House State Agencies

September 30, 2021


Tosh [00:00:00] Order. Committee members, what business we’re going to take up this morning is that there has been a new bill filed and we’re going to let the sponsor of that bill– this is a bill that the sponsor has from our meetings yesterday. She’s had some legislators and different ones on this committee reach out to her and have some input into it. We are, you know, we’re going to stick with the process that I laid out yesterday. But as part of that process, you know, things are always changing and moving. So I think it’s only fair to the body, especially this committee, that we hear this new bill. And then it’s my understanding that also some of you on this committee have reached out as the bill that was number– came out with the most points yesterday, which was, I believe, House Bill 17– 1971, that you’ve made some suggestions to the sponsor of that bill, which we talked about in committee yesterday would be OK to do that because the goal of this committee is to send out the very best bill we can and if it means adding an amendment to do that. So what we’ll do this morning, as I go back over this again, is we’re going to hear this new bill that Representative Speaks has filed. We will not be doing a vote on it. We’ll come back at 2:00 today. I think Representative Speaks at that time will have the amendments to her original bill of 1971 and then we’ll have discussion at that time by the committee as to how you want to move forward. So any questions at this point? Representative Beck, question. 


Beck [00:01:53] Just for, to the clear things up a bit. So when we come back at 2:00, are we going to revote on all the bills again? 


Tosh [00:02:00] No, not– no, we are not. 


Beck [00:02:03] So would that be– isn’t it a bit unfair because now we’re going to be comparing another bill and the other bills that might have gotten different consideration had this bill been in the mix or something? It seems like we’re kind of– it almost seems like we’re going backwards at this where we’re saying, OK, this is the best bill that we want. OK, so now here’s another bill, but it’s not going to be compared to the, to the previous bills that we looked at, so.


Tosh [00:02:30] Here’s what I’m saying, and I appreciate those comments. But what I’m saying is, is this bill from the suggestion of different committee members and different ones, this bill has been drafted. We’re not going to vote on it, but I do want the committee to hear it. I think it’s only fair, Representative Beck, that every member of this committee hears that in fairness. And then if it is the will of the committee to want to move forward with that bill, then that’s obviously something this committee would consider. But I wanted you to hear it and then that decision will be made. If not, we’ll go back to our original plan that I laid out yesterday of how we voted on those. We came up with the three, and I think there is a slight amendment to that bill. And when the sponsor brings that back in today with those amendments, it’ll be up to this committee to either approve and vote those amendments out or go back and vote the original bill out. Any other questions from committee members? If not, Representative Speaks, you’re recognized to present House Bill 1976. 


Speaks [00:03:48] Thank you, Mr. Chair. The bill I have here with you today, 1976, some of us met together last night with the senator, some of the senators. And they wanted to put Pope into the 2nd District. So as you will see with this map, it has Pope in it. We also had some wanted Madison put into the– that’s the 3rd district. So in order to make all of our figures come out, which are going to have to do, then it was– it came out of Pulaski County. Now the part of Pulaski County that we took out was– had to do with Sherwood and North Little Rock. So all of them are out of this bill, out of this one in the bill. I’ll take any questions. 


Tosh [00:04:49] Representative Love, you’re recognized for a question. 


Love [00:04:52] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Now, Mrs. Speaks, help me understand. So initially, you just had College Station and Wrightsville. And so now we have College Station, Wrightsville, North Little Rock, Sherwood. Is Jacksonville in this? 


Speaks [00:05:11] Let’s see. 


Love [00:05:12] And within– are– that you’re putting in the 4th Congressional? 


Speaks [00:05:16] I’m not really sure about Jacksonville. Someone that was in there last night, there was so much going on. I’m not sure. 


Tosh [00:05:29] Can you answer that question? 


Dotson [00:05:34] Yes, Mr. Chair. 


Tosh [00:05:35] You’re recognized to answer the question for the sponsor. 


Dotson [00:05:37] Thank you. Jacksonville is in the 4th in this map. Jacksonville, Sherwood. North Little Rock is in the 2nd. And Little Rock is in the 2nd– stays in the 2nd.


Tosh [00:05:51] Thank you for answering the question, Rep. Dotson. Did you have a follow up, Representative Love? 


Love [00:05:57] OK, so is, is College Station and Wrightsville still going to be in the 4th? 


Speaks [00:06:02] Yes. Yes, sir. 


Love [00:06:07] OK. All right. Thank you. 


