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Arkansas Governor Issues Executive Orders on Infrastructure, Energy, Audits

by Michael R. Wickline, NWA Democrat-Gazette

December 21, 2021

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday signed an executive order creating a 14-member Governor’s Infrastructure Planning Advisory Committee to recommend the best uses of federal funds under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last month.

It was one of three executive orders issued by the governor Monday.

The infrastructure advisory committee will be chaired by Department of Energy and Environment Secretary Becky Keogh, and include Department of Transportation Director Lorie Tudor and state Game and Fish Commission Director Austin Booth as members.

Hutchinson’s executive order states that the Department of Transportation and Game and Fish Commission are constitutionally independent state agencies, and “[n]othing in this executive order shall be construed as the executive branch mandating actions of those agencies.”

The governor appoints members of the panels that oversee those agencies, the Highway Commission and the Game and Fish Commission.

The Infrastructure Planning Advisory Committee will review the new funds that the state expects to receive under the federal act, identify and prioritize the state’s needs, and recommend how the funds should be invested, Hutchinson said in an interview.

Recommendations from the advisory committee will go to the Legislature for its consideration, he said.

Last month, the White House estimated that Arkansas would receive more than $4 billion in funding for a variety of broad infrastructure sectors over five years under the new federal law.

Arkansas will get nearly $3.6 billion for highway programs, including $278 million to replace and fix bridges based on formula funding, and about $246 million to bolster options for public transportation in Arkansas, according to the White House analysis.

The state also would be able to compete for almost $16 billion devoted to projects with “substantial economic benefits to communities” and funding from a $12.5 billion bridge investment program, based on federal projections.

Arkansas also will get a minimum of $100 million for expanding broadband coverage, and about a third of the state will also qualify for a benefit aimed at helping low-income families pay for Internet access under the new federal law, according to federal estimates.

Arkansas also will receive about $528 million to boost water infrastructure and ensure clean drinking water; $117 million for airport infrastructure; about $54 million for expanding a charging network for electric vehicles; about $23 million to defend against wildfires; and about $16 million to shield against cyberattacks over five years, according to White House estimates.

Read the full article HERE.

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