Editors: Here is the planning digest for newspapers of Friday, March 22, 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 staffers are as follows: Dennis Byrd, 501 912-3739; James Jefferson, 501 766-5342; Rob Moritz, 501 912-6397; Harry King, 501 912-0750; John Lyon, 501 786-4306.


THURSDAY, March 21

Panel rejects school choice bill

LITTLE ROCK — The House Education Committee on Thursday rejected a bill intended to replace the Arkansas school choice law that a federal judge struck down last year saying it relied too heavily on race as a factor in school transfers.

The committee’s vote followed an extended hearing in which several attorneys and Deputy Attorney General Scott Richardson urged lawmakers not to act until the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis rules on an appeal of the federal judge’s decision.

Slug:LR-leg-school choice 3-22 18 inches

By Rob Moritz

Measure to divert general revenues to highways fails in committee

LITTLE ROCK — A bill to dedicate revenue from vehicle sales taxes to state highways, counties and cities failed to clear the House Transportation Committee on Thursday.

House Bill 1418 by Rep. Jonathan Barnett, R-Siloam Springs, failed in a 10-9 vote, falling one vote short of the 11 it needed to clear the 20-member panel. The vote was nearly a straight party-line vote, with only one Democratic member, Rep. Walls McCrary of Lonoke, joining with Republicans to vote for the bill.

Slug:LR-leg-highway money 3-22 about 15 inches

By John Lyon

Budget panel OK $1 million settlement against DYS

LITTLE ROCK — The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday upheld a recommended $1 million settlement with the family of a man who in 2009 was shot and killed by a teenager released from state custody two months earlier.

Approval of the claim occurred after John Selig, director of the state Department of Human Services, said the settlement would have to be paid out of the department’s Division of Youth Services budget and would mean cutting funds to community services providers.

Slug:LR-leg-claim 3-22 15 inches

By Rob Moritz

House, Senate meet this afternoon

LITTLE ROCK — The House and Senate convened at 1:30 p.m.

Slug:LR-leg-session 3-22 developing

By Rob Moritz and John Lyon