LITTLE ROCK - At its most recent meeting, the Highway Commission opened bids on two construction projects - one to replace a bridge on Interstate 30 in southwest Arkansas and another to widen Interstate 49 in northwest Arkansas. Bids on another nine projects were not opened because highway officials continue to have serious questions about the future of federal highway funding...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 9, at 1:42 PM

LITTLE ROCK - During the three-day special session the legislature enacted 12 bills. Some acts are duplicates because they began as identical versions of Senate or House bills. Act 4 moves up the date of next year's primary elections, from May to March 1 so that Arkansas will join other Southern states in a so-called "SEC primary," named after the athletic conference...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, June 2, at 12:52 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The legislature completed a special session after voting to issue $87 million in bonds for a proposed industrial development project in south Arkansas that would manufacture the next generation of light military vehicles for the Army and the Marines...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 26, at 11:46 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas law enforcement authorities will have access to a greater number of DNA samples because of Act 543, which the legislature approved in the regular session earlier this year. The police had been empowered to collect DNA samples from people arrested for violent crimes and sexual offenses. Act 543 expands that authority and enables law officers to collect DNA from everyone arrested for a felony...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 12, at 1:53 PM

LITTLE ROCK - The state has approved funding of $128.7 million for 67 projects to renovate and make repairs at public schools. Upgrades include new heating, air conditioning, roofing and fire alarms. Some schools will use the money for expansions of classrooms, gyms and auditoriums...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, May 5, at 2:58 PM

LITTLE ROCK - All bids have been awarded to telecommunications contractors and work is set to begin this summer on an ambitious statewide project to enhance broadband capacity in Arkansas public schools. The goal is to provide Internet access that will not only meet national standards but also exceed them so that Arkansas schools can plan improvements in technology offerings far into the future. In some schools, Internet access will be 200 times faster than it has been...

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State Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 28, at 11:40 AM

LITTLE ROCK - After a 19-day recess, the legislature officially ended the 2015 regular session on April 22, when it completed a few housekeeping measures and adjourned sine die. The legislative session began on Jan. 12 and lasted until April 2, when lawmakers finished business. The recess allowed time for proofing and processing the 1,289 bills that became acts. In all, 2,063 were introduced this year...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 21, at 3:11 PM

LITTLE ROCK - Individual public schools received a letter grade, from A to F, on school report cards issued by the state Education Department. The legislature mandated the letter grades in Act 696 of 2013 to make the school report cards easier for parents to understand...

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Capital Week in Review
Posted Tuesday, April 14, at 11:22 AM

LITTLE ROCK - Among the most important economic development legislation approved this year are three new laws that dramatically restructure how Arkansas trains people for the technical job skills they need to work in today's work place. The governor and the sponsors of the three bills described them as foundational and momentum changing, adding that they will make Arkansas more competitive in recruiting industries that pay well...

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State Capital Week in Review
By Senator David Burnett
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