October 6, 2021
Griffin [00:09:56] The Senate will come to order. Madam Secretary, please call the roll.
Speaker 2 [00:09:59] [All present except Sturch and Garner]
Griffin [00:10:39] Everyone please stand, including those in the gallery. Senator Stubblefield is going to lead us in prayer.
Stubblefield [00:10:43] Now, father, we thank you for another day you’ve given us and just thank you for the privilege of being able to come here and, and each one of these senators to serve you. And I thank you for loving us when we’re so unworthy. I just pray you’d help us to not think more highly of ourselves than we should. And I pray that you would give us spiritual wisdom, Lord, not for our glory, but for your glory. And father, I pray for Leslie’s family and just lift them up to you. I pray you’d comfort them and pour out your grace on that family. Just forgive us what we fail you and thank you most of all for the Lord Jesus, for loving us to send your son to die for us. And I ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.
[00:11:50] [Pledge of Allegiance]
Griffin [00:11:55] Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [00:11:55] Leave for Senator Garner and Senator Sturch.
Griffin [00:12:00] Senator Garner and Senator Sturch, without objection. Any items at the desk?
Cornwell [00:12:07] Yes, sir. Senate bill 744 by Senator Irvin to identify the four United States congressional districts of Arkansas based on the most recent federal decennial census data and declare an emergency. Senate Bill 744.
Griffin [00:12:23] State Agencies.
Cornwell [00:12:27] We your Committee on Public Health to whom was referred House Bill 1977 by Representative Bryant recommend do pass.
Griffin [00:12:36] Calendar. Senator Hammer’s recognized for a motion.
Hammer [00:12:43] Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to make a motion to suspend the rules and add House Bill 1977 to the end of today’s calendar after all other business is conducted. Thank you.
Griffin [00:12:53] One second, Senator. The senator is making a motion to suspend the rules. You want to the Senate what that bill is that what you–
Hammer [00:13:01] Yes, sir.
Griffin [00:13:02] I saw, I saw a few–
Hammer [00:13:05] Sure.
Griffin [00:13:08] –quizzical expressions.
Hammer [00:13:11] Ready, Mr. President? House Bill 1977 came out of Public Health. This is the exact same bill as Senate Bill 739, which we debated in Public Health and here on the floor at great extreme the other day. There are no changes in that bill from the one that I presented the other day. And because it came out of Public Health without opposition this morning, I would like to go ahead and add it to the calendar so we can debate it today and hopefully have it resolved today. And that’s why I’d like to ask the rules be suspended for it to be added to the calendar.
Griffin [00:13:40] OK, any questions? Motion to suspend the rules. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. The ayes have it. The motion is carried. HB 1977 will be placed at the end of the calendar. Senator Ballinger? Okay, we’re passing over Senator Ballinger. Senator English.
Cornwell [00:14:07] Senate Bill 743 by Senator English.
Griffin [00:14:21] Senator English.
English [00:14:23] Thank you. Make a motion to place Senate Bill 743 back on the second reading for the purposes of an amendment concerning technical corrections.
Griffin [00:14:33] OK, there’s a small technical change that needs to be made by amendment to this bill. So we’re going to suspend the rules and put it at the bottom of the calendar. That’s the motion. Senator Ingram.
Ingram [00:14:47] What is that technical correction?
English [00:14:51] [00:14:51]I’m sorry, what did you say?
Ingram [00:14:52] [00:14:52]The technical correction that you’re asking for the amendment for, what is it?
English [00:14:56] [00:14:56]I think there was just sections written– put improperly into the bill.
Ingram [00:15:05] [00:15:05]And which sections would be improperly put in the bill? I would just like to know what this is.
English [00:15:11] [00:15:11]Two, I think. I just– I don’t remember. I don’t. I don’t–.
Ingram [00:15:17] Thank you.
Griffin [00:15:17] Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [00:15:20] Senator English, I don’t mean to be–. I promised myself I wasn’t going to challenge this anymore. But yesterday we did some small, minor technical corrections and my county obviously didn’t fare too well with that. Are there any people associated with these corrections today? I’m going by Senator Ingrams question, what, what does this really do? And yesterday–.
English [00:15:44] It was a technical correction that the Bureau found in the bill. They found it themselves and it needed to be corrected. It’s renaming the sections. I think that’s– it’s very minor.
Pitsch [00:15:55] Can you, can you tell us today– follow up, I guess, Mr. President. Can you tell us today, unlike yesterday, where people were removed from counties with minor technical direction?
English [00:16:07] No.
Pitsch [00:16:08] Are there anybody going to lose–
English [00:16:10] None, none of that. It just changed– adds a section into the bill. But it doesn’t– it adds words. It doesn’t add any people, any counties, anything.
Griffin [00:16:25] So this is the motion to suspend the rules so the bill can be amended. OK. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Ayes have it. The motion carries. Now we’re on the amendment.
Cornwell [00:16:37] Amendment 2 to Senate bill 743.
English [00:16:41] I move for adoption of the amendment.
Griffin [00:16:44] Any questions? I think we’ve already had questions on the amendment. OK. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Ayes have it. Amendment’s adopted. Send to engrossing.
English [00:16:56] And I’d like to motion to place the Senate bill 743 at the bottom of today’s calendar after it is engrossed.
Griffin [00:17:05] Okay, motion to suspend the rule, to take the engrossed bill and put it at the bottom of the calendar. Any questions? All those in favor say aye. Opposed. The ayes have it. And the motion’s carried. The bill as amended, when it comes back from engrossing, will go at the bottom of the calendar below the one we’re about to handle, HB 1977. Senator Chesterfield.
Chesterfield [00:17:36] Thank you, Mr. Chair. Is there a limit to the number of questions that we can ask of the makers of motions?
Griffin [00:17:44] I– no.
Chesterfield [00:17:47] Just wanted to be sure.
Griffin [00:17:48] You want to keep– yeah. [to clerk] What does that mean? Like a ‘the’ or a ‘and.’ I mean, I know, I know what technical means. Yeah. It doesn’t change the substance of the– okay. Okay. [to Senate] The clerk wanted me to say, Senator Chesterfield, or anybody else that was asking. The description of this change as a technical correction means, in this case, not substantive in any way. This is like an error or omission type thing. So anyway, Senator Hammer. Senator Hickey.
Hickey [00:18:35] If it’s OK, Mr. President. What was omitted is the intro language was just omitted yesterday because, as you all know, we were trying to get the, get that amendment in that bill through by a certain time. And that’s all that was. Thank you.
Griffin [00:18:51] Senator Hammer on the bill that you just suspended the rules on. And this does have an emergency clause. This is HB 1977.
Cornwell [00:19:10] House Bill 1977 by Representative Bryant an act concerning employment issues related to COVID 19 to provide employee exemptions from federal mandates and employer mandates related to COVID 19 and declare an emergency.
Griffin [00:19:32] Senator Hammer.
Hammer [00:19:32] Thank you, Mr. President. I will not debate the bill again because I think that was done very well at length the other day, but I would like to make comments to the emergency clause and address a couple of things that I was asked after the meeting the other day that I’d like to address. It has been expressed by some businesses, but not all businesses, and I want to, I want to clarify that. Not all businesses have expressed this interest or this concern about the emergency clause. Some have expressed that they have not had time or would not have time to get systems in place in order to be able to accurately track the information that’s going to be required in the bill. My counterargument to that is this, you’ve already been tracking who has had the COVID vaccination. You already know who doesn’t have the vaccination. And so while I would not pretend to know what it’s like to be a CEO or a director of a large company. On a smaller scale company, they all have personnel files. And I think that that reasoning for not allowing the emergency clause to go through is not a valid argument. I think that it’s probably being used to argue against the intent of the bill as a whole. That was one thing that was presented to me. Again, I want to remind you, they already know who does and who doesn’t. As was given testimony on the floor the other day, one company already has 90 percent of their employees vaccinated. That means they would only have to track 10 percent. I don’t think that it would be as difficult of a task for the vast majority as it is being presented to some members, and so therefore I do not subscribe to that being a good enough reason to vote against the emergency clause. The second thing that I would note is this, when it comes to trying to defeat the emergency clause– and this, in my opinion, is not a stretch, but I think it is something that at least needs to be introduced into your thought processes to make your decision. And that is that we have companies who do not want this bill to be passed. These are the same companies as was made in argument in committee the other day, which I don’t think I made on the floor. These are the same companies and some of the same companies that want to take millions of taxpayer dollars in order to help. And I think maybe and I’m going to give him credit, whether he deserves not, Senator Sullivan may have made this point, that we are giving millions of dollars to help offset the cost that if we are going to operate in a free market society or a free market approach, then let’s not give those dollars and may the best one win. The fact is that you’re about to fire a segment of a working population who paid taxes that indirectly came to help give you back that same tax money in order to help keep you in business. It’s the cycle. And now you’re going to be kicked out of the cycle. I don’t know about you, but in the standard of fairness, I don’t think that’s right that you want to take people that are willing to show up to work, you want to take people who have stuck with you through this entire mess called COVID, and now you want to put them out on the street. I just don’t think that’s a mindset that I would want to support. I’d rather support the mindset of this bill, including the emergency clause that says we are going to give you as employees protection so that you can keep your job because I’ll close my comment on this. If these people are terminated and if these people have no ability to draw unemployment, how many are going to have to cash in their 401s? How many of them are 20 year employees with companies that now late in life, they’re expected to just go find another job 50 miles down the road doing what? And here we are. We’ve pumped millions of dollars into businesses and corporations and, and medical facilities to help keep them afloat. And now that we get to this point, we want to say thank you very much. I’m going to throw you to the curb. I’ve got a phrase I’d like to use for that, but A, I am a pastor and B, I don’t think it’s appropriate to use in public, but use your own imagination. I’d appreciate a good vote, and I’ll be glad to answer any questions.
Griffin [00:23:59] Any questions for the senator before we– Senator Sullivan is going to ask– Senator, will you take questions?
Hammer [00:24:05] Thank you.
Sullivan [00:24:08] I’ll attribute that to Senator Gardner, Garner, not myself. I followed up on him. But also, could the businesses also delay implementation of their termination policy while they prepare to implement the new policy?
Hammer [00:24:22] I’m sorry. Ask me that question again.
Sullivan [00:24:24] So if the timeline– if businesses say we don’t have time to prepare, they could push back their implementation policy of when they’re going to terminate people to give them a little more breathing room to implement that new policy.
Hammer [00:24:39] I think that given the topic of conversation and the environment at the federal level, which has created this mess in the first place that we’re having to, you know, work our way through, I think, I think they could have had their policy prepared and ready to go knowing the traction this was getting and knowing what was coming down from the federal level. I’m not sure that answered your question, but–
Sullivan [00:25:03] Thank you.
Hammer [00:25:03] Thank you.
Griffin [00:25:04] Do you have a question? Senator Rapert has a question.
Rapert [00:25:09] Yes. And senator, isn’t it not true that any company that chooses not to force vaccinations, there’s no planning needed here. Right? I mean, they’re not, that’s not going to affect them at all. Correct?
Hammer [00:25:27] That is correct. This bill, if, if a company chose not to mandate, if that option’s afforded to them, then this is a moot point for them.
Rapert [00:25:36] So, so it also, as you say, it just stands to reason that if a company is somewhat frustrated in some way that they can rescind any demand for vaccinations immediately and there would be no, there’s no demands on them from this bill whatsoever.
Hammer [00:25:52] I would agree.
Rapert [00:25:53] Yeah. And just for the sake of asking, did you ever have any one comment to you at all during the process of this– I’m trying to use the right word. I don’t think it’s fair dealing,. But I wonder if there’s any violation of any other employment policies when a company tries to sidestep a valid religious exemption by manipulating the process to say, we’re just going to put you on unpaid leave for a year?
Hammer [00:26:29] Are you asking my opinion?
