LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday he plans to call state legislators back to the Capitol later this month for a special session to consider a bond issue for a potential "superproject" in southern Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday he plans to call state legislators back to the Capitol later this month for a special session to consider a bond issue for a potential "superproject" in southern Arkansas.


Lawmakers may also be asked to consider approving government-efficiency measures and changing the date of Arkansas’ primary elections during the special session, which will begin May 26, Hutchinson said during a meeting of the Political Animals Club at the Governor’s Mansion.


The governor said the Lockheed Martin facility in Camden is in the running for a contract to assemble 55,000 joint readiness training vehicles for the Army and the Marine Corps.


"If Lockheed Martin wins the contract, then that mission of national security will take place in the state of Arkansas," he said.


The project would create nearly 600 new jobs and allow more than 500 existing jobs to be retained, Hutchinson said.


Amendment 82 to the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in 2004, allows the state to issue bonds to finance infrastructure and other needs to attract large projects to the state. The Legislature’s first use of the amendment was in the 2013 regular session, when it approved $125 million in bonds for Big River Steel’s construction of a $1.3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County.


Hutchinson said Monday he was not able to bring up the military vehicle project during this year’s regular session, which officially ended April 22.


"We’ve known about this project for some time, but because of the sensitivity of the federal contracting system, we did not make the announcement, we were not able to do it during the regular session, and so we had to wait until the competition and the bids were in," he said. "Now that the bids are in and being considered, we need to follow up with a special session to approve the Amendment 82 support for the project in the Highland Industrial Park."


Talking to reporters later, Hutchinson said he would propose a bond initiative for the project but said he was waiting on the completion of an independent analysis before discussing details. He said he expected to release the details of his proposal about a week before the start of the special session.


Hutchinson said he expected to issue a formal call for the session about a week in advance and expected the work of the session to be completed within one week.


The governor also told reporters he may add unspecified efficiency measures and a proposal to change the date of the state’s primary elections to his call for the special session.


During this year’s session, Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, filed a bill to move the presidential primary election in Arkansas from the third Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday in March. The bill passed in the Senate but died in a House committee.


A number of Southern states are moving their presidential primaries to March for what has become known as the "SEC primary," in an effort to increase their impact on the results.


"Since we’re going to have to come back for this Amendment 82 project, we’ll consider whether there’s a consensus around some efficiency issues as well as look at the primary issue. We’re going to make a final decision down the road," Hutchinson said Monday.


House Speaker Jonathan Gillam, R-Judsonia, and Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, both said Monday they expected widespread support from legislators for the special session and for a bond issue for the Lockheed Martin project.


They said they did not know how much support there would be for moving the primary elections but said interest may be higher now than during the regular session.


"It did come at the tail end of the session, and so I think a lot of them just at that point had their focus on other things. I think some of them now maybe have looked at it a little but more," Gillam said.


Dismang said Stubbelfield’s bill would have moved only the presidential primary elections to March, which he said would have cost the state an additional $1.6 million. Lawmakers are talking now about moving all of the state’s primary elections to March to avoid any extra expense, he said.