Feb. 15, 2022
Griffin [00:07:04] Senator Gilmore. Senator Gilmore. Senator Gilmore. The Senate will come to order. Madam Secretary, please call the roll. Do you want to announce a pair?
Secretary [00:19:17] No. Leave has been requested for Senator Bledsoe and Senator Clark.
Griffin [00:19:26] Without objection.
Secretary [00:19:28] [All present except Bledsoe and Clark]
Griffin [00:20:13] Everyone please stand, including those in the gallery, for prayer.
Chesterfield [00:20:18] Lieutenant Governor, before we pray, may I ask for a special prayer and consideration for Captain Brice of the State Police, who is dealing with some very substantial health issues. And he’s kept us safe for a very long time. I would ask that the members keep his family in your prayers and thank you.
Griffin [00:20:37] Thank you for bringing that to our attention. I would also like to bring the Bledsoe family. Doctor Bledsoe is with Cecile, Senator Bledsoe at the hospital at this time, I believe. If you would keep the Bledsoe family in your prayers. Senator Garner, will you lead us in prayer?
Garner [00:20:59] Absolutely. And if I can take a minute of personal privilege, I just wanted to say how much we appreciate all the Capitol Police and the police force here in the state Capitol that keeps us safe every single day and their actions that they take to do that. Let us pray. Dear God, we pray to you, who sent his only son to save us, who through his blood and with redemption. God, we know we have an important duty and responsibility up here for all Arkansans. We are blessed and honored that you have instilled in us the ability to come up here to act on the people’s behalf and to do your will as need to be. God, we pray, pray for the Bledsoe and the captain’s family as they go through this trying time. We may not know the circumstances, but we know you know them and we know you can heal it and you know you can make it better. God, we ask all these great things in your great name. And in Jesus name, amen.
[00:21:49] [Pledge of Allegiance]
Griffin [00:22:06] Would just remind– ladies and gentlemen of the gallery, we welcome you all here. And we just ask that you take a look at the policy that has now been posted up there and just ask that you comply with, with that. Thank you so much. Any announcements? I want to call Senator Sample after Senator Tucker.
Tucker [00:22:30] Thank you. I just want to recognize today’s doctor of the day, Dr. Gloria Richard Davis, who’s an OB-GYN here in Little Rock. And of course, our nurse, Sherry Bernard. Thank you. Welcome to, welcome to the Senate.
Griffin [00:22:53] I just want to recognize– where’s the Harding Academy class? What’s that? University. Oh, Harding University. Where are you? Well, welcome. Senator Dismang helped to welcome y’all. Senator Sample and then Senator Irvin.
Sample [00:23:17] Members, the Hot Springs leadership group is here today. I’d like for you to welcome them. I hope that they’re in the gallery somewhere and if they are, make them welcome.
Griffin [00:23:36] Senator Irvin.
Irvin [00:23:39] Members, on your desk, you have an invitation to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus Catfish Dinner. It’s going to be next Tuesday night at the Arkansas Association of Counties at 6 o’clock. Hope to see you there.
Griffin [00:23:55] Senator Ingram.
Ingram [00:23:58] I’d like to invite everybody tomorrow at 10 a.m. to the Rotunda. The Sultana exhibit is going to be unveiled. Many of you all know it’s the largest maritime disaster in the history of the United States. It took place on a boat right at Marion Arkansas. And in fact, there are descendants that will be here tomorrow that are from Marion, Arkansas, that their great great grandparents helped rescue many of the soldiers that were injured on the boat. So 10 o’clock tomorrow, the rotunda.
Griffin [00:24:33] Thank you, senator. Any other announcements? Any items at the desk?
Secretary [00:24:39] Yes, sir. We your committee on Joint Budget, to whom was referred Senate bill 2, Senate Bill 3, Senate Bill 4, Senate Bill 5, Senate Bill 6, Senate Bill 8, Senate Bill 9, Senate Bill 10, Senate Bill 11, Senate Bill 14, Senate Bill 19, Senate Bill 21, Senate Bill 22, Senate Bill 25, Senate Bill 27, Senate Bill 28, Senate Bill 29, Senate Bill 30, Senate Bill 31, Senate Bill 32, Senate Bill 37, Senate Bill 39, Senate Bill 40, Senate Bill 42, Senate Bill 44, Senate Bill 52, Senate Bill 55, Senate Bill 56, Senate Bill 65, Senate Bill 68 all by Joint Budget recommend that they do pass.
Griffin [00:25:40] Calendar. Senator Dismang.
Dismang [00:25:52] I need to re-refer Senate Bill 40 back to Joint Budget for possible amendment. It’s one we passed out this morning. It’s the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board, petroleum gas.
Griffin [00:26:05] Any questions? All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Ayes have it. The motion is carried. The bill is referred. Any other items?
Secretary [00:26:14] Senate Resolution 21 by Senator Hickey to provide for an extension and sine die adjournment of the fiscal session of the 93rd General Assembly, Senate Resolution 21.
Griffin [00:26:25] Calendar.
Secretary [00:26:26] Senate Resolution 22 by Senator Hickey to authorize recesses of either or both chambers for periods of four day– four consecutive days or longer. Senate Resolution 22.
Griffin [00:26:37] Calendar.
Secretary [00:26:39] Senate concurrent resolution 1 by Senator Ingram to show support for the ratification of the region’s smart tri-state compact between Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Senate concurrent resolution 1.
Griffin [00:26:52] Calendar. OK, we’re going to move to the– do you have anything else at the desk? We’ll move to the business agenda. We’re going to pass over S.B. 1, move down to the resolutions. So here’s the general lay of the land. We have SR 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. We’re going to run through those with roll call votes. They’ve got to get 24. When we get through 9, 10 through– 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, their House equivalents have failed. So we’ll move on through them unless you do not want to–
Rapert [00:27:36] I got a question.
[00:27:38] One, one second. Unless you don’t want to have them heard. And then I know that SR 12 and 13, Senator Rapert asked to move to the bottom. Senator Rapert.
Rapert [00:27:47] Yeah, governor, actually, not all of these resolutions have failed. So there is a live resolution still in the House that Representative Bentley had, she did not run yesterday. So, actually, you do have live resolutions in the House that are there that are identical in resolutions that we have here.
Griffin [00:28:09] We’re going to move through them all as if they’re bills. But that’s 2 through 9. We’re just going to start. We’re just going to hit those first. Senator Garner.
Garner [00:28:18] Yes, sir. Point of clarification. Just because a bill failed in committee in the House doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead. They could still pull that bill out of committee, and–
Griffin [00:28:25] Yeah, I didn’t say it was dead. I said, If you want to pull it because of that, you need to let me know.
Garner [00:28:29] Okay, I misunderstood what you said. I thought you said they were dead. They were no longer live.
Griffin [00:28:32] No, we’re good. Senator Hickey, SR 2.
Secretary [00:28:38] Senate resolution 2 by Senator Hickey to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to establish a funding mechanism to ensure solvency of the state and public school life health insurance program.
Griffin [00:28:52] Senator Hickey.
Hickey [00:28:53] Thank you. Members, I’m not sure about the order that these, all these are going to come in, so some of them may dovetail together and we may have to kind of flip flop around some. Because again, some of these tie in with maybe another bill that Senator Rice or Senator Irvin has. So, what this first bill is is it’s– what it is is a funding mechanism that’s going to ensure the solvency of the state and public school life and health insurance programs. And I’m going to try to explain this. However, the way that I like to refer to this is this is the bill which forces the conversation of EBD, which is our employee benefits division. Financial Support Snapshot annually with the, with the Legislature, EBD and all other stakeholders. The way we have done this is, is to require EBD to remain a certain reserve balances and report those to the Legislature through ALC on an annual basis. The Legislature will have certain options available to it at that time. In setting this up, we worked with The Segal, which is a consultant you hired to arrive at what type of reserves would be deemed sufficient. And if you’re interested in this, you’re going to probably have to listen close. What we did is we come up that that a sufficient reserve would be a range, which is between 12 and 16 percent, with 14 percent being what we, what we define as optimal. It’s also supposed to stay where it’s no less than 12 percent, but if it’s above 12 percent, that’s acceptable. But it requires an action plan on how we’d get back to the optimal level. If it’s below 12 percent, this requires EBD to notify ALC of the need for additional funding. ALC will review, and as you can see on Page 3, line 17 to 26, what we can do is we can recommend that the governor call us in for a special session to address, we can take further action, or we can not act at all. Whenever we put in– or we can take further action. What that means is, is we would not know what we would need to get it back up to that amount. So the possibility could exist that we would not have to come into session to possibly draw it out of one of our accounts that requires the full legislature to do. We could possibly draw it out of a restricted reserve account. It would just depend on that amount. So that’s why we structured it in that fashion. If the Legislature fails to act at all, which that is an option, then the way this bill is set up, the EBD director is then required to initiate a process to collect the needed funds through employee premium increases, reducing benefits or both. We also have a provision in the bill that if reserves, if they ever exceed 16 percent, the EBD director may– may is important– apply the extra to actually lower premium rates for the next year. If the EBD director doesn’t opt to lower the rates, then they must report to ALC with what that reasoning is. So if there’s any questions on this funding mechanism, I’ll be happy to try to answer it.
Griffin [00:32:20] Senator Garner has a question.
Garner [00:32:20] Thank you. So we’re not actually voting on the bill today. We’re voting on a Senate resolution which would open this fiscal session up to non appropriation bills, which are substantive bills. Am I correct about that? Because this Senate resolution isn’t actually a bill.
Hickey [00:32:35] May I respond? Yeah. Yes, sir. The– of course, we do that– we, we always have like appropriation bills, as you’ll see, with like the budget that’s going to come down there before. So I don’t know what you mean really by the opening up part. The special session, the special session, of course, the way that’s done, if there’s one that’s passes here in one house or if it passes in the other then it could. What these do is they require to be– they are required to be, to be passed on both ends of the House. And from the EBD perspective, you all, if you remember– if you all remember correctly, during the regular session, what we did is we actually dissolved the board that was doing this because of the extreme fiscal difficulties that they were having. You all made those votes. At that time, you know, what we did is we said, well, we were going to try to go in and correct it because we had actually–
Garner [00:33:34] — resolution before it can be heard.
