The Legislative Council's executive subcommittee has authorized the Bureau of Legislative Research to negotiate an architectural and engineering services contract with WER Architects for a proposed, secured walkway connecting the state Capitol building to the Multi-Agency Complex immediately west of the state Capitol, the Legislative Council learned Friday.
In other action, the Legislative Council approved a proposed Arkansas State Library rule governing distribution of scholarship assistance.
The council's action came a day after the council's Administrative Rules Subcommittee voted to refer the proposed rule to the council. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, on Friday asked the council to adopt the proposed rule.
Afterward, Sullivan said between seven and a dozen students seek the scholarship assistance and take courses online at higher education institutions outside the state.
He said he wants to work as co-chairman of the council's Higher Education Subcommittee toward getting the American Library Association to certify a program for librarians at an Arkansas higher education institution, because he is not aware of any programs in Arkansas that are currently certified to the association's standards.
Sullivan is the sponsor of what is now Act 372, which is intended to create a process for challenging books available to children in public and school libraries, as well as an offense for "furnishing a harmful item to a minor" and strikes a defense from state law intended to protect librarians from criminal prosecution under obscenity laws.
Legislative Council Co-Chairman Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, told the council on Friday that its executive subcommittee on Thursday authorized Bureau of Legislative Director Marty Garrity to negotiate an architectural and engineering services contract for up to $394,000 with WER Architects of Little Rock for a proposed, secured walkway connecting the state Capitol building and the Multi-Agency Complex.
Afterward, Garrity said WER Architects is the only company to have submitted a proposal to the bureau in response to a request for qualifications.
Rice said in an interview that state lawmakers are seeking information from the firm to make "a viable decision" on whether to proceed with the proposed, secured walkway between the state Capitol and the Multi-Agency Complex.
He said Secretary of State John Thurston's office "is going to give a report in the future of what they are going to do, because they have to do [an] air [conditioning project], and I think there will be some cost savings if we do it at the same time."
In March, the Legislative Council's executive subcommittee authorized the bureau to issue a request for qualifications from select firms to provide architectural and engineering design services for the proposed project.
In its request for qualifications, the bureau sought a qualified firm to produce studies, plans and specifications and contract administration for the construction of the proposed project from the state Capitol to the building that is commonly known as Big MAC, including all vertical and horizontal access from one building to the other, according to a bureau document about the request for qualifications. "This will include all mechanical, electrical, security and any additional services required by [Bureau of Legislative Research.]"
Security concerns have prompted legislative leaders to consider the proposed project.
Garrity said the proposed, secured walkway between the state Capitol and the Multi-Agency Complex is similar to what is in place in most states.
In 2009, a proposed $1.8 million tunnel that would connect the Capitol and the Multi-Agency Complex was not built after then-Gov. Mike Beebe expressed his opposition to the project.