Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday Summary

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says that he won’t help the state agency in charge of computers determine whether it was legal for it to destroy hard drives for former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s office. McDaniel said a conflict of interest could result.

A bill was filed Tuesday giving more details about the extra $19 million in funding Gov. Mike Beebe wants for public schools. Also Tuesday, the House Education Committee recommended bills aimed at getting a fuller understanding of how much money Arkansas public schools spend on athletics and allowing, in certain circumstances, students to chew gum and eat candy in class.

A bill requiring student representation on school boards failed to clear the House Education Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 1385 by Rep. Betty Pickett of Conway failed on a voice vote.

The Arkansas Senate has changed a bill that would send state dollars to local projects in an effort to fix what Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said were its flaws. The Senate move, which had the support of the House leaders, represents the Legislature’s latest attempt to find a way to spend millions of dollars on projects in legislative districts without running afoul of a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The Arkansas Senate passed a bill that would extend to six years the period that an inmate sentenced to life in prison without parole must wait before reapplying for executive clemency after being turned down by the governor.

The House Judiciary Committee has rejected legislation prohibiting a long-term care facility from using the term "assisted living" unless it is licensed as an assisted living facility in the state. The sponsor, Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville described House Bill 1308 as a "truth in advertising" bill.

A bill aimed at eliminating Rogers’ new utility “hookup” and “access” fees advanced in a state Senate committee. Sen. Dave Bisbee, who lives in Rogers, said his hometown’s charges are just cleverly disguised impact fees meant to get around a 2003 law he authored.

Arkansas needs enough specialized child treatment centers so any victim of child abuse is within an hour's drive of one, a legislative task force reported Tuesday.However, the expected cost of $25 million likely would push the centers down the priority list, task force members said.

A bill that won a House committee’s approval would allow a dog owner to be charged with a crime when the dog attacks a person. House Bill 1489 by Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne would create the misdemeanor of “unlawful dog attack.” It would allow a court to require anyone who commits the crime to pay restitution to the victim for medical bills.

The Fort Smith School Board Curriculum Committee voted unanimously Monday to reject a proposed elective Bible course for the district’s high schools.

The Jonesboro City Council has approved an ordinance which will allow the city to collect a tax on alcoholic beverage sales and membership fees at the city’s 17 private clubs, as well as regulate their hours of operation.

Police are looking for a 33-year-old Bentonville man in connection with the theft of more than $24,800 in construction equipment from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art site. Jackson "Scott" Taylor is wanted on undetermined felony charges,

A former Hampton Inn that closed at the end of August is set to reopen today under new management. Janus Hotels and Resorts Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., will operate the 108-room Pine Bluff Market Street Hotel near the Pines Mall shopping center.

The 2007 Arkansas-Kentucky football game is being moved to Sept. 22, a week earlier than originally scheduled, and likely will be nationally televised.

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