Editors: Here is the planning digest for newspapers of the weekend beginning Saturday, Feb. 9, 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THIS INFORMATION IS PROPRIETARY AND IS NOT FOR PUBLICATION, BROADCAST OR OTHER USE PRIOR TO DATES LISTED.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, Feb. 8

Human trafficking bill clears House

LITTLE ROCK — A bill to toughen Arkansas’ human trafficking laws and offer new protections to victims passed in the House on Friday in a 91-0 vote.

House Bill 1203 by Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, would expand the definition of human trafficking and make it a Class Y felony, punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison. Human trafficking is currently a Class A felony, punishable by six to 30 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

Slug: LR-leg-session 2-9 about 20 inches

By John Lyon

Economist seeks slow growth for state

ROGERS — Arkansas will see economic growth this year, but the recovery won’t produce enough new jobs to top pre-recession levels, a University of Arkansas economist forecast Friday.

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Arkansas News Bureau

For the Weekend:

ADVANCE for Sunday Feb. 10 thereafter

Constitutionality of abortion measures in doubt

LITTLE ROCK — Opponents of abortion bills currently moving through the Legislature have testified that the measures would not pass constitutional muster because the U.S. Supreme Court has said states cannot ban abortions before a fetus becomes viable. Supporters have testified that the opposite is true.

The Arkansas News Bureau asked a constitutional expert at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to explain which side is correct.

Slug: LR-leg-abortion 2-9 about 30 inches

By John Lyon

ADVANCE for Monday Feb. 11 and thereafter

Budget bills on agenda as lawmakers enter 5th week

LITTLE ROCK — Agency and department budgets for the next fiscal year are on tap this week, and a number of controversial proposals generating much public comment on both sides are in committees and on either House or Senate floor this week, the fifth for the 89th General Assembly.

Wednesday also is the deadline for lawmakers to file proposed constitutional amendments for consideration for referral to the November 2014 general election ballot. As of last Friday afternoon, six had been filed in the Senate and one in the House.

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By Rob Moritz

ALREADY SENT:

Roby Brock’s Talk Business column

Slug: LR-brock Feb. 9,10