Senate Organizational Meeting 

For the 94th General Assembly

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Roll call

Sen Hickey: Members, if you all don’t mind, just find your seat. If you don’t have a seat, just find an open one. We’re going to call this organizational meeting to order. Madam Secretary, if you would, please call the roll.

[Roll call – all present]


Sen Hickey: All right. Thank you. Members, I’m going to ask Senator-Elect Petty if he would please come and lead us in the prayer and then the pledge. Senator Petty, you’re recognized.


Sen Petty: Thank you. Let’s bow. Dear Heavenly Father, we just want to pause and honor you for all that you do for us. And Heavenly Father, we thank you for the privilege to stand here and to represent the people of Arkansas. We don’t ever want to take that responsibility too lightly. We thank you in advance for wisdom and guidance. And we pray, Heavenly Father, that may everything that we do bring honor and glory to you. We ask this in your son’s name, amen.


Election of Pro Tempore

Sen Hickey: Okay, members, our first item on the agenda today is we’re going to have the election for the president pro tem of the 94th General Assembly. The way this is going to work is I’m going to open up the floor to nominations. If we were to have multiple nominations, what we’ll do is we will pass out a ballot, and then we will have a– that will be done in secret. They’ll be totaled, and those will be brought back into you. So at this time, I’m going to open up the floor to nominations for the president pro team of the 94th General Assembly. Senator Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: I make a motion to nominate Senator Bart Hester as the pro tem for the–


Sen Hickey: Okay. We have a nomination for Senator Bart Hester as pro tem of the 94th General Assembly. Are there any other nominations? Could I have a motion that nomination cease? I have multiple motions that nominations cease. All right, we’re going to do this by voice vote. All in favor of Senator Bart Hester as president pro tem of the 94th General Assembly, please say aye. Any opposed? I think that more than carries. Senator Hester. [applause]


Sen Hester: Well, thank you very much, members. I think if you’ll still have me here in a few months, I’ll have more of a speech prepared. But this is a responsibility I take with a significant amount of diligence, and I want to thank Jimmy Hickey. I mean, this is a bigger job than I may even anticipate. And I’ve been here 10 years, and I couldn’t imagine doing this without Jimmy Hickey’s being, the only word I can describe, since the moment that I was elected, he has been magnanimous towards me. I mean, we’re two months out, and his office is already empty, and he’s allowed it to me. In every way, Jimmy, I cannot thank you enough, and I think that transition is going to matter to our entire body and the way we move forward treating each other. Anyway, thank you for that, Jimmy. So Jimmy– [applause]


Sen Hester: Okay. So before we get started, members, I want to go over a few housekeeping Rules. We don’t have buttons in the Senate. Some of you House members may be wondering where they are, but we vote by our voice or by our hands. And so when you get asked– when your name is called, if you’re a yes, you say yes or yay. And say it like 90,000 people elected you, right? It’s hard. A lot of times, it’s really loud in here, so for the staff to hear you and the members to hear you, say yes or yay. If you’re a no, you say no or nay. If you want to be present, you say present. If you don’t want to be recorded at all, stay silent. A thumbs-up will also work for a yes. A thumbs-down will also work for a no. Customarily, we always run through it, then after everyone has voted, whoever’s in the chair will say, “Has everyone voted that wishes to vote, or change their vote?” At that point, you will have a chance to change your vote if you want to. Or if you didn’t vote the first time through, you have a chance to vote again. So we’re going to have a chance to vote on several things here, and please make your voice heard when that time comes.


