Senate floor

Feb. 23, 2022

 

Sturch The Senate will come to order. The Senate will come to order. I have requests for leave for Senator Bledsoe, Senator Stubblefield, and Senator Rapert. All in favor, say aye. Leave is granted. Madam Secretary, please call the roll.

 

Secretary [All present except Bledsoe, Stubblefield, and Rapert]

 

Sturch Would everyone please rise, including the guests in the gallery? We’ll be led in prayer by Senator Ricky Hill. 

 

Hill Please let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day you’ve given us, Lord. We pray that you will be with us. We pray, Lord, that we’ll make Godly decisions today for you. We pray Lord that you will be with us and take care of us. We, we pray, Lord, that you’ll be with the citizens throughout the state of Arkansas. We pray, Lord, you will be with us when we adjourn. Please allow us to have a safe trip home, Lord. In your name we pray, amen. 

 

[Pledge of Allegiance] 

 

Sturch Morning hour will now begin. Madam Secretary. 

 

Secretary We your committee on engrossed Bills to whom was referred Senate Bill 103 by Senator Hickey compared the engrossed copy with the original and find the same correctly engrossed. 

 

Sturch Joint Budget. Dear Mr. President, this is to inform you that on February 22nd, I reviewed and approved the following measures for the fiscal session of the 93rd General Assembly. Senate Bill 2 Act 2. Senate Bill 3 Act 3. Senate Bill 4 Act 4. Senate Bill 5 Act 5. Senate Bill 6 Act 6. Senate Bill 8 Act 7. Senate Bill 9 Act 8. Senate Bill 10 Act 9. Senate Bill 11 Act 10. Senate Bill 14 Act 11. Senate Bill 19 Act 12. Senate Bill 21 Act 13. Senate Bill 22 Act 14. Senate Bill 25 Act 15. Senate Bill 27 Act 16. Senate Bill 29 Act 17. Senate Bill 29 Act 18. Senate Bill 30 Act 19.Senate Bill 31 Act 20. Senate Bill 32 Act 21. Senate Bill 37 Act 22. Senate Bill 39 Act 23. Senate Bill 42 Act 24. Senate Bill 44 Act 25. Senate Bill 52 Act 26. Senate Bill 55 Act 27. Sen. Bill 56 Act 28. Senate Bill 65 Act 29. Senate Bill 68 Act 30. 

 

Sturch File it. We have one resolution this morning in the morning hour. Senate Resolution 25 by Senator Tucker. 

 

Secretary Senate Resolution 25 by Senator Tucker to recognize the many accomplishments of Rodger Bumpass.

 

Sturch Senator Tucker, you’re recognized to present your resolution. 

 

Tucker Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’d like to ask for leave for Rodger and Angela Bumpass to come on the floor. I’ll be brief. I just wanted to– my thought on this was we have a very talent rich state in Arkansas, and a lot of times we don’t even know about it. We have a native Arkansan right here, Mr. Rodger Bumpass, and his voice, I guarantee, has been in every one of your houses and every household in the United States and probably just about every household around the world because he’s one of the main characters on SpongeBob SquarePants. He voices one of the main characters on SpongeBob SquarePants. And it’s just a remarkable thing. We’re lucky to have Mr. Bumpass and Angela here with us today. But I also just want to recognize, you know, there’s just a lot of treasures in the state that we’re not even aware of. Whereas Arkansas native Rodger Bumpass has had many achievements over the course of his career in the entertainment industry. And whereas Rodger Bumpass was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended Little Rock Central High School, the finest High School in the United States, where he received his first training in theater. And whereas after high school, Rodger Bumpass attended Arkansas State University, where he majored in radio, TV and minored in theater. And whereas after completing his education, Rodger Bumpass has gone on to have a successful career in the entertainment industry. Whereas according to the internet movie database, Mr. Bumpass has over 693 film credits, which includes projects for companies such as National Lampoon, Nickelodeon and others. And whereas Rodger Bumpass has provided the voice for Squidward Tentacles on the Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants since 1999, and in 2012 received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for his role as Squidward. Be it resolved by the Senate of the 93rd General Assembly of the State of Arkansas, that the Senate congratulate Rodger Bumpass on his many achievements. With that, I’d like to invite Mr. Bumpass to come to the well and and indulge us for just a minute. 

