Members of the House State Agencies Committee debated the state’s motto and whether or not to live-stream its meetings as two headline-garnering issues took center stage at the capitol.
Rep. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, introduced HB 1005, which would change the state’s nickname from "The Natural State" to "The Land of Opportunity."
Sanders said his bill would be a throwback to a motto started by Gov. Francis Cherry in 1953.
"The ‘Land of Opportunity’ should be the objective measurement of everything we do," Sanders said. "We, as a legislature, are placing down a marker for our citizens, our country and the world. When they look at Arkansas, they will know we are the land of opportunity."
Richard Davies, director of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism department, said his board opposed the change since millions of dollars have been invested in "The Natural State" motto.
"We have more brand equity in the ‘Natural State’ than almost any other state except ‘Virginia is for lovers’ and ‘I love New York,’" Davies said.
"We think it [the motto] has served the state well. We think changing the state back to the ‘Land of Opportunity’ would be a step backwards," he added.
In answering legislators concerns, Sanders said the nickname change would not have any fiscal impact on the state. He did not advocate changing the state license plates or marketing campaigns.
Sanders pulled his bill down for future consideration so that he could submit a fiscal impact statement to prove his point at the committee’s request.
In other legislative business, the House Agriculture and Economic Development Committee and House State Agencies Committee voted to allow for live-streaming of its meetings this session. House Education Committee chair Rep. Eddie Cheatham tells Talk Business that his committee will live-stream its proceedings.
Yesterday, the House Revenue and Tax Committee and House Public Health Committee voted to allow live-streaming. The House Judiciary Committee has yet to consider the matter.