Hickey [00:33:36] So we had actually– yeah, we had actually– I’m sorry, there was getting some feedback in here. We had actually hired a consultant to do all this and we’d actually had to put in like $70 million this last year, extra because of the way the program was. I think everybody understands that this was something that we had said that we were going to fix. If we don’t fix this– by fixing it, our consultant showed us that on an annual basis we should be saving about $70 million. So if we don’t do it, then there will be a, you know, a cost that will come with this.
Garner [00:34:17] All right, back to the substance of my question. So this is a Senate resolution, not a bill.
Hickey [00:34:22] That is correct.
Garner [00:34:23] It’s a resolution. By the Constitution, if we hear non appropriation bills, it requires two thirds vote for that resolution to come forward before it can hear a substantive bill. This is voting whether we allow a fiscal session to hear a non appropriated bill, something I’ve never seen done in my five years of being here. Am I incorrect about that?
Hickey [00:34:41] I don’t know about the five years that you’ve been here, but, but your concept is there, is correct. I thought that the president had explained that whenever we had started that this is what those was. This is the resolution. The way that we have filed the resolution is the bill in its entirety is attached. So that’s the reason that I’m up here doing this. I’m presenting the resolution. Part of the resolution is the bill and I’m explaining what’s in it.
Griffin [00:35:10] Yes, so, Senator Garner. This is unlike some of the germaneness discussion we’ve had in the past. That’s not what this is. This is pursuant to the constitutional provision that basically says, we’re going to meet every– we’re going to have fiscal sessions. And if you’re going to get outside of appropriations bills, appropriation bills, you have to get two thirds of both chambers. And we do that through the resolution process to get approval for that. In order so there’s an alignment for– between a resolution and the final bill, the bill is inserted into the resolution so that takes away any, any issue as to what we’re talking about.
Garner [00:35:56] Absolutely. So this is my procedural question. Are we voting on the substance of a bill–
Griffin [00:36:02] No, we’re voting on a resolution.
Garner [00:36:04] Resolution, whether approve it, correct?
Griffin [00:36:05] Both chambers have to pass these resolutions in order for these substantive bills to start to be taken up. This allows the bill to be filed. This is not the bill. OK, OK. Senator Hammer.
Hammer [00:36:25] Thank you. Just a point of clarification. The bill in its full entirety is, in part, is in the solution. The passage of the solution–
Griffin [00:36:35] The resolution.
Hammer [00:36:36] Resolution, sorry, incorporating the bill. If it passes out of here today, will it be then assigned to a committee where– or this, this will not be the final action. It gets sent to the committee–
Griffin [00:36:49] Think of it as a more arduous way of filing a bill. That’s a way to think about it, right? So normally you just file it and nobody says anything about it. There’s a hurdle in a fiscal session to filing certain sort to bills that aren’t covered by the fiscal session. And that’s what we’re doing.
Hammer [00:37:12] Right. And for the benefit–
Griffin [00:37:14] Does that make sense?
Hammer [00:37:15] For me, it does. But for the benefit of those that may not understand what’s going on, I just want to make clarity that we pass this resolution out of here, it’s not the last time for this or anything coming behind it. They’re going to get sent to committee for full discussion. Correct?
Griffin [00:37:28] It’s analogous to the filing of the bill.
Hammer [00:37:30] OK, thank you.
Griffin [00:37:32] It is not the final passage of the bill. OK.
Hickey [00:37:37] Just, may I go one step further? Just–
Griffin [00:37:39] You got the floor.
Hickey [00:37:40] Maybe I shouldn’t. But in talking with Steve Cook right here, you know, he’s looked at all of these things and the way that we would do it. They’re, they’re all one– I mean, they’re all separate resolutions because of the way that, you know, they– they’re different, they’re different items, but we all know that they’re all the same. So the way that we were going to do it is they would go through one committee so that all the members could be there, so that, you know, we could all hear this so whenever we’re discussing it, it would be like an even flow. So everybody would know from Bill 1 through Bill 9 what that would be, how that all ties together.
Griffin [00:38:19] Yeah, and it’s really important– I don’t want to belabor this. It’s really important that we get this now because we have a whole page of these, and it’d be good if we could get an understanding of what we’re doing up here so we don’t have to do it every time we come up. Because it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing over and over. Am I wrong? I’m not. Okay. Anything else? Any other questions? Speak against? On it? OK. The Senator is recognized.
Garner [00:38:49] Thank you. I was trying to clarify that because there is a distinction constitutionally and otherwise. And the reason why I think this is important is very simple. I think we just had a very vicious debate about opening the call of the special session up to things that weren’t on the call, even if you file something that was kind of germane to the call, but not really on there and how that’s a violation of this untold principle that we can’t do that. I think we had an extended debate about the extended regular session and how we had a letter, a letter, a letter that said how we have to handle that. That letter was awesome. So when we’re sitting out here today, I just want to make sure because I’ve been here for five years through a few fiscal sessions and I’ve never seen a non appropriation bill come through through a Senate resolution ever. Now I talked to Steve Cook. He said in the 12 plus year history here, there may be in two or three that came through. So understand you’re setting a precedent today after over and over again we spoke about how we can’t violate some precedent in the Senate by doing this. So I mean, I just want to make sure everybody is aware of that, that– you know, I’ve heard the argument, man, we have a regular session every two years to hear substantive bills. We have a regular session for doing this. Yet we’re doing it today. Hey, we don’t need to be a full time legislator, guys. I’m a part time legislator, but we’re hearing additional bills today. I just think it’s funny that the second the shoe’s on the other foot, those involatile rules suddenly get violated and we have a Senate resolution to put it on there to hear a substantive bill. I just wanted to point that out. So we all knew clarify and clarity exactly what’s happening today. Thank you.
Griffin [00:41:10] One second. Senator– anyone else wish to speak for or against, on? The senator’s ready to close on the resolution.
Hickey [00:41:17] Yeah, I just want to kind of comment as far as what we just heard. I want to make sure that everybody here understands at least two distinctions. The first is is the fiscal session, this is the process that’s in place, that if we bring these up with two thirds vote, and if on both ends, they get it, then we hear it. I also want to make the distinction that you all fully understand this. This is the fiscal session. This is a fiscal matter. I think you all know this. We didn’t dissolve the, the board that was in place because it was just for, just for fun. And again, if memory serves me correctly through ALC and possibly what the Department of Ed has done, they’ve had to, we’ve had to put in an additional $70 million a year. And again, these are going to create those savings. The reason for doing it and doing it now would be this, we– the way some of these bills are structured, we have to have to put– we’re going to have an RFP process to go out to get these vendors who are going to do this type of work with the way that we’re doing it. We have to have time for that, to put that RFP process in place, for all that to come in together, for those people to respond. Then we have an open enrollment period for our public school employees and our state employees on that October, on October 1. And then this plan would go into, into place on, on January 1 of 2023. So that’s, that’s the whole reasoning, reasoning for doing it this way.
Griffin [00:43:00] OK, one other thing. I’m going to ask on every one of these if you want to roll the vote because we got a lot. If you don’t want to, just say you don’t want to. But we are going to, we’re going to try to go as quickly, as expeditiously as possible. Okay.. We’re good, senator? OK, Madam Secretary, please call the roll. I think I saw an objection. Any objection to rolling the vote? Roll the vote, please.
[00:43:30] [All in favor except those on leave]
Griffin [00:44:03] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays, the bill– the resolution is passed, adopted. Senator Rice, SR 3.
Secretary [00:44:19] Senate resolution 3 by Senator Rice to authorize a non appropriation bill to require a fiscal impact statement for any proposed legislation imposing a new or increased cost obligation for health benefit plans, including pharmacy benefits on an entity of the state.
Griffin [00:44:37] Senator Rice.
Rice [00:44:38] Thank you, Mr. President. Members, to go along with Senator Hickey said, I know most you are informed on this. Some of us have spent almost a year on this. It wasn’t something that was very desirous to do, but had to be done. And I would remind you, this is a three quarter of a billion dollar program that has to be addressed for state employee insurance, public teacher insurance. So there is as Senator Hickey described a need to move this along. SR 3 requires a fiscal impact statement, as it says in the title. One thing that EBD didn’t require is what the Legislature requires for fiscal impact statements is one thing that can lead to this thing getting off course. One thing you will remembers the insulin bill, which we all wanted the public to have affordable insulin. And we passed a bill to help that. But I actually found out later there was something like a $9 million hit and that had to be– we had to repeal that and come back and try to find another way to do that. That’s one reason for this bill is to require an impact statement. I’d be glad to answer any questions if I can. If not, I’ll try to get you an answer.
Griffin [00:46:19] Senator Garner.
Garner [00:46:20] Thank you. I see the definition impact statement, what, what in practical reality would that look like? What would be an impact statement, fiscal impact statement?
Rice [00:46:29] Be similar to a fiscal impact statement that DFA does now to tell you what, what we’re changing in EBD. And something that hadn’t been said in this legislation, again, the nine bills, there’s going to be a governing board set up, there’s going to be the Board of Finance is going to continue to be over and Legislative Council will be involved. So there’s more safeguards up. But to answer your question on the fiscal impact is the same thing. That insulin bill would– that would have shown there could be up to a $9 million hit on this EBD program with us passing that bill. But that’s the reason for that.
Griffin [00:47:16] OK, any other questions? Senator Flowers.
Flowers [00:47:21] –fiscal impact called for this Senate resolution is the same fiscal impact form what we see in a regular session or fiscal sessions, anytime the law requires an impact study. Isn’t that the same thing? Are you talking about something different?
Rice [00:47:41] It is my understanding that’s what it is. Fiscal impact is just to see any of the liabilities or negatives that are there, just to, just to reveal and be transparent where you can make an informed decision.
Flowers [00:47:53] So would you agree if somebody has been up here five years as a legislator, they ought to know that. Thank you.
Griffin [00:48:01] Any other questions? Senator Garner wishes to speak against.
