Legislature creates COVID-19 fund to combat virus in Arkansas

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The special session kicked off today and with the House of Representatives having over 100 members and staff.

It’s a little hard to maintain social distancing so they met at the Jack Stephens Center on the UA-Little Rock campus.

There is plenty of space inside the Jack for the house to meet and only one thing was on the agenda.

This is actually the second time since 1908 that the house has not met at the State Capitol since moving from the old one.

As peculiar as it was to see members spaced out, Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd took to the Department of Health guidelines like Governor Hutchinson has asked all of Arkansas.

“I asked numerous times of our public health officials is this overkill is this something that we should just say in the house chamber for and the response was repeatedly know that if you can go to a larger location a larger venue that is what needs to occur,” said Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd.

The matter at hand with House Bill 1001, it creates the COVID-19 fund and will shift over $173 million from the general revenue allotment reserve.

The governor does not have sole control over that  but the Speaker of the House, Senate Pro Temp, and Majority and Minority leaders of both chambers have to approve disbursement of those funds, also anything leftover after June 30 will be sent back to that general revenue allotment fund.

This will allow the Governor to spend where he sees fit with that legislative oversight and the process created allows there to be a quick vote to allow the Governor that ability.

“The legislation on your desk all of our allow the state to move quickly to respond to hospital needs hospital to need more ventilators to nurses and first responders who need more protective mask into the needs of our dedicated state employees on the front line of this fight,’ said Governor Hutchinson.

“I think you’ve all seen that in the world that were in right now and the needs that we have at the state level does need to change if not day by day hour by hour minute by minute so that’s one of the reasons why the structure is proposed again I’d like to think of it,” said Speaker Shepherd.

Also after each expenditure it is reported to the general assembly the remaining balance of the fund, the total amount released to date, and the amount of all previous releases and the purposes of those releases.

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