Arkansas bill seeks regular updates on highways

| 1/7/2009

If an Arkansas state lawmaker gets her way, the state’s transportation department would be required to keep legislators more in the loop on highways.

Rep. Donna Hutchinson, R-Bella Vista, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the session that starts next week. The bill is intended to ensure that the General Assembly has adequate information to make informed decisions on highway funding before each regular session and each fiscal session.

The director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department would be required on an annual basis to provide lawmakers with a detailed list of information on the state’s roads. House and Senate members would be told about the location of the most congested routes, the most dangerous transportation areas and how much the agency spends per person in each of the state’s districts.

The department is directed by the independent state Highway Commission, which is responsible for road construction and upkeep and which has largely nonlegislative sources of funding. The commission gets a portion of its money from fuel sales.

Supporters say the commission is free to spend millions of state and federal highway funds with little legislative oversight.

The bill – HB1012 – can be considered by lawmakers once the session convenes Monday, Jan. 12.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arkansas in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor