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Building up the arts

Building up the arts

March 1, 2019

Vol 45 • No 19

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Black Boys at the Barre

By connecting classical dance to a broader history of black movement, C. Michael Tidwell influenced generations of teenagers.

Windgate Foundation draws attention to the arts, its benefits

It's become the Johnny Appleseed of Arkansas arts education.

Revenge of the elite in Little Rock

The city manager system and the collapse of racial moderation in Little Rock, 1955-1957.

Doris Wright says Little Rock needs the leadership of a strong mayor

A Q&A with the Little Rock city director.

The Getaway

It's been 10 months since The Observer hung up our cleats after 15 years as a reporter and took a job with a little more pay, a little less stress and a lot better insurance to take care of our various health bugaboos.

Cannabis list stays at 18

Dispensaries talk about opening dates.

Orval learns about what the General Assembly is up to

Money for Nothing – Why it doesn’t pay to buy cheaper CBD products

If you’re just starting your search for CBD products, you’ve no doubt noticed there exist major price differences. Like most people, you’re probably willing to pay for a quality product, but you don’t want to pay an unnecessary premium.

Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news…

If you’ve been using CBD products and you’ve seen results – or read any of the myriad individual testimonials that are out there – you may be wondering why companies that deal in CBD aren’t more aggressive in touting the medicinal benefits of their products. After all, with all the buzz out there surrounding CBD’s positive effect on everything from achy knees to sleeplessness to mood disorders, why keep it hidden?

Wake up and smell the…pesticide?

“The cannabis plant is an accumulator,” said Jason Martin, CEO of Little Rock-based Tree of Life Seeds. “Anything that’s in the soil or anything that it’s fed, whether it’s a nutrient line, a pesticide or something already in the soil, the plant is going to draw that out.”

CBD: Which delivery method is right for you?

CBD treatments are customizable and no one size fits all. A good rule of thumb for the newcomer in deciding which form of CBD to take lies in the old adage: “The right tool for the right job.”

All hail the anti-hotel in Arkansas

Take shelter in an oddity.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Cheap ass weave edition

Play at home, just before being attacked by a ravenous mountain lion!

'No Tears Suite' at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

And much more.

Blue smoke

Since 1983, Little Rock's Nichols & Simpson Organbuilders has built a reputation for uncompromising excellence.

Little Rock's first family of tortillas

Brenda's turns out the freshest in town.

The Saturday line

An open line.

Orchestral "No Tears Suite" premieres at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt's "No Tears Suite" marries tumult and triumph.

A wet and cold Little Rock Marathon

Times photographer Brian Chilson sends along pics of the leaders in the Little Rock Marathon at around the halfway point.

NBC delves into Times legal battle over boycott law

NBC News has a long article on the Arkansas Times legal battle with the state over a law that requires all state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel or take 20 percent less in fees. The Times, represented by the ACLU of Arkansas, challenged the law in federal court. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller dismissed the case. The Times has appealed the decision to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sunday open line

Over to you...

Former Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample dies at 44

Matt DeCample, the former longtime spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe, died last night after a nearly three-year battle with a rare form of liver cancer, Talk Business and KATV report. He was 44.

Sen. Joyce Elliott to propose resolution for state to ratify Equal Rights Amendment

The Progressive Arkansas Women PAC sends word that Sen. Joyce Elliott will file a resolution today to for Arkansas to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment, which seeks to establish an explicit guarantee in the U.S. Constitution for equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex.

State general revenues below forecast

State tax revenues in February came in below the forecast, the Department of Finance and Administration announced today. Net available general revenues in February total $321.5 million. That’s $9 million (2.7 percent) below the forecast.

Recap-Slideshow: 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Finals

In a marathon of pedal effects, fog and melody at the Rev Room Friday night, we wrapped the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase up in a bow, and crowned a winner: Willowack of Siloam Springs.

Review: The Moth alighted in Little Rock Thursday night

Thursday’s debut was a classic reflection of The Moth’s power, with stories from Korto Momolu Briggs, Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, Alistair Bane, Max García Conover and Monte Montepare.

"Survivors Guide to Prison" producers Christina and David Arquette to appear at Little Rock rally for criminal justice reform

A rally is set for tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Arkansas State Capitol, part of a "National Day of Empathy" campaign to raise awareness about mass incarceration and disfunction in the nation's criminal justice system.

Doris Wright has a 'charge to keep' in Ward 6

Doris Wright, in her 13 years on the city board of directors, has defined herself as a champion of life in West Central Little Rock. She has played a major role in bringing the Central Arkansas Library System’s Sidney S. McMath branch to Ward 6, and with her advocacy, the city built the $6.4 million West Central Community Center and the 25-acre West Central Sports Complex.

Hester files bill to shroud execution process in more secrecy

Sen. Bart Hester today filed a bill to increase the secrecy related to the drugs used by the state in executions.

New episode of Rock the Culture: 'The Only Stars We Acknowledge'

In this week’s episode, Antwan Phillips and Rep. Charles Blake provide perspective and conversation on the bomb threat that occurred during a recent Little Rock City Board of Directors' meeting and the outcome of Rep. Blake's Flag Bill to re-designate the purpose of one of the stars on the Arkansas State Flag. In addition, they provide rapid fire perspective on Rock Topics (Michael Cohen's testimony at Capitol Hill, Ole Miss basketball players taking a knee, and much more). They also discuss the offerings and events at Central Arkansas Library System ("CALS") with Tameka Lee, communications director for CALS.

Governor announces support for nixing link to Confederacy in designation of star on state flag

Here's a pleasant surprise: The AP reports that Governor Hutchinson today stated that he supports an effort by Rep. Charles Blake to legally re-designate the symbolism of a star on the Arkansas state flag, which currently honors the Confederacy. "

Blanche Lincoln to deliver keynote address for state Democratic Party event

Here's a blast from the past: Former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln will deliver the keynote address at a Democratic Party awards dinner at the Robinson Center Ballroom at the Robinson Center Ballroom March 16.

Low-tech open line

We'll be back with the video news roundup tomorrow, but for tonight, consider this the open line.

House approves governor's $300 million highway funding proposal

A pair of measures advancing the $300 million highway funding plan backed by Governor Hutchinson sailed through the House this afternoon.

Clowney files bill to prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning firearms under state law

Rep. Nicole Clowney (D- Fayetteville) yesterday filed a bill to prohibit a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning or possessing a firearm under state law. The prohibition already exists under federal law, but state police officers cannot directly enforce the federal statute.

Family of Bradley Blackshire, man killed by LRPD officer after traffic stop, calling for state police investigation

In a press conference Monday afternoon, civil rights attorney Omavi Shukur, representing the parents of Bradley Blackshire, shared details of the family's "preliminary" investigation into Blackshire's fatal shooting on Feb. 22 by LRPD Officer Charles Starks and asked the community to come forward with any information or video footage of the incident by calling the attorney at 312-243-5900.

CDC investigates e-scooter safety

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating e-scooter crashes and injuries, CNN reports, in response to a request from the city of Austin, Texas.

Rep. Megan Godfrey on her colleagues and the push to allow DACA recipients to sit for the nursing exam

I recently checked in with some of the freshmen Democratic women in the Arkansas House of Representatives to see how things were going since the legislative session began back in January. I asked about how the reality of governing compared to their expectations, important legislation they wanted more people to know about and how they spend their precious free time. Rep. Megan Godfrey (Springdale) is up first.

Norman, Okla., Police Chief Keith Humphrey shares vision for "21st century policing" and "emotional intelligence" for LRPD at community forum

At the third of four community forums for Little Rock's police chief finalists, Norman, Okla., Police Chief Keith Humphrey spoke at Philander Smith College about community policing, accountability and the importance of "emotional intelligence" for police officers.

Fat Tuesday To-Do: Mardi Gras Jubilee at White Water Tavern

You're not in Louisiana for Fat Tuesday; jubilee anyway.

A new bill calls for an equal number of men and women on state boards and commissions

Just in time for Women's History Month, Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) filed HB 1676 to require equal representation of men and women on certain state boards and commissions.

Report: Four of the state's coal-burning power plants have dangerous pollution levels according to their self-reported data

A new report by the Environmental Integrity Project finds unsafe groundwater contamination at the overwhelming majority of the nation's coal-burning power plants, and documents dangerous pollution at four the five coal-burning power plants in Arkansas.