Garner [00:48:10] Thank you, Mr. President. I generally disagree with any kind of thing that limits our legislative prerogative. You know, we got this new senator here and I’m talking to my father-in-law, Matt, who’s running for this and hopefully gets in. And I’ve tried to explain to him all the different restrictions we have on the front of this bill. I try to think of them all. I can’t remember them all. I know that if it has to do with retirement, you have to have it filed by a certain time. If it’s going through tax and rev, it has to have a fiscal impact from DFA or you can’t hear it. I know that, I think, public health, you have to file license bills beforehand. I mean, there’s probably a dozen more of them I forgot about that limit your ability to be a legislator. And that’s all that is. You can say it’s about this and that, but it is nothing wrong with any other bill like we do it through the normal legislative process. So I would– normally I vote against all these things. But here’s my kind of key point of this that I think if you think we need fiscal impact statements, why are we writing a law to do that? Why don’t we just pass Senate rules or through the committee process like we do numerous other rules? Can the committee chairmen not handle it? You know, I appreciate Senator Flowers’ comment about fiscal impact statement. The law we’re writing doesn’t say that. It just says a written statement that shows a realistic proposition of what the bill will cost. That’s important to me because I had one of those from BLR during the special session that was rejected by a committee. This is my point. This is a law that says you can’t legislatively act unless an executive branch agency gives you the authority through a fiscal impact statement. Now what would happen if that fiscal impact statement didn’t come? Do y’all know who the next governor is going to be? I know who I think is going to be, but I don’t know that. What about 10 years down the road and we have another governor? What if the fiscal impact never came? Could you act? Realistic question. Think about that because this is not a Senate rule where the majority rules. This is a law that we have to meet in order to do it. How about this? We are putting into law our legislative power, which means a court can come in and decide whether we legislatively acted correctly. Hmm? Read what your law you’re about to pass is. Anything affecting these programs. So if I’m a lawyer and say, like, you know, teacher retirement insurance seems to be a fairly contentious issue and I want to sue a law affecting this, wouldn’t I just have the perfect opportunity to go through this law, find something affecting it that didn’t follow the exact requirements of this law and get it thrown out by a Little Rock judge? Could that not happen? I don’t see why we didn’t pass a Senate resolution– or excuse me, a Senate rule or a committee chairman rule. I don’t know why we’re putting it in the law that we allow DFA to give us a fiscal impact before we’ll act. Thank you.
Griffin [00:51:21] Senator Hendren. You have a question for Senator Garner. I think he’s– I think he’s done. Anybody else wish to speak for or against? On? Senator, ready to close? Senator Rice. Senator Rice is recognized. Senator Hendren– hang on one second. Yeah. Senator Rice, will you take a question from Senator Hendren?
Rice [00:51:42] Sure.
Hendren [00:51:43] Yeah, thank you, Senator Rice. I just want to clarify that the law does provide for, number one, there has to be an objection raised, and number two, two thirds of the membership can overrule the objection and hear the legislation anyway. Correct?
Rice [00:51:57] Yeah.
Hendren [00:51:58] Thank you.
Rice [00:51:59] And–
Griffin [00:52:01] Go ahead.
Rice [00:52:02] In closing, just let me have you folks on line, page 2, line 17, it says fiscal impact statement means a realistic, written statement of the purpose of the proposed law in estimating financial cost to an entity of the state for implementing, implementing or complying with proposed law. So that can mean different things. I might have said DFA. It may not be just DFA. It may not be required to. So I may have led you down the wrong road there and we might have to hire an actuary to come up with that. But there, the safeguards we feel like are built in here to allow us to do that.
Griffin [00:52:46] The senator’s closed. Is this about his close? Go ahead. OK.
M Johnson [00:52:52] Thank you, Mr. President. Senator Rice, we’ve alluded to who makes the impact statement. Did we not in the last regular session create a position within BLR that will do economic analysis and things like this on behalf of the legislative branch versus us depending on the executive branch? Did I read that or understand that correctly?
Rice [00:53:18] I don’t know that I can substantiate but I’m getting a nod from the budget chair. I’m going to take that as a yes. And one thing to0–
M Johnson [00:53:25] I see the nod and I agree, senator.
Rice [00:53:26] As we get in, as we get into the committee, these questions can be done, and if it requires amendments, we can address that in committee.
M Johnson [00:53:34] Okay. Thank you, Senator. Thank you.
Griffin [00:53:36] Senator Rapert.
Rapert [00:53:38] Senator Rice, you may have said it and I missed it. What was the incident or issue that prompted this legislation?
Rice [00:53:47] That prompted the EBD?
Rapert [00:53:48] No prompted– well, prompted this particular legislation. Something probably occurred. And so I just wanted to make sure that we–
Rice [00:53:56] If you’re talking about the whole nine bills–
Rapert [00:53:59] No. SR 3. It’s being discussed so much.
Rice [00:54:02] It’s part of the whole EBD package is is requiring– it’s a massive change of again of a three quarter billion dollar program. So to right now, EBD did not have anything in their rules that required a financial impact for them to make planning. And as we know, since 2013, the program got upside down because people didn’t make tough decisions that were were needed. And that’s what we’ve tried to do along with our consultant is put in the safeguards that other states and other programs have to allow that to happen.
Rapert [00:54:45] Well, I absolutely don’t object to anything that is more credible evidence on a piece of legislation about why we need to do it. I just was trying to think back. I remember there was something that had happened and it was trying to be undone. And I thought maybe this was the way to prevent that when all this body’s going in the future.
Rice [00:55:04] There has been a lot of long term planning in this, beyond just this body.
Rapert [00:55:09] Thank you, Senator.
Rice [00:55:10] Thank you.
M Johnson [00:55:13] The senator’s closed. Oh, senator– You want to take a– senator, you want to take a question from Senator Hammer? I’m not sure he wants to, but it looks like he’s going to.
Hammer [00:55:21] Senator, thank you. Senator Rice, if I remember right, and correct me if I’m wrong, is this related to the diabetes bill that was passed that ended up on what was going to be potentially $9 million hit to EBD? And this is, this bill is going to correct that from happening again.
Rice [00:55:37] And again, that’s what I brought up on that, on that insulin deal and the $9 million to this program. That’s to head that off from finding out later where we had come back to repeal or change something.
Hammer [00:55:51] Right. All right. Thank you.
Rice [00:55:52] Thank you.
Griffin [00:55:53] The senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? There’s an objection. Please call the roll.
Secretary [00:55:59] We have a pair at the desk. Senator Bledsoe, yes; Senator Garner, no. Ballinger, Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe’s yes. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, yes. Clark’s on leave. Davis, yes. Dismang, yes. Elliott, yes. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, yes. Garner, no. Gilmore, Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, yes. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes. Ingram, yes. Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes.
Griffin [00:56:59] I think he said aye.
Secretary [00:57:01] Did he say aye? Senator Johnson?
Griffin [00:57:02] Did you say aye?
Secretary [00:57:04] Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, yes. Pitsch, yes. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample, yes. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, yes. Wallace, Wallace.
Griffin [00:57:28] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 30 yeas, 1 nay, 2 not voting. The resolution is adopted. Senator Rice.
Rice [00:57:46] Thank you, Mr. President. SR 4.
Griffin [00:57:50] One second, senator. She’s going to read it for you.
Secretary [00:57:54] Senate resolution 4 by Senator Rice to authorize a non appropriation bill to provide for legislative oversight of the state and public school life and health insurance program and establish the Employee Benefits Division Oversight Subcommittee.
Griffin [00:58:07] Senator Rice.
Rice [00:58:10] Thank you. Again, SR 4 directs the Arkansas Legislative Council to create the Employee Benefits Division Oversight Subcommittee, which will have a review or approval authority of matters related to the Health Benefits Program, including without limitation, contracts, appropriation transfers, rules, changes to plans, issues related to the reserve balance. It requires EBD to submit quarterly reports to the subcommittee related to the State and Public School, Public School Life and Health Insurance Program, and it requires a subcommittee to conduct a study regarding, regarding the ability of the General Diabetes Management Program for the Health Benefits Plans looking towards the possibility of legislation for the 2025 regular session. I’d be glad to take any questions.
Griffin [00:59:11] Any questions? Anyone wish to speak against? For? The senator’s ready to close?
Rice [00:59:16] I’m closed.
Griffin [00:59:18] The senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote. Please roll the vote.
[00:59:20] [All in favor except those on leave]
Griffin [00:59:54] Anyone wish to change their vote. Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays, the resolution’s adopted. Senator Irvin. SR 5.
Secretary [01:00:02] Senate resolution 5 by Senator Irvin to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to clarify the definition of eligible inactive retiree and to modify the eligibility of retirees to participate in the life and health insurance program.
Irvin [01:00:19] Thank you, members. This is a resolution to allow us to introduce this legislation to define what is, what will be an eligible inactive retiree and just to modify that definition for eligibility qualifications for retirees.
Griffin [01:00:36] Any questions? Anyone wish to speak against? For? The senator’s closed?
Irvin [01:00:41] I have.
Griffin [01:00:41] Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
Secretary [01:00:43] [All in favor except those on leave]
Griffin [01:01:14] Anyone wish to change your vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays, resolution is adopted. Senator Hickey, SR 6.
Secretary [01:01:22] Senate resolution 6 by Senator Hickey to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to establish a governing body for the state and public school life and health insurance program and to create an advisory committee.
Griffin [01:01:35] Senator Hickey.
Hickey [01:01:35] Thank you, sir. OK, members, as we’ve been discussing, as you all know, you dissolved the governing board of EBD due to the extreme fiscal issues that we were having with the program. You all transferred those duties to the State Board of Finance. Basically, what was, what was supposed to be the short term until we could figure out a better avenue to do this. What this bill does, it expands the scope of governance and helps ensure the solvency over the long term. So first, this bill establishes that the state Board of Finance is the permanent governing entity. It also adds the insurance commissioner to the State Board of Finance only, that’s important, only for the purpose of dealing with these health benefit plans, as we feel like that will be a great fit with their added experience in the subject matter. The bill then sets up two distinct health benefit advisory committees, one for the, one for the public school employees and one for the state employees. Both advisory committees will have their own separate five members. For the public school employees, the governor appoints three members with professional or fiscal experience in the industry of health insurance, actuarial services, financial bank or banking services. Confirmation of the Senate is also required with that. One member will also be a public school employee with a minimum of five years consecutive participation in the plan and one member will have a– will have a minimum of two years as a retired public school employee with five years minimum of consecutive participation in the plan. Sorry, I might have made that confusing. Both of the members, both of these members are approved by the Legislature and the pro tem and the House, the Speaker of the House, they will alternate in those assignments on every three years. The bill has that the commission shall meet monthly and it will have, have a minimum of 12 meetings annually. There are requirements for the members to attend the meetings. The commission members will also receive a stipend of $500 a month plus mileage. The State Employees Commission is structured with the same identical concept. I’ll attempt to answer any questions on this.
