- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas State Capitol has announced that the building will be closed to the public on weekends except in December for security reasons.

Chris Powell, a spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, said Tuesday that the weekend closures will begin next month. The secretary’s office began closing the building on weekends in July because of construction projects inside.

Martin said that the secretary’s office has determined that the Capitol should continue to be closed on weekends, after the holiday season, to provide enhanced security for legislators and building employees.

“This is a working building,” Powell said. “Due to the circumstances of the world we live in today and out of an abundance of caution, we feel it is the safest measure at this time. It enables us to provide enhanced security for legislators and employees of the building whenever necessary.”

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1m6I0nm ) reports that last year Capitol Police Chief Darrell Hedden raised the possibility of closing the Capitol on weekends and holidays to the public.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that it is his preference that the state Capitol be available to the public for tours and sight-seeing at convenient times, but the building’s management is the responsibility of the secretary of state.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam said that he didn’t realize that the secretary of state’s office was going to close the building on weekends, except for the month of December.

“I’ll have to do some digging and ask questions,” Gillam said.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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