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Gov. Sanders announces special legislative session

KUAF

Gov. Sanders call a special session

A special session of the Arkansas state legislature has been announced by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The session will begin Monday, Sept. 11. Talk Business and Politics reports one of the proposed bills during this session looks to restrict documents available under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. The governor said Arkansas has some of the most transparent FOIA laws in the country, and the planned reforms will not change that.

“But some are weaponizing FOIA and taking advantage of our laws to hamper state government and enrich themselves," Gov. Sanders said. "They don't care about transparency. They want to waste tax payer dollars, slow down our bold conservative agenda, and frankly, put my family’s lives at stake.”

The governor said a man from Oklahoma was recently arrested and pleaded guilty to threatening to murder her family.

Talk Business obtained a draft version of the bill that shows a plan to exempt records around the planning or provision of security services or travel provided to the Governor, executive branch state agency inter-agency and intra-agency memos or letters, as well as communications and documents reflecting advisory opinions; recommendations; and deliberations around governmental decisions and policies are formulated. The draft legislation also has a “retroactivity clause” that would qualify new exemptions to FOIA for requests dating back to Jan. 1, 2022.

The governor has been the target of FOIA requests regarding her usage of the Arkansas State Police’s plane and state police personnel. Matt Campbell, an attorney from Little Rock, filed numerous requests with the Arkansas State Police about travel expenses and passenger lists, primarily surrounding her trip to Europe in a trade mission. The ASP did not fully comply with those requests, which led to Campbell filing suit.

Representative David Ray of Maumelle is the lead sponsor of the proposed legislation of the FOIA restrictions and will be a guest on Capitol View this weekend. He’ll be joined by Sonny Albrado, editor-in-chief of Arkansas Advocate and a member of the Arkansas FOIA Task Force.

A possible Mount Sequoyah coffee shop

Mount Sequoyah is hoping to open a new commercial coffee shop. The nonprofit Mount Sequoyah Center is currently working on rezoning plans to allow commercial mixed-use development on the grounds. Jessie Masters is Development Review Manager in Fayetteville’s planning division.

"A portion that’s about .14 acres that they intend to use as just a small commercial coffee shop," Masters said. "But they are requesting the Neighborhood Services General Zoning District for that area. So that would allow some limited business within that zoning district.”

That district is intended to be a walkable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood development. The original rezoning plan at Mount Sequoyah was more expansive, but local residents pushed back. The revised plan is scheduled to come before the Fayetteville Planning Commission on Oct. 9.

Attorney General Tim Griffin asks to appeal gender-affirming care decision

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin is asking to appeal a lower court decision which struck down the state’s first-in-the-nation ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge James Moody struck down Arkansas’ law which would have prohibited minors from accessing gender-affirming treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy. After hearing two weeks of arguments, Moody ruled the law was unconstitutional. Griffin is asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case again. In 2021, the same court upheld a lower court injunction blocking the law.

Razorback soccer to open SEC play next week

The No. 7 Razorback soccer team is now 3-2-1 after losing to number nine Clemson 1-nil last night in South Carolina. Arkansas will next open SEC play at Tennessee a week from tonight. The next home match for the Razorbacks is a week from Sunday when they host Grand Canyon in Fayetteville.

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Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large<i>.</i>
Matthew Moore is a reporter and producer for Ozarks at Large.
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