Griffin [01:04:06] Any questions. Anyone wish to speak against or for? The senator’s closed?
Hickey [01:04:10] Yes, sir.
Griffin [01:04:10] Senator Elliott might have a question.
Elliott [01:04:15] I do.
Hickey [01:04:15] Yes, ma’am.
Griffin [01:04:17] Senator Hickey, would you repeat again, please, about the appointments?
Hickey [01:04:22] Yes, ma’am. Of course, the state, the state Board of Finance, we’re going to call that your main governing entity of this. We’re going to add the insurance commissioner as, as a member of that, of that particular larger board, the overall board. But then underneath it, we’re going to have these two commission boards that are going to be– they’re going to operate separately. And there’s going to be three members, three members on each one of those that are appointed by the governor. Those are the ones that have the, the experience in professional health insurance, actuarial services, financial services, things to that nature. Then both of those will also have two other members. And those members, one will be, will be a member– one member will be a public school employee with a minimum of five years consecutive participation in the plan. OK. And one member who is, who has a minimum of two years as a, and is a retired public school employee. But they will also have to have five years consecutive experience in the plan. Although they’re retired, they, of course, had to have been employed and part of this at least in their last five years of, of retirement or before retirement.
Elliott [01:05:53] Are those appointments– now are those appointments going to be done by, did you say, the speaker and the president pro tem?
Hickey [01:06:00] That’s correct. At that time, they will be. Of course, the way that we structured it was is they’ll alternate. So one three years, whoever the pro team is, they will, they will appoint. The House speaker will do the other. Then after three, they’ll just rotate.
Elliott [01:06:19] Will there be a process for, for the folks who are participants in the plan and also those who are retired to make recommendations about those appointments? Or is it just straight ahead, the speaker and the president pro tem appoint?
Hickey [01:06:34] No, there are recommendations. I think I failed to say that. Give me just a moment. Yes, and I’ll use the public school thing. This will be selected from a list of three names that are going to be submitted by the executive director of the Arkansas Education Association to the appointing authority. Now whenever I say–
Elliott [01:07:11] Well, actually, that’s all I need to know because I had heard that might be out of the bill. So that that’s all I need to know.
Hendren [01:07:16] Yes, ma’am. No, it’s it’s still there.
Elliott [01:07:17] Thank you so much for your response.
Griffin [01:07:20] The senator’s closed. Senator Pitsch.
Pitsch [01:07:22] My question is fairly quick. I’ve attended a couple of these DFA board– did I get my terms right– and they are a set board that deals with a multitude of issues. And I think if I read this right, you’re going to bring this one issue in front of them and then put another voting member in the room at that time. Do I have that right?
Hickey [01:07:46] Just as it relates to this subject matter of the employee benefit division. So in other words, you’re going to, you’re going to have these two smaller commission boards that for lack of a better word, they’re going to be meeting monthly, watching over the plan, seeing what needs to be done, and then they’re going to bring it to the larger board. And at that point, we’re going to bring the insurance commissioner in, mainly because of their, you know, their knowledge and experience in this type of subject matter. So it will be just for that.
Pitsch [01:08:21] I like what we’re doing at the sub level. I think that’s good and needed. I just I’m not sure how rule of running a meeting or whatever is going to allow for a non-voting member on eight of nine issues on an agenda. And then you’re going to have one issue that relates to this somebody coming in. As long as we got that figured out with the bill, I’ll be fine. But I have concerns.
Hickey [01:08:47] They won’t– they’ll only, they’ll only step forward during those discussions. Because if they’re, they’re dealing with some other subject matter that is totally separate from the employee benefits division, then, you know, whenever they get to that particular agenda item, whenever they get to that particular agenda item is where they’ll step in.
Griffin [01:09:09] Senator Hammer.
Hammer [01:09:11] Thank you. Just for clarity, and I’ll call it the executive board. Are they going to be able to override the specialty board that would bring the recommendations to them? Am I understanding that right, that they would have that ability to do that?
Hickey [01:09:23] It’s, it’s more of a recommendation. It’s more of a recommendation that’s going to come to them. In the end, as far as from that standpoint, they have the full and final authority on what to send over to the Legislature. So yes, sir, my answer to your question would be yes, but it’s probably even more so– I mean, they’re going to be the– they are going to be the ones that are actually in charge from the executive branch or from that side to send to ALC.
Hammer [01:09:51] And so what’s the process in the event that there’s disagreement between the recommendation and what the executive board decides if it should– given the fact that the sub-board is going to have experts in the field related to it, what’s, what’s the corrective action if, if the finance board decides, no, we don’t like that and it takes us back in the wrong direction? What have we, what have we changed from where we are now?
Hickey [01:10:19] Well, of course, everything will be coming through the– some of the stuff that’s coming with the– through the smaller boards, if you want to call, if we’re going to call them a board. You know, we’re going to have this new committee set up an ALC. So this is going to be a process that the Legislature is involved in as far as hearing all this stuff and knowing where we’re at multiple times, you know, throughout the year. It’s to be expected, of course, that EBD director, that they’re going to be in the room also. In the end, though– I mean, so we’ll know what all the discussions are, where it’s at. In the end, it will be what the State Board of Finance sends to us, you know, for us to review or approve?
Hammer [01:11:07] So it could ultimately end up in their lap as far as if it– if it doesn’t go right, they would own it if it doesn’t go right other than ALC would have some approval process over it. Is that correct?
Hickey [01:11:22] They would. But I also think that we have to look at it this way, not to say that anything couldn’t happen. But the, the other bill that we just heard, if you remember right within that bill, I said that, you know, if there’s a problem where those reserve balances were to get below 12 percent– if they get below 12 percent and we haven’t acted, then the premiums are going to increase. So again, I don’t see, see what– I appreciate the question. But there would be an automatic thing that would happen, which would keep, keep our financial situation from getting the way that it has been previously.
Hammer [01:12:01] Or at least get it above the radar screen where we’ll have the conversation sooner than later.
Hickey [01:12:06] Well, again, again, now, I, I don’t, I don’t want mislead anybody because it would be automatic that if we don’t act and we don’t put money in, the Legislature didn’t meet, premiums would either go up on the employee side, or benefits would have to be reduced because that’s going to be in statute.
Hammer [01:12:22] All right. Thank you.
Hickey [01:12:23] Yes, sir.
Griffin [01:12:23] Just to clarify something I’m sure you already know, if this resolution passes and in the Senate, you’re going to have the committee process. You’re going to have the floor to debate it again. I know that’s what Senator Beckham was going to point out. This is just to see whether we even get– you even get to file the bill. Just to clarify for you.
Hickey [01:12:50] Thank you, sir.
Griffin [01:12:51] The senator’s closed. Is there any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
[01:13:23] [All in favor with exception of two on leave]
Griffin [01:13:24] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. The resolution is adopted. Senator Rice, has two in a row. SR 7, then SR 8.
Secretary [01:13:36] Senate Resolution 7 by Senator Rice to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to modify the state contribution to the state and public school life and health insurance program.
Griffin [01:13:49] Senator Rice.
Rice [01:13:49] Thank you. SR 7 simply removes the cap. The other bills that’s in this package set the controls, allows us to look at the health index CPI. Again, as Senator Hickey described, it goes through the Governing Board, Board of Finance, and ALC, saves having to change statute every year. Try to answer any questions.
Griffin [01:14:16] Any questions for Senator Rice? Anyone wish to speak against or for? The Senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
[01:15:02] [All in favor except Sen. Garner and two on leave].
Griffin [01:15:02] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 31 yeas, 1 nay. The resolution is adopted. Before we go to SR 8, Senator Clarke Tucker of Little Rock had something very important to talk about. You can say it from there unless you want to come down here. Let’s not get into that debate. Tell you to come down here, you want to do it from your desk. Tell you to do it from your desk, you want to do it down here.
Tucker [01:15:28] I’m a troublemaker. Since I announced the Doctor of the Day, I learned two important things. Number one, Dr. Richard Davis was not with us in the chamber when I recognized her, but I also have since learned that she, that her husband is a very important person in my life. When I had a real urgent need for a doctor, he was there for me. As far as I’m concerned, he saved my life. So I just want us to take a moment. We have Dr. Richard Davis here with us today. And both, both of these, she and her husband, are very valued members, not just of UAMS in central Arkansas, but the entire state. So, thank you and welcome, Dr Richard Davis.
Griffin [01:16:19] It may be the distance, but he looks like Paul McCartney, doesn’t he? Have y’all seen that new documentary? He looks just like Paul McCartney. But I know you live a lot cleaner. OK, Senator Rice.
Secretary [01:16:35] Senate resolution 8 by Senator Rice to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to establish coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of morbid obesity under the state and public school life and health insurance program.
Rice [01:16:50] Thank you, and this is the last one that I have. Members, this is the one I have more commonality with than anything else because it is a very serious thing when we talk about the diagnosis treatment of, of morbid obesity. What this does, the original program that expired December 31st, ’21. This bill reinstates the program, offering coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of morbid obesity and include bariatric surgery. It allows the State Board of Finance subject to the approval of Arkansas Legislative Council to discontinue the program and institute an annual expenditure cap on the program if needed to ensure the financial soundness of the program and allows for promulgation of rules to implement the provisions of the bill. Something that we had in our study that we had data on from other states that the data showed is correct diagnosis and history shows that 35 to 45 percent savings if this is done correctly. It is a great help for diabetics, and those with certain heart disease shows the help. We had testimony from a doctor that said he can cure diabetes about 60 percent of the time with this. So it is why– I remember when we first discussed the morbid obesity coverage, it was the fact that everybody said, Well, you know, people want to just lose weight, and then sometimes, you know, they just turn around and gain it back. What was shown is the pilot program we had, it had the $3 million that all got used up. People signed up the first ten minutes when it opened up, I think, at midnight. And that was used up. It wasn’t getting the, the people that needed the treatment that can get the best help and the best of efficiencies out of it. And this program has shown in other states that it is a money saver. And the main thing, it is a health and life saver. So I would appreciate a good vote.
Griffin [01:19:11] Any question? Sen. Garner has a question.
Garner [01:19:14] Yes, sir. If I’m correct, this is expanding that coverage that is currently not allowed under state law. Is that correct?
