House OKs bill to imprison protesters who block roads

LITTLE ROCK — The House voted 66-14 Thursday to approve a bill that would allow protesters to be imprisoned for blocking a roadway.

House Bill 1578 by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, would amend the state’s anti-rioting law to include blocking a roadway in the definition of a “riot.”

The bill also would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly obstruct emergency medical services personnel and a felony to do so purposely.

The measure also would make people who riot or obstruct emergency medical personnel or first responders subject to civil lawsuits.

The bill goes to the Senate.

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Governor signs Gold Star families monument bill

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed into law a bill giving legislative approval to a proposed monument to Gold Star families on the state Capitol grounds.

Senate Bill 244 by Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, is now Act 281 of 2017.

Hutchinson signed the bill in a ceremony at the Capitol where the announced guests included Hershel “Woody” Williams, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Iwo Jima in 1945.

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Bill on executed inmates’ death certificates goes to governor

LITTLE ROCK — The Senate on Thursday approved and sent to the governor a bill to change the way death certificates of executed inmates are filled out.

Senators approved House Bill 1158 by Rep. Rebecca Petty, R-Rogers, in a 21-4 vote. Under the bill, which previously passed in the House, the manner of death of an executed inmate would be listed on the death certificate as “Pursuant to a judicial sentence of death — Execution” and the cause of death would be listed as “lethal injection” or “electrocution,” whichever applies.

Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005. In the past, inmates’ death certificates listed the manner of death as “homicide.”

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Panel OKs bill to make info on school personnel secret

LITTLE ROCK — The House Education Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would allow public schools to keep information about their security personnel secret.

Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, would create an exemption from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act for school records “that upon disclosure could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the public safety” and records “relating to the number of licensed security officers, school resource officers, or other security personnel, as well as any personal information about those individuals.”

The bill, which previously passed in the Senate, goes to the House.

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Bill to make Governor’s Mansion info secret advances

LITTLE ROCK — The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday advanced a bill to make records of the Arkansas State Police concerning the Governor’s Mansion exempt from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

House Bill 1590 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio, which previously passed in the House, goes to the Senate.

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Panel OKs bill to boycott businesses that boycott Israel

LITTLE ROCK — The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday advanced a bill to prohibit state entities from contracting with or investing in any company that boycotts Israel.

Senate Bill 513 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, goes to the Senate.