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Quote of the week

"We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people."

— Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, speaking at a July 1 press conference held in the wake of a mass shooting early Saturday morning at Power Ultra Lounge on West Sixth Street that left 28 injured, including 25 with gunshot wounds. All were expected to survive.

Quote of the week II

"There have to be significant changes in the current [Senate bill] draft in order to give states like Arkansas options for the future and to continue coverage and not have a $500 million per year gap in our economy."

— Governor Hutchinson outlining the ways in which he'd like to see the U.S. Senate bill to replace Obamacare changed. Among his suggestions: If the federal government moves to block grant funding for Medicaid, Hutchinson said the funding should include support of the Medicaid expansion population. If that block grant is based on a per capita figuring, Hutchinson said the elderly, blind and disabled should be exempt, and he said the state should be given "flexibility" on how to spend the money. Hutchinson also said Senate legislation must "redesign" the tax credits, or subsidies, for those covered in the health insurance marketplace to make it more likely that people would take advantage of them. 

Quote of the week III

"I expect the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and our newspaper media in this state to deliver news. When they use their columns to berate, belittle and intimidate people in their columns, using language that isn't appropriate, you have to understand that has the ability to foment hatred." — Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), blaming the press for the destruction of a Ten Commandments monument fewer than 24 hours after it was installed on the state Capitol grounds. Rapert sponsored the legislation that enabled the erection of the monument. Michael Reed, 32, of Van Buren, has been charged with defacing an object of public interest, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Reed, who was previously arrested for running over a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state Capitol, streamed to Facebook Live a video of him allegedly driving over the Arkansas monument. The driver said, "Freedom!" before smashing the tablet.

Maggio conviction upheld by 8th Circuit

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction and 10-year sentence of Mike Maggio, the former circuit judge from Conway, for taking a bribe to reduce the verdict in a nursing home negligence case.

The court held there was a factual basis for Maggio's original guilty plea, which he had tried to withdraw. It said U.S. District Judge Brian Miller did not err in refusing to permit him to withdraw his guilty plea. The court also said that Maggio's actions in taking a bribe to make a ruling in the case made it significantly worse and supported an upward departure from sentencing guidelines.

In 2013, Maggio reduced a $5.2 million unanimous jury verdict against a Greenbrier nursing home owned by Michael Morton of Fort Smith for failure to send a sick woman to a hospital as a doctor had ordered. She died in agony. Maggio made the reduction around the time Morton was making campaign contributions through multiple PACs to Maggio's planned race for the state Court of Appeals, donations arranged by former Sen. Gilbert Baker (R-Conway). A civil case against Morton and Baker over the verdict reduction is pending. It has been on hold awaiting the resolution of the appeal. Maggio was dismissed as a defendant, held immune because he acted in an official capacity. He could now be deposed as a witness in the case.

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