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Arkansas Poll

Arkansans appear ready to back John McCain for president on Nov. 4, according to results of the annual Arkansas Poll released Thursday.

The poll shows McCain with a 51 percent to 36 percent lead over Barack Obama among registered voters. The poll by the University of Arkansas has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Results of the comprehensive survey can be found at the Arkansas Poll Web site.

When asked about Initiated Act 1, which would prohibit unmarried couples living together from adopting or foster parenting children, 55 percent of respondents said they opposed the measure proposed by the conservative Family Council.

Arkansans do seem to like Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s proposal for a state-run lottery to fund college scholarships, with 65 percent of those polled saying they favored Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3.

An overwhelming 56 percent of respondents said the economy was the most important issue facing Arkansans today. Last year, about 29 percent cited the economy as the key issue,

“In our 10 years of polling, no issue has ever been ranked that high,” said Janine Parry, a UA political science professor and director of the Arkansas Poll.

Also, only 27 percent of Arkansans said they approved of the job President Bush is doing. That’s substantially down from the president’s first year in office, when 87 percent approved of his job.

Approval ratings for other politicians were: Gov. Mike Beebe, 74 percent; Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., 54 percent; Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., 56 percent; Rep. Marion Berry, D-Gillett, 50 percent; Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, 57 percent; Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, 52 percent; and Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, 62 percent.

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Group to fight foster parenting policy

A coalition formed to oppose an initiated act to ban unmarried couples living together from adopting or serving as foster parents in Arkansas says it also will fight a state policy banning placement of foster children with “cohabitating adults.”
Members of Arkansas Families First say they will testify in opposition to the policy at a Department of Human Services hearing on Thursday. The group requested the hearing after learning recently that the policy, which was put in place through a directive in 2005, has never been formalized.
“We simply do not have enough foster homes in the state, and by creating blanket policies such as these that arbitrarily disqualify potential foster-care homes, that just simply does more harm to children, and they’ve already been through a lot,” said Jennifer Ferguson, deputy director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
The Family Council, which authored the proposed initiated act on adoption and foster parenting that will appear on the November ballot, plans to testify in support of the DHS policy. Family Council Executive Director Jerry Cox called Arkansas Families First’s request for a hearing “an unnecessary distraction.”
“The Department of Human Services is trying to protect children,” he said. “These groups have stepped in, they have an agenda, and now they’re complicating the process. I think that’s unfortunate for the children of Arkansas.”
Cox said the Family Council will continue to campaign for its initiated act, which would differ from the state policy in that it would ban both adoption and foster parenting by unwed couples, whereas the policy only addresses foster parenting.
The hearing will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the Department of Human Services’ main office in downtown Little Rock.

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