Rapert [00:26:31] Well, no, not really. I was asking if you know it to be a violation of any, any, any other employment law. My opinion is it’s not fair dealing to, to people.
Hammer [00:26:42] And I would probably answer the question this way. That has been given testimony in committee that a company has done that, that they said, Well, we’ll recognize your exemption. And here’s the terms by which we will recognize it. OK. And, and I would only– you know, individuals don’t have deep pockets in order to be able to afford what it takes to defend yourself sometimes. And to that person, it would make it difficult for them to really get full due process, I think.
Rapert [00:27:13] Is it also true that under the United States Constitution that individuals have constitutional rights, not entities?
Hammer [00:27:23] I think that would be a fair statement.
Rapert [00:27:25] Right? Thank you.
Hammer [00:27:26] Thank you.
Griffin [00:27:27] Any other questions? Senator Dismang is recognized to speak against.
Dismang [00:27:32] I’m going to– I’m going to say I had no intention– I didn’t know we were– I thought we weren’t going to debate the bill again. But there were a couple of points that were made that I don’t think are actually correct. Number one, when we talk about ‘these aren’t all businesses.’ We’re talking about all businesses. And we try to do this big blanket thing and we try to make it so that, you know, even your mom and pop of three people do the same thing as some large corporation. That’s not true. And individuals own businesses. And those individuals that own businesses have rights, too. They have rights to manage the property that they borrowed money for, they put up capital for. Whatever you want to say, they made the investment, they took the risk, they made the sacrifice, and they are gainfully employing people because of that, which is a great thing. But when we talk about the federal money and the state money and whatever else that came through to help businesses, I’m going to tell you, we did that because we imposed mandates. We restricted commerce. We restricted who could go into a restaurant, how they could go into a restaurant, how many people could go into a restaurant, over and over and over again. And we altered their business practices not because they may have decided to do that on their own. They may have weighed the risk and made that decision, but we didn’t allow them to do that. We told them what they must do. And some of those businesses got help, justifiably so, because the government intervened with what? A mandate. Just like this is. It’s a mandate. Like it or not, this is a mandate on not these just big companies that we would like to pretend just to talk about and say, this is the only folks that these impact. No, it impacts small business owners, too, that again, are trying to weigh all this information out here to make the best decision they can for their customers, for their employees, for themselves. Our mandates that were put in place, businesses did not survive those. Mandates are counterproductive. They don’t accomplish what we’re trying to– what we think they’re going to accomplish. I was opposed to the mandates in the beginning. I’m opposed to the mandates now. And I appreciate your time this morning.
Griffin [00:29:38] Thank you. Thank you, Senator. The senator spoke against. Sen. Rapert? He’s going to speak for.
Rapert [00:29:47] Thank you, members. If a business doesn’t choose to violate someone’s personal and individual liberty by forcing them to do something that is against their will, they don’t have to do anything under this legislation. Nothing was required at all unless you’re going to go over that line and you’re going to violate somebody’s individual liberties. If that’s the case, then yeah, there’s going to be an option for you. So just to make this case clear, and then I’m going to be quiet on this issue. You know what I believe. It’s in liberty. Thirty– there are just 30– these are, these are, these are interview questions you can’t ask people. You can’t ask them, Are you a U.S. citizen? You can’t ask, What is your native tongue? You can’t ask how long you’ve lived here. You can’t ask, What religion do you practice? You can’t ask, Which religious holidays do you observe? Do you belong to a social club or organization? You can’t ask those questions. You can’t ask, How old are you? You can’t ask, How much longer do you plan to work before you retire? You can’t ask, What is your maiden name? You can’t ask, Do you plan to have children? You can’t ask, Can you get a babysitter on short notice for overtime or travel? You can’t ask if you have kids. You can’t ask if you– who’s your closest relative to notify in case of emergency. This is from an H.R. policy statement. You can’t ask if you get pregnant, will you continue to work and will you come to, come back after maternity leave. You can’t ask those questions. You can’t ask– we’ve always had a man or a woman do this job. How do you think you’re going to stack up? You can’t ask that question. You can’t ask how you feel about supervising men or women. You can’t ask what you’re, what you’re going to think of, of interoffice dating of all things. Health? Do you smoke or drink? Can’t ask it. Do you take drugs? You can’t ask it. How tall are you? You can’t ask it. How much do you weigh? You can’t ask it. Have you been arrested? You can’t even ask that. I could go on. And you shouldn’t be asking, are you vaccinated or not? And you definitely shouldn’t be trying to force it on someone because you don’t know if you’re the woman that was at my house the other day with her husband, who had a brain tumor, and her doctor said, you can’t take a vaccination. And then she went to a facility and was literally treated, as one person quoted in our committee, that she might be unclean. This is not a leprosy colony, for goodness sake. As I said before the other day, people need to calm down. We’re trying to take care of each other and we’ve turned into this mess of division, which is wrong. People are going to absolutely regret. We’ve already had this week new announcements of Johnson and Johnson and even more blood clots and people dying. What in the world are we doing? I really wish that we had legislation that said you can’t even ask them at all. That’s what I would favor. But at least in this situation, you’re giving people an option, just like we did in the past and just like we should do today. We need to vote and we need to vote the emergency clause in because it’s important for liberty for the people of Arkansas. They’re crying out for help. We’ve seen people crossing the line. They’re making statements they shouldn’t make, and we all have dealt with this. It’s getting to the point where people feel they’re backed into a corner. We should not be complicit with this charade in this country. So I’m begging you. Vote for the people of Arkansas. Regnat pop– populus. It’s right there on that seal. The people rule. And it is individuals that own businesses. It’s individuals that have nonprofits. It’s individuals that have civil liberties. And as long as I’m reading the Constitution, it’s individual liberty that should be paramount. Thank you.
Griffin [00:33:44] Senator Leding. Senate Rapert, you want to take a question? Senator Leding, you’re recognized.
Leding [00:33:55] Thank you, Mr. President. And Senator Rapert, I appreciate the long list of things that employers aren’t allowed to ask because I firmly support privacy. But can my age or marital status or whether or not I’m planning to have children or my particular faith affect you in any way in this working environment?
Rapert [00:34:12] Say it again, Senator Leding. I don’t know. I’m sure you’ve got an expectation, so make it clear to me.
Leding [00:34:18] No expectation. I’m just asking. Employers aren’t allowed to ask some of these questions because they are matters of privacy. My marital status, whether or not I plan to have children, my– what religion I practice, those things can’t affect you, whereas my vaccination status could potentially affect you if I infect you at work.
Rapert [00:34:38] Well, you know, actually you being vaccinated could affect me or anybody else out there. You could affect an unvaccinated person because we know the science says that, number one, you can still be infected and get COVID and you can still transmit it. And to be honest with you, it’s probably unsafer for you to run around thinking that you’re vaccinated and spreading it asymptomatic than it is somebody that might be taking precautions.
Leding [00:35:04] I appreciate that. We do know that breakthrough cases are possible, but we also know that the science shows that people who are vaccinated are much less likely to infect others or to become infected themselves. Thank you.
Rapert [00:35:14] I don’t believe that’s the science today at all, sir. That’s, that’s not true. They say that you can spread it just as easily
Griffin [00:35:23] Senator Ingram is recognized.
Ingram [00:35:29] We’ve had 200 million vaccinations, had 6,000 breakthrough deaths. I mean, that, that is very small. But my question is, Fox News requires their employees to be vaccinated, wear a mask or they have to take a test daily if they’re not vaccinated. Do you consider that a violation of their personal liberties?
Rapert [00:35:55] I’m an American citizen and an Arkansas citizen. I’m not a Fox News citizen.
Ingram [00:36:02] Do you consider that business by putting in– that’s a violation of their liberty?
Rapert [00:36:10] I think that they have made a knee jerk reaction, that they have bent, they have bent, like a lot of people to peer pressure out here and they’re getting– people are getting embarrassed because the science is not following where their policy is going. And that’s a real tough thing to do. That’s why I’ve advocated for good common sense in this situation every step of the way. Senator, you well know my own situation. I was sick, sick, sick. Very fortunate I didn’t go on a ventilator myself. Lost my grandfather. My dad got out of the hospital yesterday. He went in July the 17th. He was on a ventilator over 30 days. He’s very fortunate. I mean, there’s no reason that he’d be alive except God decided to save him because the doctor said they’ve done all they can do. And he’s learning to walk. And you know what? We’ve got members here that’s been sick. Senator Ingram, I– it’s, it’s, this is a tough debate because we’ve got friends and family members that have died in this state. I hate it, but I’m not willing to run like a lemming over a cliff and cause more damage to the people of Arkansas and this country. And that’s what this is doing to people.
Ingram [00:37:26] You answered my question when you said Fox bent to pressure. That, that was all. But you answered it there. Thank you, Senator.
Rapert [00:37:32] I’m glad you got my point. Thank you, Senator.
Griffin [00:37:37] Anyone wish to speak in favor? In favor? Against? Favor? Favor. I don’t see anyone else wanting to speak. Senator Clark.
Clark [00:37:54] I thought we’d handled all this, too. But I’m also against mandates. And I’ve been contacted by a great number of businesses who not only are against mandates, they are afraid they’re going to lose their businesses because larger businesses have already contacted them and told them that if they don’t force their employees to be vaccinated, that those larger businesses are no longer going to do business with them. We have, in my opinion, a form of fascism where government has worked in concert with business to do what government could not do. Now with the Biden administration, it’s open and we see it. But I agree with Senator Dismang that business people ought to be able to run their businesses. They’re not able to. This legislation enables them to do that. It enables them to be free to run their businesses without without the force of a larger business telling them you’ll either do this or else because with a state law that prevents them from being forced to do that, they will have that freedom. I’d appreciate you passing the emergency clause.
Griffin [00:39:13] Senator Dismang is recognized for a question. Take a question, Senator Clark? And then Senator Tucker as well.
Dismang And I guess what I would say because I don’t want to give false hope to these businesses that are being told that we can’t contract with the larger business or whoever it is because we have different vaccination policies. I mean, the way that I read the bill, this does nothing between that contractual relationship between, you know, the large business or small to small businesses, whatever it may be. I mean, some examples would be, you have a, you know, a band or a, you know, concert they’re looking to put on here in Arkansas. And part of the requirement is that the stagehands at that concert all be vaccinated before they’re willing to come here. There’s nothing that we can do inside this legislation or other legislation to convince that band that they’re going to come here, just like we can’t tell one business that you must contract with another. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that helps with that in any way. I mean, if a big company requires 100 percent vaccination status of the small companies that are in their building, I can’t stop that. This legislation does not stop that. And I just, would you agree that that’s not really part of– I don’t see– or could you tell me where it is in the legislation that assists with that situation?
Clark [00:40:29] Sure. You can’t have a contract that violates the law. So if the law says that you can have a vaccination policy, but you have to allow employees to either show immunity or test, then that’s the best that I can do. And you can’t force me to do beyond that in a contract or you would have a contract that’s illegal because it’s breaking the law.
Dismang [00:40:58] I don’t see where we touch on contracts in this legislation in any way, with the exception of the contract between an employer and employee. The contracts between businesses, there’s nothing in state law that mandates one business to do business with another. And this, again, just because it’s a, it’s a contractual relationship between the, you know, that single business, their employees and in the employer, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t give grounds to sue to extend that contract. I mean, there’s nothing in this legislation that, that assists with that contractual relationship. And I’m just– I understand where you’re coming from. I would just say, unless you see it somewhere that this– I don’t want to provide false hope to any small business owner that their contracts are no longer in jeopardy because I don’t– I believe this only deals– and again, if you can point it out differently between the employee and employer in a specific business.
