Friday at the Capitol

APRIL 1, 2005 - Posted at 5:07 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Problems surfaced today during a presentation to the Senate Education Committee of a proposal to distribute $60 million in state aid to help districts pay off existing debt.  Senator Jim Argue of Little Rock says he'd rather scrap the entire proposal than cut a deal that would squander taxpayers' money.

-Also, the House approved legislation today that would provide $14 million in tax breaks to broadband Internet providers.  The legislation would give tax breaks to companies that provide the broadband accesses in underserved areas of the state.  Supporters say that incentives are needed to bring Arkansas' Internet connections up to the rest of the country's.

-The House rejected a bill today that would have prohibited smoking in or near state buildings.  Sponsoring Representative Sam Ledbetter said he gets upset everytime he sees state workers standing around outside smoking most of the day and not at their desks doing their jobs.  But when House members who smoked on state Capitol grounds found out the bill would include them it failed 34-45.

-A bill that would prohibit the hiring of relatives of public officials was passed in the House today.  Sponsors said the bill is not meant to point fingers at anyone.  Instead they said it with 51,000 state positions it is possible to work for the state and not work for your relative.  The House voted 73-13 in favor of the legislation.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)