KASU

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A former St. Louis judge who sentenced a teenager to more than 240 years in prison says she "deeply" regrets her ruling and is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to give him the opportunity for reform.

Evelyn Baker sentenced Bobby Bostic in 1997 for the 1995 robbery of people delivering Christmas presents for the needy. He was 16 at the time of the robbery.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas has received 15 more reports of flu fatalities in the past week, raising the death toll to 140 in what's already become the state's deadliest flu season in at least 17 years.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the 15 deaths were reported to the Health Department in a seven-day span ending Tuesday. Of those deaths, 10 were 65 years or older.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say two people are dead after a shooting that was reported outside of a cosmetics factory near Little Rock.

North Little Rock Police Sgt. Amy Cooper says officers found two people dead after responding to call about gunshots at about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Cooper tells Little Rock television station KTHV that the two people were found in the factory's parking lot.

Police have not released any information about a possible suspect.

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TRUMANN, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge has found probable cause to hold a Tennessee man on $1 million bail pending formal charges in what authorities say may have been a sex-trafficking ring.

Authorities arrested 52-year-old Craig Gillum of Dover, Tennessee, on Feb. 1 in an O'Neill, Nebraska, hotel room where he was found with a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing five days earlier from Trumann, Arkansas.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Revenue collected by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery in fiscal 2018 is exceeding the totals from the same period in previous years, but net proceeds are about average for recent years.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the lottery has provided its latest monthly report to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Legislative Council's lottery oversight subcommittee.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican primary voters were selecting nominees for two Arkansas Senate seats and a representative for a House seat in north-central Arkansas.

In balloting Tuesday, three Republicans from Russellville sought the party's nomination to replace Greg Standridge, who died in November. Bob Bailey, Breanne Davis or Luke Heffley would face Democrat Teresa Gallegos in May. If necessary, a runoff would be held March 13.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the start of Arkansas' legislative session (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

Arkansas' governor says he wants to cut the income tax for the state's top earners by $180 million, and says his plan to set aside $48 million in surplus money will help set the stage for that reduction.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told lawmakers Monday he'll push for cutting the state's top income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. Hutchinson issued the recommendation as lawmakers convened for an abbreviated session focused on the state's budget.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are conducting a study to gauge residents' views of medical marijuana before and after it's available in the state.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that representatives from several colleges outside the state approached university researchers last year about the survey opportunity.

STUTTGART, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas waitress who complained that a co-worker stiffed her after they won $300,000 in the state lottery says she has received an undisclosed share of the prize and is dropping a lawsuit.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Recent state figures show the average cost per person of subsidized private health insurance under Arkansas Works increased more than 14 percent last month.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the spike is in part due to premium increases that had taken effect Jan. 1.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says the mother of a television news anchor killed in a 2008 attack can move forward with a complaint that hospital employees not involved in the journalist's medical care acted outrageously as the woman was dying.

Justices said Thursday that St. Vincent Infirmary could be released from part of a lawsuit filed after the workers looked at Anne Pressly's medical records. The court dismissed a cross-appeal, however, which will let a Pulaski County judge decide whether the employees acted in an "extreme and outrageous" manner.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties for protesters who block highways.

The Columbia Missourian reports that a Missouri Senate committee heard the bill this week.

Missouri Capitol
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has worked through the night into a new day as a group of lawmakers filibusters a bill changing the way utility rates are regulated.

The legislation being debated Thursday would allow utilities to more quickly recover their costs for infrastructure improvements while imposing a 3 percent limit on annual rate increases to consumers.

Supporters say it will result in ever-increasing rates for customers, but opponents say it will ensure price predictability instead of allowing periodic surges in rates that could be even larger.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The grounds of the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis may soon have a new name: The Gateway Arch National Park.

Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill said Thursday that their legislation to rename the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial as the Gateway Arch National Park is now in the hands of President Donald Trump.

The measure passed the Senate on Dec. 21, and passed the House Wednesday.

Blunt says renaming the park will make it "more immediately recognizable to the millions of people who visit St. Louis every year."

A lawsuit challenging Arkansas' new voter ID law has been filed, arguing the requirement causes the same problems as a nearly identical law that was struck down four years ago.

