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Rutledge Applauds Overdue Arkansas Hate Crime Legislation

Rutledge Applauds Overdue Arkansas Hate Crime Legislation

Wed, Aug 19, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement following the announcement of a legislative proposal to make hate crime illegal during the 2021 legislative session.

“It is past time that Arkansas joins the rest of the country and takes an unequivocal stance against hate crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I applaud the members of the General Assembly for taking action on this issue and I will work with any legislator to pass a law that ensures we will not tolerate hate in The Natural State.”

Rutledge has long been a supporter of hate crime legislation in Arkansas, one of only three states which has not adopted such a law. At the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Summer Conference in August 2019, Rutledge again called on the legislature to act and applauded Governor Hutchinson’s efforts asking Arkansas lawmakers to do the same.

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ICYMI | Rutledge Op-Ed: Need for Speed

ICYMI | Rutledge Op-Ed: Need for Speed

Mon, Aug 17, 2020

Need for Speed
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
By: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
August 15, 2020

Arkansas businesses and residents are more reliant than ever on high-speed Internet, particularly given the circumstances we all find ourselves living in with the covid-19 pandemic. From remote learning to working from home to vital telemedicine services, broadband connectivity has never been as important as it is today.

Yet not everyone has access to sufficient high-speed broadband Internet speeds. It's time to change that and make Arkansas first in broadband access.

As our nation seeks to rebuild a bruised and battered economy, it is critical that elected officials from Little Rock to D.C. prioritize the investment into broadband expansion. All Arkansans and Americans should have access to essential high-speed Internet and the tremendous opportunities that it provides. It is time for Congress to commit to expanding broadband Internet nationwide.

According to U.S. News & World Report, 84 percent of American homes subscribe to broadband Internet; however, only 13 percent actually have access to broadband service with speeds greater than 1 gigabit per second. Globally, the United States ranks 11th in the world for broadband speeds.

With the largest economy in the world, we should be first when it comes to keeping our citizens and businesses connected.

The picture in Arkansas is even more grim, I'm afraid. We rank 41st in the nation in terms of broadband access, with just over half of the population having terrestrial broadband coverage. Given the challenges we face, as we continue to work to strengthen our economy as well as our education system, we should be doing everything we can to expand broadband services in the Natural State.

Most recently, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, recognizing the importance of rural broadband for virtual classroom education, announced $10 million in CARES Act funding which will be directed for Wi-Fi access for students across Arkansas. This will provide 20,000 Wi-Fi devices across the state which students can use at home. Even with this tremendous effort, there will still be gaps in providing service if a student lives in an area that doesn't have access to a cellular signal.

Likewise, Governor Hutchinson's "Arkansas Rural Connect" initiative--which seeks to expand high-speed broadband Internet into our state's rural communities by 2022--is another step in the right direction, particularly as rural communities are the ones most frequently left behind on the other side of the "digital divide." As a product of rural Arkansas, I understand firsthand how important it is to invest in the digital infrastructure of our less-populated counties so that they can continue to compete in today's high-speed world.

For this to happen, it will first take a significant commitment from our elected officials. Fortunately, there does seem to be some rare bipartisan consensus in Congress around this issue. House Democrats have introduced an infrastructure package that would fund broadband expansion nationwide. Meanwhile, Republicans are also discussing a legislative effort to expand broadband access.

This is reassuring, as it will take a truly bipartisan effort to ensure all Americans have access to high-speed broadband networks.

A good starting point in Congress would be to fully fund the DATA Act as soon as possible. The DATA Act will help map the areas in our country that face the greatest need for broadband, so we can know precisely where to target deployment efforts. Congress should also look to pass new legislation aimed at strengthening and building out our entire broadband infrastructure while increasing existing aids to expand broadband access.

As Congress works to address this problem, it should do so in a way that preserves the light-touch regulatory environment under which the Internet has grown and evolved since its inception. It is that approach that has enabled our high-speed Internet networks to perform so well under the increased traffic experienced over the past several months.

Broadband Internet is vital to securing our economic recovery, strengthening our education system, improving health care, and expanding employment opportunities. The sooner Congress can commit to passing real solutions to close the digital divide and help make high-speed broadband Internet access a reality for all Arkansas families, the better off we will all be.