The Methodist quandry: Stay or go?

The special United Methodist Church General Conference decision last week to reject a proposal to allow individual churches decide on their position on LGBTQ marriage and ordination shocked and dismayed Methodists (and members of other dominations, as well). (The Atlantic has an excellent article on the issue.) The conference, in fact, ended up toughening sanctions against clergy, who risk being defrocked if they officiate at same-sex marriages or ordain LGBTQ people.

Origins of Little Rock's city manager plan

Michael Pierce, the University of Arkansas professor and author of our latest History department feature, "Revenge of the elite in Little Rock," asdf

Tuesday's headlines and your open line

House approves Asa's $300 million highway funding proposal; Norman police chief shares vision for “21st century policing;” family of Bradley Blackshire, man killed by LRPD officer after traffic stop, calling for state police investigation.

Rep. Dan Douglas files bill to extend in-state tuition to currently ineligible immigrant students

Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Rogers) filed a bill today that would grant in-state college tuition to all students who have resided in Arkansas for at least three years and graduated from a high school (or received a high school equivalency diploma) in Arkansas. The bill makes no explicit mention of undocumented immigrants, but in practice it would appear to allow undocumented students who graduate from high school in the state to be eligible for in-state tuition.

U.S. Marshals arrest 44 suspects charged with violent crime in Arkansas Delta

The United States Marshalls Service today announced an arrest operation targeting violence and gang-related crime in the Helena-West Helena area.

Memorial service scheduled for March 10 for Matt DeCample

A memorial service for Matt DeCample, the widely beloved former spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, will be held at 2 p.m.

House passes bill to allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without prescription

In a vote that split the Republican majority Tuesday afternoon, the Arkansas House of Representatives approved a measure that would 

Pot panel will look at possible misinformation in RX Med dispensary application

After hearing from the economic director of Prescott that she believes RX Med dispensary did not have a contract on property it said it would locate on, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will ask the owner of RX Med to appear at its next meeting.

High school student in Montgomery County gets national attention for act of generosity

CNN spotlights a story about two students from Caddo Hills High School in Norman that has been making the rounds after a Facebook post by the school district (see above): Tanner Wilson saved up money for two years from a part-time job at a local car mechanic to buy an electric wheelchair for his friend Brandon Qualls.

Harding University establishes scholarship in honor of Botham Jean

Harding University announced yesterday that it has established the Botham Jean Memorial Scholarship Fund, in partnership with the consulting firm PwC.

The end isn't clear

Anybody who predicts how the Trump administration will come to an end is begging to have his soothsayer’s license revoked. “Surprisingly,” is as far as I’m willing to go. NPR ran a story the other day about a 93-year-old World War II veteran whose dying words were “S***, I'm not going to see the Mueller report, am I

Lyons: No way to predict how the Trump administration will end

Read his new column.

City Director Lance Hines pulls immigration-law resolution from board agenda

At Tuesday evening's board of directors meeting, Ward 5 City Director Lance Hines pulled a resolution from the agenda that would have stated Little Rock's intent to comply with the federal government's requests when enforcing immigration laws.

Gallery 360, Gleanings fear ouster by pot Rx dispensary

Jay King, who runs Gleanings Gallery and Arkansas Glassworks at 900 Rodney Parham Road, was disturbed to read on the Arkansas Blog and elsewhere that Natural State Wellness Dispensary would be located at their address. King said he fears he'll get an eviction notice today from the landlords, who he identified as Al Treadway and John Magee.

Flu deaths in Arkansas this season total 57, including 19 last week

In the past week, 19 people in the state died from flu-related causes, the Arkansas Department of Health announced in its weekly flu report, issued yesterday.

Ballinger's bill to roll back minimum wage increase amended, could be run next week

Rep. Bob Ballinger yesterday added an amendment to his bill to undo the will of the voters and roll back the state minimum wage. The bill had been moved to the "deferred list" in the Senate Public Health committee in late January, leading to speculation that Ballinger might not have the votes. He has now tweaked the bill and told me that he is considering running it as soon as next week.

Midweek headlines and open line

No vote today on landlord-tenant bill after realtor association declares opposition; Ballinger's bill to roll back minimum wage increase amended, could be run next week; House passes bill to allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without prescription; Memorial service scheduled for March 10 for Matt DeCample.

Disability Rights Arkansas: Exempting developmentally disabled from minimum wage would be "total step backwards"

As we noted earlier today, Rep. Bob Ballinger yesterday amended his bill to substantially roll back the state minimum wage approved by voters last November. Ballinger's inclusion of a new exemption excluding developmentally disabled employees would be "a total step backwards for the state," said Tom Masseau, executive director for Disability Rights Arkansas.

When will the Family Council grow up?

You really have to wonder what century the Family Council is living in. In the Family Council's world, sex ed classes are revealing the joys of intercourse to clueless children who would otherwise remain abstinent and pure of heart.

Governor signs juvenile justice reform bill and four others from Republican women

Irvin said that the bill would save lives by ensuring that young people "are not ending up in incarceration in our prison system … but that they can actually get the help, the services, the support and the love they need to become great citizens of our state."

Stand Your Ground proposal falls in committee (UPDATED)

After two and a half hours of heated testimony, Sen. Bob Ballinger's bill to enact a so-called "stand your ground" law failed in the Senate Judiciary committee this evening.

Quapaw Nation applauds governor's endorsement of proposal to change state flag symbolism

Quapaw Nation Chairman John Berrey today applauded Governor Hutchinson's recent announcement that he supports efforts to change the meaning of a star on the Arkansas state flag.

No vote on landlord-tenant bill after realtor association declares opposition

"We live in the richest country in the world," Gazaway told the House Insurance and Commerce committee. “I do not believe it’s too much to ask of a landlord in 2019 in the United States of America."

Thursday To-Do: "Urinetown" at The Studio Theatre

Fourth walls are shattered, theater tropes are mocked and an exhaustive litany of euphemisms for going No. 1 are trotted out with earthy gusto from the pee-bound proletariat.

Bill to shroud execution drugs in secrecy passes out of Senate committee

Sen. Bart Hester's bill to increase the secrecy related to the drugs used by the state in executions passed on a party-line vote out of the Senate Judiciary committee yesterday and is on to the full Senate.

Senate committee passes 18-week abortion ban

Sen. Jason Rapert's bill to ban abortions at 18 weeks of gestation or later, now amended to include an exception for rape and incest, passed the Senate Public Health committee yesterday and is on to the full Senate.

Bid to ratify Equal Rights Amendment fails

A proposal to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution failed in a Senate committee Thursday morning. The ERA would establish an explicit guarantee for equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. The resolution failed to receive a second to a "do-pass" motion, effectively killing it.

Arkansans for a Fair Wage pushes back against Ballinger proposal to roll back minimum wage

Arkansans for a Fair Wage, the committee that backed the 2018 ballot initiative to raise the state minimum wage, is resurfacing to push against Sen. Bob Ballinger's bill to roll back the minimum wage.

Rep. Charles Blake files new bill to remove Confederacy from state flag symbolism

Rep. Charles Blake will try again with a new bill to remove the statutory language designating that a star on the state flag "is to commemorate the Confederate States of America."

LRPD Assistant Chief Alice Fulk shares plan to improve city 'block by block'

In the fourth and final community forum for Little Rock police chief candidates, LRPD Assistant Chief Alice Fulk spoke to a large crowd at Philander Smith college about her 27 years of experience in the department, the importance of diversity in hiring and promotions, and her ideas for improving community relations through "21st century policing."

Race, guns, and the Arkansas legislature

Lots of chatter among Capitol critters about Sen. Stephanie Flowers' fiery speeches during yesterday's debate over a proposed "Stand Your Ground" law, which failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday evening.

Arkansas legislature honors former Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample

Both houses of the legislature today approved a resolution honoring Matt DeCample, the former aide to Governor Mike Beebe who died on Sunday after a three-year battle with a rare form of liver cancer.

How white discomfort helps Trump

Check out an excellent, short read about the "unmarked category" from Paul Campos over on "Lawyers, Guns & Money" sent to me by a friend after he read my commentary on the bill designed to equalize the number of men and women on certain state boards and commission.

UPDATE: House committee unanimously approves bill to let DACA recipients become nurses

House Bill 1552, sponsored by freshman Rep. Megan Godfrey (D-Springdale), now heads to the full House for a vote. It appears to enjoy broad bipartisan support, with several Republicans (and other Democrats) signing on as cosponsors of the bill.

Tim Griffin trumpets Trump plan for tax credits for private school tuition

"The Trump plan is both common sense and genius," Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin opined on Fox News today.

LRPD releases narrative video of Bradley Blackshire shooting

The Little Rock Police Department and a local marketing firm have compiled a 25-minute "critical incident narrative" video of the fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire by Little Rock Police Officer Charles Starks on Feb. 22. Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley narrates the video.

House passes bill to make alligator gar the state fish

Fishy business: Eleven-year-old Fayetteville student beats back Big Fish lobby's influence peddling.

Mosaic Templars kicks off Women's Month with film, exhibition tonight

A screening of "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise" at 6 p.m. tonight kicks off the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's "Women Without Words" exhibition. The exhibition "explores the way in which African-American women have been publicly presented in various mediums," the MTCC says.

Thursday's headlines and an open line

Bid to ratify Equal Rights Amendment fails; Senate committee passes 18-week abortion ban; Bill to shroud execution drugs in secrecy passes out of Senate committee; Rep. Charles Blake files new bill to remove Confederacy from state flag symbolism; House committee unanimously approves bill to let DACA recipients become nurses.

Bill to extend recess clears House committee

A House committee advanced a bill that would expand the time allotted for recess in public elementary schools.

To-Do Friday: 2nd Friday Art Night features art by women at HAM, CALS

March is not just what women do. It's the month dedicated to them, and galleries are taking note.

New music from The Salty Dogs, Kari Faux, Go Fast

Two tales of disillusionment from some favorites of the Arkansas Times staff.

Saturday To-Do: The Libras do Wilbury Roulette for PHE Elementary

The Libras return to their tribute roots for a fundraiser for the Pulaski Heights Elementary PTA. The plan is for the band to do a set of Traveling Wilburys songs, and then a set dictated by a giant roulette wheel with the names of all the Wilburys members. That means songs from Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison.

Government asks judge to deny Jeremy Hutchinson's motion to dismiss, reveal more details on investigation

Federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of Arkansas filed a response yesterday to former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's motion to dismiss wire and tax fraud charges against him.

Lyon College announces $1 million gift

Lyon College today announced that it has received a $1 million gift from the John W. Edwards trust.

'Vice News' reports on Arkansas Times' anti-boycott pledge lawsuit

Last night, HBO's "Vice News" ran a 9-minute news feature on the Arkansas Times' federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that requires state contractors to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel or take a 20 percent discount. You have to have an HBO subscription to watch now; "Vice News" puts epsiodes online a week after they air.

Stephanie Flowers gets national attention for comments on race and guns

Sen. Stephanie Flowers' heated comments this week on race and guns, peppered with four-letter words, are getting a national spotlight.

Statues for Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash hit snag in House; some legislators object to Cash

Among more substantive hijinks, the House yesterday rejected a measure to authorize two new statues to represent the state the U.S. Capitol, honoring civil rights icon Daisy Bates and country music legend Johnny Cash.

Two more bills filed to undo will of the voters on minimum wage

Two more bills have been filed to roll back the state minimum wage overwhelming approved by Arkansas voters just last November. 

The Guns and Gar Edition

Benji Hardy and Lindsey Millar discuss the latest from the legislature and the release of a lengthy video of the shooting death of Bradley Blackshire by a Little Rock Police officer.

Friday's headlines and your open line

LRPD releases narrative video of Bradley Blackshire shooting; Government asks judge to deny Jeremy Hutchinson's motion to dismiss, reveal more details on investigation; Bill to finance UAMS cancer research includes favors for Big Tobacco.

Womack files bill to eliminate gun-free zones

More guns at the legislature: Rep. Richard Womack filed a bill this week to eliminate nearly all gun-free zones in the state. 

Ballinger will withdraw amendment excluding developmentally disabled from state minimum wage

Facing heavy criticism form disability rights advocates, Sen. Bob Ballinger agreed today to drop an amendment from his bill that would have excluded the developmentally disabled from the state minimum wage.

Millions view video of Sen. Stephanie Flowers

Millions of people in the last few days have viewed the NowThis News video of Sen. Stephanie Flowers, whose electric comments on race and guns during a committee meeting last week have drawn national attention.

Saturday To-Do: Descendents at Rev Room

Descendents descend on the Rev Room Saturday, March 9.

Jimmy Gazaway files bill to require more disclosure from outside groups in judicial races

Rep. Jimmy Gazaway filed a bill this week to require outside groups to disclose information about their donors if they spend in state Supreme Court or Appeals Court races.

Storm knocks out power to Arkansas Arts Center

Entergy Arkansas reports power outages in Central Arkansas. The Arkansas Arts Center is closed for the day.

Open line

What's cooking?

Hillary Clinton's Arkansas law license reinstated

Hillary Clinton's Arkansas law license has been reinstated after 17 years of suspension. No word as yet on the significance of that

Computer tracking software plan offered a big payday for lobbyists

The Arkansas Blog wrote recently about legislation by Sen. Mathew Pitsch that would require state vendors to use a software application that tracks computer time by vendors who bill by the hour for computer work. Reporting here says it's a national effort that once offered unusual fee deals for lobbyists.

Ethics 'reform' notwithstanding, the lobbyist-financed legislative balls will continue

There's been some talk of heightened interest in legislative ethics, including window-dressing legislation, but it won't stand in the way of lobbyist-supported fancy balls for the leaders of the House and Senate.

The open line, plus tales from the swamp

Here's the open line. And for your reading pleasure, yet another installment in the story of how the Trump era has continued to build the political swamp. Or how Robert Kraft's massage parlor visit has morphed into a saga of Chinese influence peddling and perhaps even espionage, courtesy of Mother Jones.

Another dubious distinction for Arkansas — nursing home deficiencies

ProPublica has updated its massive state-by-state compilation of nursing home inspection data and  Arkansas is a leader, in a negative way.

Survey puts Little Rock near bottom of happiness ranking

Wallet Hub combines a variety of variables to rank 182 cities for happiness, an exercise that ranked Little Rock 176th (and Fort Smith a smidge ahead at 170). But wait .... what about the new Chick-fil-A at the airport?

Cocktail competition for legislators tonight

Chambers of commerce will compete for legislators at competing cocktail hours this evening.

Arkansas unemployment rate stable at 3.7 percent

The Arkansas unemployment rate in January was 3.7 percent, the same as the previous month after an adjustment in the December figure from 3.6 to 3.7 percent.

Judge denies stay of ruling against forcing four districts to comply with state school transfer law

Federal Judge Susan Hickey has denied a request by the state Education Department and state board of Education to stay her ruling that allows the Hope, Lafayette County, Junction City and Camden Fairview School Districts to claim exemption from the state law that allows interdistrict student transfers.

2019 Women to Watch touring; next at HSU

The Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the arbiter of "women to watch" in various media, is touring its fifth group of distinguished Arkansas artists, women who work in metal to produce mixed media jewelry, sculpture, conceptual pieces and small constructions.

Bottle deposit bill introduced

Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) today introduced HB 1771 to require a five-cent deposit on beverage bottles, refundable when the bottles are returned for recycling.

Another week, another open line and news roundup

Monday: The legislature leads the daily news roundup. Here's the open line.

Hogs hard to pin down

Say what you will about these basketball Hogs, they’re doing their damnedest to still make March an interesting month.

Secrecy for state execution drugs approved by Senate

The Senate today approved Sen. Bart Hester's SB464 to impose secrecy over every aspect of executions in Arkansas, particularly to close a loophole that allowed release of information about the makers of drugs used in executions.

Senate passes 18-week abortion ban

The Senate completed action today on HB 1439 to ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 28-6, with one senator not voting.

ASU's Melissa Wilkinson named 2019 Artist Award

Melissa Wilkinson, associate professor of art teaching painting at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, has won the 2019 Artist Award of the Arkansas Committee of the National Women in the Arts.

UPDATE: Stephanie Flowers' viral gun speech: No apologies from her, measured conciliation from colleagues

Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) now-viral speech last week against "stand your ground" legislation prompted followup remarks in the Senate today. She was not apologeti. Other senators were conciliatory, to varying degrees.

Two more suspicious deaths reported in prisons

The state Correction Department has announced two more prison deaths, at least one of them a suicide.

