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Judge orders Attorney General to work with Board of Corrections, ARDOT prepares for eclipse

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Attorney general to work with Board of Corrections

Attorney General Tim Griffin has been ordered to work with the Arkansas State Board of Corrections to obtain an outside attorney for representation. This comes after a judge found that Griffin was in clear violation of his official duty to provide legal counsel to the board. Pulaski County circuit judge Tim Fox said in an order filed yesterday that Griffin is acting “in contravention of his statutory duties to represent the state defendants by using his discretion to apparently not invoke the special counsel procedure, he is apparently attempting to deliberately deprive his state clients of any legal representation of any nature or kind.”

Judge Fox also says the board could take Griffin’s “numerous potentially serious ethics violations” of the state’s rules for attorneys to the Arkansas Judiciary’s Committee on Professional Conduct.

Fox has given Griffin 30 days to come to an agreement with the Board of Corrections.

This case is separate — but being heard at the same time — as the case brought by the Board of Corrections against Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Secretary of Corrections Joe Profiri. That case is fundamentally about who has authority over the state’s correctional facilities and whether a pair of laws passed earlier this year that transfer that power from the state board to the governor is constitutional.

Arkansans for Limited Government resubmits their "Arkansas Abortion Amendment"

The ballot question committee Arkansans for Limited Government has resubmitted their proposed constitutional amendment. The popular name for the proposed amendment is now the Arkansas Abortion Amendment. Previously, the committee proposed the popular name “The Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment,” but Attorney General Tim Griffin rejected both the popular name and the ballot title, citing several issues and concerns.

Jim McHugh, treasurer of Arkansans for Limited Government, said in a press release that they are confident that the language in the new proposal addresses all of the Attorney General’s concerns as well as input from healthcare providers.

Arkansas Department of Transportation releases its traffic management plan ahead of eclipse

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has released its traffic management plan ahead of the 2024 eclipse on April 4. Ellen Coulter, the Media Communications Manager for the department, says they are expecting anywhere from hundreds of thousands of visitors to potentially millions of tourists the day of the eclipse.

“We've been talking with other states that have gone through this and other total solar eclipses to see how they have handled the large influx of traffic," Coulter said. "But we are in a kind of new territory here."

The agency has two main elements to its plan to help deal with the influx - traffic reduction and control. They are recommending visitors extend their stay; data shows that up to 80% of tourists left immediately after sunlight returned in the 2017 solar eclipse, but they are prepared to deal with traffic by reducing lane closures and active work zones.

“We are encouraging people to stay a while," Coulter said. "If you can at all help it, please do not leave right with the eclipses over; stay an extra night."

The department predicts that other than interstates, state highways 65 and nine will likely be the most affected.

“We get the sense that a lot of the general public who are not thinking about it everyday like we are they don't even know that an eclipse is happening on April 8," Coulter said. "So right now, it's just getting the word out because the last thing we want is for someone to be driving down the interstate, and it gets pitch black at 1:45 in the afternoon and they don't know what's happening and it's gridlock.”

The solar eclipse is expected to move northeast from Arkansas' southwest corner beginning at 1:46 p.m. and leave the state at 2 p.m. near Pocahontas. The total viewing time is expected to last about four minutes.

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Matthew Moore is a reporter and producer for Ozarks at Large.
Rachell-Sanchez Smith is an associate producer for Ozarks at Large.
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