Sen Hester: All right. So I now would like to introduce us to our senate staff. So I want to start with welcoming Ann Cornwell, the senate director. I think you all know her. We just want to say hello to Ann. Steve Cook is still with us for a little bit here, but we want to welcome Steve, over 40 years as our parliamentarian. Sabrina Lewellen, who, I think, if you don’t know, you will know very well very soon, and she keeps everything in order around here and our constituents happy. So thank you, Sabrina Lewellen. Lesley Rogers works in constituent service as well. We want to welcome her. Thank you for all the work you do, Lesley. John Reed and– John, he handles– if you want to sound smart on doing a radio or need something written for you, John will handle all that. Thank you, John. And we got some new members– or some new staff, in case you haven’t seen. But with Steve’s Retirement, we have added a new legal Council-parliamentarian, and that is Philip Treat. Philip, we’re very glad to have you. And then the person who’s going to take a lot of the brunt and the beatings this session on behalf of me when I do things wrong, we have Zachary Rogers in the back. He will be assisting me and all of you this session. So if you haven’t met Zachary, there he is in the back corner, and I’ll get you all his cell phone number very soon.


Alan Clark: Loss of Seniority

Sen Hester: Okay. So the next item– or item number two on the agenda is the recommendation from the Ethics Committee to the 94th General Assembly that the loss of seniority for Senator Alan Clark be sustained and he remain at position 35. I’m going to ask Senator Kim Hammer if he would like to come make a motion regarding that agenda item. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized.


Sen Hammer: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I make the motion that the Senate uphold the recommendation of the Senate Ethics Committee to suspend Senator Clark to the 35th position. Make that motion.


Sen Hester: Would anyone like to speak for or against that motion? Senator Alan Clark. Senator Clark, you’re recognized.


Sen Clark: Thank you, Mr. President. Don’t really want to speak, don’t expect to change anything. But to punish someone who’s not guilty is a serious thing. And for those of you who might not know, I think I owe it to you to at least present some facts. What I was charged with was filing a frivolous charge, ethics charge. When I began to investigate that a member had received $6,400 in per diem and attended four days, I couldn’t make the numbers add up. I kept trying– and I’m a math guy. I kept trying and trying, and I couldn’t make them add up. And finally, I tried something, and it worked. And what worked was I added in weekends. And then I had my per diem pulled. I looked at my per diem, and sure enough, I was getting paid per diem for weekends. And I began to do some investigation. I talked to past pro tems, past speakers, and found that decade-old practice that went back at least to ’89. I traced it back that far. I know it goes back further, although we stopped it in 2015 and started it again in 2017. And then I thought, “I don’t really want to be the guy to bring this out. It affects 134 other people besides me. I don’t think it’s right.” We’ve actually said it’s not right. We said you shouldn’t get paid for not attending meetings.


Sen Clark: But of course, I had the issue I was already looking at, the member that got paid $6,400 for expenses and only attended four days. And I filed that ethics charge, and I thought that that member would probably figure it out and bring it out. And they did. Now, there’s nothing in the report, but they did figure it out. They sat there and said, “Senator Clark, how many days a week were you paid for?” And I said seven. And when I was asked if I wanted to withdraw this charge, I said no. That wasn’t all I said. Now in order to file a charge, it says here under Rule 2409, any member of the Senate who has good reason to believe that a member or members of the Senate have violated the Senate’s Codes of Ethics may petition the Senate Ethics Committee to meet in a public forum and executive session to conduct an investigation regarding the alleged violation. I had good reason to believe. The member had received $6,400, had only attended four days. Jill Thayer stood here before us and told us that that was against the Rules and that member had stood right here in the well and quoted that rule, had that on video. So I had good reason to believe. But when I was asked if I wanted to withdraw that, there was no need of me to withdraw it. The Ethics Committee could say, “Hey, no harm, no foul. We don’t think they really meant to do anything wrong.” But I didn’t just say no. I said, “But even though they paid money back, there’s still a question of $3,400 and they only attended four days. It’s not in the report.”


Sen Clark: And it wasn’t that I wanted anybody to be punished. That wasn’t something even the member was responsible for. That was something for the Ethics Committee to look at and say, “Should we be getting paid for the weekends, and especially if we’re not here at all?” If that’s not an ethics question, I don’t know what is. Now, I was told later by leadership that that’s actually what we decided. Now, I think way more of this body and the House, too, that anybody ever decided that we would pay members’ expenses for weekends that they never came. I mean, can you imagine that all of us never came and we paid us all expenses for weekends? No possible way.