Rice [01:19:20] This is reinstituting the coverage.
Garner [01:19:26] Do, do we have a fiscal impact statement on this?
Rice [01:19:31] We probably got some estimates but that I know of, no.
Garner [01:19:36] OK. Just wanted to make if sure we, we had one or not. I couldn’t find one.
Rice [01:19:39] OK.
Griffin [01:19:41] Any other questions? Anyone wish to speak against or for? The senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll it.
[01:19:50] [All in favor except two on leave]
Griffin [01:20:18] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. The Resolution is adopted. Senator Irvin.
Secretary [01:20:30] Senate resolution 9 by Senator Irvin to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to amend the Public School Employees Health Insurance Program Funding.
Griffin [01:20:39] Senator Irvin.
Irvin [01:20:40] Members, this resolution allows legislation to be introduced which would help us in correcting the funding mechanism for public school employees. It’s important that we do pass this resolution and this law at this time because this funding mechanism has to be done during our current adequacy study, which we are in the process of doing now, which has to be completed by November. So I would appreciate a good vote. I’ll answer any questions.
Griffin [01:21:10] Any questions? Anyone wish to speak against or for? The Senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
[01:21:16] [All in favor except two on leave]
Griffin [01:21:45] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. The resolution’s adopted. Senator Dismang, first of two, SR 10.
Secretary [01:21:56] Senate Resolution 10 by Senator Dismang, to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to amend the revenue stabilization law to create funds and make transfers to and from funds and fund accounts.
Griffin [01:22:09] Senator Dismang.
Dismang [01:22:10] All right, thank you. Members, this just allow us to file and start on RSA. I’d be happy to take any questions. There’s going to be two of them because we have two RSA’s, one in the House, one of the Senate
Griffin [01:22:21] Any questions? Anyone wish to speak against? For? The Senator’s closed. The Senator’s closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
Secretary [01:22:29] [All in favor except two on leave]
Griffin [01:22:57] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. The resolution’s adopted. Senator Dismang. SR 11.
Secretary [01:23:05] Senate resolution 11 by Senator Dismang to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to revise the revenue stabilization law, create funds and make transfers to and from fund and fund accounts.
Griffin [01:23:18] Sen. Dismang.
Dismang [01:23:18] I’m closed.
Griffin [01:23:20] Senator Dismang is closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote.
Secretary [01:23:50] [All in favor except two on leave].
Griffin [01:23:51] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. Resolution’s adopted. Senator Rapert has asked that SR 12 and SR13 be put at the bottom of the calendar or pass over for now and go to SR 14. Senator Stubblefield.
Secretary [01:24:10] Senate Resolution 14 by Senator Stubblefield to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to establish the Arkansas Human Heartbeat and Human Life Civil Justice Act to save the lives of unborn children and protect the health of women through civil liability.
Griffin [01:24:28] Senator Stubblefield.
Stubblefield [01:24:28] Thank you, governor. I’m not going to belabor this for a long time because I know you’ve heard this bill before. But I do want to say some things, and some of these things will be personal for me because I think it’s important for you to know them. First of all, you’ve heard it said before the Supreme Court will be ruling in June that will render a decision on the Dobbs Mississippi case. First of all, no one knows what the Supreme Court will decide. They don’t know what that decision will be in June. But what we do know is that this is the only abortion bill, this Senate bill 15, if we can just get it to committee to discuss it, this is the only abortion bill in the United States that will save lives right now. If we pass this resolution and the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe vs. Wade, we will have saved anywhere from 6 to 800 babies here in Arkansas between now and the time the Supreme Court rules on Roe vs. Wade. 6 to 800 babies. The language of Senate Bill Resolution 15 will immediately end abortion in Arkansas and upon enactment, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides to do in the case versus Dobb. That’s a fact. Now I want to read to you some of the rebuttals of some of the things, some of the claims that have come out against this resolution. First of all, let me give you, let me give you just a little testimony. Back in December the 20th, some of you know, there’s some of you don’t. I had a very close call. In fact, I was in the hospital here in Little Rock and almost died. I had a blood clot in my portal vein. I had two potential aneurysms in some hepatic arteries, and they didn’t know if I would make it through the night. And when four doctors come in and tell you that their main objective is to keep you alive through the night, I can promise you that you will have a whole new perspective on life, the things that you do. Because I laid there after those four doctors left and I thought about all the things I had done– I’m 70 years old– all the things I had done during my lifetime regarding work, the horses that we have and we raise, even the Senate. All those things, all of the sudden became meaningless. And I promise you, if a doctor tells you that, you’ll feel the same way, that it’s only those things that you’ve done for your family, for your friends, and for the Lord, those are the only things that’s going to count. I have a picture in my office of some little girls, two little girls standing, standing in the middle of a thousand little white wooden crosses. And above the heading of those two little girls, it says, I am your voice because none of those little babies that are buried under those crosses had a voice. They had no one to speak for them. You have a chance to speak for them. Now let me look at some of the– let’s look at some of these things that have been said about this case. First of all, Senate Bill, Senate Bill 15 could jeopardize the criminal prohibitions on abortion in Act 309. And there are worries that groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU will argue in federal court that newer laws regarding abortion take precedence over 309 and make abortions legal. That’s not true. Let me tell you why it’s not true. Section 2 of Senate Bill 15 makes unmistakably clear that a bill cannot be construed to take precedence over 309. Section 2 says this: It is the specific intent of this act that the, that the provisions of this Act are the supplemental to, cumulative to, and in addition to existing laws, civil and criminal, and shall not be construed to amend, repeal or otherwise affect those existing laws, including, without limitation, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act. What that means is there’s no risk that a bill that tracks Senate Bill 15 will weaken or interfere with the enforcement, previous enact– enacted abortion restrictions. And the bill was carefully crafted to prevent that from happening.
Griffin [01:29:46] Hey, Senator–
Stubblefield [01:29:46] [01:29:46]Second–
Griffin [01:29:46] Just to clarify, we’re on 14. I think you just said it inadvertently, but I think you referred to 15 a few times. We’re on 14.
Stubblefield [01:29:55] Sorry.
Griffin [01:29:56] No, no, no. Just making sure we’re tracking on the same.
Stubblefield [01:29:59] Yeah, it’s 14.
Griffin [01:29:59] Gotcha. Clarifying for some senators. Thank you.
Stubblefield [01:30:03] Second claim, there’s no law that we could pass right now that will save any lives of the unborn between now and the summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in the Dobbs case, which will likely come in June. The Texas Heartbeat Act has shown that states can ban abortion now without waiting for Dobbs. In fact, there’s 26 states getting ready to pass this law now. We don’t have to wait until the Supreme Court rules on Dobbs. They need only to enact an abortion ban like Senate Bill 15– 14 that is enforced exclusively through private civil enforcement lawsuits. The Texas Heartbeat Act has been in effect for over five months. And it’s saved countless lives, and none of the lawsuits brought against the Texas heartbeat have succeeded. If Arkansas enacts Senate Bill 14, which uses the same enforcement mechanism as the Texas Heartbeat Act, the law will take immediate effect and cannot be blocked in court. Number 4, there is a claim that if we pass this, it will go to Judge Baker. That she will enjoin. Judge Baker’s bound by the Supreme Court ruling in the Whole Women’s Act, which prevents abortion providers from challenging abortion restrictions that are enforced solely through the private civil enforcement lawsuits. The whole women’s health ruling is a ruling of the Supreme Court, which binds every circuit and every district judge in the country. More importantly, the law of the Eighth Circuit already makes clear that statutes that are enforced solely through the private civil lawsuits cannot be challenged pre enforcement in federal court. By the way, there is no right in the Constitution for abortion. Now, let me read to you just a few personal notes that I was sitting there last night and I thought, you know, there’s got to be more to this. There’s just got to be more to this. So I looked at Corinthians 6:19. Let me read to you what Corinthians 6:19 says. It says that our bodies are the temple for the Holy Spirit who is in us, whom we have from who is in us, whom we have from God. Therefore, we are not our own. And in verse 6:20, it also says that you have been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. So if you’re a child of God, your body belongs to God. If we belong to God, then our bodies are his and are actually parts of him. If you’re a born again believer and the Holy Spirit lives in you, then he actually is part of your body. Henceforth, the taking of the life or the murdering of a child is not right in God’s eyes or any Bible believing believer in Jesus Christ. That’s why the shedding of innocent babies’ blood is an abomination to the Lord, which he says he hates. And if God hates something, I can assure you that you and I should hate it. God also made sure that we knew and understood the personhood of an unborn child. We’re always talking about, you know, the girl that testified yesterday who was going to get an abortion. She said when she went in the clinic, the lady wouldn’t let her see the ultrasound because it was nothing but a blob. Well, let me tell you what God says about that. God said, God said, he made sure that we knew and understood the personhood of an unborn child. In Psalms 139, this is what it says. This is a baby talking. You saw who you created me to be before I became me. Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded. Finally, every person, every person on this planet has a God given destiny and a purpose to fulfill on this Earth. Even in rape and incest. You know what the Bible says about rape and incest? I looked it up last night in Ezekiel 18:20, it says it is the person who commits this crime that should be killed, not the child. And finally, there are a number of us in here who have dealt with disabled and deformed children. You know what the Lord said about that? He said this to Moses. He said, who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides who speaks or does not speak, to hear or to not hear, to see or to not see? Is it, is it not I Lord? Do you question what I do for my children? These are all things I think we need to consider when we talk about life. If the Texas heartbeat bill saved only one baby, I would be in favor of it. Because I have six grandkids and one great grand kid. And when I hold them, I see more than just a child because God breathed into them the life. They are part of God. All we’re asking is that you let us take this to, to committee, let the experts come in, and let’s discuss it like we do any other bill. Let the doctors come in. Let those who make the policy, the lawyers come in. And let’s just sit down. Don’t these children deserve at least a two hour committee meeting? I think they do. I’m closed, Mr. Chair.
Sturch [01:37:43] Senator Stubblefield has presented his bill. Are there any questions for Senator Stubblefield?Senator Stubblefield has left the well. Are, are there any senators who wish to speak for or against the bill– the resolution. Senator Garner, you’re recognized to speak for.