Tosh [00:06:14] Further questions from committee? Representative Meeks, you’re recognized for a question. 


Meeks [00:06:19] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative, I know that you’ve been in discussions with the Senate. And, you know, the Senate has their things that they would like to see, which are incorporated in this map. But in your discussions, the one concern that I have on the 3rd District is right now, the population deviation puts it up 10,000 above kind of the standard we’re after. And as we know, that area is growing. Was there any concern about the growth of that area and how it would continue to skew that number more and more into the future? 


Speaks [00:06:55] We did talk about that and I think it stays under the 2, 2 percent. And so that’s why it was left in there. 


Meeks [00:07:07] OK. 


Tosh [00:07:15] Further questions from committee members? 


Speaks [00:07:20] Thank you, Mr. Chair. 


Tosh [00:07:22] OK, thank you, Representative Speaks. Anyone here to speak for or against the bill? Seeing none, Representative Speaks, you’re closed with the bill? Appreciate you bringing the bill. All right, committee members, here’s, here’s what we’re going to do. And let me restate what we’re going to. Let me make my statement first, and then if you still have a question, I’ll be glad to try to answer it. We’re going to meet back at 2:00. And, you know, yesterday we passed out and Representative Speaks’ bill was– got the most points. Like I said earlier, restating what I said earlier, I think a few of you on the committee did ask her to make a couple of changes, and I think my vice chair even brought that up yesterday if there was a bill that we liked but we felt like we could tweak it a little bit, then that should be the goal of this committee, to send out the very best bill we can and obviously we were open to those amendments. But also obviously, as this committee, it has to be their will to come back and vote that amendment out. And if you choose not to vote the amendment out, then we would go back to the original bill, the one that got the most votes yesterday. And it would come up for a vote and then that would be at the will of the committee. So with that stated, I just wanted you to kind of have a, hopefully an understanding of what you could expect and how this was going to go. But again, I emphasize that I plan to stick with our original plan as to how we were going to handle these bills and not deviate from that. So with that said, did somebody on the committee have a question? Representative Love. 


Love [00:09:09] Mr. Chairman, I do have a statement. And I will say I’m kind of in agreement with Representative Beck now. And the reason, the reason being is because I did score this original bill– I think I did score it higher. And if the bill would have looked like this, I would have scored it lower. Because I’m not, I’m not for dicing up Pulaski County. And so I am in agreement with Representative Beck because this does kind of change my, my perspective of what the bill, what I would have– 


Tosh [00:09:43] I think Rep. Love, not to cut you off, but I think there’s a little bit of confusion here. The bill that you just heard is a brand new bill. I just wanted that presented to the committee. 


Love [00:09:53] Oh, okay. 


Tosh [00:09:53] What we’re going to come back and hear at 2:00 is the bill that you voted on it at, at yesterday. The only change in that bill will be, I think the sponsor has one amendment to it that was at the suggestion of some of the committee members. The only way I wanted this bill presented in the event that it was the appetite of this committee that they wanted to pursue this bill, then if somebody could make a motion and then this bill would move forward from that committee. 


Love [00:10:20] Gotcha. OK. 


Tosh [00:10:20] But I felt like it was only fair to the committee to have it presented. Did that help clear it up for you?


Love [00:10:25] Yeah. That cleared it up.Thank you, sir. 


[00:10:26] Ok. Thank you. Any further questions from committee members? Anything else? We are in– we are in recess until 2:00, committee members. Thank you. 


Speaker 6 [00:10:40] [Recess]


Tosh [03:13:20] Committee members,  if you would, let’s go ahead. And I believe everybody is taking a seat. Let’s go ahead and get started. The chair sees a quorum. Hold on a minute. OK, I just remembered that we are returning from this morning’s meeting, so we’ve reconvened. You should have in front of you, before we move forward, you should have one amendment. I want you to make sure– I know there was another one that was inadvertently handed out, but this is the one that we’ll be dealing with today. And at the very bottom to make sure you have the right amendment. In the far left– or in the left hand corner on the bottom, it should have MLD 406. That should be the amendment that you have. If you’ve got something different, then let me know and I’ll have staff to get you the correct version of the amendment. OK. I believe we’re OK with that. We have an amendment, committee members, to House Bill 1971. As you know, we’ve had discussions about the possibility of an amendment from input from some on the committee that liked House Bill 1971 but wanted to see maybe just some minor changes in it. Representative Speaks has listened to the members of the committee and she’s made those changes. And it’s my understanding at this time now that she’s ready to present that amendment. Rep. Speaks, if you’d just have a seat there at the end of the table. 