Tuesday To-Do: Esther Rose at Stickyz

Esther Rose performs at Stickyz Tuesday night.

Freebies galore on the legislative schedule

There's no shortage of free eats and drinks for legislators today and I also have an update on the busy round of freebie events for select committees.

Suffer the poor, the legislature is in session

Still more from the annals of Arkansas legislative efforts to grind the poor by Rep. Mary Bentley of Perry County.

Bills planned on equal pay for women, bail practices

Equal pay for women and cash bail are topics of legislation expected to be filed today.

Another report on charter school organization chosen in Pulaski County

Here's more reading for the Pulaski County School Board on the charter school management corporation it has decided to partner with in an online charter school.

Suicide assist bill fails in committee

Rep. Dan Douglas' HB 1536 to open a way for physicians to assist patients seeking lethal doses of medicine failed to clear committee this morning after lengthy debate.

Governor touts highway tax increases, careful on minimum wage, gun questions

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a news conference today to sign his highway tax legislation, which will raise $300 million in tax revenue altogether if voters approved a referred half-cent sales tax permanently devoted to highway spending. It also includes a new fuel tax and diversion of casino taxes, previously devoted to general revenue, to highways.

6th Circuit allows funding cutoff for Planned Parenthood in Ohio

In an 11-6 decision, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed both a lower court and a three-judge panel and said Ohio could stop funding Medicaid services provided by Planned Parenthood in Ohio because it is an abortion provider.

Hendren sponsors a $3 million school voucher bill

Private school voucher advocates will try again this year to expand use of public tax money to support private education. The bill was introduced today, with sponsors including the governor's nephew and Senate president pro tem, Jim Hendren. A fight can be expected.

Poll finds strong support for tenant protection law

Sponsors will try again in committee tomorrow to pass legislation that would provide a guarantee of habitability in rental housing. Arkansas is the only state without such protection and the bill failed in its first outing on account of continuing opposition from the Arkansas Realtors and other landlords. If the people mattered, it should be a slamdunk, based on a recent poll.

Another marijuana cultivator approved to plant

The state Finance and Administration Department has announced approval of a second facility to begin growing marijuana for medical use. The release from Scott Hardin:

Tuesday's open line and news roundup

Tuesday: Lots of legislating in today's news roundup. This is also the open line.

Arkansas's Medicaid work rule on the grill in Congress today

The Arkansas Medicaid work rule — an unvarnished success in pushing thousands off Medicaid coverage — will be the subject of a court hearing Thursday in Washington, but the Trump administration got roughed up on its plans to expand the experiment in a congressional hearing today.

How to speak cat

Many people find cats aloof and mysterious, so much so that a small academic/journalistic industry has sprung up to explain the animals to their owners.

Drink up to feed the hungry at the Rail Yard Food Truck Party

Seven food trucks, four craft beer breweries, vendors and live music will gather from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at The Rail Yard at 1212 E. Sixth St. for the "First Annual Rail Yard Food Truck Party." A portion of alcohol sales will benefit the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

UPDATE: Lundstrum bills to override voters on minimum wage approved in late evening committee session

In a telephone interview, Rep. Robin Lundstrum argued that she was not thwarting the will of the voters despite seeking to seeking to exempt a large number of employers and employees from the minimum wage hike overwhelmingly approved by voters just last November.

Voters reject sales tax increases in Fort Smith and Benton County

Voters in Fort Smith and Benton County rejected sales tax increases in special elections Tuesday.

Legislators blasted for late-night override of voters on minimum wage increase UPDATED TWICE

The Citizens First Congress, a grassroots people's lobby, fired at a House committee's unannounced late evening action yesterday to roll back most of the minimum wage increase overwhelmingly approved by voters just four months ago.

Still more legislative trickery, this time on new school voucher legislation

A hurryup override of voters on a minimum wage increase wasn't the only legislative trickery afoot yesterday. A key step was also taken to smooth passage of a monumental change in education policy in favor of school vouchers.

Committee rejects bill to expand use of judge on election ballots

The House State Agencies Committee today rejected a bill widely understood to be backed by Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb to allow people who'd once served by appointment as judges to identify themselves as judges on election ballots.

Senate committee approves curb on edible and drinkable medical marijuana UPDATE

A Senate committee today approved legislation aimed at discouraging the sale of medical marijuana in a way to appeal to children.

Former Little Rock ICE officer reveals forgery on warrants for detained immigrants

CNN reports today on the discovery by a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer in Little Rock of a widespread practice of forging arrest warrants for suspected unauthorized immigrants.

Flag bill survives killing motion UPDATE

The House State Agencies Committee this morning declined to approve a motion by Rep. Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro) to table Rep. Charles Blake's HB 1736 to redesignate the symbols of the stars on the Arkansas flag to eliminate the Confederacy as underpinning one star.

A new day dawns for ballot petitions

David Couch, the Little Rock lawyer with long experience in ballot initiatives, has received formal notice that the world of people power has changed.

With heated opposition brewing, governor and Republican Party oppose minimum wage rollback

The blowback on Rep. Robin Lundstrum's sneak attack last night on the voter-approved minimum wage increase has been fierce, enough that the governor and Republican Party have distanced themselves from her efforts.

Wednesday: The open line and news headlines

Here's the open line. Also the daily video with the latest in legislative foolishness. For video followers on Facebook: That platform has been largely non-functional today for videos.

Wednesday To-Do: Marcella & Her Lovers at South on Main

Marcella & Her Lovers, a Memphis-based outfit fronted by swamp soul accordionist/vocalist Marcella Simien, is taking the stage at South on Main tonight as part of the venue's "Sessions" series.

Legislators file bill to return local control to Little Rock School District

Six Little Rock legislators have filed a bill that would provide a pathway to return of local control of the Little Rock School District, taken over by the state more than four years ago for low test scores in six of four dozen schools.

Arkansas takes the lead on abortion bans — for now

The House today sent to the governor a ban on abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, which the Associated Press says will be the most severe abortion ban in the country. But wait ....

Lundstrum tries to kill rental tenant protection bill

Rep. Robin Lundstrum, fresh off a sneak attack on the voter-approved minimum wage law, mounted another evening coup attempt Wednesday, this time an effort to kill the bill to provide a guarantee of habitable housing for renters.

Legislature has a beef with labeling lab-grown protein as meat

So many bills, so little time. Here's another example, highlighted for me by an opponent of legislation that has now passed both the House and Senate to prevent labeling of lab-grown products as "meat."

Thursday To-Do: The Yarn's "True Stories of Resilience from Our House" and organ jazz trio (Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart) at South on Main

Catch The Yarn's storytelling partnership with Our House tonight at Cranford & Co., or some choice organ jazz from Oxford American Presents at South on Main.

Senate committee approves bill to loosen regulation of liquid animal waste

A Senate committee today SB 550 to transfer regulation of liquid animal waste from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Supreme Court rejects rehearing on Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance

As expected, the Arkansas Supreme Court today denied without comment a request that it reconsider its earlier decisions holding a Fayetteville ordinance extending civil rights protection to LGBT people was in conflict with state law.

Marching for the minimum wage

A group rallied at the Capitol today in support of retaining the voter approved increase in the minimum wage.

Whoa: Kari Faux reveals that Ball Jones is her biological father

Maaaaaaan: Kari Faux, Little Rock's biggest musical export since I don't know who, dropped a biographical bomb in an interview with Sway Calloway as part of the promotional tour for her new "Cry 4 Help" EP: Though she grew up knowing she was adopted, she told Sway that she learned when she was 20 that Ball Jones, widely considered the king of Little Rock rap in the early aughts, is her biological father.

Practicing medicine by Google again wins favor in abortion bill vote

A House committee today approved legislation adding an additional burden to women seeking to terminate an abortion by medication in the first eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy — being informed of an unproven contention that the two-pill procedure can be "reversed."

Thursday: Legislative lowlights and the open line

The legislature again dominates the news roundup. Here's the open line.

Arkansas senators back Trump on emergency declaration

More evidence that Arkansas is ruled by the Trump Party. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton voted to support Donald Trump's declaration of an emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. They were on the losing side.

The inevitability of Beto

Robert "Beto" O'Rourke announced he is joining the field for the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary. It comes as no surprise to those paying attention. There was speculation from some the former Representative from Texas might hold off and challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in 2020, but Beto O'Rourke is going for the big win.

