Entries - Entry Category: Government and Politics

Abington, William Henry

William Henry (W. H.) Abington, a physician and a Democratic politician, served as a state senator and a state representative in the Arkansas General Assembly from 1923 to 1951. From 1929 to 1931, he was speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives. As a legislator, he supported medically oriented legislation and established the Junior Agricultural School of Central Arkansas (now Arkansas State University–Beebe) in 1927. W. H. Abington was born on January 2, 1870, in Collierville, Tennessee, to the farming family of William T. Abington and Mary Jane Plant Abington. He had an older sister and a younger brother. His family moved to White River (Prairie County) in 1870 but had relocated to Union (White County) by 1880.His brother, Eugene …

Act 38 of 1971

Act 38 of 1971, which reorganized sixty state government agencies into thirteen cabinet-level departments, was the culmination of reform efforts that had begun during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller but were only achieved under Governor Dale Bumpers, who was widely credited with the successful passage of the measure. Bumpers described the act, which was designed to increase the economy and efficiency of state government, as the most vital part of his legislative program. As the first general reorganization of state government in the twentieth century, Act 38 was hailed for simplifying state operations and curbing graft. Prior to Act 38, the governor had little authority to dismiss uncooperative or corrupt agency heads, who served at the pleasure of their …

Act 401 of 1951

aka: Communist Registration Act
Also called the Communist Registration Act, Act 401 was approved in March 1951 during the tenure of the Fifty-eighth Arkansas General Assembly. It was subtitled “An Act to Require Members of Certain Organizations Advocating the Unconstitutional Overthrow of the United States or of the State of Arkansas to Register With the State Police.” Ostensibly directed against members of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and affiliated organizations, Act 401 was passed in the context of the Second Red Scare following World War II. Act 401 did not emerge in a political vacuum, nor was this law unprecedented in Arkansas history. Act 401 was consistent with federal, state, and local legislation against “subversive organizations.” The law joined a long line of federal …

Adair, Benjamin Frank

Benjamin Frank Adair, born a slave in Phillips County, established a legal practice in central Arkansas in the late 1800s and was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. There, he supported the Separate Coach Law of 1891 (a Jim Crow law requiring separate coaches on railway trains for white and black passengers)—the only black legislator to do so. His reputation was later damaged when he engaged in embezzlement and fraud. Benjamin F. Adair was born a slave in 1852 in the Silver Creek Township of Phillips County. His mother, Charlotte, a Virginia-born slave, was owned by Benjamin F. Adair Sr., a white planter and the father of Adair. After the passage of Act 151 of 1859, a law demanding that …

Adams, Samuel

Samuel Adams served as acting governor of Arkansas from April 29, 1844, to November 9, 1844. As president of the state Senate, Adams became governor when Arkansas’s second state governor, Archibald Yell, resigned after being elected to Congress only six months before the end of his term. After his time as acting governor, Adams went on to serve as state treasurer until his retirement. Samuel Adams was born in Halifax County, Virginia, on June 5, 1805, to Sylvester Adams and Fanny (Smith) Adams. When he was a child, his family moved to Humphreys County, Tennessee, where he lived until 1835. Adams was self-taught as there was no formal schooling in this rural area. At the age of nineteen, he married …

Adkins, Homer Martin

Governor Homer Martin Adkins stands as a symbol of many Arkansans’ ambivalence about the growing power of the federal government in the mid-twentieth century and their resistance to attendant changes in the Democratic Party. Adkins’s clout as a factional leader during the 1930s derived from federal spending in the state, and his successes as governor had everything to do with the U.S. government’s massive investment in military facilities, defense production, and state bonds. But Adkins remained a self-described conservative, always ready to support states’ rights, such as when Democratic administrations in Washington DC and federal courts began to more actively support the civil rights of African Americans. Homer Adkins was born on October 15, 1890, near Jacksonville (Pulaski County), the …

Adverse Possession

Cornell Law School defines adverse possession as “a doctrine under which a person in possession of land owned by someone else may acquire valid title to it, so long as certain common law requirements are met, and the adverse possessor is in possession for a sufficient period of time, as defined by a statute of limitations.” Establishing or settling a title to certain real property (generally fixed property like land and buildings) often requires meeting all of certain specific factual requirements. That certainly is the case in Arkansas when the method for settling a title is application of the concept of adverse possession. Adverse possession cases often involve boundary line disputes or encroachments. The list of requirements for establishing title …

