Senate State Agencies p.m.

October 5, 2021


Rapert [00:00:01] Committee come to order. Members, thank you for your diligence on all this through the process. Senator English, I believe we have an amendment to Senate Bill 743. Would welcome you to present the amendment, and then if there’s any questions, members can ask questions about it. And you’re recognized. 


English [00:00:29] Thank you. Senator Jane English, district 34. And we have an amendment to Senate Bill 743, which adds three precincts to our original map. 


Rapert [00:00:43] It adds three precincts and also changes Lincoln County back into the 1st, I believe. 


English [00:00:50] 4. Lincoln County in 4. 


Rapert [00:00:54] So you get–


English [00:00:57] The whole county. 


Rapert [00:00:58] And, and Senator Garner, that was actually in the original map before the map got messed up last night. 


English [00:01:05] That’s true. 


Rapert [00:01:06] Just so you know. 


English [00:01:08] We didn’t just spring it on you. 


Rapert [00:01:10] Yeah, it was– 


English [00:01:13] It was always the intention. 


Rapert [00:01:13] That was part of the issue with the map not being right this morning. 


English [00:01:18] Corrected. Anyway, that is the amendment. 


Rapert [00:01:25] Members, do you have– the deviations– do you want to state the deviations, which was one of the major objections? Do you want to state what they are? 


English [00:01:31] Go ahead. 


Rapert [00:01:33] Or would you like for me to? Members, I’ve been given a copy of this and I don’t know if it’s in your, in your maps or not, but it is on the map, each of the pages. But the deviation on the 1st now has been reduced to negative 0.05. That’s 372 persons. District 2, negative 0.02. That is 171 persons. District 3, 0.04. That’s 338 persons. And District 4, 0.03 and 205 persons. And so that meets the standard that everybody talked about earlier in the meeting. But members, do you have questions on that? 


Garner [00:02:18] I have a few. 


Rapert [00:02:20] Senator Garner. 


Garner [00:02:20] So this morning’s map that did not include a whole different county, you’re saying that was a mistake and that the maps we had this morning were incorrect? Or was the maps we had this morning correct based on the numbers but y’all just didn’t want Lincoln County in there? 


English [00:02:34] No, Lincoln County was supposed to be in there, just didn’t get drawn in. 


Rapert [00:02:39] Senator Garner, yesterday, when, when at least the vice chair of the House Committee and I were in the room, we both noted that, peculiarly, Lincoln was missing from the map that we all thought was there. And so– 


Garner [00:02:57] To be clear, though, the map you drew this morning that we’re amending did have Lincoln County in the 4th. Is that correct? 


English [00:03:05] [00:03:05]Yeah. 


Garner [00:03:06] [00:03:06]OK. And what precincts are you changing now? Sebastian? What’s the changes in the population number? What’s the difference did you change in Pulaski County? 


English [00:03:15] [00:03:15]I don’t know. I just know there’s about two counties– I mean, two precincts in– 


Garner [00:03:18] [00:03:18]Senator? 


English [00:03:20] [00:03:20]–Pulaski County. Yes. 


Garner [00:03:21] [00:03:21]You can’t say you don’t know. 


English [00:03:23] [00:03:23]I don’t have that information. 


Garner [00:03:25] [00:03:25]Well, how do you not have the information on a map that we’re about to be voted to with an amendment we just got whenever it shifts parts of these counties that we came back on to do? 


English [00:03:37] I just don’t have those population numbers. I’m sure that the Bureau will be glad to get them for us. 


Rapert [00:03:52] Senators, you have the amendment here before you, which has got all of the deletions and the changes. You have the map from this morning, which shows you the population deviations. What I have been told is the precincts that you mentioned, which counties– 


English [00:04:10] Pulaski County. 


Rapert [00:04:10] Pulaski County. 


English [00:04:12] Sebastian County. 


Rapert [00:04:12] Has there been– so there were some changes also to Sebastian from this morning? Can you or someone articulate what those changes were? 


