What Arkansas Accomplished In Its Special Session
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed into law all bills passed during the special session, including measures to authorize a bond issue for an economic-development project in southern Arkansas and move the state primary elections to March.
The three-day session ended Thursday. In a bill-signing ceremony at the Capitol on Friday, Hutchinson said he applauded legislators for “passing all the key pieces of legislation in a very timely fashion with thorough debate.”
The bills Hutchinson signed included Senate Bill 6 by Sen. Bobby Pierce, D-Sheridan, and House Bill 1003 by Rep. Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, matching bills authorizing an $87.1 million bond issue to help Lockheed Martin compete for a contract to assemble 55,000 military vehicles at a facility near Camden.
The project is expected to create 589 new jobs and allow Lockheed Martin to retain 556 existing jobs, if the Defense Department awards the contract to the company. Oshkosh in Wisconsin and AM General in Indiana also are finalists for the contract.
“I think it’s wise to make sure that the public understands that we would not even have a chance if the Legislature had not convened and taken these steps to provide competitive pricing,” Hutchinson said. “We wouldn’t even be in the ballgame. Now we’re in the ballgame in a very competitive way.”
The Defense Department is expected to award the contract to assemble joint light tactical vehicles, or JLTVs, this summer.
The governor also signed SB 8 by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, which moves the state’s primary and nonpartisan judicial elections from May 20 to March 1 for the 2016 election cycle only. Wrangling over the bill dominated the special session.
The measure is aimed at making Arkansas part of an anticipated super primary for Southern states, nicknamed the “SEC primary,” a reference to the Southeastern Conference in college athletics.