Agricultural Adjustment Act

The experimental Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was the cornerstone farm legislation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda and was steered through the U.S. Senate by Joe T. Robinson, Arkansas’s senior senator. In Arkansas, farm landowners reaped subsidy benefits from the measure through decreased cotton production. Arkansas sharecroppers and tenant farmers did not fare as well, bringing about the establishment of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU). Upon taking office in 1933—during the fourth year of the Great Depression, on the heels of the Drought of 1930–1931, and amid the full force of the Dust Bowl—Roosevelt promised “a new deal for the American people” centered on “relief, recovery, and reform.” Counseled by advisors dubbed the “brain trust,” Roosevelt fashioned …

Alexander, William Vollie (Bill), Jr.

William Vollie (Bill) Alexander Jr. represented the state of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993, rising to the post of Chief Deputy House Majority Whip, an important position of chamber leadership. Bill Alexander was born on January 16, 1934, in Memphis, Tennessee, to William V. Alexander Sr. and Spencer (Buck) Alexander. The family moved to Osceola (Mississippi County) soon thereafter. He graduated from Osceola High School in 1951. That same year, he became an Eagle Scout. From 1951 to 1953, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and then moved back to the city of his …

Alford, Boyce

Boyce Alford was a well-respected optometrist who also had a long career in public service. Active at both the local and state levels, the conservative Democrat served in the Arkansas General Assembly for a decade, while holding various local offices for an additional twenty years. D. Boyce Alford was born on November 13, 1923, in Cove (Polk County). His first initial is something of a mystery, as his tombstone reads “Boyce Alford,” and there are apparently no records that reveal his full first name. He was the son of Thomas Franklin Alford, a one-time state commissioner of education, and Ida Womack Alford, also an educator. Boyce Alford grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated from Little Rock Catholic …

Alford, Thomas Dale

Thomas Dale Alford was a prominent Arkansas ophthalmologist, Episcopalian, radio announcer, civic leader, and politician remembered largely as a leader of opposition to federally mandated desegregation during the crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Alford’s role as a leading segregationist came first through his seat on the Little Rock School Board and then as the “Segregation Sticker Candidate” who upset incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Brooks Hays after a notorious ten-day write-in campaign in the 1958 election for the Fifth Congressional District of Arkansas. Dale Alford was born near Murfreesboro (Pike County) on January 28, 1916, the son of T. H. Alford and Ida Womack Alford, both of whom were itinerant school teachers. His father ultimately became …

Allen, Dorathy N. McDonald

Dorathy N. McDonald Allen was the first woman to serve in the Arkansas Senate. She was elected to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Senator Tom Allen, after his death in 1963. She was reelected in 1966 and 1970 without opposition, serving until January 1975. Dorathy McDonald was born in Helena (Phillips County) on March 10, 1910, to Dora and Jack McDonald. Her father was lumberman and sawmill owner, and her mother was a homemaker; she had four siblings. She was educated in public schools and at Sacred Heart Academy in Helena. Her mother died the same year McDonald graduated from high school. Due to the financial state of her family, college became impossible, so she took a business …

Amendment 59

aka: Taxation Amendment
Amendment 59 was an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, ratified by voters overwhelmingly in 1980, that overhauled the system of valuing and taxing private property. It quickly became known for its bewildering complexity—an Arkansas Supreme Court opinion called it “the Godzilla of constitutional amendments”—and for its damaging effect on the financing of public schools. The amendment and its various interpretations had a major role in the long legislative and judicial battles over school reform and tax reform (as with the court cases Jim DuPree v. Alma School District No. 30 and Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee). The valuing of private property, both real and personal, had long been a divisive issue, owing to the property tax’s role …

Amendments 19 and 20

aka: Futrell Amendments
Amendments 19 and 20 to the Arkansas Constitution, which are commonly referred to as the Futrell Amendments, sharply restricted the ability of the legislature to levy taxes, spend the funds, and incur debt. Ratified in the general election in 1934, the amendments went beyond the laws of any other state in limiting the fiscal powers of the legislature and were supposed to guarantee austere and limited government for posterity. The restrictions on borrowing stated in Amendment 20, which required a statewide popular vote before the state could borrow money for public improvements, were loosened in 1986 by Amendment 65, after the Arkansas Supreme Court handed down a strict interpretation that seemed to outlaw what were known as “revenue bonds,” which the …

