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Arkansas Governor Calls for Special Session Starting May 26
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 6:55 AM

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Monday he was calling lawmakers back to the Capitol later this month to consider incentives aimed at luring a defense contract to the state that could create nearly 600 new jobs.

The Republican governor announced he was calling a special session starting May 26 to consider issuing "super-project" economic development bonds to help Lockheed Martin at its Camden facility. The Maryland-based company is competing for a contract to manufacture a new joint light tactical vehicle for the army and the marines to replace the Humvee.

Hutchinson said he would ask the Legislature to approve issuing bonds under a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2010 to help the state lure projects that invest more than $500 million and employ more than 500 people. Hutchinson said he would have more details later on the amount of bonds he'll ask the Legislature to approve.

If Lockheed gets the contract, Hutchinson said, it would mark the first time Arkansas would have a vehicle assembly plant. Lockheed Martin confirmed it planned to conduct final assembly of the vehicles at the Camden facility.

Arkansas Credit Union Association President Reta Kahley said, "If this legislation comes to pass, it could be very exciting for River Valley Community FCU in Camden. They have a community charter, and the potential for new members and expanded services could be a golden opportunity for them."

Hutchinson said he also was considering including other items on the session's agenda, including a renewed push to move the state's presidential primary from May to March next year and an effort to reorganize some state agencies.

This will be the first special session Hutchinson has called since taking office in January. He has already said another special session is likely later this year to take up the recommendations of a task force looking at alternatives for covering the more than 200,000 people on the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion. The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in February for an abbreviated session focused primarily on the state's budget.