Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday summary

Sen. Jim Argue, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, rightly criticized local-level school officials Wednesday, saying they were “mucking up” one of the state Legislature’s top achievements, extra funding to help low-income students. Argue exposed superintendents scheme to use that money for teacher salaries instead.

A House of Representatives committee that overwhelmingly voted for a bill seven weeks ago that would have killed payday lending in Arkansas passed another bill Wednesday that is supported by payday lenders and includes no meaningful protection from interest rates of up to 3000%.

Little Rock voters will have another option to boost their mayor’s power under a bill that now awaits Gov. Mike Beebe’s sure signature. The state Senate voted 33-1 to let voters in Arkansas’ city-manager cities grant their mayors some executive duties.

Legislation to create the state’s first felony charge for animal cruelty failed on both ends of the state Capitol on Wednesday as supporters of competing bills couldn’t come to agreement.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will open a branch campus in Fayetteville with a $2 million appropriation from the state's revenue surplus, according to two Northwest Arkansas delegation members and the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas. The university had no statement as of Wednesday.

Jerry Cox, the head of a Christian conservative group that helped draw legislation to ban gays and unmarried couples who live together from fostering or adopting children in Arkansas, says it might try to put the measure on the 2008 general election ballot.

Roy L. Densmore, a Monticello man already on probation for possession of child pornography in 2004, pleaded guilty Monday to the same crime. Circuit Judge Sam Pope sentenced Densmore to 20 years in prison, 10 years for each of two counts of possession of child pornography. The sentences must be served consecutively.

The mother of former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, a next-door neighbor to Campbell and his wife, and a Little Rock pawnbroker testified about the theft of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from the neighbor’s home in day 15 of the public corruption trial being heard in Cabot.

Julie Roehm, a marketing executive fired by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. late last year, accuses the company of a “smear campaign” against her. n a statement released by her attorney, Roehm says Wal-Mart made “selective use of e-mail, taken way out of context” as part of its effort to discredit her.

If Arkansas wants a viable biofuel industry, the state had better get ready to pay for it. That is the message from a shareholder of Stuttgart-based Patriot BioFuels, Mike Shook, speaking to food processors at the 101st Ozark Food Processors Association convention in Springdale.

The Small Business Administration will be making $1.7 million in low-interest disaster loans for 23 Desha County home and business owners affected by Feb. 24 tornadoes.

El Dorado and three companies that want to build a joint pipeline to ferry treated wastewater to the Ouachita River filed an appeal Wednesday challenging a state permit granted for the project as too stringent.

Conway public school administrators are mulling a return to corporal punishment at a time when the number of paddlings in Arkansas schools is on the decline.

A borrowed trailer where volunteers have been feeding breakfast to the homeless will stay under the Broadway Bridge at least one more month, City Manager Bruce Moore said Wednesday.

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