American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas

aka: ACLU of Arkansas
aka: Arkansas ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas (ACLU of Arkansas) is an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is devoted to protecting the personal liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights as well as later amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The national organization, which like the Arkansas affiliate is nonprofit and nonpartisan, was formed in 1920. The Arkansas affiliate was organized in 1969 and subsequently established its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both organizations lobby the legislative branches of government on civil liberties issues and supply legal counsel to people who believe their freedoms have been violated by some level of government or by individuals or businesses acting under the protection of government. The state organization also …

Ameringer, Freda Hogan

Freda Hogan Ameringer was a journalist, Socialist Party official, and labor activist in Sebastian County; she moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during World War I. Her socialism, like that of most other Arkansas party members, emerged out of the Farmers’ Alliance and the Populist movement. She saw socialism as a fight against corporations, banks, and other concentrations of economic power that undermined the rights of the nation’s working people. Freda Hogan was born on November 17, 1892, in Huntington (Sebastian County) to Dan Hogan, who was one of the founders of the state’s Socialist Party, and Charlotte Yowell Hogan, who suffered from physical debilities. Her childhood home, which included three younger siblings, was a gathering place for socialists, feminists, trade unionists, and …

Anderson, Pernella

Pernella Mae Center Anderson of El Dorado (Union County) was one of Arkansas’s two African-American interviewers for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). She interviewed former slaves between 1936 and 1939. Pernella Center was born on April 12, 1903, in Camden (Ouachita County). She was the youngest of Willis Center and Sallie Washington Center’s ten children. Her father, a carpenter, and her mother, a housewife, were born in Louisiana but moved the family to Arkansas by 1894. Center’s mother died when Center was two years old, and her father remarried two years later. Center married her first husband, Theodore Haynie Jr., around 1920, and the couple had three children. Despite her home responsibilities, she was motivated to further her education and …

Anthony, Beryl Franklin, Jr.

Beryl Franklin Anthony Jr. is a long-time Arkansas public servant and an alumnus of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He served as a U.S. Representative from 1979 to 1993. Beryl Franklin Anthony Jr. was born in El Dorado (Union County) on February 21, 1938, the son of Beryl Franklin Anthony Sr. and Oma Lee Roark Anthony. The Anthonys had founded the Anthony Forest Products Company, with Anthony Sr. as chairman. Anthony attended the Union County public schools; he graduated from El Dorado High School in 1956, and he earned BS and BA degrees from UA in 1961. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. In 1963, he earned a Juris Doctorate from the …

Anthony, Joseph J.

Joseph J. Anthony, a soldier, politician, and Arkansas pioneer, fell victim to one of the most extraordinary and bizarre events in Arkansas political history. He became the only sitting member of the state legislature to be killed during a debate in the Arkansas House of Representatives. J. J. Anthony, born possibly as early as 1780, was a native of Virginia and the son of the Reverend Joseph Anthony, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Jane Ferris. The family moved to middle Tennessee shortly after 1800, and, by 1808, Anthony was living in Smith County. On the eve of the War of 1812, he was appointed a second lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry. After the outbreak of hostilities, he …

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) is a nonprofit policy advocacy organization that was formed by a group of concerned citizens, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, in 1977. The group’s mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential. The idea for a statewide child advocacy organization sprang from conversations between Dr. Bettye Caldwell, at that time the director of the Center of Early Development and Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR); her assistant Don Crary; and Jim Miles, then deputy commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services. The three talked about forming a group …

Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD)

The Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) is an amalgam of various agriculture-related state agencies established as a central office for “creating, publicizing, and sustaining an information network for Arkansas farmers and ranchers,” as well as promoting state agricultural products to the nation and world. Despite being a major agricultural state, Arkansas was one of two states without an agricultural department prior to 2005; the other was Rhode Island. The AAD was created by Act 1978 of 2005, which brought together the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, and the Arkansas State Plant Board—all long-standing agencies that had been operating for decades by that time. The livestock and poultry commission was created by Act 87 of 1963. It is …

