Governor’s Highway Plan Faces Hurdle In Senate Committee

File photo of the Big Rock Interchange in west Little Rock, which was full opened for traffic in July 2015.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan is expected to have widespread support in the Arkansas House and Senate in the special session that starts Thursday. However, can the bill get out of a key Senate committee?

Political observers contend the bill could go to either the Senate Transportation Committee or the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. Talk Business & Politics reports that most likely, it goes to Transportation, where the committee make-up is as follows:

Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs
Sen. Bobby Pierce, D-Sheridan
Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith
Sen. Ronald Caldwell, R-Wynne
Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs
Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana
Sen. Bryan King, R- Green Forest
Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville

Sens. Sample, Caldwell, Hickey and Standridge were floating a more ambitious alternative to Hutchinson’s plan. A cursory survey of those members on Tuesday afternoon indicated that Files and Hendren were solid yes votes, but Caldwell, Hickey and King were all undecided. Five votes are needed to get the bill out of committee although it could be withdrawn, a rarely-used parliamentary move.

Food for thought: The governor did put a few bills near-and-dear to Standridge and Caldwell on the call for the special session. Standridge is the lead champion on the workers compensation bill on the session call, while Caldwell’s district benefits from the expedition of the merging of Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute into East Arkansas Community College.