Senate part 1

October 5, 2021


Griffin [00:00:27] Who’s doing the prayer? The Senate will come to order. Madam Secretary, please call the roll.


Cornwell [00:00:38] [All present]


Griffin [00:01:35] Everyone please stand, including those in the gallery. Please join me in a word of prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to be here today. Thank you for our many blessings. We deserve none of them, Lord. We praise you as the only God, the maker of heaven and Earth. We thank you, Lord, for sending your son Jesus to die on the cross and save us from our sins. Lord, we ask that you guide us as we go about our work. Help us love one another. In Jesus name, amen. 


[00:02:26] [Pledge of Allegiance]


Griffin [00:02:26] You’re going to have some materials passed out to you, but we’re going to get– we’re going to get rocking and rolling. We’re going to– any items at the desk, Madam Secretary? OK. We’ve got a resolution. Oh, I’m sorry. Sen. Chesterfield wants to be recognized, and then we’ll go to Sen. Blake Johnson’s resolution. 


Chesterfield [00:02:47] Thank you, Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate. A member of our family has lost a loved one. Our own Leslie Rogers’ father has passed and his services will be tomorrow, if I am not mistaken. I would like for us to stand for a moment of silence in recognition of the life of Mr. Harry Mallots. 


Griffin [00:03:11] Without objection. 


Chesterfield [00:03:18] Thank you very much. 


Griffin [00:03:19] Thank you, Senator. Sen. Blake– Sen. Blake Johnson, Resolution SR33.


Cornwell [00:03:28] Senate Resolution 33 by Senator Blake Johnson to support consumer privacy. 


Griffin [00:03:35] Sen. Johnson. 


B Johnson [00:03:35] Members, I appreciate the opportunity. This resolution simply gives us a voice in the process on a federal level where the possibility of infringing on personal banking information can be put through the reconciliation process. And that privacy is– should be sacred and not go through the reconciliation process. It should go through the standard process if they want to change those regulations. I’ll just do a couple of whereas and not, not the whole thing. Whereas the General Assembly is alarmed about the recent proposal requiring financial institution to significantly increase the amount– 


Griffin [00:04:23] [Gavel] Sorry, Senator. It’s sort of hard to hear. 


B Johnson [00:04:29] –of American taxpayers data reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Whereas the General Assembly does not believe that this is necessary and may in fact have unintended consequences. Whereas specifically this proposal would require financial institutions and other financial service providers to report certain transaction level data, as well as information about the outflows and inflows on accounts over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service in a year. I don’t think we want that data to be out there and and that data in that transmission can be breached. And I think that those datas are, are a matter of privacy and our banking data should not be changed through this reconciliation process in Congress. Appreciate a good vote. 


Griffin [00:05:23] Any questions on the resolution? Senator Rice has a question for Senator Blake Johnson. 


Rice [00:05:28] Senator Johnson, is the information I have correct? Is currently the– and has been a long time– $10,000 is the current level that banks are required to– 


B Johnson [00:05:41] I think, I think if you deposit the deposit– you know, the bank has to report, I think it’s above $5,000 at this time. But I don’t think there’s anything in place, and Senator Hill, which is co in this can can speak to that better than I could. So if you want to come down and answer that question? 


Rice [00:06:01] Let me just say this. I mean, there is a $10,000 reporting threshold that’s been– in fact, I’ve heard Senator Boozman discuss that, and that’s not even been revalued for inflation. It’s much more now. But to go to $600, and to hire supposedly 80,000 IRS– new IRS agents, there is things amiss in plans that is not for the good of the general public when you’re going down to a measly $600. Not saying that doesn’t change people’s lives. I’m just saying there’s no way you can justify that without trying to take someone’s freedoms and liberties away. So thank you for the resolution. I support it. Thank you. 


B Johnson [00:06:49] That would pretty much take every checking account and transaction. And those who are not banked, it would even be a bigger barrier if they knew, though, that their data could be shared with the Internal Revenue Service through this, if it happens. 


Griffin [00:07:05] Any, any other questions for Senator Johnson? All those in favor say aye. Opposed no. The ayes have it. The resolution is adopted. Senator Ballinger is passing over his bill. Any announcements? Oh, Senator Hickey, President Pro Temporo. You should have maps being passed out.


Hickey [00:07:38] OK, members, I’m going to do– ask you something that I’ve never wanted to do. But I’d ask that you listen close. As of right now, there’s a map being passed out for the congressional redistricting that Sen. English had. So this bill was worked on and hopefully it’s going to come out of the House Committee today and go on the House floor. But what I’m going to do is ask that you would extract this bill with this map that’s in front of you to go on, to go on the Senate– or Senate calendar. What I’m not going to do, though, is ask you to suspend the rules because our rules say that once we extract something, we’re supposed to wait two days, two days before we hear it, which will be Friday. The reason that I’m not going to ask you to suspend the rules is is that there’s some talk that maybe there could be some modifications to this map. If that can be worked out with the Senate and the House, then that’s going to be fine between here and Friday. But otherwise, we need this as a place mat or as a place setter so that Friday, if nothing is worked out, we need to vote a map. We’re getting late in the year with redistricting and we have got to do something. So at this time, I’d like to make that motion. 


Griffin [00:09:01] You’ve heard the motion. 


Hickey [00:09:03] That’s Senate Bill 743. 


Griffin [00:09:11] Questions for the senator? First, Senator Davis. 


Davis [00:09:16] Senator Hickey, throughout your time as pro tem, you’ve been one who’s been a stickler for details, for getting things right before we take them out of committee and making sure that we do things the right way the first time around. So we’re about to vote to extract a map out of committee with wide deviations, with cities split, and it is not up to the standard of correctness. We know we’re going to have to amend it. Does your motion here to extract this out of committee follow your standard that you have set for this chamber and for yourself? 


Hickey [00:09:48] Yes, you’re– what you’re saying is your opinion, Senator Davis, and I respect that. I really do. I’m not just saying that. But I’ve been working with the Bureau and them, I believe the map is close. Could there be tweaks? Possibly so. But that, if that is so, that’s the reason that we’re going to allow this, this time to, to go forward. Because at this point, we need to get– we need to have a map in place that we’re going to vote. So that’s why that I’m not going to ask to suspend those, because if you’re saying that there’s things that need to be done, if there is more detail, I don’t care– as I said last week, I don’t care if we stay down here all night every night, sleep on the couch, makes me no difference. But we’ve got to get it done and we’ve got to get out of here. 


Davis [00:10:36] So you are OK with extracting and not waiting until we correct it as we know we’re going to amend, which violates your standard for getting things right the first time. Is that correct? 


Hickey [00:10:45] Could you repeat that, ma’am? 


Davis [00:10:46] I said so you’re for extracting, knowing we’re going to amend and make it tighter, making a stronger, stronger legal case, but you’re willing to go ahead and extract, which violates your standard of having things right the first time. Is that correct? 


Hickey [00:10:58] I don’t think it violates my standard. No, ma’am. 


Davis [00:11:00] Thank you. 


Griffin [00:11:01] Okay. This is a debatable motion. So we’re going to get to the debate, but we’re going to do questions first. I think, senator– OK. Any any other questions? OK. Now, anybody want to speak on this motion? Against the motion? Senator Ingram. Senator Ingram against, and then I’ve got Senator Garner for. Senator Ingram.


Ingram [00:11:31] You all know how I’ve always felt about extraction. The committee protects us from– I mean, there’s no reason to have committee meetings if we’re going to extract bills. And if we can’t come to an agreement in committee, then something’s flawed. We’ve had an opportunity– we were supposed to be down here for three days, and I appreciate Senator Hickey more than you know. I appreciate his leadership as pro tem. This is something that we just disagree on in trying to rush something through. We’ve had a lot of distractions down here on other bills that were never supposed to be part of this extended session. But this is not the right way to go. Let the committee do its work, tweak the bill, do whatever is necessary, but do it in committee. Don’t extract a bill. It sets a terrible precedent. It shows that this body, that there is something flawed in all of the maps that we would have to extract a piece of legislation out to bring it in front of this body. I would ask you to vote no on extraction. 


Griffin [00:12:45] Thank you, Senator. Senator Garner is recognized in favor of the motion. 


Garner [00:12:49] Thank you. I basically said the same thing in committee. I’ve done seen about a dadgum 100 maps, honestly, last month and a half. And I’ve intentionally stayed out of most conversations with them because honestly, in my area, it isn’t that impactful. We’ll be in the 4th District one way or the other, and it’s not going to change. We all have different dynamics. What I’ve seen for the last month and half is a great committee process work out. Multiple meetings, multiple public comments, multiple fights had. Is Pope County in the 2nd or not? That debate happened. Is Sebastian County split? That debate happened. What do you do with Madison? That debate happened. Pulaski County? That debate happened. Over and over and over again. And right now– like Senator Pitsch will come up here in a minute. He’ll discuss the merits of what he dislikes in the bill. That’s fine. He doesn’t want Sebastian County split. That’s great. But we’re at a point where all those major issues has happened, either you won or lost on them. And we’re at a map that we’re trying to tinker with the last minute around the edges. We’re 99 percent there. But dadgumit, we got to get to 100 percent. And then once you open it back up, there’s another argument. There’s another thing. There’s another fight. This boat is shipping away. It’s sailing. Let’s get this dadgum train moving. Thank you. 


Griffin [00:14:03] Anyone wish to speak against? Senator Clark– ok, I’m sorry. Senator Pitsch and then Senator Tucker, but we’ll go to someone for. Senator Pitsch.


Pitsch [00:14:13] Thank you, Governor. I will try to stay on the merits of the bill. Trust me, Senator Garner is right. All of the sudden, a bill comes out at 8:50 last night. Whether you like or hate that bill, we are about to extract a bill out of a committee that got one vote in State Agencies to take that bill off the floor. 8:50 last night. My folks back– [Gavel] my folks back home are lighting me up that we filed the bill at 8:50 on Monday night when I told them yesterday afternoon that the chairman of that committee handed me a bill that was to their liking. And we’re going to extract it out before noon the next day. That is not how we function in this chamber, folks. We don’t file a bill at 8:50 p.m.– run it in a committee at 11 o’clock is bad enough. I wasn’t going to go speak to the committee again. I’d already been there once and espoused why our folks, 24 CEOs, two mayors and a county judge came down here to speak on that bill. They wrote and informed me, we can’t get a bus load from three and a half hours away organized and down there with people. That isn’t how we want to function. I understand we’ve been here a long time. But you know what? My folks lived 10 years with a divided county and we’re about to extract something and make that 20 years. Do you know how long 20 years to be a divided congressional district is? That’s a long time, folks. And they have more than any county come down here and said, Hear us, we don’t want to be divided. They don’t want to be divided and we are sidestepping it to do this. I’m done. 


Griffin [00:16:02] The senator spoke against the motion. Remember, this is on the motion. I understand two issues are, to some degree, inextricably intertwined. I get that. But this is on the motion. In favor of the motion? Against the motion? Senator Tucker, then Senator Chesterfield. Sorry, Senator Chesterfield. Senator Tucker’s been back there waving his arms and trying to get attention. You know, he’s a rowdy, rowdy type, you know? 


Tucker [00:16:32] That’s right. That’s right. Thank you, Governor. I just want to start by saying how much I respect Senator Hickey, and I’m grateful for his leadership. We just have a difference of opinion about this right here. We focused on this in the last week when the bills came out– [Gavel] came out of Public Health. We came together as a chamber and followed the right process to get things done, and that was to send the bills back to Public Health so that they could be deliberated, the public could have an opportunity to testify. And the public has had an opportunity to testify on these bills, so that’s not directly applicable. But what is applicable is us following the process and the right way. Now, Lord knows I’ve disagreed with a lot of policy that has come out of this chamber this year, but that’s, that’s democracy.] That’s OK if we’re following the process the way that it’s supposed to be followed. And the process that we have down here that we followed as long as I’ve been around and for a lot– [Gavel] a lot longer than that is that bills have to go through committees. 


Griffin [00:17:27] Will the senator suspend? Could y’all just go out there where you can show all your passion? 


Tucker [00:17:34] Bills have to go through the committee process. And members choose committees for particular reasons. And all the members of State aAgencies chose to go to State Agencies knowing this was going to be a part of the process. Senator English just presented the bill. When she presented the bill, only Senator Garner voted for it. This was about 20 minutes ago. Presumably, Senator English would have voted for– intended to vote for it as well. In that case, that’s only two yes votes on the State Agencies Committee, and then a large group of bipartisan senators voted against it. And we just need to follow that process and do the right thing. Let the committees do their work. Otherwise, what’s the point of having committees? So my request is that we follow the process. That way, whether we agree with the policy that ultimately comes out of here or not, at least 35 of us can go home knowing we, we at least did it in the right way. So I’ll be voting against the motion. 


Griffin [00:18:23] In favor of the motion? Senator– OK. You do not want to now? Sen. Elliott, are you still wanting to speak against the motion? OK. We don’t have anyone in favor, so you’re next. And then will– she, she passed. OK, you’re both passing? Sen. Ballinger, are you still interested? OK? Are you still interested, Elliott? Sen. Chesterfield’s passing. Oh, she, she’s changed her– ok. I don’t really care either way. 


Chesterfield [00:18:57] I know. 


Griffin [00:18:58] Just make a decision. Senator Chesterfield.


Chesterfield [00:19:01] It is late in the game, Mr. Chair. And thank you so much, and ladies and gentlemen of the Senate– [Gavel]


Griffin [00:19:05] We went through a lot to get her up here, now let’s listen. I just can’t wait for this. 


Chesterfield [00:19:14] You could if you could. I have the utmost respect for my president pro tem. I do not like the map. And I do not like the map, that’s why I don’t want it extracted. It plays hell with one of the poorest areas of Pulaski County, an area that is rich in African Americans. And on its face, it says that our particular area of Pulaski County is less valuable than the other parts of Pulaski County. It’s the area I represent. It is made up of a large number of poor people, the majority of whom are black. And I think it sends a horrible message that we just don’t matter enough to be kept where we have always been. And I would ask that you vote no on the motion. Thank you. 


Griffin [00:20:14] Thank you, Senator. In favor, anyone? Against? OK, Senator Ballinger. Anybody after– OK, Senator Ballinger against.


Ballinger [00:20:28] Thank you, Mr. President. I don’t– I mean, like, the process itself has been a mess and everybody agrees with that. I, I think that’s probably partly by design. Like, I think that’s probably every 10 years they go through something like this. But we’ve only been here for like– I mean, we– like, a week is a long time, too long. I mean, all of us want to be home. We want to be– but we’re been here like a week. And you know what happened is, frankly, even without– I wasn’t at the meeting last night. But last night, sometime late in the night, a, a map was put together that honestly, I think, like, finally, at least the parts that people gave up that they wanted to– it kind of checks all the boxes, right? It’s a map that I don’t hate. And, like, for my people, I probably should just, you know, let this map go through. But the problem is it still has some, some ratio issues that can be fixed. If we’re dividing up counties, which I don’t like that– like, I would probably– there’s maps out there that don’t. I would rather not, but if we are going to divide up counties, then all we had to do is do little tweaks here and there. In 20 minutes this morning in my office, I sat with Representative Dotson and Senator Davis and we made those tweaks and it’s a map that we can agree with. And instead– and, and, and, frankly, instead of, instead of talking about pulling it out of committee and instead of talking about jamming it through this morning at committee, we could have sat down and we could have put that together. We could meet in 15 minutes and we could sit down there and we could talk and we could debate and we could have a map that we can all agree on. And instead, we’re going to extract it? Like, now? When today we could vote something out of committee? I mean, to me, it’s just ridiculous that, that we’re not honoring the committee process. Thank you. 


Unknown Senator [00:22:04] Would he take– 


Griffin [00:22:05] Senator? OK. 


Unknown Senator [00:22:06] Would he take a question? 


Griffin [00:22:08] He’s not interested. Anyone wish to speak in favor? Speaking against? 


Hickey [00:22:14] I’m for. 


Griffin [00:22:14] You can close it out. 


Hickey [00:22:16] Do you want me to close on the extraction or in favor? 


Griffin [00:22:18] Yes, you have a question? 


Irvin [00:22:21] I just have a question.


Griffin [00:22:25] Ok. 


Irvin [00:22:25] So I just have a question of clarification. 


Griffin [00:22:27] On the motion? 


Irvin [00:22:28] Yes. So this does not– does this or does this not preclude the State Agencies from meeting and rehearing this map or any other maps between now and then? 


Griffin [00:22:40] State Agencies can meet. 


Irvin [00:22:41] They can meet at the call of the chair, right? 


Griffin [00:22:45] They can meet on whatever they want. 


Irvin [00:22:46] And I just– then my second question, and it could be that the chair needs to address that. So I just didn’t– I wanted to know if, if we extract this bill, it can still be amended. Is that correct? And in that case, it would go back to State Agencies? 


Griffin [00:23:01] The body can do just about anything you want. 


Irvin [00:23:04] So and then my last question was, did Senate Bill 742 be heard in committee? Because I don’t know the answer to that. 


Griffin [00:23:11] I’m going to let– if you’ll yield– will you yield to Senator Hickey and just let him address a couple of points and then we’ll get this going? 


Rapert [00:23:18] Yeah, members, we’re at the point which we knew we would all arrive, which is there’s contention that’s there. Emotions are high. This committee met three different times before we even convened the session. Committees heard from people around the state. People made their, passionately made their arguments, and I can recall one particular person that testified maybe on just almost nearly every single bill that was presented during that process. So we obviously have had a lot of discussion, but we’re at this point we knew we would come. I can tell you out of answering your question directly, Senator Irvin, the committee is currently and has ordered in the Bureau, they are working on the adjustments to try to tighten things up. And so again, and I will say for the whole body, Chairman Tosh and myself, when we’ve called meetings, people have been noted– been put on notice for the meetings if any meetings occur. There’s been a lot of side meetings, Senator Irvin, and you get certain cooks over here in the kitchen making their maps, certain cooks over here. And then when they don’t get invited to each other’s meetings, then they feel they’ve been offended and been left out of the process. Been a lot of maps that’s been out here. So I understand the posture of Senator Hickey, the Senate president. I do take him for his word, too, that if he says he’s not going to run the bill, that he would hold it. And so I respect all of that. I’ve chosen to try my best to meet requests of members from all over this state. I’ve spoken with those that have been passionate. I’ve had a conversation with them, and we’ve tried to do our best to make sure as arbiter, as chair that we’re getting everybody’s input on the maps because it’s important. We’re all going to live with it for the next 10 years. And so what I can tell you out of transparency is that this bill did fail in committee. I have a lot of members out here said we’re ready to go and ready to vote. My committee didn’t vote for that at the time because they were trying to dial it in closer and closer, which I get it. I would much prefer that we get a map, regardless of what map, this map or any map, that does not invite an opportunity for a challenge. And so that hopefully is– and you can, you can go back and run a new bill. I expect a new bill this afternoon, whether or not you extract this bill. I expect there to be a bill that will take that is the basis and try to tighten up the margins some more. So I expect that to happen regardless of what your action is here today on, on the extraction motion. 


Irvin [00:26:01] So just– 


Griffin [00:26:02] Senator, just to clarify for Sabrina’s record, are you speaking for? 


Rapert [00:26:08] I’m speaking on the bill. 


Griffin [00:26:09] OK, on the motion. 


Rapert [00:26:11] I’m speaking on the motion. I’m going to maintain what I’ve tried to do during the whole process, just try to be an arbiter as a chair. 


Griffin [00:26:18] Senator Irvin. 


Irvin [00:26:19] So just in response to Senator Pitsch and the people in Fort Smith, will, will– then what you’re saying is they will have an opportunity with adequate notice to come and testify at your committee? 


Rapert [00:26:29] Well, there’s going to be another bill that’s coming that will– is attempting to address some of the questions that are here. And yes, they would have an attempt. And as far as the process on the filing of a bill, that’s the rules of this Senate and the bill was read across and it was assigned to our committee. We heard it this morning. And I actually made, I made the step that is not required that I actually texted members of the committee last night to say, Look, I’ve just got an email, be looking for an email in your box so that everybody at least knew that that is on the committee. And it was posted as well. But we do know that we’re working with some condensed times down here, so hopefully that helps you, senator.


Irvin [00:27:12] Yes, it does. Thank you for answering. 


Griffin [00:27:12] Senator Elliott, you had a question?  And, Senator Irvin, I would just say this removes the bill. It does nothing to the authority of the committee to do whatever it does. Senator Elliott. 


Elliott [00:27:28] Mr. Chair, I want to get a clarification about something you said. The tweaks that are being made as we sit here now, are those tweaks, do those tweaks include the parts of Pulaski County that have been lopped off from the, from the rest of the county? 


Rapert [00:27:50] Senator, I’ve gone through long experience here that being in the room when people said they agreed and I walk out and two hours later the map’s different than what they agreed when I walked out of the room. 


Elliott [00:28:01] Share with me–


Rapert [00:28:02] So what I’m telling you is that my expectation is only the deviation amounts– my understanding, and you were in our committee and heard some of the discussion is they’re trying to narrow the gaps with some of the population even further. And I can tell you that the map that you have in front of you, I think if you look on it, districts 1, 2, 3, and 4, every single one of those, the deviation is less than 0.4 percent. I think the highest was 0.39 in a positive direction and the highest in a negative direction was 0.37. So you have a 0.37 deviation under, and you had a 0.39 deviation over and all of them are within that window. And so a lot of the maps that I’ve been seeing, even maps that early in the process, people thought, Hey, this is what I can live with, those deviations were even greater. So now that everybody has wrestled and wrestled and wrestled with this, you’re down to this particular position. And in respect to my committee members, they say that they’re working because they believe they can get them even smaller. And that’s the position we’re at. 


Elliott [00:29:09] Well, just a follow up. Mr. Chair, I just wanted to be sure I’m understanding because it matters to me whether or not– it probably won’t determine whether or not I’m voting for extraction, but I just want to be clear that we’re only– as far as you know, we’re dealing only with the change in the deviations, not whether any of the splitting of counties. As far as you know.


Rapert [00:29:35] Well, senator, that’s my understanding as chair. However, I could tell you that there is tremendous pressures from, you know, some of the interests here that they would like to change things. And I’m sure they will continue that effort. And I’ll just tell you the map that I walked out of yesterday when I was called together and thought it was done, there was a whole county completely moved by the map that I saw today. So it’s obvious that there is an effort even when people say this is done, that they’re going to continue to do that. And I expect that as chair, I knew this would be the process when we got here. And so respectfully, I think that the committee has spoken and said they’re trying to get the deviations down and I take them at their word. But I absolutely understand the pressures of getting out of here. We need to get this done for the people of Arkansas. So thank you. 


Elliott [00:30:25] Thank you. And I will forego to speak. I was on the list, but I’ll just leave that. 


Griffin [00:30:30] Senator Hickey is recognized to close.


Hickey [00:30:34] Thank you, members. I just want to– some of the comments that were made, I just want to go back over. We started this process before the session started. We started this process with joint Senate and House state agencies. This process cannot be done the way we normally do things with just the Senate or just the House. It does not work. And again, this happens once every 10 years. But that process, you know, has got to come through and it’s got to mesh. I heard somebody say the deviations. No, ma’am, that is not what’s going on out here behind this. Let me just tell you– because what happens, and the reason that I’m asking for this to be extracted is exactly like I’ve said, we’re going to look to extract it. I’m not going to ask to suspend the rules that we hear this immediately. I heard Senator Pitsch say, talk about last night and all that. Respectfully, he’s trying to protect Sebastian County, and that’s noble. However, this is going to allow till Friday to see if that can get done. What happens if we don’t put this as a, as a place mat or a place setter, whatever you want to call it? Just let me just tell you some of the things. I probably shouldn’t go there. Then all of a sudden, we get some issue with Madison. You’ve already heard the deal with Sebastian. We get Pope, we get Cleburne, we get Lincoln, we got Chico and Deshea and Pulaski on top of all those. There is multiple, multiple things that are going on out here and you’re not going to make everybody happy. So I’d ask you that, if you would, to support this motion. We’ll get this bill on here Friday. If something gets worked out jointly somehow some way, or that bill passes with the Senate and House committees to get down here for us to hear it, we’ll rip this one up. We’ll never hear it. But if not, come Friday, when we come in here, we’ll hear this bill. Thank you. 


Griffin [00:32:40] OK, you’ve heard the motion. All those in favor– this takes 18 votes. All those in favor say aye. Opposed no. All those in favor say aye– let’s do it again. All those opposed. The no’s have it. We got five hands? One, two, three– we’ve got five hands. Madam Secretary, please call the roll.