Speaks [03:15:02] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 


Tosh [03:15:03] You’re recognized– you’re recognized to present your amendment. 


Speaks [03:15:06] Thank you, Mr. Chair. I bring to you a two– it’s an amendment with two different amendments on it. What we’ve done, what I’ve done, I took Madison County and I put it back into the 3rd District. And the only other thing we done was take a little bit out of Pulaski County, leaving the cities whole, and moving that down into the 4th District to help with moving that other out. There is no split counties except that one. Everything’s in whole. So I really appreciate a good– some support for it. And if there’s any questions. 


Tosh [03:15:54] Okay, you’ve heard the presentation on the amendment from Rep. Speaks. Are there any questions from committee members? Representative McCollum, you’re recognized for a question. 


McCollum [03:16:05] Thank you. And thank you for showing this to the committee today. And on the Madison going into the 3rd on this amendment, you know, I know that we heard a lot from a lot of different members on why that might be a good idea. And is it true that one of the reasons we thought this could be a good idea is specifically because of the Washington County Judicial Circuit, keeping that whole and not split between more than one congressional district? 


Speaks [03:16:31] That is correct, and it fits better up there than it did down in the 4th. 


McCollum [03:16:36] Thank you. 


Tosh [03:16:38] Representative Wardlaw. You’re recognized. 


Wardlaw [03:16:43] I’ve got a couple of questions for the chair. First question is, if we adopt this amendment now, does that, does that mean it goes to engrossment before we will take final action on it at a later date? 


Tosh [03:16:56] That’s exactly right. 


Wardlaw [03:16:57] So, Mr. Chair, when we met yesterday, we ranked a number of bills. And this committee voted pretty overwhelmingly for a, a certain bill. Representative Speaks is the sponsor of that bill. If those members that voted for that ranking feel strongly that map should stay the same, they would– they should vote no now, correct? 


Tosh [03:17:21] That’s correct. The bill that they voted on yesterday did not have this amendment. I would recommend to the committee that if they feel strongly about not adopting this amendment because of their vote on the original bill, then they need to be– they need to vote no on this amendment. But if they realize these are minor changes and are comfortable with them, then they need to vote yes. I would also add to that, representative, that any of the rankings, the three that finished in the top three, if any of them– sponsors of those bills– feel like they have an amendment they would like to bring before this committee, obviously that committee would entertain and obviously openly receive those amendments for the will of this committee to decide. 


Wardlaw [03:18:00] Mr. Chair, thank you. And thank you for laying it out for the committee to understand. 


Tosh [03:18:04] Thank you for the question. Any further questions from committee members? No one is signed up– you– hold on. No one is signed up to speak– no one is signed up to speak for or against the bill. 


Speaks [03:18:24] So I make– do I make a motion that we adopt the–


Tosh [03:18:28] Seeing no further questions from committee members, Representatives Speaks, do you make a motion for a do pass on the amendment? 


Speaks [03:18:34] I do. I ask that we have a do pass on this amendment. 


Tosh [03:18:38] We have a motion of do pass from Representative Speaks on the amendment to adopt the amendment. Is there any discussion on the motion of a do pass? Representative Love, you’re recognized for discussion on the motion. 


Love [03:18:52] Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I will, I’ll be voting no on this map. And it’s because I truly believe that we can, we can do better and not split counties up. I just feel strongly, especially that Pulaski County is my home county. I just feel that we don’t– it’s not necessary for us to split any counties up. But I appreciate the work that Nelda– Representative Speaks did on the map. But I will be voting no. Thank you. 


Tosh [03:19:24] Thank you, Representative Love. Any further discussion on the motion of a do pass? Seeing no further motions, I believe I’ve already said no one signed up to speak for or against the bill. What’s the will of the committee? We have a do pass. All in favor say aye. All opposed say no. The ayes have it. Congratulations. Your bill has been amended. Amended as adopted. 


Speaks [03:19:51] Thank you, Mr. Chair. 


Tosh [03:20:00] Committee members, that takes care of today’s business. We have adopted the amendment. We will now let the bill– we’re just going to leave it where it’s at at this time for the public to view it in the case in the event there’s any public comments on it. I think that’s only fair. We will take this measure up again tomorrow. It’ll be at the call of the chair. I will notify you when that time occurs. And if there’s no further business here before the committee, then this meeting is adjourned.