Managing Partner Shep Russell was invited to participate in the 83rd Arkansas Municipal League Convention last week (June 16) in Little Rock. He was part of a panel discussion on recent legislation passed during the 2017 session to promote local economic development projects. The panel included Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse, Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren and Arkansas Municipal League lobbyist Mark Hayes.
According to Talk Business, much of the discussion centered around Amendment 97 (Issue 3), the 2016 ballot item that removed the cap on a number of bonds the state can issue to help finance economic development projects and services. Hendren was one of the key sponsors of Act 685, which promulgated the rules for Issue 3 that are now part of state law.
Issue 3, which was approved by voters in the November 2016 election, removes a 5% cap on State general obligation bonds for large industrial projects, broadens the definition of economic development projects that can be financed with city and county bonds, authorizes service contracts with economic developers, and authorizes the granting of financial aid by cities and counties for certain types of economic development projects.
Shep, who is also a municipal bond lawyer at the firm, spoke to city leaders on how these changes in the law would change the way cities prepare for economic projects.
More than 1,300 mayors, aldermen and other city and town leaders from across the state registered to attend the annual convention. The Arkansas Municipal League, a service and advocacy organization, offers programs and services to all 500 cities and towns in the state.