Garner [01:37:58] Yes, sir. I’m just going to speak briefly. You know, sometimes my vocabulary fails me. I know there’s some great oratels in this place here. I’ve heard some great words from you. But I’ve got to say something and I just got to lay it out plain. This idea that if we pass this, this will get rid of all our abortion laws in Arkansas, it’s stupid. There ain’t a better word for it. You know how I know that? The other day I saw on the life new article that we have passed 42 new abortion laws in Arkansas from 2011 to 2021. And they have a whole list. I mean, most of the Senate, who’s on the pro-life side, has ran a bill, Senator Gilmore, myself, Senator Rapert, some other folks. And last time I checked, whenever we ran those bills and passed them, I don’t remember them automatically superseding the other ones unless the code itself was dealing with that. In fact, I think we have multiple abortion restrictions which has happened under this law of the land that’s not been an issue. But just in case you don’t want to use Arkansas example, how about in Texas? They passed this law. Did it automatically get rid of all of those legal laws they have in there? What about from the Planned Parenthood website, which still put the restrictions you have in Texas on abortions with notification requirement, with having getting two visits before the abortion? How about the Guttenmacher institution, which is a pro abortion group? They list multiple laws that are still in effect from January 1st, 2022 that you have to follow. This concept that if we pass this, this somehow supersedes the dozens of other laws we have is stupid. So I mean, you can have your debate about whether what you want to do this or not, but that, it will not happen. How about this other idea that it will open the slippery slope and allow people on the other side of the aisle that we disagree with politically in other states do this? Man, I heard a argument that they may come for our Second Amendment rights. They may use civil actions to come for our Second Amendment rights. They may come and allow your neighbor to go to a court and get an order against you using a civil action if we allow this to happen. Oh, wait a minute, that’s already allowed. It’s called a red flag law, and that’s happened since 1999, when the first one passed in Connecticut. Don’t you got a First Amendment right? Government can’t come. You got free speech. But if you libel me, slander me or do anything else, I can sue you in court all day. How about property rights? We allow private actions against other people all the time. This idea that we’re going to open this floodgates is silly. The gates are already open. Y’all just standing in the way of the flood, which should be protecting unborn babies. Go to Judge Baker. Let her turn it down. Who cares? Because you know what happened in Texas? It went to a federal judge. They blocked it and then it went up the circuit, and the circuit next level said, Hey, we’re going to allow this. And the Supreme Court basically stepped in and said, we’re not going to stop this. And so it’s been saving babies lives ever since then. So if we want to do the same thing, we can allow it to go to a federal judge. If they want to block it, that’s their prerogative. And then it goes up the circuit and precedent from the 5th Circuit will have a strong influence on the 8th Circuit, especially with the Supreme Court making the decision it did. So this is– I’m going to finish up very simple with this. If we start today, we will save babies’ lives. There is no if, and, or but. When I came up here to be pro-life, it did not mean I was going to start playing games this and that. It means if I have a chance to save babies’ lives and we have a precedent set by the Fifth Circuit confirmed by the Supreme Court, then I’m going to do that. And you want to know how I know this will affect them? Because yesterday, when the House resolutions went down, the pro-abortion side cheered. The quote I remember from our overwhelming Republican majority was a pro-abortion person saying abortion is safe in Arkansas today. I said this on Facebook and I’ll say it again, something I learned in the military, when your enemy is happy, you ain’t winning.
Sturch [01:42:48] Senator Garner has spoken on the resolution. Is there anyone else who wishes to speak on the resolution? Senator Rapert, you’re recognized.
Rapert [01:42:55] Thank you, Mr. President.
Sturch [01:42:58] Hold on a second.
Rapert [01:42:59] Members– oh, I’m sorry. I thought I was recognized, actually.
Sturch [01:43:02] Senator Flowers, what’s your point of order?
Flowers [01:43:04] It appears that we have individuals going to the well speaking on a bill, and the issue of a bill is not before the body. This is a resolution. And I would ask the chair to remind those that go to the well to speak for or against. They’re not speaking for or against the bill. They’re speaking for or against the resolution. Some of them have even called it Senate Bill 14. It’s not. It’s Senate Resolution 14, and I don’t think a resolution is going to end up in Judge Baker’s court. And we’re in the 8th Circuit, not the 5th.
Sturch [01:43:55] [01:43:55]Senator Rapert, continue.
Rapert [01:43:57] Thank you, Mr. President. Well, members, I mean, first of all, I’ll say that I appreciate Senator Stubblefield’s courage in bringing the resolution. Also thank the members in the House. There’s many of you that have talked with me. This state has earned a reputation of being the most pro-life state in the country, not once, but twice. We’ve worked hard. I believe, to be real honest with you, there’s a lot of issues going on here that aren’t necessarily about the bill. We all know that. But don’t let other issues cloud the fact that we’re voting on life, and that is the issue. And we’ve sat here and we’ve authorized resolutions, some of them without any dissent, opening up the session to various and sundry issues that we want to deal with. That’s the process. That actually was the process in December. And that’s something that we get to do. I think we do need to address the things that my colleagues have brought up here today. They’re things that are important. But I want to tell you, there’s nothing any more important than the lives of babies in our country. I was looking today and I scanned what the country is saying about, frankly, Arkansas and Texas and all of these heartbeat bills. This is Students for Life. These are young people who, by the way, thank God, are more pro-life than the older generations because they’ve grown up seeing ultrasounds on their refrigerator doors and seen their babies and talk about their little brother or little sister before the baby’s even born. Heartbeat Act– this is a headline– Heartbeat Act is still saving lives in Texas every day. Other states are following suit. This is from life news. Joe Biden sends 1.4 million to Texas abortion businesses after heartbeat law save thousands of babies. Texas heartbeat law saving so many babies from abortion that Planned Parenthood calls it devastating. Devastating. Yet we heard somebody actually say yesterday that you stepping forward, passing this bill would be devastating to all our pro-life laws when the left and the pro-abortion people are the ones out here saying that the Texas law is what’s devastating. Daily Wire, abortions plunge staggering 60 percent in Texas after the first month of the Heartbeat Act. Another news headline, Abortions in Texas again fell approximately 60 percent during the first month following the implementation of the state’s new law, which bans most procedures once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Breaking news yesterday, Wisconsin, Wisconsin passed a heartbeat bill with the Texas civil cause of action. Oh, and National Right to Life, which has been misquoted so many times. They tweeted out this. Nearly 3,200 children were saved in just one month following enactment of the Texas Heartbeat Act, and more have been protected in the months since, said Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life. I have never seen the amount of misinformation on the issue of life as I’ve seen in the last six to nine months in our country. And you know why? It’s because abortion is the absolute strongest false God erected in our nation in the history of the country. 63 million little babies have been killed and we are right here at the cusp watching Texas save babies, and we’re not doing anything about it. This resolution is about this fact. Every single day, March for Life says, 75 precious lives are saved from abortion thanks to the Texas heartbeat law. You’ve heard the resolution from Senator Stubblefield. So I’m not going to go through all of it, but I will tell you that what it does, it takes the strongest pro-life bill that you all passed in 21, Act 309, and simply says, we see a way for it to be enforced so it’s not stopped. That is all it’s doing. And and you know why that we know that it has? The U.S. Supreme Court has actually listened to this four times and refused to stop the bill. And by the way, I can go around all day telling you that I’ve talked to 14 lawyers or 50 lawyers or 100 lawyers. We all know how that trick is. But you know what we did? We put it in black and white, and we put somebody that actually stepped up and showed you. And by the way, lest you dismiss Jonathan Mitchell, he is the man that crafted this particular approach, which has absolutely stumped the left and is saving babies. And he’ll have a crown in heaven for that, I’ll guarantee you. So here’s where we’re at. I saw this. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas reports that Planned Parenthood clinics in neighboring states, including Arkansas, saw 1,082 percent increase in Texas addresses in their abortion clinics. This resolution is meant for us to do what we’ve done all our, all our careers or what most of us have. And look, I’m not talking to those of you that never vote for these bills. I’m not talking to you. You’ve made your point clear, but I’m, I’m calling on my colleagues that are Republicans and the sanctity of life is the second principle of our platform. And by the way, the Texas heartbeat bill, July of 21, legislators from all over America came together in Dallas, Texas, in a meeting of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. They debated and vetted the Texas heartbeat bill. Senator Bryan Hughes of Texas was there to present that particular bill, and they passed. Their very first model law was the Texas heartbeat bill with this civil cause of action. And so let’s just be real simple here. We, we say we want to save lives. We keep seeing black robe judges down the street stop what we do. But guess what’s happening in Texas? They’re saving lives. Four times the U.S. Supreme Court has said, your bill’s OK? Four times. And you can mock them. You can throw up these false flags and these ghosts about what they’re doing. And guess what? They’re saving lives. So I did a little calculating myself. Since December the 9th, when this session was forced to adjournment, to right now, it’s approximately 66 days. Pregnancy Resource Center ladies from all over this state say they think approximately 10 babies a day are dying in Arkansas. That’s 660 babies. That’s nearly six times the size of the 135 Arkansas legislators that serve down here. So I’ve thought about looking a little further. If Arkansas waits, at 10 a day, approximately 300 babies. Why is it important? Senator, I’m looking at you. You’re one of the few that have been down here this whole time with me. We came in together. I’m second in seniority only because of our draws. You came here. I’m second seniority in the GOP down here. And you know what? For those of you that have lied and to say that I’m only running this in December because in an election, well, guess what? My name ain’t on this bill. Senator Gary Stubblefield is the only name on this resolution. And you know why? Because I absolutely care so much about this policy that it doesn’t have to have my name on it. Senator Gilmore, I ran the first heartbeat bill of my career in 2011 when Democrats controlled this Senate. We got beat. Every bill we ran, got beat. And I was so excited and proud when we won in 12. And guess what happened March the 6th of 2013? Even though a Democrat governor vetoed that bill, these Republicans stood up and we not only passed the first heartbeat bill in the country, we overrode a veto. And now look what’s happened since then. But you see, Senator, this is such a strong false God in our country that it will even get friends to fight against friends, be clouded with all this junk. But at the end of the day, if we see a decision at the end of June on the Dobbs case from December the 9th until that date is 2,025 babies in Arkansas. It’s bigger than a lot of towns in your district. And I’m asking you to give Senator Stubblefield’s resolution an affirmative. Why would we be afraid to hear from these experts that are nameless? Go to committee. Sit down. Listen to it. You know, it’s a little bit like Pilate standing there when they were accusing people in front of Pilate and saying, you know, do something, Pilate. And he’s like, What, what should I do? And I’m appealing to you, at least give them a hearing. Do these 2,025 little babies deserve a hearing? And some people say, lest you think, you say what we need doesn’t matter. Some of you know, but not all of you know. When we passed that bill in 2013, they had an injunction, but part of our law stood. And when I was in that restaurant, the day that the mom was pushing her stroller across that floor to me and she said, Wait, wait, I want to introduce you to my little boy. And I looked at that little boy and he’s sitting there in his little bow tie on, about six months old with the pacifier in his mouth. And I said, he’s a cute little guy. And as soon as I looked up at the mom, she said, Senator, he’s alive because of the heartbeat bill you all passed. I couldn’t speak. I’ve now gotten to the point that I can get through the discussion. I couldn’t speak. I said, you got, you got, you got to explain this to me. I don’t understand. How is he alive? She said, Senator, his mom was raped. And she took a day after pill, and he survived. That was his first miracle. And then he went down here to Little Rock, Arkansas, to this clinic over here in West Little Rock, and she went in there and because of what Republicans did, they gave her an ultrasound, and said, Ma’am, you have a heartbeat in your womb. She knew it already. But they reminded her. They talked her through it. She said, I can’t do this. I’m going to let the baby be born. And they told, Senator Sturch, they told the mom and dad, she did, this whole story. And guess what? I’ve met grandmas that told me that they’ve got grandbabies because of what you all did. Look, I was preaching the gospel before I ever came to the Senate. And it’s tough to even have some of my own colleagues say, when you speak and you mention scriptures, it’s like shaking the Bible in our faces. It’s not me you’re upset with. It’s the scripture we quote. We know what God wants us to do, and we know why it’s important to vote for these bills. And just like I did back in December, I told you, I had that little stone in my pocket. And I told you about that stone. Well, I won’t say the same thing I did then, but I’m telling you, this little stone reminds me of David, too. And there’s a goliath of abortion in America. And every single day, when I think about what I do, Senator Tucker– I heard a man say one time, he said, you should vote every time like the future of the nation depends upon you. Well, 2,025 babies’ futures depend on all of you and maybe thousands and thousands of more. And you know that the objections are hollow because today Texas is saving babies and Arkansas could begin to do it as soon as you enact it. And I pray that you will vote for Senator Stubblefield’s resolution. Thank you.