Arkansas Anti-Saloon League

The Arkansas Anti-Saloon League was fully established in 1907 in affiliation with the national Anti-Saloon League, which originated as a state organization in Ohio in 1893. The Arkansas Anti-Saloon League protested saloons in Arkansas and was an influence upon prohibition bills in 1915 and 1917 that turned Arkansas into a dry state. Before the creation of the national Anti-Saloon League in 1895, a group of men met in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to create an organization to work to prohibit the sale of alcohol in Arkansas. This group formed the No License Association and elected Colonel George A. Thornburgh as president. The No License Association was recognized by the national Anti-Saloon League in 1899, with W. E. Atkinson elected as …

Arkansas Association for the Deaf

The Arkansas Association of the Deaf (AAD) has provided leadership and advocacy on behalf of deaf and hard-of-hearing Arkansans and members of its association since the late nineteenth century. AAD’s efforts have resulted in passage of state legislation and the implementation of new programs and services that have helped enhance the quality of life of deaf and hard-of-hearing Arkansans. AAD is a volunteer 501(c)(3) organization governed by an executive board comprised of elected officers and trustees. The AAD is one of more than fifty state associations of the deaf that are affiliated with the National Association of the Deaf, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. Originally named the Arkansas Deaf-Mute Association, the AAD was established in 1893 by two …

Arkansas Centennial Commemorative Half Dollars

The United States Mint issued two silver half dollars commemorating the 1936 centennial of Arkansas’s statehood. These coins are currency of the United States authorized by acts of Congress on May 14, 1934, and June 26, 1936. The first coin was issued beginning in 1935 and features the profiles of an Indian chief of 1836 and a young woman of the 1930s, the archetype of Lady Liberty. The second coin, released after the first, features a profile of Senator Joseph T. Robinson. Both coins feature an eagle and an Arkansas flag motif. More than 100,000 coins (including both designs) were minted. On July 27, 1934, Charles Moore, who was serving on the United States Commission of Fine Arts, in a …

Arkansas Colored Auxiliary Council of Defense

President Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. Congress established the Council of National Defense on August 29, 1916, with the purpose of coordinating “industries and resources for the national security and welfare” of the country in the event that the United States became involved in World War I. This national council oversaw investigations of infrastructure, troop movement, supply mobilization, production and distribution of propaganda, organization of civilian population, and the nation’s capability to produce materials, all with the intention of supporting a war effort. To facilitate the national council’s efforts, the whole of the United States had to be broken down into smaller groups to mobilize local communities’ civilian populations. Smaller councils were established at the state and county level, including …

Arkansas Constitutions

aka: Constitutions of Arkansas
State constitutions serve as the foundation for statutory laws, rules and regulations, and government for a state. These documents also serve as historic and cultural indicators of significant events and impacts. In 1836, the state constitutional convention drafted a document to qualify Arkansas for statehood; this first constitution was brief, flexible, general in language, and relatively lenient in terms of power. In 1861, the state needed a new constitution as it left the Union. Very few other substantive changes were made. In 1864, a third constitution was needed to bring Arkansas back into the Union. In 1868, the state adopted its constitution, which endured throughout the Reconstruction Era, with Arkansas being basically an administrative unit of the national government, overseen …

Arkansas Council of Defense

The Arkansas Council of Defense was the governor-appointed group tasked with coordinating propaganda and promoting activities in the state to support the war effort during World War I. Congress created the Council of National Defense in August 1916 to advise the president and other national leaders on how to coordinate the United States’ resources during a time of war. When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, Governor Charles Hillman Brough created the Arkansas Council of Defense and appointed a dozen men to the council; the group would grow to thirty-three, with Ida Frauenthal of Conway (Faulkner County) as the only female member. Adjutant General Lloyd England was elected chairman and director, Major Durand Whipple became …

Arkansas Creed

The germ of the Arkansas Creed was contained in House Concurrent Resolution 2 of 1969, introduced by state representative Roscoe Brown of Jonesboro (Craighead County). The resolution was approved, and the state historian, Dr. John Ferguson, was officially appointed head of the Creed Commission on March 3, 1970. The committee first met on June 10 of that year. It included Ferguson, Maurice Dunn of Hot Springs (Garland County), Dr. Claude Babin of Monticello (Drew County), Education Commissioner Arch Ford, as well as Representative Brown himself. In December, the committee issued rules for a creed-writing contest. They solicited entries of 250 words, editable to eighty words or less. The deadline for submissions was initially February 1 but was later reset to …

Arkansas Department of Aeronautics (ADA)

