Wednesday At The Capitol

FEBRUARY 9, 2005 - Posted at 5:02 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Here is a summary of some of today's legislative events at the state capitol.

-Two members of the state Highway Commission said today that they aren't getting a good response from legislators on levying a 1.5 percent vehicle tax increase to pay for secondary highway improvements.  Governor Huckabee's plan is for a $1 billion highway construction program.

-A bill that would have required Arkansas governors to tell the public why they decided to grant clemency to convicts failed in the Legislature.  The bill was authored in response to a string of controversial decisions by Governor Huckabee to grant leniency to convicted murderers and other criminals.

-A heavily amended bill passed through the Senate Education Committee that blocks implementation of a 2001 law designed to increase music and art instruction in elementary schools.  The new version requires schools to offer at least 40 minutes of art and 40 minutes of music classes each week taught by a certified teacher.

-The head of the state Correction Department told legislators that he wants nearly $40 million to build a prison to deal with inmates with special medical needs.  Larry Norris said the department needs to improve its facilities for diagnosing inmates who are coming into the system and to address medical and mental health needs.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)