A passionate group of parents and reading advocates left the state Capitol disappointed but determined not to give up last week when a bill that would give teeth to a law that requires dyslexia screening and intervention in public schools failed to pass out of a Senate committee.
A controversial bill that would establish education savings accounts to be used at parents' discretion to fund private school and other education costs passed in a voice vote with some dissent in the Senate Education committee Monday.
In a press conference on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol this morning, representatives of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ARTEC), ACLU of Arkansas and a transgender pioneer spoke out against a number of anti-trans and anti-LGBT bills working their way through the state legislature. Citing the economic and political fallout for North Carolina over their "bathroom bill," the groups say the bills will harm the Arkansas economy.
The assault on the budget of the diversity department, which is being led by Reps. Trevor Drown (R-Dover) and Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), stemmed from a sex education event sponsored by a student group. Russellville's mayor urged legislators to reconsider the move.
A showdown expected this morning at the Capitol over legislature unhappiness about a sex education event at Arkansas Tech University may be delayed. In the meanwhile, the legislative interference has raised questions about a loss of accreditation for the campus.
The House Education Committee this afternoon approved a bill to end the dual observance of a state holiday for Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr.The approval came on a voice vote, over some objections, but nobody requested a roll call. The bill now goes to the House for final action.
The dramatically expanded bill that began as an effort to allow university staff members to carry concealed weapons on campus was approved this morning in a House committee. It concurred in a Senate amendment on a voice vote.
House Bill 1222 would be funded through a tax-credit scholarship in which individuals and corporations could donate to a nonprofit organization that would provide money to parents seeking a private or home school education for their children.
A bill that would prevent minors from being sentenced to life without parole passed the state House Judiciary Committee Thursday. The legislation would also allow parole board hearings for those currently in prison that were sentenced as minors to life without parole for homicide offenses.
Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
The execution of Kenneth Williams for his 1999 slaying of Cecil Boren during a prison escape remains scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight, though actions in state and federal courts are anticipated in the final hours.
At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.