During the most recent Regular Session our committee rooms were used an average of six hours a day. Committees rooms are where our lawmaking process begins. The rooms are where bills are first considered and publicly debated, where your voice can be heard before a bill makes its way the House Chamber.
Since these rooms are some of the most heavily-used facilities in the Capitol, it is important to all of us to make sure they accessible, functional, and represent the integrity of the historic nature of the Capitol. It is for that reason that a major restoration project is now taking place.
Contractors are now replacing the furniture, carpets, ceilings and audio and visual equipment in rooms 149 and 151. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee for Insurance and Commerce meet in room 149. The House Committee for State Agencies and Governmental Affairs and the House Revenue and Taxation committee meet in room 151.
The majority of the project is being funded by an $824,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Funds from the Bureau of Legislative Research and the House’s operating budget are supplementing the project.
Over the years the original furnishings and woodwork have been replaced with mismatched pieces. Use of these Committee Rooms and adjoining offices has increased exponentially since the 1960s, and has taken a heavy toll on
the fixtures, finishes, and mechanical systems.
The project will include replacement of non-historic
mid-century paneling, finishes, and fixtures with historically appropriate materials and designs. We are also reallocating space and traffic to make these facilities more accessible.
We will be updating the progress on our social media sites. Phase I of the project is expected to be completed by November 2016. House leadership will apply for more funding to renovate Committee Rooms 130 and 138 after the 2017 Regular Session.
Much of the Capitol, including our House Chamber, has undergone extensive restoration projects in recent years. This is a continuation of that effort to ensure this building is one Arkansas can continue to be proud of.