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51 votes needed in House to suspend Lt. Gov. Darr

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's decision to stay in office despite his ethics lapses may intensify a push by Democrats at the Capitol to impeach the Republican official.

Under the state constitution, Darr would be suspended if 51 or more House members vote to impeach him. Senators would then hold a trial, with 24 votes necessary in the 35-person chamber to permanently remove Darr from office.

Darr last week agreed with Ethics Commission findings that he misspent campaign money.

The 100-member House has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one member of the Green Party. Two Republicans have called on Darr to quit but haven't said whether they would join Democrats in an impeachment vote.

The Senate has 21 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacancy set to be filled next Tuesday.

Darr didn't attend campaign finance training class

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The head of the Arkansas Ethics Commission says he does not believe the lieutenant governor ever attended a training session on the state's campaign finance laws.

The panel this week reprimanded Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who agreed to pay $11,000 in fines over allegations he misspent money from his campaign account. He has resisted calls to resign.

Graham Sloan, the executive director of the ethics panel, said that, to his knowledge, Darr did not attend any sessions on campaign finance laws, but that he didn't know if Darr sent a delegate.

Attendance is not mandatory. Sloan said in a story published Friday in the Southwest Times Record (http://bit.ly/1gxcZ3P) that the campaign finance sessions are offered five or six times every campaign season. One for 2014 has already occurred.

Beebe focuses on budget as final year approaches

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Mike Beebe is approaching his final year in office with an agenda that includes boosting funding for the state's prison system and protecting the Medicaid expansion he signed into law.

But his plans don't include a focus on his political future. After a career that includes 20 years in the state Senate, four years as attorney general and two terms as governor, Beebe insists he's nearing the end of his public life.

Beebe tells The Associated Press that 2014 will mark the end of his time in politics and elected office. The Democratic governor, who turned 67 last week, says he may teach a college class or serve on advisory boards, but he also plans to enjoy retirement.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Post-scandal, McDaniel ends year on brighter note

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The year couldn't have started on a lower note for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
    
McDaniel began 2013 facing questions about his political future after admitting to an extramarital relationship with a Hot Springs attorney. Weeks into the new year, he dropped his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after saying he was worried the race would focus more on his personal life than the state's future.
    
But, approaching his final full year in office, McDaniel is hailing 2013 as one of the most productive for his office as he points to a list of policy victories he enjoyed.  They include the possible phasing out of the decades-long desegregation payments Arkansas has made to three school districts, an agreement regarding tobacco settlement money and a water-quality study with Oklahoma.

Defense Act passes House, could honor Little Rock soldiers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The House of Representatives passed the Defense Authorization Act Thursday. The bill funds the nation's military, and one provision could also honor soldiers from the natural state.

In June of 2009, Abdul Hakim Muhammad took the life of Private William Long and wounded Private Quinton Ezeagwula at an Army Career Center in Little Rock. A provision in the bill would not guarantee a Purple Heart award for the two soldiers, but it would open them up for review of eligibility.

STORY: Family seeks Purple Heart recognition for Pvt. William Andrew Long slain in Ark. (http://on.kthv.com/1gwLppK)

Daris Long, the father of Private Long, said the bill goes beyond the loss of his son.

Lt. Gov. to reimburse Arkansas for improper spending

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A state audit says Lt. Gov. Mark Darr received more than $12,000 in improper expenses.

Darr said in the document released Thursday that he intends to make full restitution to the state.

The audit report, which was presented to a legislative committee on Thursday, says the first-term Republican should pay back $9,836 for excess travel reimbursements and $2,339 for improper use of his state credit card.

The document says Darr reimbursed $1,202 to the state to cover part of the credit card spending, with $1,137 due.

A spokeswoman for Darr said the lieutenant governor wouldn't comment beyond his response in the audit.

Darr was running for the GOP nomination for the 4th District congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton but he dropped out in September.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Public meeting scheduled for discussion on widening Mabelvale Cutoff, Scott Hamilton Dr.

Public meeting scheduled for discussion on widening Mabelvale Cutoff, Scott Hamilton Dr.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (City of Little Rock) - A public meeting will be held to discuss plans to widen Scott Hamilton Drive and Mabelvale Cutoff. 

The meeting will be held at the Southwest Community Center located at 6401 Baseline Road (Suite A), Little Rock, AR on Monday, December 16, 2013 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Scott Hamilton Drive will be widened north from Interstate 30 to 65th Street from a two (2) lane cross section to a four lane cross section with sidewalks on both sides.

Mabelvale Cutoff will be widened from south of Mann Road to Shiloh Drive from a two lane cross section to a five lane cross section with sidewalks on both sides. Also, Mabelvale Cutoff to Mabelvale Main Street will be realigned.

Representatives from Public Works Civil Engineering Division and the Project Engineer will be present to discuss the project and to receive public input.

(Source: City of Little Rock)