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Rutledge Announces Virtual Elder Abuse Conference

Rutledge Announces Virtual Elder Abuse Conference

Wed, Aug 12, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the first virtual Elder Abuse Conference on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The conference was established to address issues faced by providers and loved ones who provide assistance and services to the elderly. The broad range of topics will include caregiver fatigue, financial exploitation, agency roles in protecting elder and endangered adults and communicating with victims who have cognitive impairment. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will offer the keynote address.

“Our conference will provide education to protect our seniors who are vulnerable to financial and physical abuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This virtual platform will safely ensure our law enforcement officers, caregivers, and family members can identify suspected maltreatment and how they should respond.”

“I look forward to joining Attorney General Rutledge and the other conference attendees and sharing some of the lessons we have learned in Kansas and steps we are taking to combat elder abuse in our state,” said Kansas Attorney General Schmidt. “As the population of seniors continues to grow in Kansas, Arkansas and the rest of the country, an increased focus on elder abuse is needed, and I am grateful that Attorney General Rutledge is convening this online conference to further that discussion.”

According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans 60 years and older have experienced some kind of abuse. As many as five million elderly Americans are estimated to be abused each year.

The public is invited as well as law enforcement, medical professionals and providers, attorneys and home care givers to learn to better protect older and developmentally differently-abled adults.

This event was previously scheduled to take place in April, but was rescheduled due to COVID-19.

Interested Arkansans can sign up for this free, CLE and CLEST eligible training at here or call (800) 482-8982 for more information.

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Rutledge Praises Unanimous Decision Overturning Injunction Blocking Dismemberment Abortion Ban

Rutledge Praises Unanimous Decision Overturning Injunction Blocking Dismemberment Abortion Ban

Fri, Aug 7, 2020

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a response following today’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decision vacating the U.S. District Court’s injunction against four Arkansas abortion laws.

“Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I have always advocated for the lives of unborn children and will continue to defend our State’s legal right to protect the unborn. No defenseless baby should ever face the unimaginable and horrifying fate of death by dismemberment.”

The Arkansas General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the four challenged laws in 2017, which Governor Asa Hutchinson then signed into law. These laws—the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act; the Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act; an amendment regarding the disposal of fetal remains; and an amendment addressing the maintenance of fetal remain samples—were preliminarily enjoined by federal district court Judge Kristine Baker. But on an appeal brought by Attorney General Rutledge, the Eighth Circuit unanimously overturned Judge Baker’s injunction.

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Rutledge Issues Statement on the Political Lawsuits Against the NRA

Rutledge Issues Statement on the Political Lawsuits Against the NRA

Thu, Aug 6, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement following the announcement of separate lawsuits filed by attorneys general in New York and the District of Columbia against the National Rifle Association and the NRA Foundation.

“This litigation is nothing more than a political stunt by liberal attorneys general against the NRA to ultimately continue the never-ending assault against our right to bear arms,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As the State’s chief legal officer, I am committed to protecting and preserving our Second Amendment right and will not permit New York politicians to infringe on Arkansans’ constitutional liberties by attempting to dissolve organizations that don’t align with their anti-American agendas. I would welcome the NRA leadership and their corporation with open arms to call the Natural State home because we are a State which still reveres the Constitution."

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Rutledge Announces Convictions of Booneville and Warren Men by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit

Rutledge Announces Convictions of Booneville and Warren Men by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit

Tue, Jul 28, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the convictions of a Booneville man and a Warren man for separate physical abuse charges.

“Arkansans should never be worried about the care their loved ones are receiving in our State’s residential care facilities and Arkansas’s most vulnerable should always be granted the highest quality care,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Any form of abuse against Arkansans residing in a Medicaid funded facility will not be tolerated by my office.”

Quincy Trotter, 21, of Warren, pleaded guilty to battery in the third degree. Trotter was employed as a Resident Care Technician Assistant at the Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center. On December 3, 2019, Trotter struck a client with his closed fist causing physical injury. Pursuant to a negotiated plea, the defendant was sentenced to complete one year of supervised probation, pay a $1,000 fine plus court costs and complete a course in anger management. The case was prosecuted in coordination with the Tenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen.

Carlos Nino, 22, of Booneville, pleaded guilty to battery in the second degree. In July, 2019, Nino was employed at the Booneville Human Development Center in Booneville, Arkansas, as a Resident Care Assistant. While on duty, Nino twisted a resident’s arm causing it to break. He was sentenced to probation for 36 months and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine plus court fees. This case was prosecuted in coordination with the Fifteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Tom Tatum.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

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