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Arkansas panel rejects 'conscience-protection' measure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A "conscience-protection" proposal in Arkansas that critics call an attempt to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians has failed before a legislative panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the measure to ban any local or state laws or regulations that substantially burden religious beliefs unless a "compelling governmental interest" is proven. The measure, approved by the House, faced mounting criticism from businesses, local governments and advocacy groups. The bill's sponsor said he wasn't sure whether he'd try again.

Retail giant Wal-Mart had said the proposal sent the wrong message about its home state. Gov. Asa Hutchinson also expressed reservations about it.

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Multiple snow days sparking cabin fever

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV) - While kids typically enjoy not having to attend school, parents say they're running out of options to keep them entertained.

After three days in a row of being stuck at home, the novelty of a snow day has worn off for mom of two, Labrittney Stewart.

"The children have been home with me and their father and it's been so much fun, but we are ready for them to go back to school and me go back to work."

We caught up with Stewart family eating lunch at All Aboard in Little Rock. It was the first time Stewart said they had left the house since Monday.

"We've been reading books at home and coloring and playing games."

But Stewart admits she and her husband are out of ideas.

Stewart said getting out of the house was just what they needed.

Arkansas House panel to consider Robert E. Lee memorial day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas lawmaker plans to revive an attempt to separate the state's practice of honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same day by creating a memorial day for Lee.

A similar bill failed twice to advance out of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee after an outpouring of public comment from people who said the change belittles southern heritage.

Democratic Rep. Fredrick Love of Little Rock amended his bill Tuesday to create the memorial day for Lee on the second Friday in January. It would fall near Lee's Jan. 19 birthday.

Love says the compromise will honor both men.

The committee is scheduled to hear the bill on Wednesday.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Allegiant announces new nonstop flight to LAX

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Tuesday, Allegiant Air announced a new nonstop seasonal jet service between Little Rock and Los Angeles beginning on June 4.

The new flights will be the airport's first and only nonstop travel option to LAX.

The new seasonal flights will operate twice weekly through August 16, 2015 and will fly nonstop between Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. Flight days, times, and fares can be found at Allegiant.com.

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Hutchinson signs measure expanding computer science classes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure requiring public high schools to offer computer science courses in the coming school year.

Hutchinson signed the bill Tuesday, following through on a campaign promise he says was inspired by his 12-year-old granddaughter learning computer coding. Hutchinson, a Republican, was elected in November.

The new law gives districts the option of offering the courses in-person or online. Supporters have said course work could be offered through Virtual Arkansas, a digital delivery system that serves 180 districts in the state.

Hutchinson says the new law will help make the state more competitive by increasing the number of students pursuing computer science careers.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Arkansas House passes lottery bill, sends to Hutchinson

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson's control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games' operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

The overhaul is aimed at halting a decline in revenue for the games. Arkansas voters approved the lottery in 2008 to raise money for college scholarships.

Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana says his bill will also save money by eliminating lottery jobs that are already being performed by the finance department.

Hutchinson has previously expressed support for the change.

What does the future hold for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -After a two month Powerball run, three lucky people walked away with winning tickets, but they weren't the only ones celebrating a victory.

The big jackpot resulted in nearly $2 million in scholarships for students, yet the future is still uncertain.

On Monday, THV11 took a look at the current status of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.

With $500 million up for grabs, this enormous Powerball jackpot sent just about everyone into a frenzy.

But in the two months leading up to it, lottery sales weren't looking promising, putting scholarship awards in limbo.

"Before we had these jackpot runs we were down about 1.8 million dollars versus what our budget was for scholarships," said Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.