English [00:04:21] I think Breanne can.


Rapert [00:04:28] Uh oh, well. Senator Ballinger, you were, you were there, I think, in part of that process. 


Ballinger [00:04:34] I’m happy to explain what, what– so it’s two precincts. There are two precincts in North Pulaski County that, that because of those precincts not being included, it caused a, a split to, to Jacksonville and Sherwood. Those precincts were moved back into the 2nd. And then down, in order to to make up a little bit of a difference down in the south– well, it’s also south east Pulaski County, there was another precinct that was added. In fact, there is a precinct that was taken out down there and then another precinct that was added south of I30 in order to try to get the margins right. And, and so what we lost out of the 1st by moving Jacksonville and Sherwood, making it whole, was the difference in Lincoln County going back into the 1st. Then over on the, on the, in the 3rd in Sebastian County, there was one House member that wanted to try to have all, all of Greenwood. He’s not necessarily supportive of the map anway, but wanted all of Greenwood City or school district in the 3rd. And so part of the effort to try to make it– the precincts’ margins better is to move a precinct into the 3rd that included the school district and precinct out of the 3rd. And in doing so, we got the margins that you see, which was really, concerning the map, hardly the– the only thing was changed, which the senator down there in that area is very happy to have Lincoln in the 1st, where, where it was, where everyone kind of thought it was until something changed on the map. 


Garner [00:06:07] Question real quick. 


Rapert [00:06:10] Sen. English, did you have something to say? 


English [00:06:12] No, go ahead. He can ask a question.


Rapert [00:06:13] Sen. Garner, you’re recognized. 


Garner [00:06:15] I’ll just say this is some amazing, very small minor changes in tinkering to the map that added a whole county from one district to another with– never mind. 


Rapert [00:06:29] Yeah, well, I’ve spoken to that, Senator Garner, from, from yesterday and I’ve not been excited about some of the changes over the last 48 hours myself, but where we are is where we are. So members, do you have any other questions for Senator English? Senator Tucker, you’re recognized? 


Tucker [00:06:50] So I’m just keeping this to the amendment for now. On the first page, I’m trying to figure out exactly which precincts in Pulaski County are in the 1st and the 4th congressional districts. And Senator Ballinger may be able to answer this as well. But on the first page of the amendment, where it says page 2, delete lines 3 through 7 and substitute the following, those are precinct numbers 54 and 55. And then another place in the bill, precinct 47 is included. So my understanding is that there are exactly three Pulaski County precincts in the 1st Congressional District under this map, and those are precinct numbers 47, 54 and 55. 


English [00:07:35] I think that’s right. 


Ballinger [00:07:36] Yeah, yeah, that’s– I mean, I think it is. But you know, I’m obviously looking at these numbers different. What I was looking at was a map with the bill drafter. 


Tucker [00:07:45] And then with regard to the 4th, if you go down to the, to the bottom of the first page of the amendment, it says page 4 delete lines 7 through 15 and substitute the following. My understanding is that the numbers that follow there, 104 all the way through 135 on the next page, those are all of the Pulaski County precincts in the 4th Congressional District under this map. Do you know if I have that right? 


Ballinger [00:08:11] Yes, that’d be correct. 


Tucker [00:08:13] OK. That’s all my questions on the amendment. Thank you. 


Rapert [00:08:17] OK. Senator Garner, you’re recognized. 


Garner [00:08:21] I believe I asked this before, but maybe it needs to be directed at another member, what’s the change between the original map and the amendment of the amount of people on the 1st– or, excuse me, the 3rd versus the 4th District in Sebastian County. What’s the deviation change in that? 


Rapert [00:08:37] Here’s the, here’s all the districts and the deviation numbers. 


Garner [00:08:40] No, sir, that’s not what I mean. This is a difference between each individual district. 


Rapert [00:08:44] You have the numbers from this morning that should be in your earlier packet. 


