Arkansas Legislature gives final OK to budget bill
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Legislature has wrapped up this year's session after giving final approval to a $5 billion budget for the coming year.
The House and Senate on Wednesday passed identical versions of the budget bill, formally known as the proposed Revenue Stabilization Act, before recessing the fiscal session that began Feb. 10. Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol on March 19 to formally adjourn the session.
This was the third fiscal session since a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 required the Legislature to meet and budget annually.
The session focused primarily on the state's compromise Medicaid expansion. The "private option" plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor was reauthorized last week, surviving an attempt to defund the program.
Tax for hospital soundly rejected in Sharp County
ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) - Sharp County voters have rejected a sales tax increase that would have funded a county-owned hospital.
The proposal for a 1.5 percent sales tax increase was defeated in a special election Tuesday. According to complete but unofficial returns, nearly 75 percent of voters opposed the measure.
The plan called for a permanent 1 percent tax and a temporary 0.5 percent tax. The group promoting the plan, the Sharp County Hospital Foundation, said supporters wanted to improve the quality of health care in the county.
Group spokesman Bob Evins tells The Jonesboro Sun the organization will decide in the next 30 days whether to pursue another proposal.
The county's only hospital closed in 2004, though White River Medical System has announced plans to open an emergency room in Cherokee Village.
Marshals museum opening pushed back to 2017
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - Officials have delayed the opening of Fort Smith's $50 million U.S. Marshals Museum until 2017.
The U.S. Marshals Museum Board initially planned to open the museum in 2016. But museum president and CEO Jim Dunn said Tuesday that it will take longer to build the 50,000-square-foot building along the Arkansas River.
Groundbreaking for the facility is still set for Sept. 24.
According to the Southwest Times Record museum officials had raised about $14 million for the museum as of last December. Officials also anticipate receiving $8 million from a federal tax credit program and up to $5 million from the sale of commemorative U.S. Mint coins marking the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Those coins are set to go on sale Jan. 1, 2015.
MARSHALS MUSEUM-LECTURE SERIES
Donation to fund lectures at US Marshals Museum
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - The U.S. Marshals Museum says a gift from the widow of the late Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller will fund a three-year lecture series at the museum to be built in Fort Smith.
The museum says the $100,000 donation from Lisenne Rockefeller will allow it to bring speakers from the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the U.S. government to Fort Smith to speak about the marshal's history as it connects to each branch. Each program is to be free and open to the public.
The U.S. Marshals Museum is to be built on the banks of the Arkansas River in Fort Smith - overlooking Oklahoma - with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Sept. 24.
Police ask dentists to help ID mummified body
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Authorities are asking any dentists for help in identifying the mummified remains of a woman found in a car at a suburban Detroit home last week.
Investigators believe the remains belong to Pia Farrenkopf, but the identity hasn't been settled. There's evidence of extensive dental work, and the Oakland County medical examiner believes dental records could quickly confirm a name.
But authorities don't know the dentists who treated Farrenkopf.
Without dental records, they'll need to turn to DNA from the woman's family and that could be a long process.
The body was found in the rear seat of Farrenkopf's Jeep in her garage in Pontiac. She may have been dead for more than five years. There is no evidence of foul play.
Farrenkopf also lived in Arkansas, Massachusetts and overseas.
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