Cornwell [00:33:12] Ballinger, no. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, no. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, yes. Davis, no. Dismang, yes. Eads, yes. Elliott, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, present. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, no. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, no. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, no. Rapert, Rapert. Rice, yes. Sample, yes. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, Sturch. Sullivan, no. Teague, Teague, no. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [17 yes, 14 no, 4 not voting, 1 present]


Griffin [00:34:34] Senator Garner is aye. Anyone else? Cast up the ballot. 


Unknown Senator [00:34:41] Sound the ballot. 


Griffin [00:34:42] Excuse me? 


Unknown Senator [00:34:44] Sound the ballot. 


Griffin [00:34:46] Let’s finish this. 18 yeas, 14 nays, the motion is carried. You have a, you have a motion to sound the ballot. Members take their seats.


Unknown Senator [00:35:15] Beckham, aye. Caldwell, aye. Clark, aye. Dismang, aye. English, aye. Flippo, aye. Garner, aye. Gilmore, aye. Hammer, aye. Hickey, aye. Hill, aye. Irvin, aye. Mark Johnson– 


Unknown Senator [00:35:49] Strike. 


Griffin [00:36:10] The motion fails. One of the senators was not in his chair and was stricken. So it would be 17 yeas, 14 nays, 3 not voting. So four not, four not voting, my bad. Any announcements? Anyone wish to be recognized? 


Dismang [00:36:50] I move that we recess until 2:30.


Griffin [00:36:54] Without objection, we’re in recess until 2:30. 





October 5, 2021


Caldwell [00:01:32] Members, if you would, come to order, please. Is there anything at the desk?


Cornwell [00:01:36] Yes, sir. Notice of passage of House Bill 1977 by the House. House Bill 1977 by Representative Bryant, an act concerning employment issues related to COVID 19 to provide employee exemptions in federal mandates and employer mandates related to COVID 19 to declare an emergency and other purposes. House Bill 1977. 


Caldwell [00:02:05] Public Health. 


Cornwell [00:02:07] We your committee on State Agencies to whom was referred Senate bill 743 by Senator English recommend it do pass as amended number one. 


Caldwell [00:02:17] Pardon. Calendar. Senator English. Senator Hickey. Senator English, you’re recognized. 


English [00:02:55] Thank you. I’d like to suspend the rules and adopt the amendment to Senate Bill 743. 


Caldwell [00:03:03] All in favor. Opposed.  


Cornwell [00:03:10] Amendment one to Senate Bill 743. 


Caldwell [00:03:15] Senator English, you’re recognized.


English [00:03:20] Thank you. Amendment one moves, changes some precincts to this to the former map. 


Caldwell [00:03:28] Senator Elliott, you’re recognized. 


Elliott [00:03:29] Senator English, could you be more specific about moving some precincts and tell us where they are, how many people are affected and what the demographics are of those precincts that are affected? 


English [00:03:43] [00:03:43]I’m sorry, but I couldn’t hear you. 


Elliott [00:03:44] [00:03:44]Could you be more specific about moving some precincts to telling us where they are in Pulaski County? 


English [00:03:51] [00:03:51]I believe that there are two in North Pulaski and three, four in southern Pulaski. Amounts to 30,000 south of the river and 4,000 above the river.


Elliott [00:04:06] [00:04:06]Could you tell– the other question I was asking was if you could tell us what the demographics are in those precincts?


English [00:04:15] [00:04:15]To be honest, we cannot hear you. 


Elliott [00:04:17] [00:04:17]Can you tell us what the demographics are by race in those precincts?


English [00:04:21] [00:04:21]I don’t, I don’t have those numbers. I can get them for you, but I don’t have them. 


Elliott [00:04:30] [00:04:30]And how many– did you say how many people? I know you said two areas. How many people are being affected that are being moved out of Pulaski county into– I’m sorry, 2nd District into another district? How many people are in those? What’s the sum total of the folks who are being moved out of the 2nd district and into what other districts are they being moved?


English [00:04:59] [00:04:59]They’re going into the 4th Congressional District in the southern part of the, Pulaski county, and to the 1st Congressional District in the northern part of the county. 


Elliott [00:05:09] [00:05:09]How many people?


English [00:05:11] [00:05:11]I can’t– I think it’s 41– 41,000.


Elliott [00:05:17] [00:05:17]From the areas that are being–


English [00:05:18] [00:05:18]Both. 


Elliott [00:05:19] [00:05:19]From the areas that are being moved, because we are pretty familiar with this, with this county as, as residents, you and I are. Are those areas– if you don’t know the demographics by race, you probably know it geographically enough to surmise, are those areas that are being pulled from Pulaski County predominantly, predominantly minority groups? 


