Entry Category: State

Arkansas Legislative Audit

Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA) examines the books and records of state agencies and political subdivisions to report on their financial condition and compliance with law. Established in 1953 by the Arkansas General Assembly, ALA is an agency located within the legislative branch of Arkansas state government, reporting to the forty-four-member Legislative Joint Auditing Committee (LJAC), a legislative committee composed of both senators and state representatives. Originally, ALA was created to audit state agencies and institutions. In 1969, overriding Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s veto, the legislature enacted a law transferring authority to audit counties, municipalities, and school districts from the executive branch to ALA. ALA conducts over 1,000 engagements annually, including audits, special reports, and investigative reports. These engagements examine the state’s …

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 Martin Luther King Jr. Commission

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission was created by Act 1216 of 1993. It is an offshoot of the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission and was established under Governor Bill Clinton by an executive order to promote the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The purpose of the commission is to promote racial harmony, understanding, community service, respect, and goodwill among citizens, and an awareness and appreciation of the civil rights movement; to advocate the principles and the legacy of Dr. King; and to develop, coordinate, and advise the governor and Arkansas General Assembly of ceremonies and activities throughout the state relating to the observance of Dr. King’s holiday. The commission receives funding from state general revenue, …

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 Soybean Promotion Board

Arkansas ranks in the top ten of U.S. states for soybean production. Products made from soybeans can be found in almost every aisle of the supermarket and even in most hardware stores. Soybeans, sometimes called “miracle beans,” deliver essential nutrients and high-quality protein to people and farm animals. The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board was established to support this important industry in the state. Act 259 of the 1971 Arkansas General Assembly established the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board to provide producers in the state with an organization that works to improve the soybean industry. The board consists of nine unpaid soybean producers nominated by various agricultural organizations within Arkansas (including the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Soybean Association, the Agricultural Council …

Arkansas State Capital, Folkloric Relocations of the

There are a few staples of local history and folklore in the state of Arkansas repeated widely throughout numerous different communities. One such oft-repeated phrase is “Hernando de Soto went through here,” which many communities were able to claim more authoritatively before more modern and scientific reconstructions of the route of the de Soto expedition narrowed down the possibilities. Other stories deal with the location of Indian mounds or villages in the area before white settlement, or the presence of noted outlaw Jesse James, or a visit from Civil War guerrilla William Quantrill. Also among the legends presented in many local histories is that any number of towns were almost designated the state capital. Much of the confusion as to …

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 …

Arkansas State Quarter

The Arkansas state quarter was the twenty-fifth of fifty state quarters to be issued by the U.S. Mint under its 50 State Quarters® Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the program in 1997 in order to honor each of the fifty states. Five commemorative state quarters were issued each year for a period of ten years in chronological order according to when each state was admitted to the Union. The Arkansas state quarter, designed by Dortha Scott of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), was issued in October 2003. The design features a diamond flanked by depictions of rice and a mallard duck with a background of trees and a body of water. The release of the Arkansas quarter was …

Arkansas Tartan

Arkansas tartans, symbolic of the state, are unique cloth patterns using the traditional Scottish plaid. The colors signify the state, its settlers, and its resources. Originating in the Scottish highlands, tartans represent clans or communities. Traditionally, men in Scotland wear plaid wool kilts. Military regiments also wear kilts, and tartans are used in nontraditional decorations. The earliest known tartan was made circa AD 300 and was apparently woven by combining dark and light un-dyed wool. Material could be dyed using berries, roots, bark, or even lichen. The organic materials varied by locality, so colors could represent a specific area. After the rebellion of the Jacobite clans in 1745, the British Parliament banned the wearing of tartans in Scotland. The ban, …

Arkansas Waltz

In 1917, the Arkansas General Assembly designated “Arkansas,” a patriotic anthem composed by Eva Ware Barnett, as the state’s first official song. It remained as such until the late 1940s, when a copyright dispute led to the state’s adoption of “The Arkansas Traveler” as the state’s musical symbol. In 1963, the dispute was settled amicably, and “Arkansas” resumed its former place as the state song—a title it would hold until the late 1980s. “Arkansas” was not, however, without its challengers during this second tenure. One challenger managed to garner a degree of legislative recognition: in 1971, the Arkansas State Senate voted to designate “Arkansas Waltz” by Bill Urfer of Heber Springs (Cleburne County) and Cletus “Slim” Jones of Benton (Saline …