Clark [00:41:56] Any time we pass a law, whether, whether it be stiffer penalties for crime or whether it be this, we absolutely add a protection. And the protection is again, you cannot– I cannot have a contract that goes against Arkansas law and then expect it to be enforced in an Arkansas court. The– so again, if somebody comes to me and says, here’s what you have to do, I can say here’s what I can do. I can have a policy that I’ll vaccinate my employees, according to an Arkansas law, which is if they, if they offer that they’re, according to Arkansas law, that they’re immune, if they offer to test every week, I can do that and everybody else that wants to be vaccinated can. I can’t go beyond that because that’s Arkansas law. That’s the best I can do. [00:42:49]And no one can force me to go beyond that. If they do, then what, what I do beyond that will be between me and that company. But there’s definitely a case there. [12.1s]
Dismang [00:43:02] So, but if– so, to go back to the example of, you know, there’s a band or show that’s wanting to come, put on a show in Arkansas. They require a hundred percent vaccination for the backstage folks. You’re telling me that this would add protection to the venue and almost require, then, that they accept the Arkansas law regardless of how they feel about vaccinations and put that show on here in Arkansas?
Clark [00:43:26] No.
Dismang [00:43:27] But then, what’s the– I mean, again, in a bigger picture– again, I just don’t want to give false hope. But this does, this does not protect. I don’t see it. And again, if you see it, please point it out how this protects the contractual relationship between two businesses operating.
Clark [00:43:45] Senator Dismang, you’re talking about two different things. You’re talking– you’re about– you’re talking about someone coming in from out of state who can come or not come. We’re talking about existing contracts with large vendors, with large companies in Arkansas and smaller vendors in Arkansas that are already doing business that are threatened with losing those contracts if they don’t have their employees vaccinated. And this absolutely adds a line of defense. And as we know in the courts and how much or whether you’re willing to pay lawyers and what you’re willing to do is always a question mark. But it absolutely adds a line of defense.
Griffin [00:44:29] Senator Tucker.
Tucker [00:44:31] Thank you, Governor. And my question is really exactly with this same line of questioning. I agree with you that Corporation A cannot force Corporation B to do more than, than what’s required under the law. But the recourse is Corporation A no longer has to do business with Corporation B if they don’t want to, depending on the terms of that contract. And I’ve heard of specific instances of an Arkansas corporation that has a contract with a large out-of-state vendor where that vendor says if this law passes and y’all can’t mandate vaccines anymore, you know, we can’t make you do that, but we’re not going to continue to conduct business with you. And a lot of times, specifically with this instance I heard of, their entire business exists on the premise of this contract. And so if they, if we pass this law and they lose that contract, that company goes out of business and those people lose their jobs. So I just wanted to add that in and ask if you have any thoughts on that.
Clark [00:45:27] I don’t. That’s the first time that that’s been brought up, Senator Tucker.
Tucker [00:45:32] Thank you.
Griffin [00:45:34] Okay. Anyone else wish to speak? Senator Stubblefield wants to speak. Senator Stubblefield is recognized. For. For, Sabrina.
Stubblefield [00:45:54] Colleagues, you know, America has, has always stood for religious toleration, non coercion and protecting the rights of conscience. As a matter of fact, when you look it up, Quakers are not required to serve in the military because to do so would violate their sincerely religious beliefs. Jews and Muslims who wear beards for the religious purpose by keeping them regardless of what business may require. The compulsory 12 year old education law for American students does not apply to the Amish, for their religious beliefs holds that a child should be taught formal education for only eight years. The legal argument to say that the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is suspended for Jehovah Witnesses because religious beliefs require they pledge only allegiance to no other than one God. Mandatory vaccination for schoolchildren are not required in the Christian science schools, whose religious teachings forbid that procedure. So America has always stood up for religious toleration, non coercion and protecting the rights of conscience. Yesterday, in testimony in Washington, D.C., we, we listened to a whistleblower who had worked for one of the largest private companies in America for many years testify that this company, who has a lobbyist budget that is larger than Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Raytheon– as a matter of fact, it’s larger than all of the industrial military complex. And it’s called Facebook. They spend more money lobbying and buying politicians off in Washington than any other company in the United States. Facebook. You know how they used, you know how they use some of their power. They use it to destroy the lives of young girls through anorexia by manipulating their algorithms? She testified that they had been doing this for years to damage kids, our children. This is a independent company that has bought off politicians so they wouldn’t be regulated. You keep letting this go and that’s exactly what we’re going to head here. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Griffin [00:48:26] Senator Clark, you’ve already spoken. I think there is. Yes, there is. So the body can do whatever the body wants to do.
M Johnson [00:48:39] Mr. President, I move we suspend the rules and allow Senator Clark–
Griffin [00:48:42] Come down here and make your motion. You need 24 votes to let him speak again. He wants to speak again.
M Johnson [00:48:56] Mr. President, I move that we suspend the rules and allow Senator Clark to speak again on this particular bill.
Griffin [00:49:03] For this, for this purpose.
M Johnson [00:49:05] Limited to this particular bill.
Griffin [00:49:07] OK. Anybody got any questions? Senator Leding.
Leding [00:49:11] If we suspend this rule, will that allow anybody to go back down there multiple times, in effect, allowing for a–
Griffin [00:49:18] Well, we’re not waiving the rule indefinitely. He specifically said– it depends on the motion.
M Johnson [00:49:22] No, sir, that’s not what my motions said.
Griffin [00:49:25] You want to expand it?
M Johnson [00:49:29] But I would add you to it if you would like, Senator Leding.
Griffin [00:49:33] OK. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Noes have it. Motion fails. All right, Senator, ready to close? Senator Hammer, let’s close out this Bill, which we handled under a different name a couple of days ago.
Hammer [00:49:53] Thank you. I want to make sure, and perhaps I was strong in my emotions a while ago. So let me go back and say that I appreciate each and every business that does business in the state of Arkansas, and I appreciate every business that wants to do business with businesses in Arkansas. But the reason this bill is before is because we’ve had Arkansans who work for companies that know that they are about to be terminated from their job if we don’t create a reasonable, common sense pathway forward. That is a fact. I can’t speculate about what the future holds. I can’t speculate how anybody is going to react to this. But this bill, I think, will be of good value to businesses that have communicated with me. We need an umbrella. We need something to protect us from the rain of insanity that is falling out of Washington on us. And this umbrella can give them that protection. Again, I want to remind you that it says that for those that voluntarily mandate or that are forced to mandate that this bill will provide protection for those who don’t want to but are being made to. To the point that was made a while ago about companies that are out of state that are going to look at this piece of legislation and say that they will no longer do business with companies in Arkansas, I would just say this. And I may be wrong, but I think I’m 99 percent right. They could do the same thing now and say, if you provide religious exemptions, if you provide medical exemptions, we’re not going to do business with you. When is that going to stop? My appealing to you today is this. For those businesses like some in my district that approach me that have 600 employees, that have 200 employees, that would have been caught in the hundred and up mark that have said, would you give us a little relief? I believe this bill is a good step toward that relief that they are wanting. And I’d appreciate a good vote on both the bill and the emergency clause.
Griffin [00:52:10] Okay. Thank you, Senator. A couple of things. Please speak up. Madam Secretary, Madam Secretary just reminded me that it’s been hard to hear. One thing I wanted to make sure I know reading can be dangerous. That’s a joke. But technically, every vote is supposed to be from your seat. The reason we ever have, we ever have this sound the ballot thing is because people vote and they’re not in their seat. And then we get them back in their seats. Technically, the rules at every vote, each member shall answer from his seat. So if you’re in your seat, we can avoid additional machinations. Please call the roll.
Cornwell [00:52:52] We have two pairs at the desk. Senator Garner, yes. Senator Hickey, no. Senator Bledsoe, no. Senator Sturch, yes. Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, no. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, yes. Davis, yes. Dismang, no. Eads, no. Elliott, no. English, English. Flippo, yes. Flowers. Flowers. Garner is yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Hill, yes. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, yes. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample, no. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, yes. Sullivan, yes. Teague. Teague, yes. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [22 yes, 11 no, 2 not voting]
Griffin [00:54:37] Anyone wish vote or change their vote. Senator English is no. Anyone else? Anyone else? Cast up the ballot. 22 yeas, 12 nays. The bill has passed. Emergency clause fails.
Hammer [00:54:49] Motion.
Griffin [00:54:53] Please come to the well. The senator is recognized.
Hammer [00:55:02] Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to make a motion to expunge the vote– the emergency vote by which it failed. The bill will remain, but the emergency portion, that part that failed, I’d like to expunge that vote on the emergency clause.
Griffin [00:55:16] OK, any questions? OK. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. The noes have. It requires 24 votes.
Hammer [00:55:29] Roll call.
Griffin [00:55:30] One, two, three, four, five. Plenty. Please call the roll strictly on the motion to expunge.
Ingram [00:55:39] Question.
Griffin [00:55:40] Senator.
Ingram [00:55:42] Any pairs that took place before this, the emergency clause expunging? OK, thank you.
Cornwell [00:55:48] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, no. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, yes. Davis, yes. Dismang, Dismang. Eads, yes. Elliott, no. English, English. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, Garner. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Hill, no. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, yes. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample, no. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, Sturch. Sullivan, yes. Teague, no. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [20 yes, 10 no, 5 not voting]
Griffin [00:57:04] Anyone wish to vote or change the vote? Senator English is no.
Ballinger [00:57:10] I have a question for the chair. I know that [unintelligible] contemplated the vote on the emergency clause. [unintelligible]
Cornwell [00:57:21] We’re in the middle–
Griffin [00:57:22] Yeah, yeah. Let’s– look. Yeah, we’re voting. Anybody over here, vote or change your vote? Garner, aye. Sturch is– he told– ok. Sturch is aye. Cast up the ballot. 22 yeas, 11 nays. The motion fails.
Rapert [00:57:47] Mr. Chair.
Griffin [00:57:49] Senator Rapert.
Rapert [00:57:50] Point of order is the best way I know to do that. I would like to hear reasoning when we have members that have paired votes on a bill– and you may have contemplated that. So I’d like to have some feedback because I’ve never seen a situation that’s been just like this. I don’t recall where we’ve had a pair be questioned when it came to the emergency clause issue, and I just want to know that.
Griffin [00:58:20] [00:58:20]Yeah, well, the, the pair is for the vote on a bill.
Rapert [00:58:26] [00:58:26]I get that. But we never, we never know and cannot anticipate when it becomes an issue on that so that’s–
Griffin [00:58:36] [00:58:36]Those are the rules. That’s the problem with not being here. Do you want to speak–
Rapert [00:58:45] [00:58:45]Well, actually, I have the floor here with the point of order for the chair.
Griffin [00:58:47] [00:58:47]If you’ll yield, he wants to say something. But if not, there’s your answer.
Rapert [00:58:50] [00:58:50]I was just wondering if you or perhaps–
Griffin [00:58:52] [00:58:52]Could you hand me that piece of paper, please?
Rapert [00:58:52] [00:58:52]— the parliamentarian would have–
Griffin [00:58:56] [00:58:56]Would you hand me that–
Rapert [00:58:57] [00:58:57]It’s as much–
Griffin [00:58:57] [00:58:57]Okay.
Rapert [00:58:58] [00:58:58]It’s as much a clarification, not a, not a challenge. But I mean, honestly, I mean, the underlying bill that they’ve paired with, so–[7.2s]
Griffin [00:59:06] [00:59:06]Asked and answered, asked and answered. You asked a question. This is a pair vote on this– a vote on this bill. Nothing else.
Rapert [00:59:14] [00:59:14]What , what do the–
Griffin [00:59:15] [00:59:15]But the clincher, expunge, that, this does not apply.
Rapert [00:59:19] [00:59:19]What does the rules give, give then as it relates to the emergency clause? What, what efforts do a member have? What, what do we have when that’s an issue?
Griffin [00:59:29] [00:59:29]You need to be here.
Rapert [00:59:30] [00:59:30]No, I understand that.
