The General Assembly finds that:
(1) The goal expressed by Arkansas citizens with the adoption of Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution was the creation of a three-tiered unified court system;
(2) The current structure of limited jurisdiction courts consists of a combination of full-time and part-time district and city courts funded by city and county governments;
(3) Based on availability of local resources, the cumulative effect of the creation and funding of those courts by local governments has been an unequal level of access to and an inequitable distribution of judicial services to communities;
(4) While Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution does not require the state to fund the district court system, there is a state interest in providing a more uniform level of judicial resources to all citizens of the state;
(5) Because the current system of limited jurisdiction courts is not uniform, it is contrary to the interest of the state to merely shift the funding of the system from local government to state government without addressing the structure of the district court system;
(6) A way of addressing the shortage of resources for circuit courts in some areas of the state is the expansion of the jurisdiction of the district court which will shift cases from circuit court to district court and reduce expenses for the state;
(7) A state-funded system should include an analysis by the state that furthers the goal of a unified and equitable system for the delivery of judicial services;
(8) The District Court Resource Assessment Board, created in § 16-17-1001 et seq. , has studied the effectiveness of the state's creation of pilot district courts and found that they are successful in creating a more uniform and equitable judicial system, reducing the number of district and city court judges, maintaining the level of service to the communities served by district and city courts, allowing the shift of cases from circuit to district courts, decreasing the number of conflicts requiring the appointment of special judges, and improving public access to the court system;
(9) The state should continue the incremental creation of state district courts served by full-time judges and designate geographic districts that have sufficient caseloads to justify a full-time judge until the system is implemented and operating statewide on January 1, 2017; and
(10) For purposes of the program, cities and counties should keep one hundred percent (100%) of all their current revenue from fines and costs with the exception of the adjustment from the cost-sharing formula.
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