The Arkansas Department of Aeronautics (ADA) is responsible for regulating aviation in the state of Arkansas as well as encouraging the development of aeronautics-related industries. The Arkansas Department of Aeronautics was created by Act 457 of 1941, which established the agency for a period of twenty-five years, to be headed by a commission consisting of the chairperson of the State Police Commission, the adjutant general of the State of Arkansas, the chairperson of the State Penal Board, the chairperson of the State Highway Commission, and the head of the ADA. The duties, as defined by the act, consisted of providing for the examination, rating, and licensing of airports; adopting rules and regulations for airports and other landing sites; providing for …

Arkansas Department of Career Education (ADCE)

The Arkansas Department of Career Education (ADCE) oversees vocational and technical education in the state. It was established to “create opportunities for strong comprehensive education regardless of the student’s ultimate career choice.” ADCE was originally created as the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education (ADWE) by Act 803 of 1997 to assume responsibility over vocational and technical education in the state. The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) had previously overseen vo-tech education since its inception in 1931. Act 803 of 1997 abolished the State Board of Vocational Education, creating in its place the State Board of Workforce Education and Career Opportunities as well as ADWE, which became responsible for vo-tech education. The new department also assumed control of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services …

Arkansas Department of Community Correction (ADCC)

The Arkansas Department of Community Correction (ADCC) oversees the state’s non-traditional correction programs, such as probation and parole, as well as community correction centers that offer drug/alcohol treatment and vocational programs. ADCC’s mission is “To promote public safety and a crime-free lifestyle by providing cost-effective community-based sanctions, and enforcing state laws and court mandates in the supervision and treatment of adult offenders.” ADCC was originally named the Arkansas Department of Community Punishment, which was created by Acts 548 and 549 of 1993. The act noted that “the ever increasing numbers of offenders in traditional penitentiaries” brought “added fiscal pressures on state government” and thus sought to bring the cost down “through the use of community punishment programs and non-traditional facilities” …

Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC)

The Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) enforces the court-mandated sentences for people convicted of crimes at a variety of prison facilities located in twelve counties across the state. ADC’s central offices are in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The first state penitentiary was built in 1839–40 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) at the site of what is now the Arkansas State Capitol. After legislation passed in 1899 calling for a new seat of government, it was relocated to a fifteen-acre site southwest of the city, explicitly to make room for the new capitol building. This second penitentiary was popularly known as “The Walls.” In 1902, the Cummins State Prison Farm was established in Lincoln County, and land was purchased in 1916 for the …

Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) is administered by the State Board of Education and oversees the 244 public school districts in the state. The ADE assists schools in developing curriculum, accredits schools, approves textbooks used in state public schools, licenses teachers, provides continuing education programs, and much more. In general, the ADE is responsible for all public schools in Arkansas from kindergarten to the twelfth grade, including special education programs, gifted and talented programs, and public charter schools. ADE was created by Act 169 of 1931 (as amended by Act 127 of 1941) as the State Department of Education, with the director being appointed by the State Board of Education. Act 38 of 1971, which reorganized several sectors of …

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM)

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) is the state government’s equivalent of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). ADEM is responsible for disaster preparedness and for responding to natural and manmade disasters throughout the state. Act 321 of 1953 established the State Civil Defense Agency, then located in an office at the Arkansas State Capitol. The act noted the “existing and increasing possibility of the occurrence of disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness resulting from enemy attack” and defined the agency’s mission as “to provide for the common defense and to protect the public peace, health, and safety.” Under the act, the State Civil Defense Agency was responsible for all emergency functions for which the military was not primarily …

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is Arkansas’s regulatory body in the area of environmental protection. It is headquartered in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the state government’s first “green” building. ADEQ operates seventeen field offices throughout the state. ADEQ’s first incarnation was the Arkansas Water Pollution Control Commission, created by Act 472 of 1949. Originally operating under the auspices of the Arkansas Department of Health, the commission was given the power to “administer and enforce all laws relating to the pollution of any waters in the State,” investigate pollution, establish pollution standards, and “prepare a comprehensive program for the elimination or reduction of pollution” in state waters. However, the commission comprised three gubernatorial appointees “representing industry, municipalities, …

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (ADFA)