Griffin [00:59:31] [00:59:31]I mean that– you know, some bodies don’t even allow people to vote if they’re not here. That’s that’s an extraordinary thing.
Rapert [00:59:37] [00:59:37]That’s true.
Griffin [00:59:45] [00:59:45]OK, they do have an– the paperwork here– there’s another pair, if it had been expunged, to vote on the emergency clause. But there’s no pair for the motion. I’m just telling. We can’t make– I mean, this is not debatable. This is not debatable. That’s your answer.
Rapert [01:00:06] [01:00:06]So what you are telling us now, though, is that we do have pairs where they could vote again. But they can’t get there because of the motion.
Griffin [01:00:17] [01:00:17]I do not keep the pairs.
Rapert [01:00:19] [01:00:19]I understand that.
Griffin [01:00:20] [01:00:20]Madam Secretary keeps the pairs. I see the pairs for the vote. Madam Secretary just turned around, told me there was another pair if it had been expunged. There is not a pair for the motion.
Rapert [01:00:32] [01:00:32]Again, as a member of the Senate, I was asking for good clarification because this won’t be the last time that this comes up. So that’s what I was looking for is if Steve Cook as counsel had any kind of rule, clarification at all.
Cook [01:00:54] [01:00:54]I defer to the chair about that. He stated it exactly the case. We got pairs on votes, not motions.
Rapert [01:00:55] [01:00:55]OK, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Griffin [01:00:56] [01:00:56]OK, thank you. You are recognized. You can be recognized after he’s recognized. I’m sorry, Senator Hickey.
Hickey [01:01:07] [01:01:07]You go ahead.
Dismang [01:01:08] [01:01:08]Okay. Okay.
Griffin [01:01:12] [01:01:12]Okay, so, Senator Dismang, then Senator Hammer.
Dismang [01:01:13] [01:01:13]Well, and just for clarification for Senator Rapert. If you looked at the board, we had two members that had requested leave that actually ended up voting. I mean, that was at the call the chair. Things were a little bit confusing. And so to your point, they actually voted without a pair, which I think we could make an objection and strike those votes if we want to. Now I don’t think anyone’s intention is to do that. But they did vote, actually. I would contend that if you think that these things are important and valuable to you as a member, then you’re present.
Rapert [01:01:46] Is that a question?
Dismang [01:01:47] No, I had a point of personal privilege. I don’t have to ask a question.
Rapert [01:01:53] Oh, well, I’ll ask– [Gavel]
Griffin [01:01:53] The senator’s got the floor.
Dismang [01:01:53] But again, members, they had the latitude to vote without even being here, which would be a violation of the rules. The chair, you know, was trying to be appeasing to the members in this body, and I understand that. We could ask and strike and do all kinds of things, but members aren’t doing that. But I mean, to your point, I think everything that you were wanting to happen happened, even though they were in violation of our rules.
Griffin [01:02:15] And senator, I would say to that point, here’s the rule on that. There are a lot of things that we do in this body, that are based on grace and comity. Not comedy. That’s something different, but comity. And so I don’t always enforce because it’s up to you to object. And if you do not object, that’s the way it rolls. Someone could have said, sound the ballot, and everyone would have had to be in their seat. No one used that. OK, that’s cool. But, you know, so that’s, that’s– Senator Hickey, then Hammer, then Rapert.
Hickey [01:02:58] And thank you, Mr. President, you actually made the point. Everybody here needs to understand what Senator Dismang said was right. Those pairs that, that were there, they even got to vote on the motion. That was on the screen. Senator Garner and I had a conversation this morning about this, and of course, I paired with him. He knew I was going to be voting no.
Griffin [01:03:21] One, one second, Senator Hickey. This is a perfect example. What this senator’s doing, walking down through the well while someone’s speaking is not technically allowed. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything because I love him. And I give him grace. I give him grace every day. You know, but, but, so no one objects– I do, too. No one objected. That is a perfect example of something that technically violates the rule. But we let him get away with it. Please proceed, senator.
Hickey [01:03:54] And just to go one, one step further. Senator Garder and I had a conversation and I said, Senator Garner, here’s the thing. I said you need to let me sign additional pairs with you so that if the same thing happens on the emergency clause, that you’ll be covered. I also said– now I’m not for sure about sounding the ballot. I knew sitting out there a minute ago that I could have sounded the ballot and made that stop. But I didn’t do it out of respect because the member had to be somewhere. I knew exactly what they wanted to do. All of those votes were exactly like everybody wanted them to be. So nothing would change either way.
Griffin [01:04:35] [01:04:35]Senator.
Rapert [01:04:37] [01:04:37]I’m standing here.
Griffin [01:04:39] [01:04:39]Right? But I’ve already said that Senator Hammer, then– do you have a question for Hickey?OK, just wait. Senator Hammer, then Rapert, then Chesterfield.
Hammer [01:04:50] Mr. President.
Griffin [01:04:50] Yes.
Hammer [01:04:50] I would like to yield my position to Senator Rapert.
Griffin [01:04:54] Senator Rapert is recognized, then Senator Chesterfield. Ok, question for? OK, let’s do it after this order here if that’s okay. Senator Rapert.
Rapert [01:05:05] Since we’ve, since we’ve reached this position, and again, I do thank the chair and for Steve and the counsel on that. I think it is–
Griffin [01:05:18] One second, senator. [Gavel]
Rapert [01:05:18] I thank the chair for the explanation, because we haven’t hit this particular stumbling block like we’re hitting today. And so I appreciate that. And you know, the rules are the rules. And I appreciate that. And so it’s valid to say, if it’s important, be here. I want to make sure to clarify, though, since there were names that were mentioned and, and stated that somebody voted and they weren’t here again, there was a name that was voted on the original bill. That chair remains empty. Another member called yes for that, that member and that, that chair remains empty. I’m not going to call a name because to me, I just want to make sure that we understand that what, what the chair stated is that we have some grace in here. And I’m going to state this and I will say this. I have seen many, many times that we vote for or against a measure, and there is grace that has been given on an emergency clause. Many, many times that we’ve done that. But I know we’re at this point in the body, and I think that that means that this session may go on further. Thank you.
Griffin [01:06:26] Thank you, Senator Rapert. Senator, are you still wanting– Senator Chesterfield. Then, ok. Senator Chesterfield– please [Gavel] — Senator Chesterfield has got the floor.
Chesterfield [01:06:38] Thank you, Mr. Chair. For the good of the body, can we see the, the board again?
Griffin [01:06:45] Is that technically possible?
Chesterfield [01:06:46] Is that technically possible?
Griffin [01:06:49] She’s working on it. Sabrina’s our very best.
Chesterfield [01:06:52] I ask this because we continue to talk about it. But I believe that everybody who voted for the first thing, even those who were absent, voted this last time and the bill did not pass.
Griffin [01:07:04] I think it’s on the internet.
Chesterfield [01:07:07] Ok. And I wanted to make sure because we continue to make this issue. We continue to make this issue but everybody– Senator Sturch, Senator Garner, all of them were voted. We could have all sounded the ballot because we knew they were here. Senator Hendren, we could have sounded that ballot, but we did not. Am I correct? Thank you.
Griffin [01:07:27] I heard half of that, but I appreciate you. Senator Irvin.
Irvin [01:07:33] Just clarification. If if, if you take leave, but you– if you take leave, you can still vote as a pair. Is that right? OK. I just wanted to make sure that was clarified. Technically, you– OK.
Griffin [01:07:49] OK, I don’t even know where we are. Shoot. No, I’m kidding. Senator Hammer.
Hammer [01:07:59] Mr. Chair, I’d like to make a motion. After the motion. I’m going to make a request after the motion when we see how it plays out. I’d like to make a motion in lieu of all the conversation that’s taken place today, and just like when I got up here and said, let’s send the bill to Public Health because we don’t want a cloud hanging over this thing, or I want the same courtesy now to ask that the, that the motion by which the emergency clause failed be erased.
Griffin [01:08:31]]The motion by which the expungement of the emergency clause failed.
Hammer [01:08:37] [01:08:37]Right.
Griffin [01:08:38] [01:08:38]That’s what you’re saying.
Hammer [01:08:39] [01:08:39]That’s what I’m saying. That’s what I want.
Griffin [01:08:41] [01:08:41]That’s what I’m saying. That’s what you’re meaning.
Hammer [01:08:43] [01:08:43]That’s right. Thank you.
Griffin [01:08:45] Gotcha. You’ve heard the motion. Any questions? You have a question, Senator Beckham? This is non-debatable. 24 votes.
Beckham [01:08:58] No, I just have a question. Did you ever call that motion to expunge?
Griffin [01:09:01] It failed.
Beckham [01:09:01] I don’t believe you called it.
Griffin [01:09:06] It failed. That’s what we’re talking about.
Beckham [01:09:09] But before you cast up the ballot, you were stopped.
Griffin [01:09:15] You, you, you must have left. We, we– yeah, that’s– so what happened is it failed, and then the discussion commenced. Correct? OK.
Pitsch [01:09:31] Mr. Chairman, point of clarity.
Griffin [01:09:32] Hang on. Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [01:09:35] I checked with Steve and I think I’ve got this–
Griffin [01:09:38] That’s dangerous, but go ahead.
Pitsch [01:09:39] I understand, but I would never dare to speak without that. But we have a– we have, to Senator Irvin’s question, we have two members who have requested leave. And then it’s OK for them to have voted as a pair, but we had fellow members cast their vote for them while they’re on leave with this added motion. And I don’t think that is in our rule books to be OK. I would like a point of clarification.
Griffin [01:10:07] First of all, you need to object at the time.
Pitsch [01:10:08] I understand, but I don’t think we–
Griffin [01:10:14] Who’s here, who’s not here, I’m not the attendance keeper, ok?
Pitsch [01:10:14] I can get that.
Griffin [01:10:16] So, y’all– you know, that’s, that’s– OK. Senator Mark Johnson.
M Johnson [01:10:26] Thank you, Mr. President. A question for Senator Hammer. It’s a procedural thing. I’m just not sure. Senator Hammer, is, is your motion in effect to ask that the Senate apply the same courtesy to you that we were discussing earlier as far as giving the sponsor the benefit of the doubt on, on how to proceed and to keep it clarified and basically transparent to the public? Is that the purpose of your motion?
Hammer [01:10:58] The purpose of my motion is not to imply that anything improper has been done, but so to remove the possibility that anything improper would be argued, that the best thing to do is a motion to expunge the vote by which the emergency portion of the bill failed. And then I’ll disclose full intent. I would not ask for this to be heard today, but I would ask for it to be added to the calendar tomorrow. And that way, members who are not here can make sure that their pairs are played out down the way.
M Johnson [01:11:42] So this– to answer, to reply, this is a, an attempt to provide clarity.
Hammer [01:11:50] Yes.
M Johnson [01:11:50] Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Mr. President.
Griffin [01:11:54] This is the motion to expunge the vote to expunge that failed, that failed. Senator Davis.
Davis [01:12:02] Thank you. I’ve got a question. If we are not going to allow the members who were on leave to vote, can we list them as on leave so they’re not recorded on the screen and ultimately recorded as just not voting on this? Well, it didn’t– it wasn’t showing it on the screen. I’m concerned that won’t show in the record.
Griffin [01:12:23] They have paired.
Davis [01:12:26] But not on the motion to expunge.
Griffin [01:12:28] On the motion to expunge. I don’t know whether that’s technically possible, but we just will remind you, if that’s what you– if you will just say, ‘Chair or Mr. President, can we get, can we get a summary of who’s got a pair, who doesn’t have a pair, who’s here, who’s not here, that sort of thing,’ we’re happy to do that.
Davis [01:12:56] I just want to ensure that they are officially on the record online showing that they have taken leave today so they don’t show up as not voting. Then people think they were here, but didn’t vote on the motion. That will reflect on their record.