Arkansas Waterways Commission

The Arkansas Waterways Commission was established by Act 242 of 1967, and its powers and duties were amended by Act 414 of 1973. It became a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce in 2019. The mission of the Arkansas Waterways Commission is to develop, promote, and protect the commercially navigable waterways of Arkansas for waterborne transportation and to promote economic development to benefit the people of Arkansas. The navigable waterways in Arkansas include the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Red, and Ouachita rivers. The Arkansas Waterways Commission is composed of seven commissioners appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Arkansas Senate. Each commissioner serves a seven-year term. Five of the commissioners represent five navigable stream basin areas …

Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission

The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission is a quasi-judicial agency of the executive branch of Arkansas government, charged with the responsibility of administering the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Law. Amendment No. 26 of the Arkansas Constitution, which was adopted by the people of the state in the general election held on November 8, 1938, created and gave constitutional authority for the organization and operation of the commission. The amendment provides that the Arkansas General Assembly shall have the power to enact laws prescribing the amount of compensation to be paid by employers for injuries to or death of employees; to pay restitution to the spouses and children of the deceased workers; and to provide the means, methods, and forum for adjudicating claims …

Armstrong, David Love

David L. Armstrong was born in Arkansas but had a long and distinguished career in Kentucky law and politics, serving as the commonwealth’s attorney general, mayor of Louisville, and chairman of the Kentucky Public Service Commission. A nationally known prosecuting attorney, he also was part of a delegation of prosecutors that visited the Soviet Union and served as a delegate to a United Nations mission in Austria. David Love Armstrong was born on August 6, 1941, in Hope (Hempstead County), where his maternal grandfather, Thompson Evans, was the railroad express manager and an alderman. The son of Elizabeth Evans Armstrong and Lyman Guy Armstrong, he grew up in Madison, Indiana, where he graduated from Madison High School. He attended Hanover …

Arnold, Bob “Sody”

Bob “Sody” Arnold was a longtime Arkansas state legislator, representing Clark County in the Arkansas General Assembly for almost two decades, a longer tenure than any other Clark County representative. Robert Clark (Bob or “Sody”) Arnold was born on October 6, 1943, in Camden (Ouachita County) to R. Myron Arnold and Glena Deaton Arnold. Arnold grew up in Arkadelphia (Clark County), where he was active in sports, especially in baseball and football. A lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, he took special pride in having been a member of the 1956 Arkansas State Champion Little League baseball team. He was also active in the Boy Scouts, earning the Eagle Scout rank. Nicknamed “Sody Pop” or “Sody” because of his family’s long …

Ashley, Chester

Chester Ashley was prominent in territorial and antebellum Arkansas. He was involved in the dispute over ownership of the site of Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Bowie land claims, and the ill-fated State and Real Estate Banks, as well as being the pre-eminent appellate attorney of the period. He was a member of the powerful Conway-Sevier-Johnson political faction, which controlled state politics until the Civil War. In addition, he was the third Arkansan elected to the U.S. Senate and was probably the wealthiest Arkansan for much of his life because of his land holdings. Chester Ashley was born on June 1, 1791, in Amherst, Massachusetts, to William Ashley and Nancy Pomeroy. Some sources list his birth year as 1790, but …

Ashley, Hubert Carl (Hugh)

Hubert Carl (Hugh) Ashley lived a life revolving around country and western music and public service. He wrote and recorded some of the earliest known recordings of Ozark folk music, was one of radio’s original “Beverly Hill Billies,” and wrote songs for five members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Hugh Ashley was born on September 27, 1915, near Wiley’s Cove (Searcy County). He was the first of four boys born to Hobart Ashley and Lillie Holsted Ashley. Music was a part of Ashley’s life from an early age. At seven, he rode a mule five miles from Sulphur Springs (Searcy County) to Leslie (Searcy County) for his first piano lesson, and at thirteen, he joined his father’s musical …

Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC)

The Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) is an organization that allows county and district elected officials to meet, collaborate, and engage in continuing education. The organization aims to “provide a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district officials through the provisions of general research, public education programs, and conducting seminars for county governments in Arkansas.” The AAC seeks to accomplish these aims by “providing legislative representation, on-site assistance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of their office.” AAC is made up of 1,400 members and is itself a member of the National Association of Counties. AAC membership is made up 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 …