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (ADFA) oversees the collection of state taxes, the purchasing of equipment for state agencies, programs for state employees, and a variety of other fiscal and administrative duties, such as regulating alcoholic beverages and registering vehicles. The director of the ADFA is the chief fiscal officer of the State of Arkansas. ADFA was created by Act 38 of 1971, which significantly reorganized state government, to encompass the responsibilities of four different state agencies: the Department of Revenue, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Arkansas Racing Commission, and the State Administration Department. The Department of Revenue had been created as the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Revenues by Act 88 of 1925, …

Arkansas Department of Health (ADH)

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) exercises supervision over all matters pertaining to the health of Arkansas’s citizens, from food safety and sanitation to hospitals and medicine. The first state board of health was actually the Little Rock (Pulaski County) board of health, which sprang into action in 1878 in the face of a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans, Louisiana, and fears that refugees could bring the disease into Arkansas; the Little Rock board was turned into the state board by Governor William Read Miller the following year. In 1881, the state legislature created an official state board of health, though it was inactive until 1897, when smallpox appeared in the state. Act 96 of 1913 created a permanent …

Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE)

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) is responsible for the regulation of the state’s public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education. In addition, ADHE oversees a number of financial aid programs. The first attempt to regulate higher education in the state came through the establishment of the Arkansas Committee on Higher Education in 1949, which consisted primarily of state legislators and the leaders of institutions of higher education. The commission’s report to the Arkansas General Assembly in 1951 recommended the creation of a control board to coordinate efforts regulating higher education. Prior to this, state institutions were fairly autonomous, and the legislature exercised oversight primarily through appropriations, which led to institutions competing with each other for state money. …

Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS)

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) is the largest of the state’s agencies. It performs and oversees a variety of services for the citizens of Arkansas, including regulating nursing homes and childcare facilities, operating human development centers for the state’s mentally challenged residents, conducting adoption and foster home programs, and providing mental health services. The ADHS consists of the following divisions: Aging and Adult Services, Behavioral Health Services (which includes the Arkansas State Hospital), Child Care, Child and Family Services, County Operations, Developmental Disabilities Services, Medical Services, Services for the Blind, Volunteerism, and Youth Services. ADHS was created by Act 38 of 1971 as part of an initiative to reorganize state government and services. ADHS was initially dubbed the …

Arkansas Department of Information Systems (ADIS)

The Arkansas Department of Information Systems (ADIS) provides information technology solutions for the state government of Arkansas. It maintains the government’s telecommunication services and ensures connectivity and security among the various state agencies. The forerunner of ADIS was the Arkansas Department of Computer Services (ADCS), created by Act 884 of 1977, which abolished the Administrative Services Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and transferred its duties and responsibilities to the newly created ADCS. The act mandated that ADCS “establish and operate a central data processing system, consisting of such equipment, services, and programs as are necessary therefore, to meet the data processing needs of the respective state agencies.” ADCS was also required to operate a central telephone …

Arkansas Department of Labor (ADL)

The Arkansas Department of Labor (ADL), which arose as part of the Progressive movement in Arkansas, is the agency responsible for enforcing the state’s labor laws. Its mission is “to foster, promote, and develop the health, safety and welfare of the wage earners of Arkansas by providing services and enforcing laws to improve working conditions and enhance their opportunities for safe and profitable employment.” Act 322 of 1913 created the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which was to be headed by a governor-appointed commissioner, whose duty it was to “collect, assort, systematize and present biennial reports to the Governor, statistical details relating to all departments of labor in Arkansas and especially as affecting or bearing upon the commercial, social, education …

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT)

aka: State Parks
aka: Arkansas State Parks
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) manages the state’s fifty-two state parks and promotes the state of Arkansas as a tourist destination for people around the country. The department is composed of three divisions: 1) Arkansas Tourism, which promotes tourism and economic development in the state, 2) Arkansas State Parks, which develops and manages the actual state parks, and 3), Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which promotes keeping Arkansas litter-free. Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park, was established in 1923 after the passage of Act 276, which authorized the commissioner of state lands to accept land donations for state parks and reservations. However, the state did not have an agency overseeing the development of state parks until 1927, …

Arkansas Department of Rural Services (ADRS)

The Arkansas Department of Rural Services (ADRS) was created “to serve as a single point of contact for all organizations and individuals with a desire to enhance the quality of life” for the state’s rural citizens.” To that end, the agency provides grants to facilitate improvements in rural communities, funds research on solutions to problems faced by such communities, and conducts information sharing through a variety of regional forums and the annual Arkansas Rural Development Conference. ADRS was created as the Office of Rural Advocacy (ORA) by Act 302 of 1991, which noted that, until that time, “no state office has been specifically created to promote, harmonize, or assist efforts to address the unique needs, conditions, and strengths of rural …