 

Bumpass Wow. Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I am no stranger to public speaking, but this is not in my bailiwick. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to address you. You know, when I knew that this little moment was going to happen, I found myself at a loss for words. And so I consulted a dear old friend of mine wise in these matters, and he told me, Rodger, just say, finally, after 22 years of suffering behind a cash register at that krusty krab dealing with any every day, underpaid, underappreciated, underwater, finally, recognition. And I find it interesting that the one group that most appreciates and respects Squidward’s artistic prowess turned out to be the Arkansas State Legislature. And Squidward would say, this is a mark of intelligence on all of you. But when I left Arkansas for the canyons of New York some, many, many years ago– I think it was just after the Civil War– I kept in myself the identity of an Arkansas boy, even though wherever I went, wherever I traveled, and I would say I was from Arkansas, you have some clown that would pipe up saying, Oh, you mean, Ar-Kansas. Which is not fair because if you’re from Kansas, people don’t say, Oh, Kan-saw? But I went to New York with aspirations, large aspirations, and my main aspiration was to be the first Arkansan to obtain an Academy Award. Well, the lovely and talented Miss Mary Steenburgen beat me to that one. So I had to recalibrate. And all of a sudden I find myself surrounded by the epiphany of standing here at this podium, addressing members of the Legislature and being honored for basically leaving Arkansas is far greater than any Academy Award I could ever achieve. And that’s no exaggeration. Why? Because it’s from my own, my fellow Arkansans. Folks, my heart soars and my cup of gratitude overflows, sloshes down Markham Street, past the steps of the Old State House, where just 2 years ago, my bride and I were married at another Arkansas institution. And so I can say to you today, at this moment in time, in this chamber, I have never been more of an Arkansas boy, ever. I thank you and I thank you. Woo Pig Sooie.  And with that, I yield the floor. 

 

Sturch All in favor of the resolution, say aye. Any opposed. The resolution is adopted. Having no further business to come before the morning hour, we’ll now move to the business agenda, moving to the yellow business agenda. All these will require 24 votes for the emergency clause. Senator Irvin, House Bill 1097. 

 

Secretary House Bill 1097 by Representative Evans to amend the Public School Employees Health Insurance Program funding and declare an emergency. 

 

Sturch Senator Irvin, you’re recognized to present your Bill. 

 

Irvin Thank you. Members, this bill is part of the package that you’ll see. I think you’ve heard a lot about all these bills already. This requires us to make sure that we’re funding the Public School Employees’ Health Benefit Plan through our adequacy study and through the matrix formula to make sure that that money goes to that plan. There’s been a lot of discussion about this, and it’s very important that we pass this legislation because we have started the adequacy study and we’re in the middle of that. So I’ll be happy to answer any questions. 

 

Sturch Senator Irvin has presented the bill. Are there any questions for Senator Irvin? Seeing none, is there anyone who wishes to speak for or against this bill? Seeing none, Senator, are you closed for your bill? 

 

Irvin I’ve closed. Thank you. 

 

Sturch The Senator is closed for her Bill. Is there any objection to rolling the vote on this Bill? Seeing no objection, Madam Secretary, please roll the vote. [Vote] Are there any senators who wish to vote or change their vote? Any senators who wish to vote or change their vote? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, please cast up the ballot. A vote of 32 yays, 0 nays, the Bill and its emergency clause have passed. Senator Rice. House Bill 1098. Transmit to the House. Return to the House. 

 

Secretary House Bill 1098 by Representative Johnson 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, and declare an emergency. 

 

Sturch Senator Rice, you’re recognized to present your bill. 

 

Rice Thank you, Mr. President. Members, this HB 1098 by Representative Dotson is the mirror bill to the Senate Resolution SR3 that we read in its entirety before. There have been no changes. Again, this is for EBD, which didn’t require a fiscal impact statement. That can be done by an actuary or whatever. Also remind you about the insulin bill that had the unforeseen cost we had come back. And that’s what this Bill would take care of. Appreciate a good vote. 

