Legislative consultant to take crack at Big River

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers have 18 working days to get information they want about a $1.1 billion steel plant proposed for Osceola that they're being asked to borrow $125 million to help finance.

Republican House Speaker Davy Carter says tens of thousands of dollars are expected to be spent on a consultant to analyze the Big River Steel proposal. GOP Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux said Friday that a consultant has not been chosen.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and state economic officials support the plan and the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System board has voted to invest $60 million in the project.

Carter says it will be difficult not to support the plan - unless "glaring red flags" appear.

The mill promises 2,000 employees during construction and more than 500 when it's operating.

COMPLETE COVERAGEAmendment 82 gives state flexibility to seal super deal (Jan. 21)Legislative consultant to take crack at Big River (Feb. 24)Report urges caution on steel mill project (March 22)Officials discuss $1.1B steel mill project (March 26)Arkansas steel mill proposal gains traction (April 1)Ark. Senate committee weighs steel mill proposal (April 2)Ark. House committee OKs steel mill plan (April 3)Arkansas House approves steel mill funding (April 8)Arkansas Legislature approves steel mill funding (April 16)