Griffin [01:13:09] Yeah. May I see that? The attendance, the attendance– and this is printed off of the computer system on the website. But the attendance shows who’s excused, who has leave.
Davis [01:13:27] So it will show– even though it didn’t show on this screen, it will show online that they’ve asked for leave.
Griffin [01:13:32] Right. For example, I’m holding this document on the vote– oh, this is the attendance vote– the attendance screen. It’ll just say excused. On the vote itself, it may– it may not. I’m not that– we can talk about that. I don’t know what the computer shows, what it doesn’t. This is the overall attendance for the day. This is not the vote. OK, so what it shows on the vote, I will have to– we’ll have to get that.
Davis [01:14:00] Thank you. I just wanted to bring that up for our members that are on leave.
Griffin [01:14:02] Yeah.
Davis [01:14:03] I think that’s important to them.
Griffin [01:14:04] Roger that.
Davis [01:14:04] Thank you.
Griffin [01:14:13] OK, on the vote on the motion, Sabrina can note that on the page of that vote and is happy to do that. OK.
Bledsoe [01:14:26] May I, may I–
Griffin [01:14:31] Right, right. But that has to be done by each vote as opposed to the attendance. Obviously, if someone watches the video, which I’m sure they’d want to do, the leave will be indicated therein. Senator Bledsoe, and then I think, Senator– Senator Bledsoe.
Bledsoe [01:14:50] So. So if you have paired and you have not taken leave, you cannot vote. Is that correct?
Griffin [01:14:59] [01:14:59]I think what she’s talking about is a different–
Bledsoe [01:15:03] But some would say that it would be wrong to vote for a member, as we have traditionally done, in this body.
Griffin [01:15:13] I mean, you could object. I mean, the rule says you got to be in your seat. I mean, look, we’ve always done the seat thing, if you will, collectively. Someone says, ‘Sound the ballot,’ and everybody’s got to get to your seat. You know, you could object under this rule. Words have meaning, right?
Bledsoe [01:15:33] Well, well, really what–
Griffin [01:15:34] Each member shall answer from his seat.
Bledsoe [01:15:38] Well, what I was trying to do is to establish the tradition. Is that right or wrong?
Griffin [01:15:44] That is, that, that is the custom in the body?
Bledsoe [01:15:49] OK, thank you.
Griffin [01:15:53] Fair?
Cook [01:15:53] Somebody could challenge the vote.
Griffin [01:15:58] There are a lot of things like that I call grace. But yes, tradition, custom, comity, whatever. OK. So we are done with that. And are we ready to move on to– is there an item at the desk? I think there’s an item at the desk. Oh, this is– where did Senator Hammer go? Please stay down here, Senator Hammer.
Hammer [01:16:25] I wanted to make sure my vote gets counted.
Griffin [01:16:28] If we get to actual recordation. You can’t abandon ship in the middle of your motion. You created this kerfuffle. He just went to the House. Hey, I don’t blame you, OK? This is on the motion to expunge the vote on the expungement of the emergency clause by which it failed. All those– it requires 24. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. It’s a close one, but it needs 24. So the no’s have it.
Hammer [01:17:06] The no’s have it?
Griffin [01:17:07] The no’s have it.
Hammer [01:17:08] Roll call it.
Griffin [01:17:08] Roll call. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Please call the roll. Requires 24. Just trying to be fair, Senator Hammer. Now you can sit down.
Cornwell [01:17:20] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, no. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, yes. Davis, yes. Dismang Dismang. Eads, yes. Elliott, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, Garner, [leave]. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Hill, Hill. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, yes. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample, no. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, Sturch [leave]. Sullivan, yes. Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [22 yes, 8 no, 3 not voting, 2 present]
Griffin [01:18:44] Anyone wish to vote or change their vote? Senator Hill is aye. Cast up the ballot. 23 ayes, 8 nays. The motion to expunge the expungement of the failure of the emergency clause fails. Senator. Something like that.
Hammer [01:19:11] I’d like to make this in a form of a request. If I need to make it in the form of a motion, let me know. I’d like to request that this bill be held here in this chamber before being transmitted to the governor until tomorrow. Before it’s transmitted– I’m sorry, to be held. Yeah, to be, before transmitted to the House. I would like for it to be held. Thank you.
Griffin [01:19:34] Without objection.
Hickey [01:19:38] [01:19:38]Object.
Griffin [01:19:38] The senator’s objected. So the normal course of business would be for this bill to move. So if you’re going to suspend the rules.
Hickey [01:19:51] What did you want me to do, sir?
Griffin [01:19:52] [Please come down, state your full objection, then this– he’ll have to, he’ll have to make a motion to suspend the rules to take us out of regular order.
Hickey [01:20:03] [01:20:03]Yes. Well, as my objection is, is that I believe it should be transmitted. I believe whenever we started this today, we all said this was going to be brief. Obviously, that was not the case. There’s been leeway given. As I’ve already been down here and stated, we allowed members that were not here for their votes to even been recorded yes, and it did not pass. So at some point, we just need to go forward with what it is. Quit negotiating or whatever we are back and forth and get this one behind us. We’re here to do congressional redistricting. From the very beginning, day one, and I believe that it’s even been alluded to that this thing is not constitutional by some of the people that are for it. I have said that from the beginning that we are not supposed to be here doing any of these bills. So my vote is no for a variety of reasons. So I believe that it should go forward. And so I would ask that that we would transmit to the House.
Griffin [01:21:03] It will not be transmitted via unanimous consent. A motion to suspend the rules is required. It’s 24.
Hammer [01:21:16] Mr. President.
Griffin [01:21:18] The senator is recognized.
Hammer [01:21:19] I’d like to make a motion to suspend the rules for the purpose of holding House Bill 1977 here in this chamber.
Griffin [01:21:25] You’ve heard the motion. It’s non-debatable. 24 votes.
Tucker [01:21:35] So Senator Hickey objected to it being transferred out, right? And then Senator Hammer is moving to also keep it here. Do I have all of that correct?
Griffin [01:21:47] No, no, no. Senator Hickey, Senator Hickey was objecting to the ‘without objection.’ We’re operating by unanimous consent and comity.
Tucker [01:21:57] But what I heard–
Griffin [01:21:58] Senator Hickey objected to it, to it staying here?
Tucker [01:22:01] I understand. Yes. But what I heard Senator Hammer say was a motion to suspend the rules to keep it here. Did I misunderstood what you, what you said, Senator?
Griffin [01:22:09] That’s correct. He wants to keep it here. Hickey wants–
Tucker [01:22:11] So everybody wants to keep, everybody wants to keep it here?
Griffin [01:22:13] Well, not everybody. Some people want it to move on and some people want to keep it here. Senator Clark.
Clark [01:22:27] I may not understand this. Did Senator Hammer make a motion or not make a motion?
Griffin [01:22:29] Yeah, yeah. Let me, let me walk you through this. Senator, Senator Hammer came down. He said, I don’t know if I need to make a request or make a motion, because this is done by comity a lot, where you just say, I’m going to ask that that stay here and not be immediately transmitted. And I say, ‘without objection.’ The people go, OK, yeah, let’s move on. In this instance, we had an objection. So the unanimous consent is broken, which means if you’re going to do something out of the ordinary that breaks the rules, then you got to make a motion to suspend the rules. Therefore, Senator Hammer came down and made that motion. It’s non debatable. That’s where we are. It requires 24 votes. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. No’s have it. The motion fails. Senator English, if we are ready for her. Is, is it still in engrossing? We got it.
Cornwell [01:23:31] When your committee on–
Griffin [01:23:32] Senator Hickey.
Hickey [01:23:32] You didn’t say ‘Transmit to the House.’
Griffin [01:23:32] Transmit it to the House. It’s going to transmit– we’re going to return it to the House. Either way, it’s not staying here.
Cornwell [01:23:50] We your Committee on Engrossed Bills to whom was referred Senate Bill 743 by Senator English compared the engrossed copy with the original and find the same correctly engrossed.
Griffin [01:24:01] Calendar. This is the, this is the bill that was earlier amended for a technical correction. And then we put it at the bottom of the calendar. We’re now at the bottom of the calendar. Senator English.
Cornwell [01:24:15] Senate Bill 743 by Senator English concerning the definition of the four United States congressional districts of Arkansas and to declare an emergency.
Griffin [01:24:25] Senator English.
English [01:24:26] Thank you very much. We are back here with Senate Bill–
Griffin [01:24:29] [Gavel] Sorry, Senator.
English [01:24:29] 743.. Pardon me.
Griffin [01:24:34] Go right ahead. We just got a lot of chit chat.
English [01:24:37] 743. And one of the things that I asked the staff to put on your desk this morning was this thing which I took off of Facebook, which unfortunately left off the very top districts here in the, in the state or counties. But I think one of the things that this kind of does is we have the map of what the four districts would look like under this legislation. But I think it’s kind of important to look at how the state has changed over the last 10 years, where it has grown, and where it has declined. And that is basically the reason for the redistricting, the new maps, to take into account for those things. So these maps are basically simply done on population across the state– moving some people here because we didn’t have enough folks over here. Sometimes we have too many people over here, so we have to change it over here. So that is basically what we have. All of the districts are in– meet the deviation. Every one of them is on target. The 1st Congressional District is at a minus 0.05. And that’s 372 people difference. 2nd District is 252,881, and it is a minus 0.0. And that’s a minus 71– 171 people. And the 3rd District is 753,219, and that’s a 0.04 percent, 338 people. And that’s a 4– District 4, 753,086. And that’s a 0.03 eeviation, 205 people. So I believe this is a good map, and a lot of people have worked on this. Not me, but a lot of people in the Senate, a lot of people in the House. And I think we have come up with a very good bill that we can all live with.
Griffin [01:26:45] Any questions? Senator Ingram.
Ingram [01:26:52] This map that we got–
English [01:26:52] Yeah.
Ingram [01:26:53] Benton County’s not on it. And they–
English [01:26:55] I just went–
Ingram [01:26:57] [unintelligible]
English [01:26:58] I think you– I think you did not hear me in the beginning when I noted that I was not a good photo taker on Facebook, and those upper upper districts disappeared. Sorry. But this was just to give context for what we’re talking about and see how the state has grown and declined.
Cornwell [01:27:17] I thought that maybe they’d [unintelligible].
English [01:27:19] You thought that was funny?
Griffin [01:27:20] Any– senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [01:27:26] Not to ask a question, but to get it on the record, somebody left a note on my desk. Do you know how many people Sebastian County is losing to the 4th? Has that been determined yet?
English [01:27:34] How many people what?
Pitsch [01:27:36] That Sebastian County is getting cut out of the 3rd?
English [01:27:38] Have they grown?
Pitsch [01:27:40] No. Your bill takes a segment of Sebastian County out of the 3rd.
English [01:27:47] Right.
Pitsch [01:27:47] And I’ve asked repeatedly for a number. Somebody left a cue card here on my desk, but I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, so I’m asking.
English [01:27:54] It’s 9,698 people.
Pitsch [01:27:57] So does that mean– follow up, Mr. Chair. I’m going to assume I get a follow up. The 2,500 that went out of it yesterday, are they in that number? So the original number only had 7,000 taken out of Sebastian County?
English [01:28:15] I don’t know.
Pitsch [01:28:16] Well, we lost 2,500 yesterday with that technical correction.
English [01:28:22] I guess the, the, at the end of the day, what the, the mapping showed is that Sebastian County would be 10,000 people over the amount for, for the congressional district. And that is why those 9,698 people are in the southern part.
Pitsch [01:28:44] Well, my question is we thought we were going to be 10,000 or 11,000 people out of our district with the cut, and what I’m finding out today and why I’m questioning the 9,000 on this little blue page that was on my desk, I don’t know that that includes the 2,500. Because if it does, then the numbers they were giving me prior to your map meant we were at 7,000 out, and that seems awfully small for where the geography line is.
