Lawmakers OK Insurance, Lotto, Prisons Bills

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014 7:14 am  

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has approved the start of keno, a bingo-style game that would have draws every six minutes, which players would track on monitors. The lottery projected it would sell $12.5 million worth of tickets for the monitor games, which would create $3.8 million in revenue for college scholarships.

Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said he planned to meet with lawmakers to explain to them why lottery officials want to start the games.

"It is my job to try and find new sources of revenue. That's what I have to do," Woosley told reporters.

The session also sets the stage for a renewed look at the state's prison system next year, with lawmakers easing but not completely eliminating overcrowding at local jails around the state. The House and Senate approved bills to transfer $6.2 million in state funds to pay for up to 600 additional prison beds. Law enforcement officials from around the state have asked for the additional funding to ease prison overcrowding. Arkansas' inmate population has risen since the state enacted stricter probation and parole policies last year. Many state inmates are being held at county jails as they await state prison beds.

The session marked the first time lawmakers took up substantive legislation in Arkansas' Old State House since 1909. The House used the historic building for the special session due to renovations in its chamber. The Senate met in its usual chamber in the state Capitol.



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