 

Sturch Senator Rice has explained his bill. Are there any questions for Senator Rice? Seeing no questions, is there anyone who wishes to speak for or against this bill? Seeing none, Senator Rice, are you closed for your bill? Sen. Rice is closed for his bill. Is there any objection to rolling the vote? Seeing no objection, Madam Secretary, please roll the vote. There is an objection. Please roll the vote counting Senator Garner as a no. [Vote] Are there any senators who wish to change their vote? Any senators who wish to change their vote? Seeing none, madam secretary, please cast up the ballot. The vote is 31 yeas and 1 nay. The Bill and its emergency clause have passed. Return to the House. We’ll now take up House Bill 1099. 

 

Secretary House Bill 1099 by Rep. Wardlaw to provide for legislative oversight of the state and public school life and health insurance program, to establish the Employee Benefits Division Oversight Subcommittee, and declare an emergency. 

 

Sturch Senator Rice, you’re recognized. 

 

Rice Thank you again. Members, again, this would have been the same thing as Senate Resolution 4, establish the Employment Benefits Oversight Committee through the Arkansas Legislative Council. We did set that up where we believe that there be sufficient oversight. We also set it up to be a little bit heavier on the front end and it can be relaxed once that program looks like it’s up and running like it’s supposed to. So be glad to take any questions. If not, appreciate a good vote. 

 

Sturch Sen. Rice has presented his bill. Are there any questions for Senator Rice? Seeing no questions, is there anyone who wishes to speak for or against this Bill? Seeing none, Senator Rice has indicated he’s closed for the Bill. Is there any objection to rolling the vote? Seeing no objection, Madam Secretary, please roll the vote. [Vote] Are there any senators who wish to change their vote? Any senators who wish to change their vote? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, please cast up the ballot. With a vote of 32 yeas and 0 nays, the Bill and its emergency clause have passed. Please return to the House. We’ll now take up House Bill 1100. Senator Hickey. 

 

Secretary House Bill 1100 by Rep. Wardlaw to establish a governing body for the state and public school life and Health Insurance Program, to create advisory commissions for health benefits for state employees and public school employees, and declare an emergency. 

 

Sturch Senator Hickey, you’re recognized to present your Bill. 

 

Hickey Thank you, Mr. Chair. Members, this is the same bill that you’ve heard, I think, four times that establishes a governing body, the 2 commissions and the main governing body for EBD. I’d appreciate a good vote. 

 

Sturch Senator Hickey has presented his bill. Are there any questions for Senator Hickey? Seeing no questions, is there anyone who wishes to speak for or against this bill? Seeing none, Senator Hickey has indicated he’s closed for the bill. Any objection to rolling the vote on this Bill? Seeing no objection, Madam Secretary, please roll the vote. [Vote] Are there any senators who wish to change their vote on this bill? Any senators who wish to change their vote? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, please cast up the ballot. A vote of 32 yeas, 0 nays, the bill and its emergency clause have passed. Please return to the House. Having concluded our business agenda, we will now move to the budget agenda. Senator Dismang, you are recognized. 

 

Dismang Thank you, members. We’re going to do these in batch unless someone would like to pull one out. All right, I’m going to read these off one by one. If you’ve got one you’d like to pull out, let me know. Senate Bill 41, Senate Bill 84– that one out? Senate Bill 84, let’s pull out for a separate vote. Senate Bill 89, Senate Bill 90, Senate Bill 91, 92, 3, 4, 5, 6, 97, 98, 99, 100. All right. So the only one we’re going to pull out is Senate Bill 84. Let’s do it first. 

 

Secretary Senate Bill 84 by Joint Budget an act for the Department of Commerce re-appropriation. 

 

Dismang And this is a re-appropriation Bill, members. 

 

Sturch Members, you heard the Bill, Senate Bill 84. Any objection to rolling the vote? We’ll roll the vote, and Senator Garner will vote no? Object. All right. Madam Secretary, please call the roll. 