Details released on a $100 million tax cut proposal to be paid with increased tobacco taxes

Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren and other legislators will announce today a plan for a $100 million income tax cut for low- and middle-income taxpayers with the revenue loss offset by increases in cigarette and vape taxes.

Ruling on Medicaid work requirement expected by end of March, judge says

At the end of the hearings, Judge Boasberg said he hoped to issue rulings in both the Arkansas and Kentucky cases by the end of the month.

49 dead in New Zealand mosque attacks

Racist suspect in mass slaughter.

Bart Hester's new judgeship bill includes a ringer in Mary Bentley's Perry County

Sen. Bart Hester has introduced legislation to create six new circuit judgeships, but look closely, there's some trickery afoot.

Valley of the Vapors kicks off today

Fourteen years in, the staff at Low Key Arts is still throwing what's very possibly the best fest in the state.

The silent majority at work in Senate committee on seatbelt bill

Today's committee tomfoolery comes from the late afternoon meeting yesterday of the Senate Transportation Committee, which gave a favorable recommendation to SB 534 by Sen. Blake Johnson to enhance penalties for distracted driving and texting while driving but, significantly, to lower the penalty for failure to wear a seatbelt from a primary to secondary offense.

Big brother is tracking your license plate

The Washington Post reports on use of computerized traffic scanning devices to help immigration officers hunt for unauthorized residents in the U.S.

Union Pacific train blocks access to Pulaski community for seven hours

Good report from Fox 16 on how a stopped Union Pacific train blocked the only access to a neighborhood off Hensley Road in southern Pulaski County for seven hours Wednesday night. It wreaked havoc on people going to and from work and they say such blockage is a regular occurrence.

Civil rights group again faults punitive court fines in Arkansas

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has issued a new report on the punishing nature of fine systems in Arkansas court that impoverish and jail people trapped in never-ending payments for "process" infractions.

Third marijuana cultivation facility now operating

A third medical marijuana cultivation facility is now up and running.

Medicaid work rule non-compliance continues to mount

Same song, another verse. The state Human Services Department reported that the number of people not meeting the Medicaid work reporting requirement continued to rise in February.

Friday at last: The open line

The legislature's off today, but still plenty of nonsense to talk about on the daily news roundup. This is your open line.

The ultimate gun legislation: Mandatory AR-15s, with a taxpayer subsidy

By popular demand, here's a link to a story from Missouri about a piece of legislation that is not a spoof: A Missouri Republican proposes to require ownership of an AR-15 by people 18 to 35 and a handgun by people older than 18.

Art Walk in Argenta: 'Spring Show' at Thompson, art auction for Seis Puentes

Tonight (March 15), galleries in Argenta are open 5-8 p.m. for the monthly Art Walk and The Latino Art Project is hosting an auction for Seis Puentes.

Cantrell Gallery features Paul Caldwell

Cantrell Gallery is hosting an opening reception for an exhibit of recent photographs by Paul Caldwell, “Flow."

The Latest Chicanery at the Ledge Edition

Max and Lindsey talk about the latest from the legislature, including a surprise tax cut proposal, various sneaky moves and the return of vouchers.

Architect magazine lauds Walton-inspired design efforts in NW

Architect magazine goes to Bentonville to check out the placemaking efforts of the Walton Family Foundation.

Hogs flop in SEC tourney

Arkansas has had a curious history in the SEC men’s basketball tournament. The 1994 national champs were ousted from it by a stellar Kentucky squad, and when that happened, it seemed to provide a spark as the Hogs spent the next three weeks wiping out their competitors to claim the ultimate crown.

Marvin Burton tapped to lead new Southwest LR high school

The Little Rock School District announced yesterday that Superintendent Mike Poore had chosen Deputy Superintendent Marvin Burton to be principal of the new Southwest Little Rock High School to open in the fall of 2020.

Train crossing blues and the likelihood they'll worsen

Add Peach Orchard in Northeast Arkansas to the communities with long-running problems with extended blockage of rail crossings by stopped Union Pacific trains. KAIT reported on the community's persistent complaints last week. Turns out this is a problem that could get worse if the Arkansas legislature yields to railroad lobbying.

Police reports: Murder arrest in Pulaski County, fatal shooting in North Little Rock robbery

A couple of gun deaths were reported in law enforcement releases this morning:

Hutchinson fine illustrates ethics system shortcomings

An Ethics Commission fine yesterday of former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson illustrates the weakness, not the strength, of ethics oversight in Arkansas.

An open line with thoughts on the massacre

A beautiful day is darkened by the latest massacre. Thoughts?

Charles Blake provides context for the flag bill debate; and here comes Rapert

Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock) will try again Wednesday morning to pass his bill that would say in statute that a fourth blue star added to the Arkansas flag in 1924 stands for the state's rich Indian heritage, not for the Confederacy.

The failing Little Rock 'school board': A blogger takes aim

A blogger provides a tough look at Education Commissioner Johnny Key and his control of the Little Rock School District.

An open line and State Police alert

The open line and a State Police alert on a hit-and-run last night in Monticello.

Legislators may dine free tonight at the Capital Hotel

What? No free lunch on the schedule today? Not to worry. Legislators can load up on quality free eats and drinks tonight at the Capital Hotel.

The latest on that vacant federal judgeship: Focus on a newcomer to Arkansas

Donald Trump and the Republican Senate have speedily delivered huge numbers of extremist federal judges in two years, making all the more noticeable a lag in filling the opening on the federal Eastern District Court bench created by Judge Leon Holmes' retirement March 31, 2018, almost a year ago. Difficulties in clearing candidates have led now, the rumors go, to the choice of something of an outsider.

Two votes for older judges

The Joint Retirement Committee this morning approved bills that would ease or remove an impediment to state judges continuing to serve after 70 years of age.

"Set It Off" Tuesday night at Arkansas Times Film Series

"Set It Off" goes up on the big screen tonight for the Arkansas Times Film Series.

Lundstrum pushes ahead on efforts to limit minimum wage hike

Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), despite opposition from Governor Hutchinson and the state Republican Party, is proceeding with her bills to undo significant portions of the state minimum wage hike approved by voters just last November.

Senate committee approves tobacco tax bill with income tax cut

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee this morning endorsed Sen. Jim Hendren's SB 571 to provide an income tax cut for low-income people and make up the revenue loss with an increase in the tax on cigarettes and other smoking products.

Headlines and the open line

A busy legislature leads the day's video news roundup. Here's the open line.

Today's the day for landlord-tenant bill UPDATE Another defeat

Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) says he will present his HB 1410 to provide protection to renters at a committee meeting after adjournment today. The bill will incorporate changes suggested by the Arkansas Realtors Assocviation, but that powerful lobby still won't support the bill. UPDATE: the bill fell one vote short.

Revised landlord-tenant bill blocked again despite concessions to realtors group

HB 1410 will return for another vote later this week or next week, supporters of the bill said.

The assault on women's medical rights continues

The parade of anti-abortion legislation continues unabated. Progress came yesterday on a three-day waiting period, up from two, for women seeking abortion and a bill to direct women to Google up information on the scientifically dubious proposition that the two-pill medicine abortion used in the early stages of pregnancy can be "reversed." Today, the latest roadblock headed for an affirmative vote would reduce the number of doctors who may prescribe the abortion pill.

Enron's Andrew Fastow to talk about ethics in closed session at UA Little Rock

Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer for Enron who spent six years in prison for his role in that scandal, will give talks on ethics at UA Little Rock April 18.

Lawsuit over Jeremy Hutchinson's failed legal work settled

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette got the jump this morning on dismissal of a lawsuit over Jeremy Hutchinson's failed representation of a nonprofit health provider in Batesville.  I can explain what this likely signifies.

Baseball leads freebie events list

The widespread rejection of the voters' expressed desire for an end to lobbyist-paid wining  and dining continues today, with one particularly obvious illustration of disdain.

The women who photographed Frida Kahlo

This Women’s History Month, we’re taking the opportunity to explore the life and work of some of the women behind the striking images featured in Photographing Frida/Fotografiando Frida – on view at the Arkansas Arts Center through April 14.

Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission files lawsuit against Uber Eats

"We work to keep a level playing field in Little Rock," LRCVB President and CEO Gretchen Hall said in the release, and Uber Eats is no exception."

