Editors: Here is the planning digest for newspapers of the weekend beginning Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. We welcome your questions or comments. You may reach the Arkansas News Bureau at 501 374-0699, or by fax at 501 374-0860. Cellular phone numbers for Little Rock 766-5342; Rob Moritz, 501 912-6397; Harry King, 501 912-0750; John Lyon, 501 786-4306.

THIS INFORMATION IS PROPRIETARY AND IS NOT FOR PUBLICATION, BROADCAST OR OTHER USE PRIOR TO DATES LISTED.

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Friday, Jan. 25

McDaniel drops out of governor’s race

LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel dropped out of the 2014 governor’s race Friday.

McDaniel announced his decision two weeks after saying he would remain in the race despite admitting he had an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs attorney.

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By John Lyon

Judge’s ruling means expungement law constitutional, lawmaker says

LITTLE ROCK — A Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Friday that a man’s 10-year-old DWI conviction could be expunged under Act 626 of 2011, but it’s what the judge didn’t rule on that had people talking.

Circuit Judge Barry Sims didn’t comment on a ruling made last year by Little Rock Traffic Court Judge Vic Fleming that said the 2001 law is unconstitutional.

Rep. Jim Nickels, D-Sherwood, who sponsored Act 626, said the judge’s decision not to mention Fleming’s ruling means that the law is constitutional.

"It means that the expungement statute is alive and well," Nickels said."(Fleming) denied it based on constitutional grounds and that was appealed in essence to the circuit court and the circuit judge grant the expungement."

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By Rob Moritz

For the Weekend:

Eds: Advance for Sunday Jan. 27, and thereafter

Opponents of death penalty say bills before Legislature fail to address main issue

LITTLE ROCK —Two bills before a legislative committee dealing with the death penalty procedures and whether to allow the family of victims to watch fail to address the key issue in the debate, opponents of the death penalty say.

"A smarter, better use of resources would be to do away with the death penalty and fold those savings into things like counseling services for the victims, or throw (the savings) into law enforcement, crime prevention, social services, education, things that prevent crimes from happening in the first place," said Sam Kooistra, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

A recent study by Duke University found that the state of North Carolina would save about $11 million annually if it dropped the death penalty, Kooistra said, adding a California study found that over a lifetime, an inmate on death row costs about $1 million more a year than a prisoner serving a life sentence without parole.

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By Rob Moritz

ADVANCE for Monday, Jan. 28, and thereafter

Lawmakers using tablet computers to save paper, increase efficiency

LITTLE ROCK — State legislators say they are trying to be more efficient — and save a forest of trees — by using tablet computers to view documents electronically during committee hearings this session.

Legislators have mostly adapted well to the tablets, despite a few glitches and difficulties in adapting to change.

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By John Lyon

ALREADY SENT:

Roby Brock’s Talk Business column

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