Resolutions don’t get as much scrutiny as bills, but that would be a BIG mistake on Arkansas Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR1.
The Resolution is in support of the creation of a new multi-state quasi-government agency that would have huge powers to control commerce in eastern Arkansas through purchase of facilities, use of condemnation powers, and charging fees and issuing leases for use of facilities. The proposed entity is called the “RegionSmart Development District.” The three states to be involved are Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The district must be approved by Congress and if approved can only be changed by Congress. If adopted RegionSmart will be permanent and its powers will grow as it grabs more and more facilities and charges fees for use.
The lead sponsor of the resolution is Senator Keith Ingram, (D-West Memphis) who is the Democrat Leader in the Arkansas Senate.
The Resolution itself seems harmless until you dig into the powers of RegionSmart in its documents. If you are a farmer or other businessperson in eastern Arkansas or transport goods through eastern Arkansas pay close attention to the powers of this proposed government entity. Here are examples of the powers of RegionSmart Development District if approved:
- Purchasing roads, airports, wharves, docks, harbors, and industrial parks, bridges, tunnels, warehouses, grain elevators, commodity and other storage facilities, sewage disposal plants, passenger transportation facilities, and air, water, rail, motor vehicle and other terminal or parking facilities.
- Constructing its own roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, ports, freight routes and facilities, and terminal facilities.
- Using eminent domain to condemn property it wants.
- Leasing out any of these facilities and structures they choose.
- Charging fees and collecting fees for use of the facilities owned and operated by the RegionSmart Development District.
The power and control of this government district over commerce in eastern Arkansas and commerce traveling through eastern Arkansas would do nothing but grow as it adds more facilities to its list.
We recommend the Arkansas General Assembly vote “NO” on SCR1 and we recommend the cosponsors consider getting their names off this pro big government solution.
In the alternative the General Assembly should stop SCR1 by referring it to interim study for the remainder of the year.
Before such a resolution is seriously considered there needs to be hearings both in Little Rock and in eastern Arkansas. The General Assembly needs to hear from:
- Arkansans who could be affected by having their property condemned.
- Those who would eventually have to pay fees or lease payments to a multi-state quasi-government entity to use its roads and facilities to ship goods;
- Grain elevator operators and farmers who could be affected by the growth of the development district;
- Our congressional delegation and experts who can tell us about the long-term advantage and disadvantage from this kind of district; and
- From Arkansans who are learning to be more and more concerned about big government solutions.
Before any such resolution is approved, the members of the General Assembly need to consider how creating a powerful new quasi-governmental entity conflicts with conservative values of limited government and free enterprise.
We note the proposed compact would have the mayors of Marion, Jonesboro, Blytheville, and West Memphis appoint Arkansas’s members. Why mayors and not county judges and why appointed members instead of having members who are elected officials accountable to voters? Is it because those proposing the creation of the district want to lessen the influence of voters?
Is the best and only way to proceed a big government takeover or would Arkansans be better served by not creating this behemoth?