State Organizations and Structures

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Entry Category: State Organizations and Structures - Starting with A

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 …

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 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 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 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 Game and Fish Commission

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) manages wildlife and natural habitat and sets hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations. It works with public, private, local, state, and federal groups to enhance conservation efforts and educate the public about the importance of healthy wildlife populations and their habitats. AGFC also publishes the bimonthly Arkansas Wildlife magazine, which began as Arkansas Game and Fish in 1967 but changed its name in 1992. The AGFC is overseen by a board of seven governor-appointed commissioners who serve seven-year terms. An ex-officio member is the chairman of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) biology department. Commission meetings usually are held at AGFC headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the third Thursday …

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission State Fish Hatcheries

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission State Fish Hatcheries were built between 1928 and 1940 for spawning and culturing game fish to manage fish populations in natural lakes, rivers, and streams and for stocking lakes built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. A surge of lake construction began in 1944 with the Corps’ Norfork Lake project in Baxter County, followed by the Game and Fish Commission’s 6,700-acre Lake Conway in Faulkner County. More than thirty Game and Fish Commission lakes were constructed in the next forty years. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission now operates four warm-water fish hatcheries, and one cold-water hatchery, which produce millions of fish each year for stocking …

Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS)

The Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS), formerly the Arkansas Geological Commission (AGC), is an agency of the Arkansas state government charged with the investigation of the geology, geologic processes, and geologic resources of the state. It is further charged to encourage the effective management and utilization of the various mineral, fossil-fuel, and water resources with proper consideration of the potential environmental impacts of that activity. The Geological Survey of Arkansas was first established in 1857 with engagement of David Dale Owen as state geologist. He was funded for three years and was only able to publish part of his findings. Owen ultimately published another report in 1860 just a few days before he died. His training in geology was such that …

Arkansas Highway Commission

In the early part of the twentieth century, Arkansas’s roads were not designed for the arrival of the automobile. The state’s roads were rough and dusty in dry weather, and were impassable during the rainy season. There was no statewide authority to plan or direct road construction in Arkansas, so road construction was handled at the local level, with county courts in charge of road planning and construction. Most roads were built to serve specific neighborhoods or even individuals, and a connected statewide system of roads was far from a reality. These issues came to a head in 1913 in the Thirty-ninth Arkansas General Assembly, which created the State Highway Commission by Act 302 in response to these transportation issues. …

Arkansas Insurance Department (AID)

The purpose of the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) is to protect the public interest by the equitable enforcement of the state’s laws and regulations affecting the insurance industry. In addition, the AID seeks to deter and prosecute fraud. The work of the AID was formerly placed by law in the office of the Auditor of the State. The “Insurance Bureau” (as it was originally known) was established in the auditor’s office by Act 106 of 1873, the auditor being charged by the same act (approved on April 25, 1873) with the execution of the laws of the state relating to insurance. Due to the greatly increased volume of work required of the Insurance Bureau, the Arkansas General Assembly of 1917, …

Arkansas Legislative Council

aka: Legislative Council
The Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) is arguably the most powerful committee of the Arkansas General Assembly. The ALC wields considerable power between legislative sessions, and seats on the council remain highly sought after. Accusations have sometimes been made that the council has taken too much power and that it is violating its charter. Act 192 of 1947 created the Arkansas Legislative Council committee to collect data for the legislature to use during the regular biennial session of the General Assembly; modifications to the council were implemented the following session with Act 264 of 1949. The ALC oversees the Bureau of Legislative Research, which provides support services to all members of the legislature. The ALC consists of thirty-six regular members; the …

Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council

The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) was created by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1987 to manage and supervise a grants-and-trust fund for the acquisition, management, and stewardship of state-owned properties. ANCRC focuses upon projects that protect and maintain state-owned buildings, historic sites, natural areas, and outdoor recreation areas. The grants are funded through the state’s real estate transfer tax. Two increases were enacted in the real estate transfer tax to fund the grants—the original increase authorized by Act 729 of 1987 from $1.10 to $2.20 for each $1,000 of the purchase price, and an additional increase authorized by Act 1181 of 1993 to $3.30 for each $1,000 of the purchase price. In addition to funding the ANCRC Grants …

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC)

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) works to conserve the state’s natural diversity and is charged with the responsibilities of 1) establishing and protecting the Arkansas System of Natural Areas; 2) collecting and maintaining information on the rare plant, animal, and high-quality natural communities of Arkansas; and 3) providing data and information regarding the natural diversity of Arkansas. Original legislation in Acts 297 of 1971 and 112 of 1973 spurred the creation of the ANHC. In 1971, Act 297 charged the Arkansas Planning Commission with establishing a system for the preservation of natural areas and with providing for the inventory, acquisition, and protection of such areas. The department developed a plan for meeting these goals, the Arkansas Natural Area Plan, …

Arkansas Securities Department

Securities regulation in the United States started with state laws known as Blue Sky Laws, the first one enacted in Kansas in 1911. Arkansas enacted its first such law in 1913. Administration of that law was initially put under the Insurance Commissioner but almost immediately moved to the Bank Commissioner. Securities regulation remained under the auspices of the Bank Commissioner until the passage of Act 254 of 1959, the Arkansas Securities Act, which still governs securities regulation in the twenty-first century. The act created the position of Securities Commissioner as the head of the Securities Division of the State Bank Department, who reported to the Bank Commissioner. In 1973, the Arkansas General Assembly removed the Securities Division from the Bank …

Arkansas State Capitol Building

The Arkansas Capitol building is the seat of the state’s government, housing its legislature as well as the staffs of six out of Arkansas’s seven constitutional officers. The monumental neo-classical structure gave rise to political controversy during its construction but has generally been praised since its completion in 1915. The current building is the second capitol built in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It replaced the State House (today’s Old State House Museum) erected in the 1830s between Markham Street and the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. During the 1890s, calls were raised for a new capitol, but sentiment and financial considerations, coupled with the lack of a suitable site, effectively blocked the project. By 1899, the …

Arkansas State Library

The Arkansas State Library (ASL) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the state agency charged with the task of administering state and federal funds for Arkansas libraries and their development. The library also offers library services to the public and provides administration and leadership to improve public libraries and library services. The director of the agency has the title of state librarian. The Arkansas State Library was founded by the Arkansas Library Commission. This commission was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1935 through Act 139. However, state funds for operation were not provided until 1937. The ASL became a division in the Arkansas Department of Education through Act 489 in 1979. This transition allowed for the duties of …

Attorney General, Office of

The attorney general, one of the state’s seven constitutional offices, is the state’s top law enforcement officer and consumer advocate. The office of attorney general was not originally a constitutional office but rather was created by Act 1 of 1843, which designated the state’s attorney for its Fifth Judicial District as the attorney general. The first attorney general was Robert W. Johnson. The constitution of 1868 made the post elective, though it required only that the attorney general “perform such duties as are now, or may hereafter, be prescribed by law.” This was reaffirmed in the constitution of 1874. Act 131 of 1911 laid out four general responsibilities of the attorney general’s office: 1) to give opinions to state officers …

Auditor, Office of

The auditor, one of the state’s seven constitutional offices, serves as the general accountant for the State of Arkansas. The auditor oversees the balance sheets of state agencies and disburses funds on behalf of the State, as well as disbursing select federal funds, keeping “all public accounts, books, vouchers, documents, and all papers relating to the contracts of the state and its debts, revenue, and fiscal affairs which are not required by law to be placed in some other office or kept by some other person,” according to the Arkansas Code. The office of auditor has been in existence since Arkansas was made a territory of the United States in 1819, and very little has changed regarding the auditor’s duties …