LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A special session to deal with a $353.1 million shortfall in the state budget in the aftermath of the COVID-19 virus has state lawmakers heading to Little Rock Thursday, with one house meeting nearly five miles away from the state Capitol building.
According to a report from content partner Talk Business & Politics, the Arkansas House will be meeting at Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
The arena typically houses the Little Rock Trojans basketball games. But starting at 1 p.m. Thursday, the 100-member state House will be meeting there.
House members will be spread out in the stands and medically screened at the entrance, citing social distancing, a House member told Talk Business & Politics.
The state Senate will be meeting at the Capitol building and Senators will be following social distancing rules as well. According to Talk Business & Politics, there will be a maximum of 20 senators on the floor in assigned seating areas sitting in every other seat, with other senators in the gallery.
Senators can also participate by proxy and electronically, while one senator will be participating remotely.
The proceedings will also be livestreamed, officials said in the proclamation.
The special session will be working on the shortfall issue.
Legislative officials said Tuesday that a plan will call for the state’s $173 million unallocated reserve surplus be transferred to a special COVID-19 fund. The money would then used to cover holes in the budget.
The state of Arkansas has a Revenue Stabilization Act, created in 1945, to deal with budget issues.
The budget is divided into Category "A", "B" and "C", with cuts made automatically if revenues do not match up with expenses. Officials first look at Category "C", then "B", then "A" when cuts are made. However, all three categories face cuts this year, according to Talk Business & Politics.