Thursday, March 15, 2007

Busy Thursday summary

A House oversight committee will hear from Gov. Mike Beebe today about the much-criticized federal response to last month's Desha County tornadoes and the government's denial of financial help to storm victims.

Revelations about the Bush administration's handling of a U.S. attorney firings provoked Sen. Mark Pryor's harshest criticism yet of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Wednesday amid a mounting scandal that involves a federal prosecutor in Arkansas.

Pryor said he was wading through about 200 pages of e-mails released Tuesday that detail the administration's plan to forego the normal Senate confirmation process to install former White House aide Tim Griffin as interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

A program based at the Pine Bluff Arsenal that provides training for emergency responders would be protected from massive budget cuts under a Senate bill approved Tuesday

Federal prison officials confirmed Wednesday that an inmate brawl at the medium-security federal prison in Forrest City left at least two convicts injured enough to be taken to a local hospital.

Gov. Mike Beebe signed two public school funding increases totaling $121.7 million into law Wednesday, a move that parties in the Lake View case say could help bring the long-running school funding case to a close.

Gov. Mike Beebe says his campaign pledge to support legislative efforts to reinstate a state ban on gays serving as foster parents did not include a ban on gay adoptions.

The state House of Representatives has passed a package of ethics legislation sponsored by the House speaker, despite eleventh-hour opposition from the chairman of the state Democratic Party.

The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed legislation that would create Arkansas’ first felony offense of animal cruelty, over the objections of farmer and rancher representatives who say it goes too far.

A legislative committee rejected a bill aimed at preventing the state from requiring vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer. House Bill 2560 would have eliminated the state Board of Health’s power to mandate immunizations against sexually transmitted diseases, including HPV.

A bill to increase the state's excise tax on cigarettes by 50 cents per pack to raise money for health programs and discourage smoking failed to clear a House committee.

Voters may be willing to extend legislators' terms if lawmakers are willing to give up some of the perks of office, according to Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville. Bond has filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend terms to a maximum 12 years in both the House and Senate. Senators now are limited to two four-year terms and House members are limited to three two-year terms.

The State Plant Board has voted unanimously to make permanent its emergency rules that ban the planting of Cheniere rice in 2007 and 2008, and required all rice used for planting in 2007 to be tested for Bayer CropScience’s Liberty Link traits.

The Dollarway School Board tonight is expected to discuss possible repercussions of having issued incorrect information about a property-tax increase that voters narrowly approved Tuesday. Complete but unofficial returns indicated just over 51 percent of the voters — in a count of 399 - 378 — supported the hike to 42.3 mills.

The possibility of corporal punishment and the Conway School District's policy on drug testing and cell phones - along with the newfangled mixed bag of cameras, MP3 players and text messaging functions that go along with them - was up for discussion at the regular meeting of the Conway School Board.

Little Rock police are invesgating four homicides from early Wednesday morning. So far, Little Rock has recorded eight murders.

A 7-month-old baby is dead after drowning in the bathtub and her mother is in jail on a charge of manslaughter. The Bentonville woman has a history of drinking, passing out and leaving a child unattended, according to court documents. Melanie Cummings was arrested following the death of her daughter, Brooklynn. A bond hearing is planned this morning.

Shane Scott, a former Act 309 prison inmate, says, he frequently answered “booty calls” for sex with Kelly Campbell in a Lonoke park’s press box, referee room or concession stand. The statements came during the eighth day of testimony in the trial of Campbell; her husband, former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell; and Bobby Junior Cox, a bail bondsman. The three are accused of conspiring as a criminal organization seeking money, sex and drugs.

A federal judge denied a motion to stay filed by Oscar Stilley, meaning the local attorney must remain in the county jail until Saturday. Stilley is serving a 30-day term in the Sebastian County Detention Center for a contempt-of-court finding in September 2004, after he failed to follow a Circuit Court order to submit financial documents relating to his ability to pay sanctions for filing meritless lawsuits dating back to 2000.

All the suspense of naming Springdale's new minor-league baseball team finally ended Wednesday afternoon in the Holiday Inn when it was announced the "Northwest Arkansas Naturals" won by popular vote.

Today is the deadline to file state and federal corporate income tax returns.

What do you say when the ADC lets a man do time for 11 months for theft of property,then let him out to charge him with another theft of property charge that happened in 2004? Why couldn't they run the charges concurrent? This is a good young man, who like many of us has made mistakes.He did his time or so he thought, now they have a warrent out for his arrest for something that should have been taken care of while he was already in prison. I need some answers and maybe some advice on how to go about getting him some help. If anyone that reads this can help me, please do so. Thanks
Great question. I am having some trouble with the nnswer because I just never made a "mistake" to land me in prison, like most other folks. Good luck,
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