Tenant protection bill appears dead, terminally weakened by landlord amendments

A tweet from KATV's Matt Merhson indicates that, for yet another legislative session, realtor/landlord opposition has kiled an effort to provide a guarantee of livable premises for residential renters.

Mavis Staples, Rhiannon Giddens, John Fullbright among performers for Fayetteville Roots Fest

Mavis Staples, Amy Helm, Rhiannon Giddens, Joe Purdy, Yola, Rising Appalachia and The Milk Carton Kids are among the performers on the Fayetteville Roots Fest lineup.

Tuesday: Open line and the daily news video

The day's video is mostly about the legislature. Here's the open line.

House beats bill to prevent gun ownership by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence

Another win for guns. The House today defeated Rep. Nicole Clowney's HB 1655 to prohibit gun ownership by  those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by federal law.

Senate approves move to ease regulation of liquid animal waste

The Senate today approved Sen. Gary Stubblefield's SB 550 to transfer regulation of liquid animal waste from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, a move hotly opposed by environmentalists.

Tobacco lobby-backed bill for UAMS passes Senate on second try

The bill to create some revenue for a cancer research center at UAMS, crafted with provisions written by tobacco lobbyists to be favorable to the tobacco lobby, passed the Senate today on a second try. The vote was 22-10, with three not voting.

House defeats bill to end age-linked retirement rule for judges

The House today defeated Rep. Reginald Murdock's bill to eliminate an age-forced retirement provision for state judges. The vote was 31-56, with five present.

Arrest made in Monticello hit and run

Arrest announced in hit and run.

Not the Onion: Arkansas legislature casts a vote in support of immigrants

The Arkansas House today illustrated a rare dose of compassion: It gave an overwhelming aye vote to the bill by Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) to require in-state tuition for residents of Arkansas who are graduates of Arkansas high schools.

The public speaks on police killing of Bradley Blackshire

The Little Rock City Board heard at length from people unhappy about Little Rock Police Officer Charles Starks shooting of Bradley Blackshire Jr. during a traffic stop 25 days ago on Rodney Parham Road.

Wednesday To-Do: CALS screens “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll” doc

On what would be Sister Rosetta Tharpe's 104th birthday, AETN and Central Arkansas Library System's Arkansas Sounds screens the American Masters documentary "American Masters “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll."

Hanging death reported in prison

Jamal Simpson, 38, was found hanged by a homemade noose in his cell at the East Arkansas Regional prison in Brickeys Sunday morning, the Correction Department said.

A parent defends Haas Hall charter school

A report here on state Board of Education dissatisfaction with efforts by the Haas Hall charter schools in Northwest Arkansas to increase efforts to diversify its student body has drawn a response from a parent of a Haas Hall ninth grader in defense of the school.

Report: Feds holding immigrant children in secret locations, including in Arkansas UPDATE

Reveal, a website of the Center for Investigative Reporting, published an article this week saying the federal government through the Office of Refugee Resettlement is using secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, including in Fordyce, Arkansas.

The freebie action today is daylight stuff

The freebies are served in daylight today thanks to a coming sort spring break for the legislature.

Supporters call for 'justice for Bradley Blackshire' at city board meeting

At Tuesday evening's board of directors meeting, family and friends of Bradley Blackshire, who was fatally shot by LRPD Officer Charles Starks after a traffic stop on Feb. 22, gathered to call for "accountability and justice" for Blackshire's death.

Uber sued for again avoiding city rules

The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission Tuesday sued the parent of Uber Eats for beginning food delivery in Little Rock without obtaining the tax permit to sell prepared food as other food service delivery companies have done.

Fayetteville city attorney declares invalidated civil rights ordinance a success

Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams provided an upbeat take on the now officially dead Fayetteville civil rights ordinance for LGBT people in an interview with the Fayetteville Flyer.

Committee again endorses Johnny Cash and Daisy Bates statues for Capitol

A bill to replace Arkansas's two representatives in the hall of statuary in the nation's Capitol with statues of musician Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Bates got an OK again today from a House committee.

Buying way into the Ivies: What else is new?

If it’s news to you that social climbers see buying their children’s way into fancy, name-brand colleges as the functional equivalent of wearing Rolex watches or driving Maseratis, then I don’t know where to start.

House committee again defeats bill to change symbols on Arkansas flag

The Confederacy again won the Civil War in a House committee this morning.

EPA reviewing impact of proposal to ease hog waste regulation

The regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has told Arkansas it's reviewing legislation to shift oversight of liquid animal waste handling from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Midweek: Headlines and the open line

Lots of legislating on the daily news video. Here's the open line.

Transparency? Check the attorney general's office

On her website, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge touts her "transparency and accessbility." Well ...

Senate approves bill to ban abortion of fetuses with Down syndrome

The Senate voted 29-2 today to approve Sen. Trent Garner's bill to ban abortion of fetuses determined to have Down Syndrome.

Analysis disputes state claim that people who lost Medicaid coverage went to work

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has blown a raspberry at the administration's assertion that many of the thousands who lost Medicaid coverage for failure to comply with the new work rule just might have gone to work.

Senate approves tobacco tax increase to pay for income tax cut

Sen. Jim Hendren by a single vote won Senate approval of is proposal to deliver a $100 million income tax cut to lower income people to be financed by an increase in tobacco taxes. The vote was 18-14, with three not voting.

Ben Dickey charms at SXSW 2019, gets an assist from Big Cats drummer Colin Brooks

Little Rock native and "Blaze" star Ben Dickey gets big buzz at SXSW 2019; eats Franklin Barbecue with Eric Wareheim. He'll perform at the White Water Tavern Saturday, April 20.

Optometrists win surgery privileges

Optometrists won a pitched and expensive (judging by lobbyist effort) battle against ophthalmologists today. The Senate approve Sen. Dave Wallace's HB 1251 to amend state law to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures.

Hutchinson proposes school voucher program for Pulaski County; could up taxpayer transfer to private schools to near $10 million

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's attack on conventional public school districts in Pulaski County ratcheted up today with announcement of a plan to pump $3.5 million a year into a voucher program to send 500 Pulaski students o private schools.

Senator Elliott issues warning on Pulaski school voucher bill

Sen. Joyce Elliott, a public school champion, has responded on Facebook to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to begin a school voucher program in Pulaski County only to pay for 500 children to attend private schools. Her statement is worth reading:

New Zealand moves to ban assault weapons after slaughter of Muslims

Leadership. Six days after the slaughter of 50 Muslims in their mosques, New Zealand has banned assault weapons. From the Washington Post.

Little Rock police review board: It must have teeth

The Democrat-Gazette today reported further today on the potential shape of a citizens police review board, which Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said Tuesday he wanted to put on a fast track.

Full casino operations expected by April 1 at Oaklawn and Southland

The state Racing Commission will meet Saturday and is expected to begin the licensing process for full-fledged casino operations at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Park in West Memphis.

Two arrested after Hillcrest bank branch robbery

Little Rock police arrested two people shortly after a robbery of the Simmons Bank branch at 2800 Kavanaugh Boulevard in the Hillcrest shopping area about 9 a.m. today.

Survey: Pine Bluff No. 1 in population loss

A survey reported in USA Today says Pine Bluff led the nation in population decline among the country's 382 metro areas between 2010 and 2017, based on Census data.

Special state Board of Education meeting set on probation for Lee County schools

The state Board of Education announced a special meeting Monday to hear the appeal by the Lee County School District of an Education Department recommended that the district and Lee High School in Marianna be placed on probation for violation of accrediting standards.

Thursday's headlines and the open line

The Thursday open line and the daily roundup of headlines, much of it catchup on a busy Wednesday afternoon at the legislature.

Governor expresses resistance to shift of pig waste regulation

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has weighed in with resistance to the Farm Bureau legislation to ease regulation of liquid animal waste from the likes of factory hog farms by shifting oversight from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the farmer friendly Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

State Police to investigate death of Augusta man after police use of pepper spray

Quinton Laird, 38, of Augusta died this morning at a Searcy hospital after being pepper sprayed earlier by Augusta police and the State Police has been asked to investigate the death.

Mayor picks Keith Humphrey of Norman, Okla., as next Little Rock police chief: UPDATE

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has named Keith Humphrey, police chief in Norman, Okla., to be the next Little Rock police chief.

State finds contractor ineligible to run youth lockups, will award contract to rival instead

State procurement officials confirmed Thursday that a company recently awarded a $15.8 million contract to operate Arkansas's youth lockup facilities has turned out to be ineligible under the terms of the state's RFP.

