Feb 15, 2022 - News

Gov. Hutchinson to create mobility council focused on future transit

Gov. Asa Hutchinson presents his State of the State address in the Arkansas House Chamber.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson presents his State of the State address in the Arkansas House Chamber. Photo: Screenshot

Gov. Asa Hutchinson may well remember this Valentine's Day as the day he declared Arkansas' love for futuristic transportation.

  • And for being interrupted by protestors.

What happened: Hutchinson gave his last State of the State address before a packed House chamber yesterday.

  • Protesters interrupted the final part of his speech as he mentioned his support to increase capacity at the men's prison in Calico Rock.

Why it matters: The State of the State traditionally serves as an opportunity for a governor to celebrate their successes, announce new initiatives and offer words of unity.

Quick take: Some key points from the speech:

1. Transportation ā€” Hutchinson announced the creation of the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility to identify state laws and regulations that create barriers to the development and use of electric and autonomous vehicles, delivery drones and what he called "advanced air mobility."

  • The state's combination of existing transportation companies, lithium deposits needed for batteries, steel production and the recruitment of electric automaker Canoo put it in a position to shape the future of advanced mobility.

2. Law enforcement ā€” Hutchinson will support a one-time payment of $5,000 to every county and city certified law enforcement officer in Arkansas. These payments would cost about $45 million and would come from surplus funds at the end of fiscal 2022.

  • He wants another $10 million in surplus funds to purchase equipment, such as body cameras and body armor, for state law enforcement agencies. There are about $5 million in equipment requests currently outstanding, he said.

3. Prison beds ā€” Hutchinson reiterated his recommendation to spend between $60 million and $100 million from the state's surplus to add nearly 500 beds to the prison in Calico Rock.

Yes, and: As Hutchinson mentioned the number of beds, protesters began chanting "no more cages," disrupting the entire House.

  • For about a minute and a half, the chants continued as protestors were removed.
  • They could still be heard chanting in the hallway outside the House chamber.

What they're saying: "Let me emphasize that this need for a new facility is not a reflection of a change in incarceration policy; it is simply the fact that we have a growing state," Hutchinson said.

What we're watching: There was no additional information about who will serve on the mobility council yesterday.

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