Garner [00:08:47] Senator Rapert, let me, let me– Sebastian County specifically.What is the difference we will be adding to the 3rd or 4th District between the original one and the amendment? Does that question make sense? 


Rapert [00:09:01] I don’t know if you can get that, get that question answered, because the only thing that you have here would be the deviations between the entire districts. But we know they’ve been playing with those precincts there, Sen. Garner. Senator English, if you have anything further to add? 


English [00:09:13] I don’t, I don’t think they– if you’re just looking at district numbers. 


Rapert [00:09:26] All right, members, do you have other questions? Any further questions on this? 


English [00:09:33] I’m closed. Yes. 


Rapert [00:09:33] Anyone that wants to speak on the bill? For or against the bill? All right, Senator Tucker. 


Tucker [00:09:46] So is this the deviations on the, on the map as amended? 


Rapert [00:09:52] Yes. If you’re, if you’re talking about the ones that I articulated, which are the 0.05 percent in District 1–


Tucker [00:10:00] I’m not sure if I have that sheet. 


Rapert [00:10:01] You may have the old sheet. So this was handed to me. I don’t know if you– have you got this to members? 


Tucker [00:10:10] I don’t have the amended map. 


Rapert [00:10:12] Yeah, they are at the bottom of the map, like he said too, so. 


Tucker [00:10:17] OK. All right, here, here I got it. 


Rapert [00:10:19] Yeah, that should be a last edit at 10/05/21 at 12:35 p.m. is when they made the last edit to this map. 


Tucker [00:10:30] So I see the deviation percentages. Do we have the, the deviation numbers? 


Rapert [00:10:38] Well, they’ve got the ideal population and  the total population there. So–


Tucker [00:10:43] You can just do some math. 


Rapert [00:10:45] Yeah. 


Tucker [00:10:46] OK. 


Ballinger [00:10:47] Senator Rapert– 


Rapert [00:10:47] So actually, you’re talking about 372 people to the negative in District 1 and District 2 would be negative 171. From the target. OK. And then 3 and 4 would be positive 338, and the 3rd positive 205 in the 4th. 


Tucker [00:11:09] OK. So may I ask Senator English a question now? 


Rapert [00:11:17] Of course. 


Tucker [00:11:20] So I’ve got these numbers from, from BLR, and the portions of Pulaski County that are being moved, proposed to being moved from the 2nd to the, to the 1st District. That portion of Pulaski County is, is 34 percent white, 58 percent African American, 4 percent Hispanic. So essentially 65 percent nonwhite in total. And then in the 4th, the precincts in Pulaski County that are being proposed to move from the 2nd to the 4th is 30 percent white, 46 percent African American, 22 percent Hispanic. So it’s 30 white, 70 non-white. Does it concern you at all to be moving areas that are so predominantly minority in population from one Congressional district to another? 


Rapert [00:12:10] [00:12:10]Sen. Tucker, we’ve said it many times. We’re not using racial demographics to draw maps. So if you’re going to always revert back to the discussion of that, you’re de facto using racial demographics to draw maps. 


Tucker [00:12:28] [00:12:28]There’s a distinction, senator, between intent and impact. And I’m not saying that anyone in here has used race as a means of which precincts to move from the 2nd District to another district. But the reality is that the impact is there regardless of what any member’s intent may have been. And I want to make sure that the members of this committee know what the impact is before we vote on it. And, and–


Rapert [00:12:54] [00:12:54]So do you have the wisdom to enunciate the impact? 


Tucker [00:12:57] The impact is that we’re moving two different parts of Pulaski County that are predominantly nonwhite into two different congressional districts. That’s the impact. And as a bill sponsor, I just was curious for Senator English’s thoughts on that. I really had two points. One is to get her thoughts, and the second is to make sure that everyone in this committee is aware of that fact and votes on the map knowing that information. 


Rapert [00:13:24] Senator English, you’re welcome to answer if you want. 


