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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.

Winter weather impacting blood donations

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The winter weather coupled with the flu epidemic is causing major problems for blood donations.

Right now, the Red Cross is seeing an unusually low number of donations.

Because of the snow on Monday, three drives had to be canceled, meaning at least 184 pints of blood were not collected.

"Obviously all the beds are empty, we need donations."

Last week, a total of 30 drives were canceled because of bad weather, resulting in nearly 900 uncollected pints of blood.

Not to mention, this year has been one of the worst when it comes to the flu epidemic. Arkansas has reported a total of 37 flu deaths in the state.

At noon on Monday, Keith Melton is the only one in the facility donating blood. For him, it's a personal connection.

"Yeah, when they call, I come down."

Wal-Mart opposes Arkansas law some see as allowing LGBT bias

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it opposes a new law in its home state of Arkansas to ban cities and counties from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

A spokesman for the world's largest retailer on Monday said the proposal that became law earlier in the day runs counter to its beliefs and "sends the wrong message about Arkansas." Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville in northwest Arkansas.

The measure, which takes effect later this year, bans local governments from expanding anti-discrimination ordinances beyond state law, which doesn't include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson allowed the legislation to become law without his signature after citing concerns about it infringing on local control. Opponents of it had urged Wal-Mart to speak out against the measure.

Arkansas bars expanded local anti-discrimination laws

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas has become the second state to ban local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation barring cities or counties from prohibiting discrimination on a basis not covered by state law to become law without his signature. It will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

Arkansas' anti-discrimination protections don't include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Monday marked the end of the five-day window for Hutchinson to take action on the bill or allow it to become law. Hutchinson had said he wouldn't sign or veto the bill, citing concerns about its impact on local control.

Arkansas House supports school district formation bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas House members have revived and advanced a bill to relax restrictions on the creation of new school districts.

Lawmakers voted 60-21 on Monday in support of the measure after it failed by two votes last week. The bill seeks to lower the amount of students an upstart district needs to splinter from an existing one.

Republican Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle wants to lessen the requirement to 2,500 students. He said the move would allow Maumelle or Sherwood to split from the Pulaski County Special district after clearing state and federal hurdles.

Lowery says he wants to give more local control to parents. Opponents say the change could harm lower-income students and widen racial divides.

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

Arkansas House OKs bill to soften social media protections

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas House has passed a bill to soften social media protections for employees in the state.

In a 91-1 vote on Monday, the House exempted schools, daycares, summer camps, churches and religious-oriented employers from the state's social media rules.

The law adopted in 2013 protects current and prospective employees from having to disclose their social media username and password or change their privacy settings. Another change endorsed by the House would remove a ban on businesses forcing employees to "friend" another employee or a supervisor.

Supporters of the bill say the law is too restrictive and that employers need access to employees' social media.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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