The lawsuit filed by a voter in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Wednesday is challenging the measure's constitutionality ahead of the state's May 22 primary. Early voting for the primary begins May 7.

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JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — A northeast Arkansas restaurant owner has been charged with human trafficking and rape.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington filed charges Wednesday against 45-year-old Hexin Chen of Jonesboro.

Ellington says Chen was first accused of raping a woman who lived with him and worked at the Kirin Restaurant that Chen owns. Ellington says the woman and a man who also lived with Chen told police they were brought to the U.S. to work at the restaurant but were given "basically slave wages."

The Arkansas Health Department says it's recorded nearly 30 more flu-related deaths over the past week, bringing the total number this season to 122.

Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel told state lawmakers that the total figure as of Monday is the highest in two decades and is likely to keep rising over the next several weeks. Two of those deaths were children.

Department Director Nate Smith says the majority of flu-related deaths are reported after the peak of transmission, which hadn't arrived as of Monday. The flu season ends in May.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are pushing legislation to exempt gun safes from the state's sales tax.

At a news conference Monday, Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield said the bill shows how the state Senate can find common ground and work in a bipartisan manner.

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis said the bill would help address accidental shootings and gun thefts.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A testing company has agreed to pay for Missouri students to take two tests this year after producing 2017 end-of-year exam results so unreliable that the state threw them out.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new report shows lawsuits against the state of Missouri cost taxpayers at least $23 million last year.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas judge has rescheduled the trial date for former football player Darren McFadden's lawsuit against his ex-financial adviser and a bank.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the case was scheduled for trial Oct. 22, but both sides asked last week for a postponement. U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. granted the request Monday and rescheduled the trial to begin Feb. 11, 2019.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Republican who had been running for Arkansas state land commissioner is dropping his bid for the office.

Alex Ray on Monday said he was ending his bid for the Republican nomination for the post, citing the fact that he and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child later this year. John Thurston, the Republican currently holding the office, is serving his second term and is running for secretary of state this year.

SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) - A southeast Missouri police detective has been placed on administrative leave after a judge issued a scathing review of his handling of a 2000 homicide case and said a man serving a life sentence should be exonerated.

The Southeast Missourian reports that the city of Sikeston took the action against Detective John Blakely after Judge Darrell Missey found Friday that Blakely "is lacking in candor or competence, or both." Blakely has denied accusations against him in sworn testimony.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State correction officials say an inmate was found dead in his cell at an east Arkansas prison over the weekend.

The Department of Correction on Monday said 55-year-old Phillip Hardy was found unconscious on Sunday night in his single-person cell at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys. Correctional officers began emergency medical treatment before taking Hardy to the prison's infirmary, where he was later pronounced dead.

U. S. Capitol
Liam James Doyle / NPR

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Democratic state representative says he's running for the U.S. House seat representing the Little Rock area and central Arkansas.

State Rep. Clarke Tucker announced his bid Monday for the 2nd Congressional District, becoming the third Democrat to run in hopes of unseating Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill.

Tucker has served in the Arkansas House since 2015. He says he was motivated to run for the U.S. House seat after battling cancer last year, saying he "could no longer stand by and watch" as Congress worked to undo the Affordable Care Act.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri lawmaker has introduced a bill that would address the issue of pregnant inmates being shackled and chained during labor.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas finance officials say higher than expected individual income tax collections in January helped push the state's revenue above expectations and above the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Friday the state's net available revenue in January totaled $583.3 million, which is $47.3 million more than the same month last year and $41.7 million above forecast. The state's net available revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is more than $3.2 billion, which is $65.4 million more than was forecast.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A special panel of judges says 11 lawsuits filed in four states against the makers of the herbicide dicamba will be centralized in federal court in St. Louis.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation made the determination Thursday regarding farmers' lawsuits filed in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. The lawsuits argue that the makers of dicamba are responsible for damage caused by the herbicide to their crops, especially soybeans.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Legislature is considering a pair of bill proposals to curb the availability of prescription opioids statewide.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — More than 70 instructors in Arkansas are now eligible to teach a new "enhanced" concealed-carry curriculum that would allow gun owners to carry weapons in previously gun-free locations.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday on Twitter that the first instructors were made eligible to offer the enhanced training after taking tests last week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

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