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Health organizations urge House to oppose e-cig bill


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 25, 2015) - With just days left in session, Senate Bill 978 that regulates and classifies electronic cigarettes appears to be headed to the House floor for debate.

Leading health organizations oppose the bill over language that protects the tobacco industry and pre-empts local control of e-cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights issued the following statement asking Senators to oppose the measure:

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Arkansas House backs changes to lottery-funded scholarships


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas House has approved two major changes to the way lottery-funded scholarships are awarded.

By a 64-23 vote, the House approved legislation that would cut the scholarships incoming freshmen would receive and base eligibility solely on standardized testing. A separate proposal to award the scholarships based on the number of credit hours earned by college students was approved on a 77-0 vote.

Both measures head to the Senate. The bill changing eligibility would take effect in the 2016-2017 school year, and the sponsor of the other measure said he'll amend it to take effect at the same time.

Arkansas voters approved the lottery in 2008 to raise money for scholarships. Supporters say the changes would be a backup if the games' revenue doesn't improve over the next year.

Arkansas House rejects ending life sentences for juveniles


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Juvenile offenders in Arkansas will continue to be sentenced to life without parole for certain crimes after the state House rejected a bill to end the practice.

House members voted 53-29 Thursday against the proposal to eliminate the sentence for future offenders who are under the age of 18 when they commit a crime. The bill would not have been retroactive but would have required the families of victims be notified of parole hearings.

Democratic Rep. Greg Leding of Fayetteville says his bill would have brought Arkansas in line with other states such as Texas and Alaska. He says some children deserve a second chance.

Opponents say the change would be disrespectful to crime victims and that inmates could commit other crimes if released.

Arkansas Senate backs limit on Common Core test contract


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Senate has voted to limit the length of the state's contract with a testing company whose assessments are based on Common Core education standards.

The bill approved by the Senate on a 22-2 vote Thursday prevents the state from entering into a contract for more than a year with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The measure requires the state to consider the recommendations from a state task force before deciding to renew its involvement in PARCC.

An earlier version of the House-backed bill called for an end to the state's involvement in the PARCC exam. The bill heads back to the House.

The PARCC exam is based on Common Core education standards that have been adopted by a majority of states, including Arkansas.

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Man stealing credit card info in Little Rock


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV)- A professional thief is stealing credit card numbers, then duplicating them. Police need help finding the man using them to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of items.

According to police, it's called skimming. A thief puts a device over an ATM or credit card machine that lets them steal your info right off the magnetic strip.

A woman from Little Rock filed a report with the Prairie Grove Police Department, after they found that this man had bought a $400 gift card at a Harp's grocery store with her card information.

There have been several reports of credit card numbers being skimmed from gas stations. Police have not yet provided any suspect information.

Arkansas looks to speed up rape kit testing


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Almost two years ago, THV11 helped expose hundreds of rape kits collected in Little Rock that went left on shelves untested for years. Now the push is on to make sure there aren't more untested rape kits sitting on shelves elsewhere around the state.

"This is a problem that every state is facing, getting a handle on how many untested kits there may be out there and how to process them," said Stasia Burk McDonald, who sits on the state Commission on Child Abuse, Rape & Domestic Violence. "Law enforcement isn't the only agency that's holding untested sexual assault kits and that there might be some hanging out at hospitals and children's advocacy centers and other sexual assault places that collect rape kits."

Little Rock parks getting torn up by mischievous drivers


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The city of Little Rock says it's spending thousands of dollars to repair a prank they say kids on Spring Break have pulled.

According to officials more than 20 parks have donut marks made by trucks, the most recent ones dug up this past weekend in Murray Park.

"It's a disappointment that we have these tire tracks," said park-goer Matthew Bowlin.

"It's destroying public property, and that's about as tacky as you can get," added Little Rock Parks and Recreations spokeswoman Lauren Clark. "[The parks] are being watched and we will find them and punish them."

Officials say more than a third of the city's 60 parks are seeing damage from four wheelers and trucks forcing city workers to come in and patch it all up.