- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Latest on Arkansas’ special legislative session focused on highway funding and other issues (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Arkansas lawmakers are set to take up competing plans to raise money for the state’s highways, with a Senate committee endorsing an effort to limit Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s funding proposal for one year.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday advanced a proposal to raise nearly $50 million for the state’s roads in the coming year by tapping the surplus, investment returns and other funds.

The panel passed the measure on a 6-2 vote.

Unlike Hutchinson’s proposal, the plan would only apply to the coming year. The panel earlier Thursday deadlocked on the governor’s measure, while a House committee has endorsed an identical bill outlining his plan.

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3:20 p.m.

A revised version of a publicity rights bill backed by the family of legendary former Arkansas football coach Frank Broyles that was vetoed last year is heading toward votes in the Legislature.

The House and Senate Judiciary committees on Thursday endorsed identical versions of the proposal designed to protect a person’s likeness. Gov. Asa Hutchinson last year had vetoed a version of the bill over concerns that it would infringe on First Amendment rights.

The proposal has been revamped to address those concerns and has been backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, who opposed the version that Hutchinson vetoed last year. Hutchinson has said he’ll sign the latest version if it reaches his desk.

The reworked bill includes clearer exemptions for noncommercial forms of speech, including newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, plays, books and other forms of artwork.

The proposal faces objections from the five professional sports players’ unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, who say its exemptions are too broad.

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2:20 p.m.

The sponsor of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to increase money for the state’s highways says he won’t present the proposal again before a Senate panel where it’s stalled. Instead he’s hoping to get the proposal sent to a different committee.

Hutchinson has proposed tapping into the state’s surplus, investment returns and other funds to raise nearly $50 million for highways in the coming fiscal year.

Republican Sen. Bart Hester said Thursday he doesn’t plan on running the proposal again before the Senate Transportation Committee, which deadlocked on the plan earlier in the day. Hester said he’ll ask the Senate to send an identical House version to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee if that chamber approves the bill Friday.

Sending the proposal to that committee will require at least 18 votes in the 35-member Senate.

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11:50 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to boost money for the state’s highways has stalled before a Senate panel after opponents said they want to limit the funding proposal to one year.

The Senate Transportation Committee deadlocked 4-4 Thursday on Hutchinson’s proposal to tap into the state’s surplus, investment returns and other funds to increase funding for highways. Hutchinson has said the proposal will raise nearly $50 million in the coming fiscal year and allow the state to receive $200 million annually in additional federal matching funds.

The House Rules Committee endorsed an identical version of Hutchinson’s proposal Thursday.

Three members of the Senate panel have introduced a competing plan that would limit the funding to the coming fiscal year and not include a provision to set aside a quarter of the state’s surplus in future years.

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10:05 a.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is defending his plan to boost money for the state’s highways, saying it will allow the state to receive at least $1 billion in federal matching funds for its roads over the next five years.

Hutchinson told members of the House and Senate Thursday that he doesn’t view his proposal as a “one-time fix” for the state’s roads. Lawmakers have convened for a special session to consider Hutchinson’s proposal to tap into the state’s surplus, investment returns and other funds for the state’s roads. The plan is expected to raise nearly $50 million in the coming fiscal year.

Hutchinson called his proposal a “realistic” approach to make sure the state can receive the $200 million in additional annual matching federal funds. Hutchinson also rejected calls for the state to raise taxes for highways, saying he didn’t believe it was the right time for such a proposal.

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9:45 a.m.

A group of Republican lawmakers have filed an alternative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan that would limit the funding increase to the coming fiscal year.

Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey on Thursday filed the proposal to tap into nearly $50 million from the state’s surplus, investment returns and other funds for road needs. Unlike Hutchinson’s proposal, the plan would be limited to the coming fiscal year and doesn’t call for setting aside a quarter of the state’s surplus in future years.

Hickey’s proposal is co-sponsored by Republican Sens Bill Sample and Ronald Caldwell and GOP Rep. Dan Douglas. Sample chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

Highway officials have said the boost in money is needed so the state can receive an additional $200 million in annual federal matching funds.

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9 a.m.

Arkansas lawmakers have begun a session focused primarily on the governor’s plan to raise nearly $50 million for the state’s highways this coming year.

The House and Senate convened Thursday for the session, which will also include more than a dozen other proposals. Gov. Asa Hutchinson planned to speak to a joint session of the Legislature Thursday morning.

Hutchinson has proposed tapping into Arkansas’ surplus, investment returns and other funds for his road plan. Highway officials said the money is needed so the state can receive an additional $200 million in annual federal matching funds.

Other proposals on the session’s agenda include a revised version of a publicity rights bill Hutchinson vetoed last year and changes in the way vacancies are filled on levee boards around the state.

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6 a.m.

Arkansas lawmakers are meeting to take up the governor’s plan to raise more money for highways in the coming year along with more than a dozen other proposals.

The House and Senate are scheduled to convene Thursday morning for a special session focused primarily on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to tap into surplus money, investment returns and other funds for roads. Hutchinson is expected to address both chambers of the Legislature after they convene.

The session’s agenda also includes a revised version of a publicity rights bill Hutchinson vetoed last year, a proposal to merge Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute into East Arkansas Community College and legislation temporarily prohibiting classifying schools and districts as being in academic distress.

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