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(Little Rock) (AP) – An $87 million incentive package aimed at helping attract a defense contract to south Arkansas has easily won initial approval from state lawmakers.

The Arkansas House voted 96-0 on Wednesday to issue bonds if Lockheed Martin wins a contract to assemble a tactical vehicle for the Army and Marines at its Camden facility. The same proposal passed the Senate on a 31-3 vote.

State officials say they expect nearly 600 new jobs to be created if the Maryland-based company wins the contract.

The incentive package is the top agenda item for the special legislative session that began Tuesday. Final votes are set in both chambers on Thursday.

(Little Rock) (AP) – A proposal to move Arkansas’ primaries from May to March has cleared the House but is stalling in the Senate.

The House voted 56 to 32 Wednesday in favor of the change and 69 to 15 for a related bill moving next year’s legislative session from February to April. The legislation would make Arkansas part of a planned regional nominating contest among southeastern states supporters have dubbed the “SEC Primary.”

Identical Senate bills Tuesday in committee, and failed on a second attempt Wednesday. The Senate voted to pull both measures out of committee, but failed to win enough votes to take up the bills on Wednesday. Senate President Jonathan Dismang says unless supporters can clear that hurdle, the legislation can’t come up for a vote until Saturday.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Democratic Missouri state House Rep. Bill Otto announced Tuesday he’s running to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District in suburban St. Louis, a seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner since 2013.

Otto said Wagner had poorly represented the area and said he’s ready to “make the decisions” and answer to Missourians.

“Very seldom do you ever really see anyone that appears to be working for benefit of the district rather than themselves or corporate interests or some sort of special interest,” said Otto, 59, of Maryland Heights. “They need to find someone that they can trust is not going to continue that path.”

Spokeswoman Moira Bagley Smith said in an emailed statement that Wagner, who hasn’t announced whether she’ll run for re-election, “is busy working for the people of the 2nd District; there will be plenty of time for playing politics at a later date.”

Otto criticized Wagner, saying she had not done enough in response to radioactive waste in a landfill in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton. A contractor for a uranium processing company illegally dumped waste in the West Lake Landfill 40 years ago, contaminating it. The Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month announced plans to test the landfill and the adjacent Bridgeton landfill.

Wagner was among several U.S. lawmakers from Missouri who signed a letter to the EPA expressing concern about underground smoldering from Bridgeton meeting the buried nuclear waste.

Otto said he hopes to hire a full-time staffer or devote a substantial amount of time to addressing the landfill.

“It’s going to take political pressure and head-butting with the EPA,” Otto said. “It needs more attention.”

While Otto called the area a “swing district,” it’s long been represented by Republicans. Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who garnered national attention during a 2012 bid for U.S. Senate after saying women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” held the seat from 2001 to 2013.

Otto touted his “worker man’s” background. He said after his mother died when he was 15, he spent two years in a boys’ home before becoming homeless. Otto served seven years in the Navy before working as an air traffic controller. He retired in 2007.

Gov. Jay Nixon

(Fulton) (AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and other officials have broken ground on a new maximum security state mental hospital.

Nixon on Wednesday announced construction of the new Fulton State Psychiatric Hospital is set to be completed December 2017.

The current Fulton hospital was built in 1851 and is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi. It’s the state’s only maximum security psychiatric center.

The hospital houses those with serious mental illnesses sent by the courts for evaluation and treatment related to a crime, or those who seriously assault staff or other patients in other hospitals.

A Missouri board in October approved issuing $98 million in bonds to pay for a new mental hospital.

Nixon says the hospital will help the state give patients the best care and treatment.

 

Galloway (Baxter County Sheriff's Office)

Mark Galloway (Baxter County Sheriff’s Office)

Stetts (Baxter County Sheriff's Office)

Devon Stetts (Baxter County Sheriff’s Office)

(Mountain Home) – Two Gassville residents are under arrest after allegedly kidnapping a teenager from Bakersfield.

The Baxter Bulletin reports that 18-year-old Devon Stetts and his half-brother, 27-year-old Mark Galloway, were both arrested on kidnapping charges. Galloway also faces two counts of aggravated assault. At report time, Stetts was held on $200,000 bond, while Galloway was held on $500,000 bond.

Police say that Galloway and the victim, 19-year-old Kendra Adams, dated for approximately four years, but had recently broken up, and that Galloway had been recently harrassing Adams via phone calls and text messages. Police say Stetts recently contacted Adams, asking her to meet at the Mountain Home Walmart to discuss personal issues. After Adams arrived in the store parking lot on Monday, Galloway, who was hiding nearby, pushed Adams into her car and took off. Two good samaritans in the Walmart parking lot who heard Adams yell for help attempted to rescue her from the vehicle, and were injured after the car took off. They were both treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.

A short time later, the car Galloway was driving was pulled over by a police officer, and Galloway was arrested without incident.

Stetts was questioned at a later date, and both men reportedly confessed to their role in the kidnapping attempt.

Hon. Womack (Facebook)

Hon. Shawn Womack (Facebook)

(Little Rock) (AP) – Associate Justice Paul Danielson says he’s not seeking re-election to the Arkansas Supreme Court, while a state judge who served in the Legislature is launching a bid for his seat.

Danielson on Tuesday announced he’s not running for another eight-year term on the court next year, citing a state law that prohibits him from running without forfeiting his retirement benefits. Danielson was first elected to the court in 2006 to a two-year term, and was elected to a full eight year term in 2008.

Danielson announced his retirement the same day Circuit Judge Shawn Womack of Mountain Home announced he was running for the seat on the court. Womack was first elected a judge in 2008, and previously served as a Republican in the state Senate and House.

(Hartville) – A Hartville resident suffered minor injuries early Wednesday morning after the vehicle he was driving hit a cow in the roadway.

49-year-old John Coffman was taken to Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston by private vehicle.

The accident happened at 1:20 AM on Route HH, about 3 miles east of Hartville in Wright County.

(West Plains) – Howell County crews are behind schedule when it comes to road repairs, according to Northern Howell County Commissioner Bill Lovelace, who says that the county is waiting for some drier days before work:

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If you have a road that needs fixed, contact the county commission office at 417-256-3872.

(Jefferson City) – MoDOT has listed the major road projects they’ll be focusing on this spring and summer. Brett Stevens has more:

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(Jefferson City) – Missouri Senators continue to reflect on the past legislative session.

Senate Bill 199 would have created a cause of action for people who have been deprived of certain rights and modified the statute specifying when police officers are justified in using force.

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, says the House and Senate were unable to come up with a compromise bill before session ended:

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Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, says the bill would not have been the final answer:

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Lawmakers will end the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly on Wednesday.