English [01:29:11] I think the numbers you’re seeing are correct.
Griffin [01:29:19] Any other questions? Senator– OK, do you want to yield to let the senator make a motion, Senator English?
English [01:29:27] That’s fine with me.
Griffin [01:29:28] Fine with you?
English [01:29:28] I’m closed. I’m closed.
Griffin [01:29:30] OK, well, we hadn’t got–
English [01:29:31] I move at the proper time.
Griffin [01:29:33] OK. OK. You can either step away and yield now or we can– because we’ve still got to go through for and against. Senator Rapert, you want to come down and make a motion? Senator Rapert.
Rapert [01:29:48] Mr. President, I make a motion to lay Senate Bill 743 on the table. It’s non debatable. It takes 18 votes.
Griffin [01:29:54] SB 743. SB 743. Which is not this one. Oh yes, this is– I’m sorry. My numbers are wrong on the sheet of paper. Not debatable, but I will take questions. 18 votes. Senator–
Elliott [01:30:13] I was– thank you. All right.
Griffin [01:30:22] Senator Elliott.
Elliott [01:30:22] I want to clarify. Does it take 24 votes to remove it from the table?
Griffin [01:30:28] Yes.
Elliott [01:30:29] 18 to put it on, 24 to take it off?
Griffin [01:30:32] Yes.
Elliott [01:30:32] All right.
Griffin [01:30:33] 18 to lay it on the table. Not debatable. 24 to take it off. OK. Senator Chesterfield. One second, y’all. [Gavel]. Senator Chesterfield.
Chesterfield [01:30:45] Are you laying it on the table for a specific period of time or are you laying it on the table indefinitely?
Griffin [01:30:51] It’s laid on the table until it’s not. You got to get 24 votes to pull it off. All those in favor say aye. All those opposed. Noes have it. Please call the roll.
Cornwell [01:31:15] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, Beckham. Bledsoe, Bledsoe, no. Caldwell, no. Chesterfield, no. Clark, yes. Davis, yes. Dismang, no. Eads, Eads. Elliott, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, Garner. Gilmore, Gilmore. Hammer, Hammer. Hendren, Hendren. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Hill, Hill. Ingram, no. Irvin, Irvin. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, Pitsch. Rapert, yes. Rice, Rice. Sample, Sample, no. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, Sturch. Sullivan, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, Tucker. Wallace, yes. [12 yes, 9 no, 14 not voting]
Griffin [01:33:05] Senator Hill is no. Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [01:33:11] Point of order. I just want to– I want to remind my colleagues that we have two people who are on leave. And in my opinion, that means the tradition of we sometimes vote for people should not happen at this time.
Griffin [01:33:26] Ok, well, you, you–
Pitsch [01:33:26] You asked us to–
Griffin [01:33:26] They haven’t voted yet, but– I don’t think. OK. If they vote, you can object. Senator English, no. Senator Tucker, no. Cast up the ballot. 11 yeas, 12 nays. The motion to lay on the table fails. OK. Back– yeah, we’re back to Senator English. And Senator English has answered questions. And now we’re going to take people who want to speak against the bill. Senator Elliott. If you want to speak against the bill and you know that right now, let me put you on the list. Elliott, Tucker, Pitsch, senators all. Senator Chesterfield. OK. Senator– OK, Senator Johnson. Senator Elliott.
Elliott [01:34:33] Thank you, governor.
Griffin [01:34:35] One second, Senator Elliott. [Gavel] Please give the senator in the well your attention, please. Thank you. Senator. Senator Ballinger, y’all– Thank you. Senator Elliott.
Elliott [01:34:54] Thank you, governor and members of the Assembly. I just have really two other points I’d like to make regarding this process and what we’ve done and what the effect is on Pulaski County. It was said that there was no way to draw a map without splitting districts and get the result that we need to get. So I checked into that. So I just want to tell you what the numbers actually are. There’s 36 bills that have been filed on redistricting– 21 in the House–
Griffin [01:35:37] [Gavel]
Elliott [01:35:37] –21 in the House–
Griffin [01:35:38] Sorry, Senator. Let’s just take conversations in a place where you can express yourself freely. Senator Elliott.
Elliott [01:35:45] 21 in the House. These are the– these are bills on redistricting. 21 in the House and 15 and the Senate. Of those, four are shell bills, two of those in the House and two in the Senate. And 21 of the substantive bills currently filed splits– 21 split counties. That means that there are 11 bills that do not split counties and were able to achieve what we need to achieve. So for us to say we cannot get a good map without splitting Pulaski County is just patently not true. It’s a choice that’s made. So I would appreciate folks just saying, we just made the choice to do it because we can. Because that’s a genuine thing to say. The second thing that we’ve heard a great deal about is the issue of race. People who are listening and people in this body need to be very, very clear that just as we deliberately, deliberately as we should, consider the other criteria, we absolutely can and should consider race as a part of what we’re doing. To say things like, I don’t see race and we didn’t consider race, is against everything that we are allowed to do, according to the courts. So that comes down to a choice. Because in the map that we have, we’ve made a choice to crack– we’re not supposed to pack these districts and we’re not supposed to crack these districts when it comes to minority groups. This map does absolutely what it is not supposed to do. And it doesn’t mean that you sat there and said, Well, let’s pull out all the African American folks and take them out. You don’t have to say it out loud. As has been pointed out so many times, it’s the impact of what you do. But we absolutely can and should think about these districts the way 10 other southern states that were part of the Confederacy, 10 other southern states have done exactly what we get all flummoxed about, even thinking about doing it. And that is to draw a district that would include a possibility and opportunity to put minority groups together that they might have an opportunity to elect somebody the way the other 10 Confederate states have done that represents large portions of the minority in this state. For us to continue to hide behind the guise of, I don’t know about racial impact, I don’t know anything about it, all it says is we don’t want to deal with it. It is not racism to ask us to think about this. The courts have deliberately said we can and we should. I want you to understand that. However you vote is how you vote. But I do not want this to continue that we don’t have the right to do this. We have been very clear. I’m very comfortable about considering every other criteria. This is one of them. Thank you.
Griffin [01:39:31] Senator in favor. Senator Rapert.
Rapert [01:39:37] Thank you, members. And I do want to speak in favor of this bill. And I’ll just tell you my motion here is simply procedural motion. We’re a body of procedure. I respect procedure. I’ve used procedure. You’ve used procedure. My hope was to try to give us an opportunity to get a situation where 24 votes are required either way to get out of here. So that failed. We’ll see what’s available to us in the future. But on this bill– and I’m going to say this and it goes to everybody. First of all, to each of the committee members on the Senate State Agencies, you worked extremely hard and I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t been given an audience. We have had meeting after meeting that’s been called. Senator Hickey has worked very hard on the redistricting as well, which is truly the original focus we thought coming down here. So I respect that and I talked with him just while ago just so you know. I respect procedure. My motion is at one. This is a body of procedure. We use procedure to try to effect the policies we want, and that’s the way it goes. But I am going to have to object to some of the words that are spoken up here as it relates to race. Number one, specifically with staff, with leadership, we have done our very best to not have any discussion so that we can focus on the parameters that we’re supposed to look at in redistricting. have not pulled any numbers on racial statistics. Now I know that it comes up on maps that are redrawn. But I have seen no numbers on racial statistics as it related to the changes. But today I did ask the Bureau to tell me what was the racial makeup of the 2011 map, the 2011 map that was passed by a majority Democrat body. 1st Congressional District– and I could go through every one of these, white, black, et cetera. But since it’s being alleged that there’s been some effort, the First District was 18 percent with the First District map. The 2nd District was 21.4 percent. The 3rd District was 2.6 percent. And the 4th District was 19.4 percent. In the current map, the 1st District is– let me make sure I’m getting this right– 17.2 percent, even with adding what you are alleging is more minority population to the district. 2nd District, 20.1. Three, 2.8. Four, 19.4. So there’s the numbers and you’re welcome to get those numbers yourself. But I can tell you, members, and I have purposely tried to keep myself as an arbiter as the chair of the committee. People are going to get heated. People are going to make claims. But there’s been no effort whatsoever, senator. I would object if there were. You’ve heard me make those statements before, Senator. So I’m just trying to assure you that that’s not been an effort that’s been made. It’s not been made in my presence. I will also say to you this. Coming from Perry County, and lest, lest we forget, I’ll say it one last time I hope and debate. I was elected to a seven county district myself, my own legislative district. I was cut out of my entire seven county district. This body in 2011 disenfranchised all of my voters except one ballot box. One. One. My former colleague, Senator Jack Cricher, black individual, he sued over his district. He sued over his district. He absolutely did. So in terms of this– now I will tell you. What did I, what did I learn from that? In my county, Perry County– that’s where my home is. Actually closer to Conway than anywhere else, but I’m right there on the edge. Here’s what happened in Perry County. Used to have one rep and one senator for the whole county most of the time. You know what we figured out a way to do? We figured out a way to turn lemons into lemonade. And you know what? Now, every time there’s an event or request, guess what happens? Four state representatives are sent messages and they show up. Two state senators show up. Do you not think that six is greater than two? So let me ask you, as the most populous county in the state, do you think that they might benefit from having three congressmen that care about them instead of just one? It’s all about the way you look at things. It absolutely is. This map is better. I looked in the paper today and I wish I had some big charts, but I don’t think that’s in our rules either to use those. But if you look at the big charts and you see the big horseshoe that you all gave us in 2011, I think the map looks a lot better today with what this committee has given us. So the, the map looks better. It’s not all crossed up and gerrymandered like it was in 2011. And guess what? There’s only two counties split instead of five. Could we make it perfect? No. But I am tired of hearing some of the allegations thrown at members on all this stuff. They’ve done the best they could and they got it down to two instead of five, so be happy.
Griffin [01:45:40] [01:45:40]Just for the record, you can bring posters and whatever you want down here, unless someone objects, unless someone objects.
Rapert [01:45:49] Can I make a personal privilege? I made a mistake. I said Jack Pritchard. I apologize. Senator Jack Crumley. I apologize. That was the senator I was trying to say. So that’s it.
Griffin [01:46:01] Grace. Grace. Senator Tucker. Anybody wants to speak– want to speak for after Senator Tucker? OK, Senator Tucker. Then we’re gonna go Senator– unless someone wants to speak for, we’ve got Senator Pitsch, Senator Chesterfield, Senator Mark Johnson of Ferndale. Senator Tucker.
