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Arkansas Policy Program Report Focuses on Decreasing Disconnect between Legislature, Citizens

CONWAY, Ark. (April 26, 2018) – Hendrix College student Wes Hance ’19 recently published Creating a “Citizen-Friendly” Arkansas General Assembly: Fusing the Disconnect Between Citizens and their Legislature through the Arkansas Policy Program (APP).

Developed by Hendrix politics professor Dr. Jay Barth with the support of the Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey Professorship, APP builds upon Barth’s ongoing public policy and public opinion research and advocacy work related to Arkansas. Through APP, students and faculty provide nonpartisan, original analyses on key public policy issues in Arkansas through a new undergraduate think tank. 

Hance, a Batesville native, wrote this latest report to provide an analysis of how accessible and approachable the Arkansas General Assembly is for citizens. He examines the level of contact citizens have with their elected officials, the availability of resources, the role of civics education in schools, and progress made through reform efforts in other states.

“Citizen apathy towards state politics has been a growing issue in Arkansas, and it is the duty of the Arkansas General Assembly to help in alleviating this problem,” he said. “The legislature and Bureau of Legislative Research must continue to provide citizens with access to legislators, government resources, and quality civics education.”

The report concludes with suggestions for ways the legislature can become more accessible to the public, with the ultimate goal of creating a climate that fosters a more informed citizenry through increased civic engagement.

“I am excited to see how the report is received by citizens and state legislators,” Hance said. “Citizen-led ballot initiatives and grassroots organizations are becoming increasingly important to passing progressive legislation in Arkansas, and I hope the General Assembly considers the report’s suggestions on ways to encourage citizens to partake in the legislative process.”

Barth offered thanks to Bettina Brownstein, cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Arkansas, for her role in mentoring Hance through the process of developing this report, and offered praise for Hance. 

“Wes has shown deep dedication to civic engagement during his time at Hendrix and this project further exemplifies his belief that the democratic system can be made healthier,” Barth said. “This project shows clearly that no single change will produce a fully ‘citizen-friendly’ state legislature. Instead, a series of changes needs to occur to create that ideal. Still, even small changes can move the state closer towards accessibility and transparency in the lawmaking process.”

For a free PDF file of the latest report or to learn more about APP, email, or download the report here: Citizen_Friendly_Legislature_FINAL

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit