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  1. State Capitol Week in Review, Oct. 19, 2012

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    October 25, 2012 by Sue Madison

    State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Sue Madison October 19, 2012 LITTLE ROCK –  The Senate and House Education Committees recommended an increase in public school funding of between 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent, which would be sufficient for school districts to provide a constitutionally adequate education to Arkansas students. The legislature will use the recommendation when writing budgets for the next two fiscal years.  Based on the experience of the past few years, schools can expect an increase of close to 2 percent.  A 1.8 percent increase would amount to $56.6 million.  A 2.5 percent increase would be $78.4 million.

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  2. News for Graduating High School Seniors

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    May 3, 2012 by Sue Madison

    state capitol week

    LITTLE ROCK –  About 8,000 graduating high school seniors will be eligible for the Academic Challenge Scholarship when they attend an Arkansas college or university next fall. The Department of Higher Education has notified the seniors and several thousand have officially accepted the awards.  The deadline for all financial aid packages is June 1 for students who plan to attend an Arkansas college or university in the fall semester of 2012 and the spring semester of 2013. Last year about 31,100 students received Academic Challenge scholarships, which are funded from the state lottery.  Students enrolled at a four-year university receive $4,500 a year if they maintain their eligibility and students at two-year colleges receive $2,250 a year.  Those amounts have been lowered since the 2010 school year, when they were $5,000 and $2,500. A decline in lottery sales is responsible for the drop off in scholarship amounts. Students who got $5,000 and $2,500 in 2010 will continue to receive those amounts as long as they maintain their eligibility.  Similarly, students who get $4,500 and $2,250 this year will continue to receive those amounts throughout their college career, as long as they keep up their grades. According to a study presented …

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  3. Arkansas Wins Judgment Against Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

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    April 17, 2012 by Sue Madison

    state capitol week

    LITTLE ROCK –  The state of Arkansas has won a judgment at the trial court level against a major pharmaceutical manufacturer and its subsidiary, winning a judgment of $1.2 billion for the state’s Medicaid fund. The drug manufacturer is Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary is Janssen Pharmaceutica.  They are expected to appeal the fine, which was ordered by a Pulaski County circuit judge. The attorney general, representing the state of Arkansas, filed the suit in 2007.  The trial lasted two weeks.  A jury of six men and six women deliberated for about three hours before issuing a verdict saying the pharmaceutical companies committed Medicaid fraud and used deceptive trade practices by hiding the negative side effects of a drug commonly prescribed for people with mental disorders. The potential side effects of the drug are diabetes, hormonal changes that affect the sexual development of children, increased likelihood of strokes in elderly people and excessive weight gain in users of all ages.  Jurors were asked to determine whether the company’s labeling accurately disclosed its possible side effects.  The jurors were also asked to determine if a letter to Arkansas physicians about the drug was deceptive. The drug manufacturer has a mixed …

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  4. Capitol Week in Review: Students​ Coming​ to ​College​ Unprepared

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    February 13, 2012 by Sue Madison

    state capitol week

    LITTLE ROCK – Last year, Arkansas high school graduates were better prepared academically for college than they have been in the recent past, according to a recent survey based on remediation rates of freshmen. Every year, the state Department of Higher Education counts the number of entering freshmen who must take re- medial classes their first year in a four- year university or a two-year college. Students are required to take remedial classes if their standardized test scores in English, reading and math are not high enough. On the popular ACT test, the required score is 19 or higher. A total of 23,176 students took the college admission tests. This year’s report shows that 49.3 percent of students enrolling in an Arkansas public college or university had to take at least one remedial class. That is the lowest percentage since the fall semester of 1993. Our worst performance was in the fall of 2002, when 59.6 percent of new students had to take a remedial class. There is a large difference in remedial rates between students entering a four-year university and those entering a two-year college. At the state’s four- year universities, 34.5 percent — 5,101 students — had to …

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  5. ​State Capitol Week in Review: 2011 Legislative Highlights ​

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    January 8, 2012 by Sue Madison

    state capitol week

    The highlight of state government news for 2011 came when the Arkansas legislature lowered state tax rates by $35 million a year. The tax cut package includes tax relief for consumers in Act 755, which lowers the sales tax on groceries by half a cent, cutting state revenue by $20 million a year. Another tax cut for consumers is Act 757 to make the first weekend in August a “back to school” sales tax holiday on clothing items costing less than $100 and accessories less than $50. No state sales tax is collected on school supplies that weekend. State revenue officials predicted it would save consumers more than $2 million. The legislature extended tax relief to buyers of used cars, by raising the exemption threshold. Previously, you had to pay sales tax on a used car purchase of up to $2,500 and now you don’t have to pay unless the car costs more than $4,000. This will save Arkansans an estimated $2.5 million a year. Act 754, also passed by the legislature in 2011, will lower utility taxes for manufacturers by $5.27 million. Prisons: Arkansas lawmakers will keep close track of Act 570, a 167-page law passed in 2011 that …

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  6. Fewer Juveniles in Jail, More Funds for Elderly Research

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    September 28, 2011 by Sue Madison

    Last year 481 juveniles were committed to state custody in a secure detention facility. That is down from the previous year, when 531 youths were committed to a detention facility and significantly lower than the year before, when 636 youths were committed.

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  7. Common Core Standards Are Introduced

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    September 1, 2011 by Sue Madison

    With the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Arkansas has begun the transition toward teaching national mathematics and English curricula known as Common Core State Standards.

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