My visit to the Capital of Arkansas


Kali Cresswell, Copy Editor

     On February 8th I was granted the opportunity to page, someone who runs errands and notes for other people, for Senator Mark Johnson of District 17 at the Arkansas State Capitol. Once there, I was given a tour around the third and fourth floors. There are four paintings named ‘The Four Lunettes’ that symbolize Education, Justice, War, and Religion. The walls were decorated with photographs of the General Assembly over the years. These photos dated all the way back to 1911; which is around the time the new Capital was built. Our original Capital was crippling, and the floors were falling in. Because of this, a new Capital was needed. It was decided that our Capital would be built on the old prison grounds, since a new prison was being built, and the prisoners were in charge of building it. The outside limestone came from Batesville, Arkansas, the marble floors and walls from Vermont, the staircases from Alabama, and the columns from Colorado. The construction was in motion from 1855 to 1915. 

After the tour and learning all of this information, Senator Johnson took me and another page on his own tour. We got to sit in on a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting and watched as bills were being discussed. The atmosphere was very serious, and a lot of good questions were asked. It makes me feel reassured that a lot of consideration is put into these bills before they are approved. Afterwards, he took us to the treasurer’s office, and we got to hold 600,000 dollars. It is held in an old safe that had to be brought in on train tracks, and you can see a boarded up window off where they placed the tracks to get it in. 

After all of this, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Governor Sanders was doing a press conference on the house steps about her new education bill- LEARNS. In this press conference she speaks about her new initiative, which stands for; literacy, empowerment, accountability, readiness, networking, and safety. This bill passed in the Senate Education Committee on February 20th, the full Senate on February 23rd, and will be heard in the House Education Committee on February 28th. Videos of this press conference can be found on Youtube, if you want more information. 

To conclude that exciting day, I was introduced to the Senate, and got to sit in on their meeting. Before technology, pages would pass notes for senators to share information. They would go from the senate to the house of representative and back, and would run errands. Now, phones make everything a lot easier, but I was still able to hand notes off. For the most part, I was focused on each bill that was being discussed and passed. At the end of the meeting, I was introduced to the Lieutenant Governor, Leslie Rutledge, and got to take a picture with her at her desk. Overall, it was a great experience. I really enjoyed speaking to everyone and being a part of something that was much more elaborate than I would have ever thought. I would encourage everyone to visit the Capitol, as well as pay attention to the little things because interacting with everyone is very educational.