State & Region

LITTLE ROCK

A retired judge appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to review petitions submitted for a measure limiting medical lawsuit damages said Wednesday that all of the approved signatures could be invalidated, a move that would disqualify the measure from the November ballot.

The campaign behind the proposed constitutional amendment didn’t certify in writing that its paid canvassers had passed a criminal background check, retired Judge J.W. Looney said in a report, adding that the violation could be a "material defect and disallow the counting of all signatures" that had been approved by election officials.

The proposed amendment would allow the Legislature to cap non-economic damages awarded for medical injury against health care providers at a minimum of $250,000.

LITTLE ROCK

Arkansas’ governor and lieutenant governor said Wednesday that legalizing medical marijuana would hurt the state’s efforts to keep and attract businesses, as the two Republicans targeted a pair of ballot measures that they contend would prevent companies from maintaining drug-free workplaces.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin were joined by business leaders as they criticized the competing proposals to allow patients with certain medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation to buy marijuana from dispensaries. Arkansas voters narrowly rejected legalizing medical marijuana four years ago.

"It will not help us in the direction we need to go in Arkansas in terms of increased economic success in this state," Hutchinson, a former head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, said at a news conference at the state Chamber of Commerce.

BRIEFLY ...

• RUSSELLVILLE — A Russellville man has been charged in the shooting death of his wife. Jefferey Ross, 48, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Shantrelle Ross. He is being held in the Pope County jail in lieu of a $750,000 bond. It was not immediately clear if Ross has an attorney. Police say Ross fatally shot his wife in their home on Sept. 22.

Compiled from wire reports