Griffin [01:57:44] Senator– I’ve got you, Senator Flowers, speaking against. Senator Hendren, you have a question– you have a question for Senator Rapert? You wish to take– Well, somebody said that you had indicated that. My bad. I do not insist, would not do such a thing. Senator Hendren, it looks like Senator Rapert– I don’t know if he wants to– you want to entertain a question from Senator Hendren, Senator Rapert?
Hendren [01:58:20] Thank you, Senator Rapert, for taking the question. And you know, you and I have been doing this for a long time. In fact, 1997, I was a sponsor of one of the first pro-life bills passed since Roe vs. Wade. And I guess as I look at this today, I would like you to kind of explain to me– I have never seen the pro-life community split coming into a legislative event. Never. I’ve never seen the pro-life community say, we don’t support this legislation because of x y z. And I guess one theory would be because we have in fact banned all abortions, criminalized all abortions as it works its way through the courts. So I got two questions, I guess. The first one is, how do you explain to those of us that have been fighting this fight for two and a half decades why, all the sudden, there’s disagreement amongst the pro-life community about the proper approach to take? And wouldn’t you agree that it’s not fair to say because people disagree about the right approach does not mean that they’re not supporting the second plank of the platform or not pro-life, or that they just disagree on the approach to get to that that place? And then I got one more after that one. If you’d address that one. Why is, why is there this split that we’ve never seen before?
Rapert [01:59:38] Fair question. And I want to thank you for the work that you’ve done, Senator Hendren. Because in 2013, when I ran that heartbeat bill, we tried to do it at the detection of a heartbeat with six weeks, but you had, you had had a bill which recognized fetal homicide at 12 weeks. And I got to argue why that our our law is schizophrenic. You’re going to imprison somebody for taking the life of a 12 week unborn child on this hand, but you’re not– you’re going to allow abortions further than that. So it was you– and by the way we amended that bill, you know, down to conception, conception. And so I first found out the division– and if they were all here in a seminar for you, they could all speak very openly about the dissensions that they’ve all had in that community. It’s just like churches. We’re the First Baptist and the Second Baptist, et cetera. They all do that. So here’s what I will tell you. When we first passed the heartbeat bill in 2013, I like to fell out of my chair when people I loved, adored and supported came and said, Senator, don’t you think you’re going too far? And I said, Wait, wait, I’m sorry. What? And they said, Don’t you think you’re going too far? I said, Wait a minute, I come down here and give money and send money to all these folks who want to end abortion, and you think I’m going too far? And so, senator, that division has been there for a long time. And here’s, here’s the answer to that. And there’s no way to say it but to say it very bluntly. And you know this and we worked a lot together. We’ve had to disagree at some times, but Senator Hendren, you know this. Some of these activists don’t know what to do the day after they actually win. Because they can’t go raise money anymore on the fight because we won. And that’s the honest truth. And so that is, that is the truth. And here’s the one thing I’ll tell you. I will say this, I only know part of the attorneys that have actually spoken on this. This information was given to me and I spoke to some of the parties out here, and I was pretty shocked when I found out that some of our legislators have been getting their direction from the attorney general’s staff of attorneys. They never came to talk to Mary Bentley or Jason Rapert about that. Gee, I wonder why they suddenly they would be out here giving support to somebody to oppose? I don’t know. So Senator, I will tell you, you do see that. But I actually have a lot of these voices that are coming. They supported this. In fact, there was one that supported us in December that suddenly changed. Still saving babies today in Texas.
Hendren [02:02:34] I appreciate that explanation. And the comment that you made about, again, the fetal homicide bill that we passed that began at 12 weeks and was eventually moved through the course of time. I guess where I’m frustrated today is, now I see the pro-life community at least saying, if you don’t do it the way we say, you’re not pro-life anymore. And that’s really frustrating to folks who’ve been working so hard on this issue to have us turn against each other and say, because we may view that this approach or that approach is better, we’re going to start categorizing others as not pro-life because they don’t agree with my approach. And don’t you think that’s a little unfair to people who’ve been working on this issue for decades?
Rapert [02:03:14] Look, there’s a Bible sitting there on my desk. It’s the Bible that I took the oath of office on when I came down here in this Senate. And I can’t speak for everybody out here, but a lot of my good friends out here, they put it on their paperwork. They put it on their cards. They’re pro-life. I accept that they are. I think that a lot of them was pushed into some things they didn’t want to do previously on some of these votes, and they need to get free of that and stand up and be their own person, to be honest. But I’ll tell you, here’s the thing you see. Words mean something to me. They absolutely mean something to me. Senator, just to tell you how much it means. You know, in 2013, I’d never been threatened in my life until I ran the heartbeat bill. I’ve been called everything, accused of everything. I’ve been cussed. I’ve been threatened to harm my family. I just had a guy get out of jail in Faulkner County. He came here in 2018, senator, falsely accused me, was arrested and just served his 30 days in jail January 2 to the end of January. I mean, they’ve done everything. You know a lot of this. They’ve done everything to me. And then to even have some of my own folks? But you see, it’s bigger than me and you. It’s about life. So if I’m pro-life, I will take votes, make votes and do things that support ending abortion. Now, if somebody says they’re not for ending all abortion, that’s up to them. I’m doing my best to end it, and I see that Texas is able to do that, senator. And here’s what– I mean, you’re a businessman. You’re a, you’re a military guy. Troops, we can save our men if we do this. Well, we’ve just never done that. We’ve never done that. We’ve lost 62 million. Well, colonel, they just say they’re saving thousands right over here. Look what they’re doing. That’s what, that’s what we’re trying to say to you about the Texas bill and the Supreme Court upheld it. And since December the 10th, when the Supreme Court issued that decision, ain’t nobody stopped them in Texas.
Hendren [02:05:26] OK, this is it, I promise, the final question. Because this to me is one of the biggest reasons this is a hard issue to do in a fiscal session is it is very complex. Where I’m really confused here is we passed a bill through this body and through the House signed into law that had no rape and incest exception in it for the first time in 25 years, which, again, gave many of us pause. Because that was a change in policy, including policy that you had supported two years previous. But now we’re coming in with a new bill and putting a rape and incest exception back into the law. Am I reading that correctly?
Rapert [02:06:01] That’s not my resolution. That’s not Stubblefield’s resolution. But what you have, to be frank with you, is a bit of a false flag. They went in and actually took language direct from Act 309, which was meant to be a message to me. We know that. We’re not fools. It’s kind of funny because they didn’t even update the statistics, senator. They actually used statistics from the old bill without even updating the actual statistics of the statistics aren’t even right.
Hendren [02:06:28] OK.
Rapert [02:06:28] But they did– no, I’m going to finish my answer to you. So they did that. And you know what, what that bill does? Senator Flippo has that resolution. It repeals the strongest bill you’ve ever passed in Arkansas history, replaces it with new language and expands abortion to be allowable in other circumstances. Now that’s the first time in the history since I’ve been here in 2011 that any Republican has ever filed a bill that expands abortion.
Hendren [02:06:57] OK. But back to the question. I guess I’m reading the bill incorrectly that right here, Senate Resolution 14 by Senator Stubblefield, Page 8, Line 30: Notwithstanding any other law, a civil action under this section may not be brought by a person who impregnated the woman who obtained an abortion through an act of rape, sexual assault, incest or any other act prohibited in Title 5, Chapter 14.
Rapert [02:07:19] That is dealing with somebody that you said impregnates someone, right? You’re talking about issues where somebody impregnates them. And it has, though it’s dealing with that particular instance.
Hendren [02:07:32] It’s a rape and incest exception.
Rapert [02:07:34] That’s not a rape and incest exception for the law. If you go down in the prohibitions, it says, except to save the life of the mother. But what you’re dealing with there, senator, and this is actually something that should be debated is because you have some very unusual situations out here in this country. Think about a situation where somebody is intentionally doing something. There’s criminal activity involved in it. That’s what I’m told. They’ve got that in there dealing with that specific situation. But the prohibition says still at the beginning, you’ll see that, it’s except to save the life of the mother. But good questions, thank you.
