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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, is shown in this file photo. ( Democrat-Gazette file photo / Staton Breidenthal)

The Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, that would force the state Department of Commerce to shut down the Arkansas Economic Development Commission office in China.

Garner proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 84, an appropriation for the Commerce Department for the coming fiscal year.

The commission has operated an office in China since 2008. The agency already plans to trim the office's $285,000 budget to $125,000 in fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, and have an American citizen represent the state in China, Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said.

Garner's proposal failed to clear the Senate's members on the Joint Budget Committee in a 7-13 vote. Fifteen votes were required for approval.

The committee also rejected, by a 9-13 vote, a proposal by Sen. Mark Johnson, R-Little Rock, to bar the Commerce Department from allocating, budgeting or spending any funds from two state economic development funds for any entity connected to the People's Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party.

Johnson's proposal for SB84 wouldn't apply to contracts executed before Thursday or to any company headquartered in the United States.

Metro on 04/10/2020


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