Unprecedented spring flooding expected in 25 states, including Arkansas

Flooding isn't just a problem in Nebraska and some other states that have dominated recent news coverage. The New York Times notes Weather Service findings that indicate 25 states, including Arkansas, could experience "major or moderate" flooding this spring.

Mueller media madness recalls another special prosecutor

Robert Mueller v. Kenneth Starr. One has credibility.

Judicial election fallout from the legislature's change in primary election dates

All but overlooked in the legislature's rush to change the law to continue to hold primary elections in March during presidential election years was the impact on nonpartisan judicial elections, held the same day as the party primaries.

Legislators rally against school voucher bill UPDATE

At least some Pulaski County legislators will rally Monday to oppose Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to start a school voucher program in Pulaski County to send 500 lower-income students to private schools.

Unemployment rate in Arkansas edges up

The unemployment rate in Arkansas in February remained near a historic low, but edged up a bit from the previous month, to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent in January

Brothers Osborne at Robinson Performance Hall tonight

“Most duos are built on singing,” TJ Osborne said on the duo's website. “But John is an incredible guitar player, and this band is built on me singing and John playing guitar. It gives us two parallels that work nicely together.”

Arkansas legislature, fine print edition on the working poor and highway construction

The Arkansas legislature is taking a spring break but that doesn't mean you should stop worrying. A couple of additions to your worries — one grinds the poor, the other helps the rich.

Police shoot motorist after crash in Sharp County

The State Police has been called to investigate another shooting by a police officer, this one in Sharp County.

Another week done: Headlines and open line

The week ends. Headlines by video and the open line.

New video from Conway native Johnny Darlin mashes up the church and the drag club

Three questions with Conway native Michael Doshier, whose video for "Way with Words" combines two places he considers most holy: the church sanctuary and the gay club.

The Mueller Report has been given to the attorney general, ending the Russian probe

Robert Mueller has completed his investigation of Russian election interference and presented a report to Attorney General William Barr. Barr has notified Congress of that fact. For now, that's pretty much all that is known.

Former Pollution Control commissioners oppose animal waste bill

Former Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission members have released a statement opposing SB 550, the bill intended to make it easier for operators of factory farms to dispose of, particularly, pig manure.

Alabama at Verizon Arena for 50th anniversary tour tonight

Alabama celebrates fifty years of country supergroup stardom at Verizon Arena Saturday night.

Mayor Scott takes control of city information flow

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Rachel Herzog reports this morning on a new policy instituted by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. to require all media requests for infor

Little Rock prepares to commit to I-30 project, though its scope remains unclear

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott's take-charge approach surfaces this morning on a bigger issue than media policy — negotiations between the city and the Arkansas Department of Transportation on an agreement concerning the Big Concrete Ditch project through the heart of Little Rock.

The open line, plus a food note

Here's the open line, plus a neighborhood food note.

Beware of legislators bearing term limits

Michael Wickline at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today reports on Sen. Alan Clark's grand plan to give Arkansas a different term limits amendment than the 10-year limit Arkansas Term Limits hopes to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Beware the fine print.

The Mueller report is a win for Trump: The open line

The summary Mueller report is out and Donald Trump proclaims it a total exoneration. Let that be the open line.

The clean water fight puts spotlight on agency not up to the task

The Farm Bureau has assembled a mighty rural lobbying force to transfer regulation of liquid animal waste (pig manure particularly) from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, which isn't always able to carry out its existing role in protecting natural resources.

Tax bill on Senate agenda today

Another big sales tax lick is on the Senate agenda today and, in keeping with the theme of the session, it comes with a tax break for corporations.

Review: Brothers Osborne at Robinson Performance Hall

Tucked in between “Shoot Me Straight” and “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” near the beginning of the duo’s show Friday night at Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” was not only an early highlight of the concert, but also a fine showcase of TJ Osborne’s great voice as he sang about “the boy I used to be.”

The casino political fun continues with Pope County judge op-ed

The Arkansas Racing Commission is preparing to take applications for casino permits in Pope and Jefferson Counties, but the high-powered politicking is already well underway in Pope County as evidenced by a seeming shift in tone from Pope County Judge Ben Cross.

Fatal shooting in apartment parking lot confrontation

Little Rock police say Alvin Walls Jr., 23, was killed about 3:40 p.m. Saturday in a parking lot confrontation at apartments at 5001 W. 65th Street. The shooter later turned himself in to police, but has not been charged.

No Riverfest in 2019

After much discussion, Riverfest, Inc. says, they'll take a year off to "restructure, reorganize and re-invent."

Riverfest will take a hiatus this year

Riverfest, the Little Rock riverfront festival reinvented last year with a private concert manager, won't be back this year though the organization that ran the revamped event last year says it hopes to return in 2020.

School vouchers take center stage

The school voucher fight takes center stage today.

Michael Avenatti indicted in two federal cases

Michael Avenatti, perhaps best known as Stormy Daniels' former lawyer, now faces indictments on both coasts.

Hope is here: A psychiatric and behavioral health professional from Rivendell answers your questions

Since 1985, Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas has been committed to providing the best psychiatric and behavioral healthcare, with the goal of supporting the whole family.

Monday: Grim and grimmer

The news on the daily video isn't so hot. Here's the open line.

The rich get richer in Senate tax bill

With virtually no debate, the Senate voted 27-3 today for the bill to collect sales taxes on Internet sales and cut the corporate income tax in several ways.

New Rock the Culture podcast: Back to the Future

In this week’s episode, Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the LRSD’s hiring of a principal for the SouthWest High School, the City of Little Rock’s “A Bridge to Work” program to provide paid day labor to the homeless population, and Gov. Hutchinson’s support of the voucher program in Pulaski County. In addition, they provide rapid fire perspective on RockTopics. They also discuss the “Tales from the Motherland” with Crystal C. Mercer, executive director at Local First Arkansas.

Battle lines drawn over school voucher bill

Governor Hutchinson on Monday voiced enthusiastic support for legislation to create a school voucher pilot program in Pulaski County, calling it "the right model" for Arkansas.

Pulaski Tech-UAF reach business degree agrement

UA Pulaski Tech and the Walton College of Business at UA-Fayetteville have struck a deal for students to start a four-year course of business studied at Tech and complete a business administration degree in Fayetteville.

Trump moves to strike down entire Affordable Care Act, in tune with Leslie Rutledge

In an important legal shift, the Trump Administration is now asking the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act. This squares the Justice Department with state officials who intervened in the Texas case, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Review and slideshow: Alabama and Charlie Daniels Band at Verizon Arena

Fort Payne, Ala. country superstars Alabama made a greatest hits concert out of their stop at Verizon Arena Saturday night.

North Little Rock police shoot at man pointing gun

Hilary Hunt of KARK reports that the North Little Rock police are investigating the shooting of a man who reportedly pointed a gun at officers.

Here come the judge candidates

It's already less than a year away from nonpartisan judicial elections, so candidates have begun to emerge and more will be coming, with a number of judgeships to be vacated by retirement. This week:

Tuesday: The daily news video and the open line

Tuesday: A slow day on the news video. Maybe you can liven up the open line.

Farm Bureau seeks to cover itself on hog manure bill

When a state representative says she has to read an amendment SHE nominally filed before commenting on it, it speaks volumes about who's really in charge of the bill to ease regulations on factory hog farms by switching permitting from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Senate votes to put term limits amendment, with grandfather clause, on 2020 ballot

The Senate today voted 27-3, with two voting present, to put Sen. Alan Clark's SJR 15 on the 2020 election ballot to set Arkansas legislative term limits at 12 years, excepting current members of the legislature who'd hang onto the 16-year limit, plus some potential add-ons for senators.

Senate endorses 'constitutional carry'

In a vote without legal meaning, the Senate voted 24-5 today in support of a resolution "clarifying" that Arkansas is "a constitutional carry state, with no permit required to carry a handgun, either unconcealed or concealed."

Can Donald Trump block critics on Twitter? (And if he can't .....)

An appeals court heard arguments today on whether Donald Trump can block critics on Twitter. He argues it's his personal account (as, for example, Sen. Jason Rapert does in blocking people from his social media.) The judges seem to have doubts about Trump's argument.

Mike Anderson out as Razorback basketball coach

MIke Anderson has been fired as Razorback basketball coach.