English [00:05:48] [00:05:48]So I don’t think we looked at any of that at all when we were drawing the, the, the lines. We just knew we–


Elliott [00:05:54] [00:05:54]I’m asking, Senator English, I know, for example, if I go to Southwest Little Rock or if I go to Rose City, I pretty much without knowing anything else because I’ve lived here a long time and I know the area, I would probably know predominantly who the folks are there by race without– if you can’t give me a specific number just based on your knowledge, the areas that are being drawn into other counties, are they predominantly minority groups collectively who live in that, in those areas? 


English [00:06:36] [00:06:36]Can you repeat the last part of your question? 


Elliott [00:06:42] [00:06:42]Based on your knowledge for the precincts that are being pulled out of Pulaski County, because we’ve been here for a long time, can you surmise that the folks who live in those areas– say Rose City. If I asked you right now, predominantly what groups of people by race or ethnicity live in Rose City? You could probably tell me that, couldn’t you? 


English [00:07:13] [00:07:13]So if you, if you were just thinking about Rose City, my son in law grew up there, my– Jimmy Jones grew up there. Lots of our famous folks here in the Little Rock area grown up there. I would never think about it to be honest with you as a predominantly African American community. That just doesn’t enter my mind. 


Elliott [00:07:31] I know it. But– 


English [00:07:33] So I can’t, I can’t qualify and say to you, Yes, we’ve looked at that and we thought about that because that never entered any of our minds. Certainly not mine. 


Elliott [00:07:45] But the difference is, I’m asking you to think about it. So if you think about it, can you give me an answer? 


English [00:07:54] I can’t think about anywhere up around North Little Rock. I can’t, that just doesn’t enter my mind. I’m, I’m not familiar with Southwest Little Rock that much.


Elliott [00:08:04] Rose City, Rose City. 


English [00:08:06] Beg your pardon. 


Elliott [00:08:07]  What about Rose City? 


English [00:08:10] Rose City, I don’t think about that as an African American community at all. 


Elliott [00:08:15] Well, by virtue of your answer, are you saying to me then that you do know without anybody having to tell you–


Rapert [00:08:19] Point of order. Point of order.


English [00:08:20] No, I didn’t. I did not even think about that. 


Caldwell [00:08:26] Senator Rapert. 


Rapert [00:08:26] This isn’t an inquisition. Mr. President. If somebody answers a question, they answer a question. They can’t keep pressing and fishing for more. 


Caldwell [00:08:33] Sen. Elliott, did you have another question?


Elliott [00:08:36] I object to calling my asking a question fishing because I’m not– Senator Caldwell, with all due respect, I do have other questions, but I’m not going to get them answered, apparently. But I think if we’re going to have a point of order and call somebody down, Senator Rapert needs to be called down for, for assuming or even saying that my asking questions is fishing because it is not. 


Caldwell [00:09:05] Senator Pitsch.


Pitsch [00:09:09] Is Senator English available for a question? 


Elliott [00:09:12] Don’t go fishing. 


Pitsch [00:09:17] Senator English, I’m looking at the map that we left at noon, shortly thereafter. And that map showed the southern tip of Sebastiaan County missing a big chunk, 10, 11,000 people. We’ve come back in the span of noon to 12:42 to the map we’re considering now, and they’ve cut Sebastian County again. We now are missing a town, Bonanza, that was on the previous one. We’re missing a big chunk that went south with precincts. And that was described in committee hearings as that was getting Sebastian County School District together. But my question centers around, Can you give me, because it didn’t come out in the committee, what Sebastian County is now losing? Because geography wise, we’re losing a lot more than we were losing two and a half hours ago. Can you give me a number of how many we’re going to lose now to the 4th?


English [00:10:16] I can’t, I can’t give you that number. Did you say that the House has changed? 


Pitsch [00:10:20] No, I’m not saying House changed. I’m saying this map that we were dealing with that we didn’t care for has now been replaced by this map where an entire city, Bonanza, in my Senate district is now in the 4th. Greenwood, which went south, is gone, up to the edge of Greenwood now. And it got explained that they just got all the Greenwood School district in there, but clearly the geography has changed. And from the look of it, Senator Garner was challenging in committee, how many more people in the last hour and a half did we take out of Sebastian County? And I think we have the right to know. I mean, we’ve been down here lobbying to be whole in the 3rd. And now you’re cutting it and you don’t know what we’re even taking out. That’s tough. 


English [00:11:10] And I don’t know those numbers. I’m sorry.


Caldwell [00:11:14] Senator Garner.


Garner [00:11:17] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, not– I understand where Sen. Elliott’s coming from on Pulaski County, but isn’t my understanding your original map and also this amendment, the thought process was since Pulaski County is such a populous county that splitting it up between multiple districts would be smart for future population growth? And if you do that concept, it’s almost impossible not to take the southern part of Pulaski County in the 4th and the eastern part of in the 1st because it’s geographically, you can’t come around. And that was a consideration more than any other kind of, other kind of consideration that that geographical reality to get those in those other districts is what motivated our decision, your decision to put that in there, not really any racial or any other kind of consideration? 


English [00:12:02] Right– there– the 1st Congressional District needed to, had to have more people. The 4th had to have more people. There was no way other than those two areas to decrease their population amount. 