Tucker [01:46:26] Thank you, governor. We’ve had a lot of discussion about this, but there’s a few points I want to make that I think ought to be part of the record. Just to start, the way this bill has been presented in committee and on the floor is that the 1st District lost population and the 2nd District gained population. Then why would it make sense to take an entire county, Cleburne County, out of the 1st District and put it into the 2nd District? The answer seems fairly obvious to me, and that’s to account for the portion of Pulaski County that’s being moved from the 2nd District into the 1st District. And of course, we know that a portion of Pulaski County is also being moved from the 2nd into the 4th. And I want to talk for a moment just about exactly who this map moves from the 2nd to the 1st and from the 2nd to the 4th. First of all, Precinct 54 is being moved from the 2nd to the 1st, and that’s a part of North Little Rock. So this map does split the city of North Little Rock into two congressional districts. Second of all, precincts 103 and 124 in Pulaski County are part of the City of Little Rock. And they’re being moved to the 4th Congressional District. So this map does split the city of Little Rock into two congressional districts in addition to splitting Pulaski County three ways. Of the population that’s being moved from Pulaski County to the 1st District, that, that population is 34 percent white, 58 percent African American and 4 percent Hispanic. Of the population that’s being moved from Pulaski County to the 4th, 27 percent white, 49 percent African American and 27 percent Hispanic. Now let’s take that in contrast to the rest of the population of Pulaski County that’s staying in the 2nd Congressional District. That’s 52 percent, 52 percent white, 34 percent African American and 7 percent Hispanic. To Senator Elliott’s point when she presented her map as well, what’s now two weeks ago, every other southern state has drawn, and every other member of the former Confederacy has drawn a majority minority district in their state. We can do that. We’re not doing that even though we can. And we’re the only former Confederate state that has never sent an African American person to represent us in Congress. And not only are we not doing that, we are slicing and dicing the black and brown population in Pulaski County into three different congressional districts. Now to Senator Rapert’s point, and he raised this in committee yesterday, and I take him and everyone at their word that no one intentionally is moving Pulaski County’s minority population into three different congressional districts. But there is a point that intent is different than impact, and this is what the impact is no matter what. And I want to make sure everyone knows the impact of what this map does before we vote on it. And when I made this point in committee yesterday, Senator English asked me what I think the impact is. And I’m going to say the same thing again here today. And that is that we’ve heard from everyone who represents a county that’s been split into multiple congressional districts that the smaller pieces of those counties that are in a different congressional district are left behind. They’re separated from the majority of their county, so they’re isolated in that way. And they’re a small piece of the county isolated from the rest of the congressional districts. So they’re left on their own to fend for themselves. And Little Rock, I believe we’re in a great city right now. It’s no accident that Little Rock was settled right here. We have a beautiful river where the mountains meet the delta. We have a thriving urban downtown and we have a lot of assets here. And we do a lot of big projects, not just in Little Rock, but in Pulaski County. Right now we’re renovating the Museum of Fine Arts, what used to be called the art center. It’s a broad coalition across the county that we’re working on. Whether people like it or not, the reality is that the I30 bridge is being renovated. We’ve done Verizon Arena and Dickey Stephens, both on the north side of the river, which is a collaboration across the county. We have the Little Rock port, which is responsible for billions of dollars of business every year, which this map splits into two different congressional districts. On not every project that we do, but a lot of projects we work with members of Congress to make sure they get done in the best way possible. And when we have three congressional districts, it’s going to make that process more complicated and more cumbersome. So I believe this map hurts Pulaski County as a whole, but it hurts the portions that are being split off into the 1st and 4th congressional districts even more. And all for what is the question I want to ask. All for what? We also know for certain that it’s not necessary to split any county in order to hit the deviation numbers that we need to hit. We had plenty of maps filed by both Republican and Democratic legislators that kept all 75 counties whole, that hit the deviation numbers that we needed to hit in order to surpass constitutional muster. And to be quite frank with you, it’s also totally unnecessary from a political standpoint. The 2nd Congressional District is already a majority Republican congressional district. Believe me, I know. And you could change it and keep counties whole and make it even more Republican than it is now without splitting Pulaski County. So as far as I can see, there is no legitimate purpose to split Pulaski County. And yet that’s what we’re doing in three different ways. Now, I have no idea if litigation is going to be filed. My guess is that it will. And the fact that we’re splitting Pulaski County three ways is going to be Exhibit one. It was a headline in today’s newspaper. And it’s going to be the headline in court. So we’re inviting trouble for what, in my opinion, is not a legitimate reason. And there is a legitimate reason to be concerned on the other side, as I’ve laid out. So for these reasons, I’ll be voting no on this map and I’d ask you to do the same. Thank you.
Griffin [01:52:23] Anyone wish to speak in favor? Senator Pitsch. Against, Sabrina. Senator Pitsch against.
Pitsch [01:52:31] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m going to be very brief because I’ve already been down here and I’ve spoke. I had the pleasure of writing a letter to 30 people today in Sebastian County, and I apologized for what is occurring to their county. I came down here for the very first of all the hearings and a member in this body told me, We’ve decided Sebastian County needs to be divided; that’s the only way it works. And we had just heard Nelda Speaks’ first map that showed all 75 counties whole and the deviation working. I wrote the letter today to 30 people in Sebastian County that this body didn’t hear their message. Thank you.
Griffin [01:53:13] Anyone in favor? Senator Chesterfield, then Senator Mark Johnson.
Chesterfield [01:53:27] Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the of the Senate, it has been said that the road to hell is filled with good intentions. And the people I represent feel that this is a hellish map. It is prejudiced. It is hyperpartisan. And it’s petty. I know surely the fact that in the last congressional race in the 2nd Congressional District, a black woman launched a credible race against the incumbent. How dare she? How dare the folks in my Senate district to support her overwhelmingly? How dare they be proud to see someone who looks like them, has a history like theirs, vie for one of the highest positions in this country? How dare they want their state to join the other former Confederate states in having black representation? That desire and that hope is being squashed here today by the map that you are presenting for our consideration. The state Senate district I represent is being punished, punished for being majority black and Hispanic, punished for being Democrat, democratic. Republican Party is the majority in every single instance in this state, yet they insist on being poor winners. And so we’re going to make sure that the Senate district I represent in Pulaski County has its voice diminished. It’s altogether disturbing, even more disturbing, that it comes from a member of the Pulaski County delegation, a person who represents a district that adjoins mine. Her district is majority white. Mine is majority black. Hers is majority Republican. Mine is majority Democrat. Having grown up in this state, I have stopped being surprised by the way people of color are treated. But I can still be disappointed. I would ask that you not vote for a map that is prejudiced, hyperpartisan, and petty.
Griffin [01:55:56] In favor of the bill, anyone? Senator Mark Johnson against. Senator Johnson.
M Johnson [01:56:10] Thank you, Mr. President. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with my Democratic colleagues. I don’t believe this is about race. I think it’s absolutely about politics, just like ten years ago when former Representative Hall created what became known as the Fayetteville Finger. It wasn’t about anything but he or someone like him in Southeast Arkansas could maybe get to Congress if I could go up in there to Washington County and pick out the Democrats, you know, around the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. I don’t see any other real thing. This is about politics, and the courts have ruled carefully that redistricting is a political thing. Now I agree with my friend Senator Tucker, when he talked about how this could be done without splitting counties. I believe, I believe our secretary told me– my bill was the first Senate bill filed on redistricting. And I did it with two things in mind– to try to correct some of the atrocities of 2011 and to keep all counties whole. And the first thing I did, and I talked to Senator Pitsch about this, is I made Sebastian County whole. But I put it in the 4th District because I saw that as something that was inevitable given the patterns of population change that we’ve all seen. They didn’t want that. They really wanted to be the 3rd. And I get all this. We all have our preferences. I didn’t want to split any counties and I didn’t. I wanted to keep it as close to what we have and and our traditions as possible. But I think it’s important that we keep counties together. Counties matter. Pulaski County matters as a county, not just as a bunch of people or some Democrats over here, and some are Republicans over here, and this is a black area and this is a white area. I don’t think that’s as relevant as it’s Pulaski County. And I appreciate what Senator Pitsch has tried to do to keep Sebastian County whole. This is difficult, and I want to thank our chairman and members of State Agencies for the tremendous job that y’all have done with this. And I think we can all agree that maybe in the next ten years, the Senate and House can come up with maybe a little bit more efficient process to get this. But let’s, let’s not forget how we got sitting here on the sixth day of October doing this is because of politics. Because the current administration in Washington held back the data we needed to complete our job in regular order in the spring and have time while we were here working on other matters to deliberate properly and do that. That’s politics. You’re not going to change the party and any of the four seats in the state of Arkansas by most prognostications. But maybe somewhere else they could. And that’s politics. So let’s recognize it for what it is and acknowledge why we’re standing here in October doing this. I want us to come out of here with a bill, and this may very well be the best thing we can do. We have to come out of here with something. And, you know, I don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. However, I just can’t in good conscience vote to split any county, and I certainly in good conscience can’t vote to split my own county. So I’d appreciate if we could would fall back and regroup, defeat this bill and move to the next possibility, which can be done. But I do want to close with my gratitude to how hard everyone is worked and sincerely tried to come up with something that would help Arkansas. I want to say this. If this passes, to my friends in Pulaski County that might find themselves instead of represented by Congressman Hill represented by Congressman Westerman or Congressman Crawford or anyone else, I know that they won’t forget you and they’ll do a good job for you. But it does, counties matter. And I think we need to in the future try to the extent that we can keep counties together. Thank you, Mr. President.
Griffin [02:00:33] Thank you, senator. Anybody in favor? Anybody against? Senator, ready to close?
English [02:00:42] Yes, I’m ready to close for my bill.
Griffin [02:00:44] OK. Madam Secretary, please call the roll.
Cornwell [02:00:50] We have pairs at the desk. Senator Sturch, yes; Senator Pitsch, no. Senator Garner, yes; Senator Tucker, no. Ballinger, Ballinger, yes. Beckham, Beckham. Bledsoe, Bledsoe. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, Clark. Davis, Davis. Dismang, yes. Eads, yes. Elliott, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner,, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes. Ingram, no. Irvin, Irvin. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, no. Leding, no. Pitsch, no. Rapert, Rapert. Rice, Rice. Sample, yes. Stubblefield, Stubblefield. Sturch, yes. Sullivan, Sullivan. Teague, Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [16 yes, 8 no, 11 not voting]
Griffin [02:02:43] Anyone wish to vote or change their vote? Over here, over here. Cast up the ballot. 16 yeas, 8 nays. The bill fails. Any items at the desk? Any announcements? Senator Hickey.
Hickey [02:03:06] Yes, sir. I’d like for us to come back at 2 o’clock today.
Griffin [02:03:09] Okay. Any other announcements? Senator– OK, one second. Senator English?
English [02:03:17] I’d like to move to expunge the vote.
Griffin [02:03:20] Okay, we’ve got a motion to expunge the vote by which SB 743 just failed. Any questions on the motion? Anything anyone wants to say on the motion. This requires 24 votes. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. The ayes have it. The motion is carried. Senator Hammer.
Hammer [02:03:51] Motion.
Griffin [02:03:52] Senator Hammer has a motion.
Hammer [02:03:54] I’d like to make a motion to recall House bill 1977 that was sent transmitted to the House earlier, please.
Griffin [02:04:00] OK, one second. Is– where is Senate bill– it’s in the House. It’s already in the House? So what he’s trying to do is recall HB 1977 from the House. It was the one that was here, went to the House. They haven’t read it yet. We will send them a letter if, if his motion carries recalling that after they read it. So everybody understand what’s going on there. Okay. Right. 18, 18 and debatable. Any questions for the senator? OK. Anybody wish to speak on this? All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Let’s do it again. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Ayes have it. The motion is carried. The bill will be recalled from the House after they read it and receive our letter. OK. All right. Anything else? Any announcements? We are recessed until 2:30. You said– OK, 2:00.
October 6, 2021 Part 2
Griffin [00:04:26] Senator Wallace. Senator Wallace is recognized.
Wallace [00:04:34] Sir, I would like to ask leave for Senator Dismang and Senator Hill.
Griffin [00:04:40] He’s requested leave for Senator Dismang and Senator Hill. Without objection. Senator– you got any items at the desk?
Cornwell [00:04:50] Yes, sir. Notice of return of House Bill 1977 as requested.
Griffin [00:04:57] HB 1977 is back in the Senate. We’re going to go with Senator English.
Cornwell [00:05:10] Senate Bill 743 by Senator English concerning the definition of the four United States congressional districts of Arkansas and declare an emergency.
Griffin [00:05:23] Groundhog Day.
English [00:05:25] Yeah, Groundhog Day.
Griffin [00:05:25] The Senator is recognized.
English [00:05:27] Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. So we are back once again for Senate Bill 743, which is our redistricting map. And I would hope for a good vote.
Griffin [00:05:40] OK, we’ve already– any questions? We’ve already had people speak. Anybody want to speak? Same bill. She’s closed. Please call the roll.
