Michael Hibblen

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

A proposed bathroom bill filed in the Arkansas Legislature targeting transgender people is raising the concern of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

SB346 doesn’t offer any specifics at this point and is essentially a shell bill, but Republican Senator Gary Stubblefield told the Associated Press it would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

With very little discussion, the Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill that bans abortions based solely on whether a woman wants to give birth to a boy or a girl.

The "sex-selection" bill – which opponents say is unconstitutional – was approved Tuesday by a vote of 79-3, with 6 Democrats voting present. It now heads to the Senate.

Rep. Charlie Collins, a Republican of Fayetteville, was the bill’s sponsor and called it the "right thing to do."

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday concerning Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Justices questioned whether the city ordinance, passed by voters there in September 2015, conflicts with a state law passed earlier that year which bans cities and counties from enacting protections not contained in the state's civil rights law.

Legislation that would change how Arkansas public colleges and universities are funded was approved Tuesday by the House Education Committee. It now heads to the full House for consideration.

The "outcomes-based" funding model would incorporate factors like the number of students completing degrees, how long it takes to do, and how many graduate and then get jobs in their degree field or complete another degree. State Higher Education Director Maria Markham says it would be more effective than the current model, which is based on enrollment.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s $50 million tax cut plan won approval Monday in the Arkansas House and Senate. But a final vote is needed before the legislation heads to the governor’s desk for signature. 

Speaking on behalf of the bill in his chamber, Sen. Jim Hendren, Republican-Gravette, said the plan would save money for nearly 660,000 low income Arkansans.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to meet next week with members of the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump to discuss healthcare. It comes after the governor talked with Trump earlier this week by phone.

On this week's podcast, a look at Arkansas political candidates discussing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Arkansas Supreme Court rulings removing a couple of proposed constitutional amendments from consideration in next month's election, and the demolition of the Broadway Bridge not going quite as expected.

You can listen to the podcast above or Subscribe on iTunes.

Federal lawsuits are pending over a project to build a transmission line through Arkansas delivering wind energy from Oklahoma to the Memphis area. In this week’s issue of Arkansas Business there’s a closer look at the arguments involved in the case involving two groups of landowners who would have to sell property. 

From reporter Kyle Massey:

Former employees of the Rock Island Railroad joined officials from the Clinton Foundation and Clinton School of Public Service Monday, August 29, to unveil a vintage sign attached to the brick facade of what was the railroad’s longtime Little Rock passenger station. Today the two organizations, aligned with Bill Clinton’s neighboring presidential library, have offices in the restored building.

The structure was built in 1899 by the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad, which was absorbed by the Rock Island during a hostile takeover in 1904. From the time of the building’s opening until the railroad stopped passenger service in 1967, "hundreds of thousands, millions of people I would imagine have come through this station," said Skip Rutherford, dean of the school, which is part of the University of Arkansas System. 

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