Babbitt, Wayne Hubert

Wayne Hubert Babbitt was a Republican politician who, in 1972, became the only Republican ever to run against John McClellan, Arkansas’s long-serving and powerful U.S. senator. While his candidacy was unsuccessful, Babbitt’s effort represented another step forward in the development of a competitive Republican Party in Arkansas in the latter part of the twentieth century. Wayne H. Babbitt was born on April 21, 1928, in Macedonia, Iowa, to Darwin Merritt Babbitt and Frances Charron Babbitt. He spent most of his childhood in Nebraska. After high school, he served in the U.S. Navy, and upon completing his tour of duty, he returned to Nebraska, spending a year at the University of Omaha (now the University of Nebraska Omaha). Babbitt married Eleanor …

Bacon, Nick Daniel (Nicky)

Nick Daniel Bacon stands as one of three people connected to Arkansas to have received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War. In addition, Bacon served for more than a decade as the director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, championing many programs for Arkansas’s veterans and playing an instrumental part in the erection of a memorial honoring all of Arkansas’s Medal of Honor recipients. Nicky Bacon was born on November 25, 1945, in Caraway (Craighead County), one of eight children. In the early 1950s, his financially struggling family moved to Arizona. Bacon dropped out of high school after the ninth grade to work but was inspired to do something else by his uncle’s tales of World …

Bailey, Bob

aka: Robert Ballard Bailey
Robert Ballard (Bob) Bailey was a prominent early to mid-twentieth-century lawyer and political figure who served two terms in the state Senate and three terms as lieutenant governor. He frequently served as acting governor when the governor was out of state. Bob Bailey was born on August 7, 1889, in Knott County, Kentucky, to John Marshall and Mollie (or Mallie) French Bailey. His father served as a district judge in the Hindman, Kentucky, area. Bailey attended high school in Hindman and acquired his early knowledge of law by accompanying his father to court. He later studied law under his father and attended Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. On May 2, 1909, Bailey …

Bailey, Carl Edward

Carl Edward Bailey, a two-term governor of Arkansas in the 1930s, struggled to modernize state government and to cope with the Great Depression. He led a political faction consisting of state employees, which clashed with a coalition of federal workers over control of patronage. This conflict split the Democratic Party as well as the state into opposing political blocs. Carl Bailey was born on October 8, 1894, in Bernie, Missouri, to William Edward Bailey and Margaret Elmyra McCorkle. His father worked as a logger and hardware salesman. Bailey grew up in Campbell, Missouri, where he graduated from high school. He attended Chillicothe Business College in Missouri but lacked the funds to graduate. He held a series of jobs and read …

Baxter, Elisha

Elisha Baxter, a Unionist leader during the Civil War and a jurist, is best remembered as Arkansas’s last Republican governor during Reconstruction. The attempt to overthrow him became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. Baxter’s victory resulted in the end of Reconstruction and the adoption of the Constitution of 1874. Elisha Baxter was born on September 1, 1827, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, to William Baxter and his second wife, Catherine Lee. She was the mother to five sons and three daughters out of William Baxter’s twenty children. His father had emigrated from Ireland in 1789 and prospered in Rutherford County in western North Carolina, acquiring land and slaves. Baxter received a limited education and sought to better himself by obtaining …

Beebe, Ginger Kay Croom

Ginger Kay Croom Beebe is the wife of Mike Beebe, who was the forty-fifth governor of Arkansas. In 2007, she became the state’s fortieth first lady. Outside of politics, she has been best known for her efforts in adoption, literacy, and removing the stigma from mental illness. Ginger Kay Croom was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 3, 1949. Adopted at the age of four, she was raised in Searcy (White County) by Buell and Virginia Croom. Her adoptive father was an Amoco Oil Company wholesale distributor, and her adoptive mother was a homemaker. She has no photographic record of life before her adoption, stating, “I was born in Little Rock, and then adopted at age 4 by …

Beebe, Mickey Dale (Mike)

A veteran of state government, Mickey Dale (Mike) Beebe was inaugurated as Arkansas’s forty-fifth governor on January 9, 2007. He remained popular with Arkansas’s electorate across his entire eight-year term of service, with support that crossed party lines during a time of polarization in American politics. The steadiness of the Arkansas economy and state finances during the Great Recession, the near total elimination of the state’s sales tax on groceries, and the culmination of the Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee public school lawsuit were the hallmarks of the Beebe governorship, which was often characterized as “pragmatic.” However, Beebe also served as the leader of the state Democratic Party during its historic fall from power. Mike Beebe was …