Garner [00:12:13] You had to come from south Pulaski County in the 4th and east Pulaski County–


English [00:12:18] Right. Exactly.


Garner [00:12:19] –in the 1st. Yes, ma’am.


English [00:12:18] There was no place else to go. 


Caldwell [00:12:25] Senator Chesterfield. 


Chesterfield [00:12:30] Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you, Senator English. It just happens that the whole area that you’re putting out is represented by me. The area is majority minority. I go all the way up to Rose City and beyond. And that whole swap on the eastern part of Pulaski County is my Senate district. It is predominantly black, doesn’t have a lot of rich people in it. So you had a choice. You could have kept all of the counties whole. And now my fellow senator in Pulaski County is saying to me that my district just doesn’t matter. And I’m not sure you understand that, do you? 


English [00:13:12] I understand. 


Caldwell [00:13:13] Senator, do you have a question? 


Chesterfield [00:13:14] That’s– ‘do you’ is a question. 


Caldwell [00:13:16] Thank you, ma’am. Senator Tucker.


Tucker [00:13:22] Thank you, Mr. Chair. Senator, I asked you this question this morning in committee, but when we’re talking about the 1st, the 1st District needing to add population and the 2nd needing to lose population, yet we’re, we’re moving a county, Cleburne County from the 1st to the 2nd and cutting other folks out of Pulaski County to move them into the 1st. Can you help me understand that process? 


English [00:13:47] I think it’s the numbers from each of those areas? 


Tucker [00:13:54] What do you mean by that, exactly? 


English [00:13:57] Well, if you’re moving them– I don’t have a copy of the map in front of me, but if you’re looking at the– so, some of these are based on, on numbers in the populations in the communities. And one of the things that had happened was that they needed more in different places in the 1st congressional district. When you start moving all these numbers around and all these places around and all these people around and these precincts around, everything has a consequence. 


Tucker [00:14:39] Thank you. 


Caldwell [00:14:41] Senator Pitsch. 


Pitsch [00:14:42] For the body, I guess, it’s a question to Senator English. But I did, Senator Dismang showed me– the only changes in District 3 were in my county and going into the launch, we had 755,800 constituents in that district, and now we have 753,219. And so we lost 2,581 more constituents since 12:10 this afternoon. And I can’t get to an answer and my, my constituents are going nuts. What are we doing to Sebastian County? 2,500 more members since noon tomorrow? 


English [00:15:30] [00:15:30]I don’t have an answer for you. 


Rice [00:15:32] Thank you, Mr. President. You know, behind the scenes, I’ve let my colleague, Senator Pitsch, take the lead on Sebastian County. But I also represent Sebastian County. And the one thing through this that I’ve thought I could say is it’s not going to be worse than it was the last 10 years. And I’ve supported this morning because I was afraid of what we’re seeing right now, at least for my district, happen. We’re the sacrificial lamb. And while I, I could tell people it’s not gonna be perfect, that’s exactly what happened from this morning to now. You lopped off another piece of Sebastian County. And it’s not fair. Again, things have to be done. You’re not going to please everybody. But I would like to know what the numbers are from 10 years ago when Sebastian County was divided and what this map does. Can you tell me are we worse off than– it looks, looking at the maps– I don’t have the detailed ones. But I’m looking at the map. It looks like we are. Can you tell me that?


English [00:16:49] I can get that information for you. I don’t have it. 


Rice [00:16:53] Well, that concerns me. It really does. With all the options we’ve had, and to come up with this. And like Senator Pitsch said, you know, I like to at least have some credible answers for somebody and I can’t give them one right now. 


English [00:17:09] We’ll see if we can get some numbers for you. 


Caldwell [00:17:11] Senator Davis, are you wanting to speak? You’re recognized.


Davis [00:17:15] Thank you. Senator English, is it true that if we had Sebastian County whole in that map that it would put the 3rd District almost 10,000 people over? More specifically, that’s why we had to move 9,698 people from Sebastian County into the 4th District– or not move them, excuse me, but the number of people in the 4th Congressional District from Sebastian County on this map is 9,698. Is that correct? 


English [00:17:49] That’s true. 


Caldwell [00:17:53] Any other questions? All in favor of the amendment say aye. All opposed? Ayes have it. The amendment is adopted. Send it to engrossing. 


Hickey [00:18:24] OK. OK, members, what– Senator Bledsoe, do you want me to announce your Public Health meeting or do you want to? If you would, I want to let Senator Bledsoe announce her Public Health meeting. 


Caldwell [00:18:34] You’re recognized. 


Bledsoe [00:18:42] Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. The Public Health Committee will meet tomorrow at 8 a.m. in room 272 and we will hear House Bill 1977. Thank you. 


Caldwell [00:18:53] Thank you. Senator Hickey. 


Hickey [00:18:55] And with that members, we’re going to give an hour for that. I think that bill, since it’s a companion of what Senator Hammer had, he’ll be presenting it. So we’re going to give an hour so we’ll come back in here at 9:00. 


Caldwell [00:19:15] We stand adjourned till 9 o’clock in the morning except to read across the desk.