Griffin [02:08:16] Anyone else wish to speak? Senator Sturch, you have–
Sturch [02:08:20] I had a question for Senator Rapert, if he’s take–
Griffin [02:08:22] You want to entertain a question, from Senator Sturch, Senator Rapert?
Sturch [02:08:30] Senator Rapert, I wanted to ask– thank you, Mr. President.
Rapert [02:08:32] Do you have a specific you want me to look at?
Sturch [02:08:34] Well, no, not exactly. I just kind of wanted a general idea, between Senate resolutions 12, 13, 14, 15 16, what are the substantive differences? Are there substantive–
Rapert [02:08:45] 16–
Sturch [02:08:45] –differences between yours and Senator Stubblefield’s or–
Rapert [02:08:48] What you have is you have– there, there actually are some differences. It’s a good question. 16 is not relevant to any bills that we support. That’s the false flag, in my opinion. So Senate bills that Senator Stubblefield has, one authorizes him, if you’ll look, and the other authorizes Representative Payton in the House. So there’s no substantive differences between those. The bills that I have, obviously, you never go out into this particular environment, Senator Sturch, you know, without having maybe a little backup if some funny business begins to occur. So I have resolutions that are there that would authorize Representative Bentley and myself, and they are still the same substantive. So those bills carried by Senator Stubblefield, the resolutions, and by me, but, Senator Stubblefield, because again, we had some people, Senators Sturch, believe it or not, you know that they, they stopped having any excuses and they said, Well, we just don’t want to support it if Senator Rapert doesn’t. And I even had one of them, a good friend of mine, oh, he would never allow somebody else to do it. Well, I did, because it’s more important for me to pass it than somebody to fool around just thinking people wants to run something. I’ve been running these bills since I’ve been down here.
Sturch [02:10:09] [02:10:09]But content wise, both are the same?
Rapert [02:10:11] [02:10:11]Yes, sir. Should be, should be.
Sturch [02:10:17] Anybody wish to speak against? For? The Senator is closed. The Senator is now closing.
Stubblefield [02:10:27] Let me just close with this one thing. You know, sometimes we have the idea that the Supreme Court of our land is always right, regardless of the ruling. Well, in 1973, there were 48 states, 48 states, representing 275 million Americans who had anti-abortion laws on their books. When Jane Roe took a group of liberal lawyers and they filed suit to try to change the law, those nine Supreme Court judges ruled in favor of Roe vs. Wade, even though Jane Roe backed out. They took the case forward and they won it. And they went against the will of 275 million Americans, and they had to change the state laws in 48 states in order to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. That’s not right. That is not right. I hope you will let us just at least take this resolution to committee. Let us sit down and discuss it. If we lose, we lose. But let’s at least have a discussion and a debate on it, so we can at least maybe find out more than what we, you know, given to you today. Senator Hendren, I want all the information out there. There’s a lot of things that– I’m certainly not a lawyer. I know very little. I admit it. But I’d like to sit down and listen to these guys debate, the Family Council, the other lawyers. Let’s learn the truth about it. Get to the truth. The only way we can do that is to pass this. I’m closed.
Griffin [02:12:14] Madam Secretary, please call the roll.
Secretary [02:12:20] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Caldwell, Caldwell. Chesterfield, Chesterfield. Davis, Davis. Dismang, Dismang, no. Elliott, no. English, no. Flippo, no. Flowers, no. Garner, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Hill, no. Ingram, no. Irvin, no. Blake Johnson, Blake Johnson, present. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, no. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample, no. Stubblefield, yes. Sturch, yes. Sullivan, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, Wallace. [12 yes, 14 no, 5 no vote, 1 present]
Griffin [02:13:37] Anyone wish to vote or change their vote? Senator Davis is no. Is that correct? Senator Elliott’s no. Senator Chesterfield’s no. Anybody else? Cast up the ballot. 12 yeas, 16 nays three not voting, 1 present. The resolution is not adopted. Senator Stubblefield, SR 15.
Secretary [02:14:05] Senate resolution 15 by Senator Stubblefield to authorize the introduction of a non appropriation bill to implement the Arkansas Human Heartbeat and Human Lives Civil Justice Act to save the lives of unborn children and protect the health of women through civil liability.
Stubblefield [02:14:24] Thank you, governor. This resolution simply gives Representative Payton the authority to run this bill in the House. Same resolution.
Dismang [02:14:36] [02:14:36]Question.
Irvin [02:14:37] [02:14:37]Are there any questions? Senator Dismang, you’re recognized for a question.
Dismang [02:14:41] [02:14:41]What is the status of Representative Payton’s resolution for that bill in the House?
Stubblefield [02:14:48] [02:14:48]It failed yesterday.
Dismang [02:14:50] [02:14:50]It failed yesterday? It would have to be approved by a vote change.
Rapert [02:14:53] [02:14:53]I have a point of order.
Irvin [02:14:54] [02:14:54]I’m sorry. Senator Dismang–
Dismang [02:14:56] [02:14:56]I was asking a question, Senator. If you don’t mind.
Irvin [02:14:58] [02:14:58]Senator Dismang is recognized to ask a question. Senator Dismang, you’re recognized.
Dismang [02:15:03] [02:15:03]So it failed in committee or on the floor or where did that bill fail?
Stubblefield [02:15:06] [02:15:06]The rules committee. It did not get a motion.
Dismang [02:15:08] [02:15:08]He does not at this point have authorization to run this bill in the House, correct?
Secretary [02:15:13] [02:15:13]Without this.
Dismang [02:15:14] [02:15:14]Well, this wouldn’t help. He’s going to have to have it in both chambers. This would just be half of it.
Stubblefield [02:15:19] We have, we have the other resolution in the other chamber.
Rapert [02:15:22] I’ll just wait for a question.
Irvin [02:15:30] [02:15:30]Senator Rapert, you’re recognized–
Rapert [02:15:31] [02:15:31]Yeah, I do–
Irvin [02:15:32] [02:15:32]–for a question.
Rapert [02:15:32] [02:15:32]–have a question for Senator Stubblefield real quick. Senator, to clarify on that, I was actually present during the debate. It actually didn’t fail. It failed to get in motion. So there was no vote in the House Rules Committee, and so that resolution never actually got a vote. Senator, that’s what I was trying to make a point of order to clarify so that we don’t get too far down the road. I was advised that the House, that they have intentions to actually vote on the floor of the House to pull those from committee, and that is still their opportunity to do that. And there is also one resolution that was not even heard at all. So there is another resolution that is alive there that has never been heard at all, even in the Rules Committee. So you actually– that’s the posture.
Irvin [02:16:21] And that’s posed as a question to Senator Stubblefield?
Rapert [02:16:24] Wouldn’t you agree?
Irvin [02:16:25] Thank you.
Stubblefield [02:16:25] That has the– that bill has the possibility to be extracted, correct.
Irvin [02:16:28] Senator Dismang, you’re recognized for a question.
Dismang [02:16:31] Question for the chair. If we vote– I mean, this is identical resolution to the resolution that just failed. If this bill, if this resolution fails, is it something that can be revoted or would it take an expungement to have the resolution revoted?
Irvin [02:16:48] Mr Cook? Could you repeat the question? It would have to be expunged.
Dismang [02:17:01] So in essence, just so everyone’s playing along and understands the status of where we are, if you run this today, and it’s voted down just like your previous bill, it doesn’t matter what Representative Payton does on the other end. Thank you.
Stubblefield [02:17:13] Right.
Irvin [02:17:14] Thank you. Are there any other, are there any other questions from members of the committee? Any other questions? Anyone wish to speak for or against the resolution? Seeing none, Senator Stubblefield, you’ve closed for your bill? Madam Secretary, please call the roll.
Secretary [02:17:34] Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Caldwell, no. Chesterfield, no. Davis, no. Dismang, no. Elliot, no. English, no. Flippo, no. Flowers, no. Garner, yes. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, no. Hester, yes. Hickey, no. Ingram, no. Irvin, no. Blake Johnson, present. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, no. Pitsch, no. Rapert, yes. Rice, yes. Sample. Stubblefield, yes. Sullivan, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, no. Wallace, Wallace. [12 yes, 16 no, 3 not voting, 1 present]
Irvin [02:18:39] Are there any members that wish to change their votes? Seeing none, please cast up the ballot. A vote of 12 yeas, 16 nays. The resolution fails. Senate Resolution 16. Passed over? Senate Resolution 17. Senator Johnson, you’re recognized.
M Johnson [02:19:10] Madam president, I ask that Senate Resolution 17 be allowed to hold its place on the calendar until I get further instructions from Representative Rye on the disposition of the House bill.
Irvin [02:19:22] OK, thank you, Senator Johnson. Senator Rapert, Senate Resolution 12 and Senate Resolution 13. You’re recognize, senator–
Rapert [02:19:37] Madam President, I’ll [unintelligible]
Irvin [02:19:38] On the calendar? We’ll put him on the calendar for tomorrow. Are there items to be read at the desk?
Secretary [02:20:06] House Bill 1001 by House Management to make an– an act for the House, Arkansas House of Representatives of the 93rd General Assembly appropriation for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. House Bill 1001.
Irvin [02:20:26] Calendar.
Secretary [02:20:27] House Bill 1013 by the House– Joint Budget the General Appropriation Act for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. House Bill 1013.
Irvin [02:20:40] Calendar. Senator Hester, you have an announcement? Okay. Joint Budget members, announcement. Joint Budget will be at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Joint Budget tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Senator Hester, you’re recognized for an announcement.
Hester [02:21:06] Members, we will have a Senate Efficiency meeting in Big Mac B 15 minutes following budget tomorrow morning. Thank you.
Irvin [02:21:15] In Big Mac B.
Hester [02:21:15] Big Mac B.
Irvin [02:21:16] OK. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized for an announcement.
Hammer [02:21:20] Thank you. Prayer Caucus will meet in the morning at 7 o’clock. We’ll meet for the next four Wednesday mornings at 7 o’clock. It’ll last about 20 minutes. We’ll have hopefully a speaker to give us a devotional challenge from outside the membership each morning. Tomorrow morning and the Old Supreme Court, 7 o’clock.
Irvin [02:21:36] All right. Are there any other announcements? Any other business to come before the body? All right. The Senate is adjourned subject to clearing of the desk. We will reconvene at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.