English [00:13:26] So, I basically as, as Senator Rapert said, I don’t think we’ve looked at any maps at all across the state to decide whether something was African American or white or whatever the case may be. I guess what, what would you assume is the impact? 


Tucker [00:13:43] Well, we’ve heard from Senator Pitsch, you know, over the last couple of weeks and from other members whose counties and towns have been split between congressional districts. And what we’ve heard from them– I haven’t personally lived that– but what we’ve heard from them is when you have little pieces of a county or a town that are cut into a different congressional district, they’re like the stepchild of that congressional district. And they don’t get the same representation that everyone that’s in the bulk of the same congressional district does. Not only that, but I’m also aware, as a lifelong resident of Pulaski County, that we have a lot of big projects that we do here. We live in, we live in a great city. You know, we have a thriving urban downtown. But we also have mountains that meet the delta. We have a diverse economy. We have a diverse population. We have beautiful natural resources. And we do a lot of big projects here, and it takes cooperation between the county, the municipalities, the state government, the federal government to do a lot of these projects. And it becomes more cumbersome and more complicated if you’re dealing with multiple members of Congress through that process. And so I believe that we’re, we’re hurting Pulaski County generally, which is– it contains the capital city of our state. The better that the state does, the better Little Rock and Pulaski County do. And the better that Little Rock and Pulaski County do, the better the state does. That’s my opinion. And by splitting Pulaski County three ways I believe we’re hurting Pulaski County generally. And then by cutting off these two specific communities and putting them in separate congressional districts, we’re hurting them more than the rest of the county. So that’s, that’s my opinion of what the impact is. So that’s my answer to your, your question, senator. And obviously– 


English [00:15:26] I appreciate that and I don’t disagree with a lot you said. 


Rapert [00:15:30] Thank, thank you, Senator. Senator Ballinger and members, we have 15 minutes before session begins. 


Ballinger [00:15:35] Thank you, Mr. Chair. I know because I, I’ve worked with you in the process and I’ve worked through the process, it is difficult to find any way to get the kind of margins that we have without dividing up, without dividing up either a very large populated county or dividing up multiple counties. And so I know that from visiting with you, you’d prefer not to have any counties divided up. And, and in particular, if you’re, if you’re splitting this into a couple of different congressional districts, then would you say that the, the river, which has divided those two communities for, well, centuries, is probably a better place to do it than any other place? 


English [00:16:15] Probably, yeah. 


Rapert [00:16:18] All right. Members, seeing no other questions. Senator Davis. 


Davis [00:16:26] I’ve got numbers. Out of Pulaski County, we move– it looks like this map moves 32,780 into the 4th and 8,612 people into the 1st for a total of 41,392 out of Pulaski out of the 2nd Congressional District. 


Rapert [00:16:46] Thank you. 


English [00:16:47] That’s out of 355,000, I think, something like that. 


Davis [00:16:55] 499,000, isn’t it? 


English [00:16:57] Yes. 


Rapert [00:16:58] All right. 


English [00:16:59] Thank you. 


Rapert [00:17:00] Have no further questions? Is there anyone else that would like to speak for or against this bill? 


English [00:17:06] The amendment? 


Rapert [00:17:08] You ready, you ready to adopt the amendment?


English [00:17:10] Yes, I’m closed for the amendment. I vote do pass. 


Rapert [00:17:13] I have a motion to adopt the amendment. Is there a second? I have a second. All those in favor of the adoption of the amendment say aye. All opposed. The amendment is adopted. 


English [00:17:25] Thank you. 


Rapert [00:17:25] Would you like to now make a motion on your bill? 


English [00:17:28] Yes, I’d like to move to pass out Senate Bill 743 as amended. 


Rapert [00:17:36] As amended. Do I have a second? I have a second. All those in favor say aye. Those opposed say no. The bill passes. Thank you, Senator English. 


English [00:17:46] Thank you very much. 


Rapert [00:17:46] With that committee, with the exception of any very unforeseen circumstance, I think the committee has finished, at least, with its duties. But be prepared. We are adjourned.