So President Trump says the Mueller Report proves his innocence: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.” As usual, he’s making it up.

30 Crossing highway widening gets federal OK

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has put up a short notice on its Connecting Arkansas website that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for its 30 Crossing project.

Amended bill to exempt young workers from minimum wage increase clears House panel

An amended bill to exempt workers under the age of 19 from the coming minimum wage hikes approved by voters last November passed out of a House committee Tuesday evening.

If a 20-week abortion ban is unconstitutional ....

A federal judge has struck down North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban as unconstitutional. Arkansas has both a 20-week ban, not yet challenged, and a new 18-week abortion ban.

Jordan Peele’s "Us" is no coincidence

In Jordan Peele's new movie "Us," the "Get Out" director unveils his "new nightmare:" People who look exactly like us and seek to take our place.

Seven members of Little Rock City Board oppose school voucher bill, but three directors and mayor don't sign letter

Seven Little Rock City Board members signed a letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the General Assembly last night opposing the school voucher legislation to provide state tax money to send Pulaski County children to private schools. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Directors Erma Hendrix, Joan Adcock and Lance Hines didn't sign the letter.

Will Arkansas again legalize discrimination against gay parents?

Sen. Alan Clark this week amended his SB 352 aimed at allowing private adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against gay people.  Perhaps the legislature should consider news from Michigan this week and past history in considering this legislation.

A new kid on the lobbying block feeds legislators' heads

Light freebies for the legislature today, but there's a new player in the freebie field that probably won't be serving up the product it's marketing.

Garner files three gun safety measures

Rep. Denise Garner (D-Fayetteville), who defeated Republican Rep. Charlie Collins in part because his passage of the law that forced colleges to allow concealed weapons on campus, has filed three gun safety bills, including one to roll back the Collins legislation.

Senate committee defeats House bill to increase tax exemption on used car sales

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee today failed to recommend HB 1342 by Rep. John Payton to increase the sales tax exemption on a used car from $4,000 to $7,500.

Deputy prosecutor announces for judge

The latest judicial candidate for one of several seats to be open due to retirement in Pulaski County this year is Chief Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Finkelstein.

Driver killed in tanker truck explosion near Camden

The driver of a tanker truck carrying ammonium nitrate was killed when the truck blew up on Highway 279 west of Camden this morning. The explosion that left a crater in the road and forced closure of the highway. KFSM reports.

Senate committee approves $3 million voucher bill; could mean trouble for Pulaski voucher plan

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee this morning approved SB 539 to create a $3 million voucher program that would send roughly 400 students to private schools statewide.

Lewis-Burnett Employment Finders offers a “hand up, not a hand out” after year-long hiatus

Darlene Lewis, 64, founded Lewis-Burnett Employment Finders out of her home in 1987, and in the years since, she’s placed thousands of people in jobs. But for the past year, the agency was closed while Lewis battled colon cancer. As of January 2019, the nonprofit has reopened, and Lewis said it’s in the process of rebuilding, because “when God puts something on your heart to do, then you’ve gotta fulfill that.”

Camp on the Historic Arkansas Museum grounds for "Behind the Big House"

Historic Arkansas Museum hosts "Behind the Big House" this weekend.

Sponsor pulls down hog waste regulation bill for this session

After an extended debate before a House committee today,. the sponsor pulled down the hotly controversial SB 550 to transfer regulation of liquid animal waste from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. It goes to interim study, which means it's dead for this session.

Another negative review of Arkansas's Medicaid work rule

The Washington Post visits Marianna to again highlight how the work rule is throwing people off Medicaid with scant evidence it's putting more people to work.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

The daily video news roundup includes some good news for a change. Also, the open line.

Federal judge strikes down Arkansas's work rule for Medicaid

As most expected, a federal judge in Washington has struck down Arkansas's work rule to qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage. Now what for the governor and Arkansas legislature?

Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky blocked by federal court

"Arkansas might use the time while the program is paused to consider whether and how to better educate persons about the requirements and how to satisfy them," Boasberg wrote

UPDATE: Contested race develops for open judgeship

Shawn Johnson, a senior assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division, has announced as a candidate for 14th division circuit judge for Pulaski and Perry Counties, a seat now held by Judge Vann Smith, who's expected to retire.

Tossed off Medicaid? Reapply

A judge's invalidation of Arkansas's work rule for Medicaid coverage means just that — no reporting is required to receive benefits, but those who lost coverage must reapply. Removal of recipients for failed reporting this year will cease.

Islamaphobia in Arkansas

Stay tuned. Facebook is bubbling over the decision of an Arkansas high school principal who shared on his Facebook page an anti-Muslim message from the  Facebook page of "America Dying." Formal complaints against the principal are promised, including by a Muslim graduate of the high school.

Mayor to give thoughts on schools in Little Rock

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said on Facebook last night that he'll disclose his thoughts on education in Little Rock in his state of the city speech at noon today. Rebekah Hall will be covering.

And speaking of school vouchers: Re-spinning the Milwaukee flackery

The Walton school "reform" junta salted the voucher debate today with a Democrat-Gazette op-ed. There are contrasting viewpoints. Lots of them.

Governor says work rule judgment will be appealed, shouldn't slow legislative session

Gov. Asa Hutchinson,joined by leaders of the Senate and House, today indicated the state will appeal the federal court decision killing the Medicaid work rule and said that appeal was, in fact, an argument to approve the Medicaid budget.

Thursday: Headlines and the open line

Here's an early video news roundup and the day's open line.

Frank Scott calls for change in no-knock warrant policy, single school district south of Arkansas River: UPDATE

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott delivered his first State of the City address at Horace Mann Middle School today.

Senate approves $3 million statewide school voucher bill

The Senate today approved SB 539 which will provide $3 million worth of school vouchers a year for lower-income students statewide to attend private schools. The vote was 21-10, with two not voting and two voting present.

California collector donates artworks to UA Little Rock

Visitors to the UA Little Rock show "Memory/Commitment/Aspiration" will recall the works from the Pierrette Van Cleve Collection by Asian artists addressing themes of inequality and the fight for justice. Van Cleve has now donated 43 works of art from her collection to UA Little Rock's Permanent Collection, the majority of which were exhibited in "Memory/Commitment/Aspiration."

Sunday To-Do: 'Student Art Show' at L&L Beck

Twenty students of the L&L Beck Art Gallery (5705 Kavanaugh Blvd.) will show work completed in the past year on Sunday, March 31, from 2-4 p.m. Wine and light hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Trump reverses course on Special Olympics funding cut

Not long after Betsy De Vos defended the proposal to cut $18 million in federal funding for the Special Olympics, Donald Trump decided not to fade any more heat and reversed course on the cut.

Police review board ordinance in progress

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. today reiterated his desire to establish a citizen review board to review police misconduct and a Freedom of Information Act request has produced a draft of what City Attorney Tom Carpenter has come up with so far.

UA art professor Al-Shukri shows in San Francisco

Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco is featuring pastel, charcoal and ink portraits by UA Little Rock and Henderson State University adjunct art professor Zina Al-Shukri starting Saturday, April 6.

Friday To-Do: Opera Fayetteville puts on Nico Muhly and Stephen Karam's "Dark Sisters"

Nico Muhly's opera, which premiered in 2011 at John Jay College's Gerald W. Lynch Theater, overlays folksong with hymns to tell the story of Eliza, the wife of a leader of a religious sect based on the church of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.

The El Gato is a fierce, frugal cup of coffee

Priced at $2.65, the El Gato is served in a vermillion orange coffee mug — that mid-century milk glass that filled your grandparents’ cabinets — and it’s perfect drip coffee for people who don’t/won’t/can’t do the drip coffee routine at home.

It's the year of the woman at Jazz in the Park series

This year for its annual Jazz in the Park series, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with Art Porter Music Education to program a lineup of stellar women vocalists. The events are free to attend, and run from 6-8 p.m. at the natural stone ampitheater in front of the History Pavilion in Riverfront Park.

Thursday To-Do: Violinist YooJin Jang at St. Mark's Episcopal

Violinist YooJin Jang interprets Bach, Corigliano and Schumann at a concert from The Chamber Society of Little Rock tonight.

Architecture talk April 9: How art revitalized a neighborhood

The executive director of Project Row House, which for 25 years has worked to restore community in what was once the impoverished Third Ward of Houston, will give a talk at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Arkansas Arts Center.