 

Secretary Ballinger, Ballinger, yes. Beckham, yes. Bledsoe on leave. Caldwell, yes. Chesterfield, Chesterfield. Clark, Clark. Davis, yes. Dismang, yes. Elliott, Elliott. English, yes. Flippo, yes. Flowers, Flowers. Fulfer, Fulfer. Garner, no. Gilmore, yes. Hammer, yes. Hendren, Hendren. Hester, yes. Hickey, yes. Hill, yes. Ingram, yes. Irvin, Irvin, yes. Blake Johnson, yes. Mark Johnson, yes. Leding, yes. Pitsch, yes. Rapert on leave. Rice, yes. Sample, yes. Stubblefield on leave. Sturch, yes. Sullivan, yes. Teague, Teague. Tucker, Tucker. Wallace, yes. [24 yes, 1 no, 7 not voting] 

 

Sturch Are there any senators who wish to vote or change their vote? Senator Fulfer is aye. Any senator wish to vote or change their vote? Senator Clark is aye. Senator Tucker is aye. Senator Elliott is aye. Any other senator wish to vote or change their vote? Any other senator wish to vote or change their vote? Seeing none, madam secretary, please cast up the ballot. With a vote of 28 yeas, 1 nay, the Bill has passed. Senator Dismang, you’re recognized. 

 

Dismang And again, members, so this is going to be Senate Bill 41, then jump to Senate Bill 89 all the way through 100. If you’d like to put any of those out, let me know. All right, we’re good to go. 

 

Griffin Any objection to rolling the vote?  

 

Secretary Senate Bill 41 an act for the Department of Finance Administration Assessment Coordination Division appropriation for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Senate Bill 89 an act for the Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 90 an act for the Department of Education Public School Funds Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 91 an act for the Department of Education Division of Career and Technical Education Vocational Center and Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill  92 an act for the SAU Tech Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 93 an act for the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill an act for the University of Arkansas Fayetteville Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 95 an act for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 96 an act for the University of Arkansas Monticello Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 97 an act for the University of Central Arkansas Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 98 an act for the University of Arkansas System and various divisions.Supplemental Appropriation. Senate Bill 99 an act for the University of Arkansas and Division of Agriculture Supplemental Appropriation. And Senate Bill 100 an act for the Arkansas State University supplemental appropriation. 

 

Griffin You’ve heard the bills. The Senator has closed. Any objection to rolling the vote? Please roll the vote. [Vote] Anyone wish to change their vote? Cast up the ballot. 32 yeas, 0 nays. The batch bills have passed. Transmit to the House. Senator Dismang.

 

Dismang All right, members, and I’ll let Pro Tem Hickey take care of this too, but Special Language will meet upon adjournment on Monday. My understanding, I’ll let him kind of walk through everything. We’ll be coming in at– we’re going to come in at noon, take care of whatever business we have– should be fairly limited– and then we’re going to adjourn, or we’ll adjourn and Special Language will start working. And if you’re on Special Language, I anticipate, you know, carving out about three hours to get through the calendar for Special Language. So Special Language will meet upon an adjournment of both chambers on Monday. And we’re coming in at noon. 

 

Griffin OK, senator– you want to go first, Sen. Hester? Senator Ingram? Senator Hester, then Senator Ingram. I mean Irvin. Sorry.

 

Hester Members, I just want to take a, take a moment to recognize U.S. Senator Cotton’s with us today. Just came by to say hello. We want to wish him welcome. 

 

Griffin Senator Irvin. 

 

Irvin Members, we had an Education committee meeting scheduled for today after session, but because of the weather, we’re going to postpone that and reschedule it. I would ask that you try to attend that education committee meeting because so much has happened because of COVID to our children who are dealing with depression, anxiety and mental health issues. And so that’s what that meeting is going to be about. So we’ll schedule that for next week. Thank you. 

 

Griffin Anyone else? Anyone else? 12 o’clock Monday, right? Senate’s adjourned, subject to the clearing of the desk until noon Monday.