Arkansas Department of Transportation

The Arkansas Department of Transportation oversees the planning, maintenance, and policing of state roads and highways. Act 302 of 1913 established the State Highway Commission and renamed the Department of State Lands as the Department of State Lands, Highways and Improvements. However, there remained no designated highway system in the state. In 1921, a federal law required states to designate a system of state highways, to be managed by a state highway department. In 1923, a few months following the closure of the Department of State Lands, Highways and Improvements due to the Arkansas General Assembly’s failure to appropriate money for the agency, the governor called a special session of the legislature to deal with the resulting problems, eventually signing …

Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA)

The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) dates back to the post–World War I years and the need to care for Arkansas residents disabled during the war. It underwent transformation broadening its scope during World War II and following the Vietnam War. At present, ADVA operates two homes for disabled veterans, as well as two veterans’ cemeteries, and acts as a liaison for state residents and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The first move by people in the state to care for veterans in a systematized manner was the creation of the Arkansas Confederate Home in 1890, which provided care and services to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows. In 1891, the home secured an appropriation from the Arkansas …

Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS)

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS) is the state agency responsible for providing job-related services to unemployed state residents, such as coordinating training and educational opportunities, processing unemployment insurance claims, and connecting job seekers with employment opportunities in the state. ADWS began life as the Arkansas Employment Security Division of the Arkansas Department of Labor (ADL). This division was created by Act 391 of 1941, in the wake of New Deal legislation such as the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Federal Unemployment Tax Act of 1939, which created a national system of unemployment benefits and encouraged states to do likewise. Act 391, noting that “economic insecurity due to unemployment is a serious menace to the health, morals, …

Arkansas Ethics Commission

The Arkansas Ethics Commission is the appointed body that oversees the implementation and application of Arkansas’s governmental ethics laws. It was created by an initiated act in 1990, and its authority has been altered since that time by a series of laws and constitutional amendments. During the legislative sessions of the 1980s, including a particularly rancorous 1988 special session, Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial administration put forward bills requiring lobbyists to register, disclose interactions with elected officials, and limit the size of their gifts. These efforts to bring Arkansas’s ethics laws into the national mainstream were continually thwarted by an Arkansas General Assembly accustomed to a political culture in which cozy relationships between lobbyists and decision-makers had existed for years. Taking advantage …

Arkansas Fair Housing Commission

The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission was created by Act 1785 of 2001 (as amended in 2003) of the Arkansas General Assembly to provide statewide enforcement of fair housing and fair lending laws. The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission is an enforcement agency that constitutes Arkansas’s sole civil rights regulatory authority. The commission is headed by an executive director and thirteen commissioners who are appointed statewide. The commission regulates unfair practices in real estate–related transactions based on disability, familial status (presence of children under eighteen and pregnant women), religion, sex, race, color, and national origin. As a quasi-judicial agency, with powers akin to a court, the commission may resolve issues through an administrative hearing and may order relief to include damages, attorney …

Arkansas Forestry Commission

The Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) was established by Act 234 of 1931 and amended by Act 48 of 1939. Its initial responsibilities included fire control, education in fire safety, and forest management. Its activities have expanded to include oversight of rural and volunteer fire departments, disaster response, assistance with private land management, tree seedling nurseries and genetics, educational programs for the Arkansas public schools, urban forestry, and participation in events such as Arbor Day and Earth Day throughout the state. As of 2011, the Arkansas Forestry Commission has nine district offices statewide and smaller offices in almost every county in Arkansas. With the passage of Act 1978 of 2005, the Arkansas Forestry Commission was combined with the Arkansas State Plant …

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act

aka: Freedom of Information Act
aka: FOIA
The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), signed into law by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller on February 14, 1967, is generally considered one of the strongest and best models for open government by investigative reporters and others who research public records for various purposes. The intent of the FOIA is to keep government business and government records open and accessible to the people of Arkansas. The Arkansas FOIA has been called “the people’s law” in that it provides the citizens of Arkansas open access to the conduct of the public’s business at every level of government, as well as ready access to public records on file with a host of custodians for those records in county courthouses, city halls, public schools, …