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Arkansas lawmakers approve changes to scholarships, guns on campus

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published February 25, 2013 at 7:07 a.m. Updated February 25, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.

file-the-arkansas-senate-meets-monday-jan-28-2013

FILE - The Arkansas Senate meets Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.

— Arkansas lawmakers on Monday approved two bills: one that would allow college campuses to decide whether to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns; and another that would change the amounts of the state's lottery-funded college scholarships.

By a 31-4 vote, the Senate approved legislation that would leave it up to governing boards for colleges and universities to decide whether to ban concealed handguns on specific campuses, areas of campus or buildings.

Public college leaders from around the state dropped their objections after the measure was changed to allow the schools to opt out of allowing concealed weapons. A similar provision was already included for private colleges and universities.

Schools that opt out would be required to revisit that decision annually.

The Senate also approved by 31-2 vote a measure that would create a tiered structure of scholarships that starts at $2,000 for freshmen at four-year colleges. The award would then increase by $1,000 each year, maxing out at $5,000 for seniors.

Students who are enrolled full-time at two-year colleges would be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship each year.

The scholarship program currently pays $4,500 per year for university students and $2,250 for community college students.

Both bills now head to Gov. Beebe's desk. Beebe has said he would likely sign the gun measure into law, but he hasn't said what action he plans to take on the lottery bill.

Read more in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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