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    Arkansas Business headlines for Jan. 15

    7:56 AM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks mixed on Monday.

    The Dow lifted 19 to close at 13-5-07. The Nasdaq falling eight to 31-17 and a half. The S&P down from that five-year high it hit last week, slipping 1 point to 14-71.

    Among stocks gaining in value yesterday -- shares of Dell, which jumped 13 percent to $12.29.

    This, on word that the computer maker is in talks with buyout firms, and could eventually go private.

    Here in Arkansas, bad news for some USA Drug employees.

    After buying the chain last year, Walgreens sent a letter to workers in USA Drug's corporate office saying that their jobs would be eliminated.

    Walgreens said those USA Drug employees could apply for other jobs within Walgreens' corporate structure, but they wouldn't be able to displace any current Walgreens workers.

    Walgreens bought the USA Drug chain from Pine Bluff native Stephen LaFrance last year. In September, the company said it would close 76 drugstores across LaFrance's seven-state footprint, including 27 USA Drug stores in Arkansas.

    And yesterday was the first day of the 89th General Assembly of the Arkansas Legislature.

    It was a busy day of swearing-in ceremonies, committee assignments -- even a few bills were filed.

    First, Davy Carter of Cabot, officially sworn in as Speaker of the House -- he's the first Republican House speaker since Reconstruction.

    Fellow Republican Michael Lamoureux also sworn in as leader of the Senate.

    Both men urging bipartisanship in their respective speeches.

    They also made some key committee appointments.

    In the House, Carter named James McLean, a Democrat from Batesville, as leader of the Education Committee -- and John Burris, a Republican of Harrison, as chairman of the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

    In all Carter appointed seven Republicans and four Democrats to lead committees.

    And we should note the leaders of another important committee -- the Joint Budget Committee.

    Republican Rep. Duncan Baird of Lowell is the House co-chairman. Democratic Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville is the Senate co-chairman.

    That powerful committee handles appropriations bills and the state Revenue Stabilization Act, which outlines the state's spending priorities.

    Also: Legislators filing the first of many bills to consider this session, including a bill to increase the tax that private timberland owners pay to help the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission.

    Gov. Mike Beebe said he supports the bill, proposed by Republican Sen. Bill Sample of Hot Springs.

    The proposal comes nearly a year after the commission's director resigned over questions about finances and the commission laid off 34 employees.

    And finally -- what to watch today.

    All eyes will be on Gov. Mike Beebe at noon. He'll give his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature.

    Beebe said he isn't planning any major surprises in his address, and that he'll mainly focus on the main priorities of the session -- the budget, Medicaid and tax cuts.

    (Source: Arkansas Business)

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