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It was a good week for ethics reform 

It was a good week for...

ETHICS REFORM. Democrats and Republicans each floated proposed reforms and Gov. Mike Beebe said he'd call a special session if consensus could be reached. That's promising if partisanship doesn't get in the way.

TEACHERS INSURANCE. Beebe also said he'd call a special session to fix the state public school employees health insurance program if lawmakers could agree on a solution soon. Without a change in the plan, school employees will see about a 50 percent hike in premiums beginning Jan. 1.

PREVENTING A MAYFLOWER-TYPE SPILL IN LAKE MAUMELLE. Central Arkansas Water (CAW) said it would consider suing Exxon if the federal agency that regulates pipelines doesn't take aggressive action against the company over its violations of the Pipeline Safety Act. Generally, CAW contends that Exxon hasn't sufficiently maintained, inspected or monitored its pipeline in the Lake Maumelle watershed. CAW also argues that Exxon hasn't taken sufficient steps to mitigate a possible spill in the watershed by not adding a second shutoff valve.

THE MARCH TOWARDS OBAMACARE. The Arkansas Insurance Department released the rate plans available on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. The rates appear to be lower than predicted. Arkansans will be able to sign up for the new plans beginning Oct. 1, whether or not the Republicans shut down the federal government as a consequence of their crackpot gambit to defund Obamacare.

It was a bad week for...

THE ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS. Despite leading by 17 in the fourth quarter, the football Hogs still managed to find a way to lose against Rutgers. Things don't get any easier in the weeks to come, as they face a murderers' row of SEC opponents.

FREE PARKING IN THE RIVER MARKET. Parking meters will go online in eight blocks of President Clinton Avenue, Sherman Street and River Market Avenue beginning Sept. 30. The fee will be $1.25 per hour and two hours will be the limit a car is allowed in a space. The rules will be in effect from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. The machines will take credit cards.

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