Cornwell [00:05:52] We have pairs at the desk. Senator Sturch, yes; Senator Pitsch, no. Senator Hill, yes; Senator Mark Johnson, no. Senator Dismang, yes; Senator Ingram, no. Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, yes. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, Clark. Davis, Davis. Dismang, yes. Eads, yes. Elliott, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, Hammer. Hendren, Hendren. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, no. Leding, no. Pitsch, no. Rapert, Rapert. Rice, Rice. Sample, yes. Stubblefield, no. Sturch, yes. Sullivan, Sullivan, no. Teague, Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [18 yes, 9 no, 9 not voting]
Griffin [00:08:07] Anyone wish to vote or change their vote? Ok. Sen. Hendren, no. Senator Hammer, aye. Anybody else over here? Senator Davis, aye. Sen. Rapert, aye. Sen. Clark, aye. Senator Sullivan, aye. Anybody else? Check the board. Make sure it reflects your wishes. Cast up the ballot. 23 ayes, 10 nays, the bill passed. The emergency clause is not adopted.
Unknown Senator [00:09:00] Sound the ballot.
Griffin [00:09:00] You’ve heard the motion to sound the ballot. OK. Please print out the roll call and sound the ballot.
Garner [00:09:18] Mr. Chairman, can I get a point of clarification before we sound the ballot or is that inappropriate?
Griffin [00:09:23] It’s appropriate.
Garner [00:09:26] Do the pairs survive sound the ballot? I know sound the ballot is you sit in the chair, but do they–
Griffin [00:09:31] Yes.
Garner [00:09:31] –do they survive it? Just wanted to make sure.
Griffin [00:09:32] Yes. Before we start this, let me clarify a couple of things. So with regard to sounding the ballot, again, we let a lot of things go on here, but the rules only contemplate people sitting down in their chair voting. What we often do is what has happened here, where you sound the ballot and we go through the whole body. You can object to just one person who wasn’t in their chair because the rules require you to be in your chair. OK. That’s number one. Number two, with regard to pairing, that is the only way that you cannot be here and vote under the rules. Someone may not object, and you may get away with something because no one objected. I could raise it sua sponte just because I want to. But we generally allow the body to operate on unanimous consent. But you really can’t under the rules vote unless you’re paired up if you’re not here. OK, please proceed, Madam Secretary.
Cornwell [00:10:55] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe, yes. Caldwell, yes. Clark, yes.
Unknown Senator [00:11:12] Strike.
Griffin [00:11:12] Senator Clark’s not in his chair. Sen. Clark is not in his chair. Strike it.
Cornwell [00:11:17] Davis, yes. Dismang, paired. Eads, yes. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Garner, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes, and he was paired. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Rapert, yes. Sample, yes. Sturch is paired and he was yes. Sullivan, yes. And Wallace, yes.
Griffin [00:12:23] So the final vote is 22 instead of 23 yaa and 10 nay. The bill passes. The emergency clause is not adopted. Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [00:12:40] Is it appropriate to show the final vote tally on the board?
Griffin [00:12:49] Here. Will you hand me that, please.
Pitsch [00:12:52] Well, I can get it off the Internet. I just, when you change votes, I would have thought you’d throw the new tally.
Griffin [00:12:58] Only one person was stricken.
Pitsch [00:12:59] I got that.
Griffin [00:13:07] Senator English, were you coming down? Okay. Please, please make way for, make way for Senator English.
English [00:13:23] Thank you. I move to expunge the vote for the emergency clause.
Griffin [00:13:33] Senator English made a motion to expunge. Any questions for the senator? The emergency clause. Emergency–
English [00:13:45] Emergency clause. Did I not say that? Emergency clause.
Griffin [00:13:51] Senator Chesterfield has a question.
Chesterfield [00:13:54] Not for her, for the chair. The pairs don’t count now, right?
Griffin [00:14:01] The pairs are not on– the pairs or not–
Chesterfield [00:14:04] Thank you.
Griffin [00:14:05] –for the motion.
Chesterfield [00:14:05] Thank you.
Griffin [00:14:09] Yeah. Just remember, the pairs are for what the pairs say they’re for on that paper. No, no, you’re, you’re right. Senator Hammer.
Hammer [00:14:17] Thank you, Mr. President. Would you remind me, how many pairs were there? Were there two? How many pairs were there? Three?
Griffin [00:14:22] Madam Secretary, three? Were there three? There were three? Three pairs. We got them right here.
Hammer [00:14:28] Thank you.
Griffin [00:14:29] Senator Ballinger.
Ballinger [00:14:30] Just for a point of, of clarification. I mean, we, we know obviously the, the districts don’t need to be in, in effect for a while. What, what is the importance of getting the emergency clause? I think that would be, that would be helpful. But I guess, does it really help people to, to, to get the emergency clause rather than not?
Griffin [00:14:48] OK. Well, it’s her motion. You can ask her a question, Senator Ballinger. Is that a question to Senator English? Senator English, do you want to yield to Senator Hickey?
English [00:14:58] Yes.
Hickey [00:14:59] Members, this, this congressional redistricting does not have to have an emergency clause. I had discussed this with the Bureau back weeks ago and I had asked them that, when members did that, to put that down as an abundance of caution is what I had done. So I understand if– however you want to do this in here is fine, but it’s of basically no consequence that, that I would know of.
Griffin [00:15:28] Okay, that sufficient answer? Any other questions for the moving party? Okay. Anyone wish to speak on that? OK, let’s vote. All those in favor– this is a motion to expunge the vote on the emergency clause which failed. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Ayes have it, and the motion to expunge is carried. You’re going to leave it alone?
English [00:15:57] Yeah, it gave us plenty.
Griffin [00:16:04] Whatever you want to do.
English [00:16:06] We’ll revote.
Griffin [00:16:07] OK. Taking the belt and suspenders approach.
English [00:16:10] I move that we revote.
Griffin [00:16:11] I understand. Senator Johnson.
M Johnson [00:16:15] Since I was paired on the previous vote, am I free to vote on this next vote or am I no?
Griffin [00:16:23] Yes.
M Johnson [00:16:27] So when the emergency clause failed, that ended my pair, and I’m–
Griffin [00:16:31] No, no, no, no.
M Johnson [00:16:33] So I’m– the pair continues to this particular vote as well.
Griffin [00:16:38] OK. Senator Hammer. She has– one second. Let me get a clarification. You have the pairs for the bill and the emergency clause? Oh, he has another pair. Okay. Right. It’s not the same pair. It’s a new pair.
M Johnson [00:17:01] So it’s a new pair? I’m still not clear.
Griffin [00:17:07] This is specific to you, Senator. You signed three pairings for this is what I’m being told.
M Johnson [00:17:22] So the three I signed were on three different things? I did not understand that, but I do now. Thank you, Mr. President.
Griffin [00:17:30] Do we have any other pairings for this? We’ve got three. OK. Questions? Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [00:17:38] Am I paired or do I get to vote? Okay.
Griffin [00:17:43] Who else has a question? Senator Hammer.
Hammer [00:17:47] Just a point of clarification to the chair. The pairs that were originally given were given with the understanding that they were pairing with the emergency clause on there. By virtue of the fact that the emergency clause has been altered off the bill, does it have any bearing on those pairs?
Griffin [00:18:04] They gave multiple pairs each to provide for this specific situation.
Hammer [00:18:14] OK, I just wanted to make sure. I’ve only heard of one pair, but you’re saying multiple pairs were laid down for this?
Griffin [00:18:21] Well, you’ve heard her say, Senator Johnson, Senator Pitsch. Correct? They had two.
Hammer [00:18:29] All right. Thank you. Okay. Any other questions? Okay. This is on the emergency clause. She’s getting the computer ready. Madam Secretary, please call the roll when ready.
Cornwell [00:19:15] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, Beckham. Bledsoe, yes. Caldwell, Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, no. Clark, Clark. Davis, yes. Dismang, yes. Eads, Eads. Elliot, no. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Garner, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, Hammer, yes. Hendren, Hendren. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, pairs and he’s yes. Ingram, no. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, he’s paired, no. Leding, no. Pitsch is paired. He’s no. Raper, yes. Rice, Rice. Sample, yes. Stubblefield, no. Sturch, he’s paired and he’s yes. Sullivan, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, yes. [21 yes, 8 no, 6 not voting].
Griffin [00:21:06] Anyone wish to vote or change their vote? Senator Rice is no. Anyone else? Cast up the ballot. 21 ayes, 9 nays. The emergency clause failed. Okay. Senator Hickey. Yeah, the emergency clause has failed.
Hickey [00:21:34] OK, but we transmitted it?
Griffin [00:21:37] I don’t know if– is the bill transmitted yet? No, transmit, but we will transmit to the House.
Hickey [00:21:45] Yes, sir. Thank you.
Griffin [00:21:52] Got HB 1977. It is here. OK. Any announcements? Any– Senator Rapert?
Rapert [00:22:05] I have a question of the chair to find out the status of the House bill on the, the map. Has it actually made it to the Senate yet?
Griffin [00:22:14] So he’s talking about–
Rapert [00:22:16] The, the redistricting–
Griffin [00:22:17] That bill that just passed?
Rapert [00:22:19] From the House. They have a–
Griffin [00:22:20] Oh, from them to us. We have not. Anything else? What time are we adjourning tomorrow? You want to speak? Senator Hickey’s recognized.
Hickey [00:22:37] If– I want to make sure that I understand this. If the bill– whenever the bill comes back from the House, we’re going to read it across the desk. And then at the call of the chair, he can, he can schedule that.
Griffin [00:22:49] You’re talking about the map bill–
Hickey [00:22:51] Yes.
Griffin [00:22:51] Not the other bill.
Hickey [00:22:52] That’s correct.
Griffin [00:22:53] Because it’s already, it’s already back.
Hickey [00:22:55] So Senator Rapert, I guess at the call of the chair, if, if that comes down here, we read it across the desk, we’ll have a call of the chair to hear the House, House map bill. House bill map, however you want to say it.
Rapert [00:23:13] Yes, sir. And pending availability of my members. I mean, I think it would be to the body’s benefit if we try to take care of it this afternoon if that’s possible.
Hickey [00:23:22] I think they’re in session now, so thank you.
Griffin [00:23:27] Senator– so what I’m hearing is subject to the call of the chair.
Hickey [00:23:31] Yes, sir.
Griffin [00:23:32] Senator– one second, Senator Hester. I see you, senator. Senator English and then Senator Hester. Senator English.
English [00:23:37] The bill has just passed out of the House, on its way down here.
Griffin [00:23:41] Okay. It should be here when it gets here. OK. We’re in recess subject to the call of the chair.
English [00:23:52] We’re in recess?
Griffin [00:23:58] Subject to the call of the chair. You can do whatever you want. We’re just waiting on this– we are not through for the day. We are not through for the day. There is a bill– there’s a bill we’re, we’re anticipating receiving from the House shortly. Some of us are going to take a little courtesy snack break or whatever you want to take, but we’re going to be here. Yeah, but we’re just– yeah, it could be a matter of minutes subject to the call of the chair.
Griffin [00:49:09] The Senate will come to order.
Cornwell [00:49:09] Notice of passage of House bill 1982, the emergency clause having failed of adoption.
Griffin [00:49:20] Calendar. Is that what you said? State Agencies. Yeah, State Agencies. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s correct. That’s correct. Any announcements? 9 o’clock tomorrow, okay? Go ahead. Senator Rapert of Faulkner County and other counties.
Rapert [00:49:57] Members, Senate State Agencies, y’all have hung around. If you will, let’s go down. They’ve got the bill. They’ll get it in committee for us right now. We can hear the House bill on the map. Thank you.
Griffin [00:50:09] Anybody else? Senator Chesterfield. It is the Nelda Speaks’– Representative Speaks’ bill. Whether it’s– I think it is the same, but I’m not, I’m not the authority on that. OK. The Senate is adjourned until 0900 tomorrow. Subject to the clearing of the desk, which I do not anticipate having to clear anything.