Sen Clark: So $4,000 has been paid back. That can’t be a frivolous charge. Half million dollars per session that goes out for a weekend per diem is in question. I can’t imagine that we would continue this practice. Surely we won’t. That can’t be frivolous.


Sen B Johnson: Point of order.


Sen Hester: Senator Blake Johnson, point of order?


Sen B Johnson: This is a business committee decision, and the body had voted on that. That is not germane to the motion. None of this discussion has been germane to the motion.


Sen Hester: Senator Clark, we ask that you talk about the motion and not about the facts.


Sen Clark: Thank you. And the reason that I believe it is about the motion, the motion is about my punishment for violating a rule, and I am bringing out why I believe the rule was not violated. But I’ll move on. Many of you have known me for 10 years. Also, the 18-page report said I wore a scarlet letter. I did. Now, what that has to do with a frivolous charge, I can’t tell you. It seems a political protest, First Amendment, is protected First Amendment speech. That may make you very angry, but it has nothing to do with the frivolous charge. It said that I had threatened the Senate multiple times. That’s not against the Rules, but it’s also not true. The evidence that was presented was one newspaper article and some Facebook posts. What is true is that I have defended members of this body numerous times. Linda Collins, Bryan King, Stephanie Flowers, Jim Hendren, who I wasn’t particularly fond of, Cecille Bledsoe, Bart Hester, and others who I won’t mention because you don’t even know you were attacked. And so I defended Mark Johnson. And in this case– it was in the paper, and in this case, I said I’d burn the house down. That’s the only thing I said. I went through all the articles, and I know it’s the only thing I said because it’s the only thing that was brought out. And by saying I’d burn the house down, I meant that in that July meeting that I would bring out other things, more serious things that could have been brought as ethics charges, and under prayerful consideration, I did not. Never said anything else about any of you anywhere, which is more what you would have expected from me from the last 10 years.


Sen Clark: The Facebook posts that were presented as evidence, one is a Sunday school lesson about King David. And one of the first things in it– a friend had brought out to me years ago that one of the first things David did, it says, “What’s the reward?” And right there in it, it says first thing is making sure you get paid. Well, if it was about this, who in the world would pay me? Tom Mars is the one who first said that it had something to do with it, and I thought, “Who in here is following Tom Mars?” It’s ridiculous. It had nothing to do with here. And then the other is something I took from Jim Croce in Operator. And if you know anything about popular culture, Jim Croce is singing about a guy depressed, standing in a phone booth, having no one to talk to but the operator in tears. Not exactly a threat. The only Facebook post made in all that time that mentioned the Senate was a defense of Bill Sample. “Please leave him alone,” because people were coming after him because he made the motion to turn me over to a prosecutor. Yet it was said that I did this because Senator Flowers seconded the motion.


Sen Hester: Senator Clark, I’m going to ask that you talk about the motion and less about the facts. We’ve given you some time, and I’ll give you some more, but try to stay on the motion.


Sen Clark: Thank you. Like I said, I didn’t expect to change your minds. People are politically invested. Some people were angry.  I’m truly disappointed. I used to really care what you thought. I would have thought that you would have known me better. And some of you did and didn’t have the courage to stand. And this thing about protecting the Senate and sacrificing me, I can handle anything that you do– oh, I couldn’t, but with God, I can. I’d rather be me than any of those that are doing this. You’re talking about protecting the name of the Senate. This is embarrassing, but it ain’t because of me.


Sen Hester: Senator Clark has spoken against the motion. Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Against the motion?


Sen Payton: I’d like to make a substitute motion.


Sen Hester: Senator Payton, you’re recognized for a substitute motion.


Sen Payton: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Members, I was part of the 93rd General Assembly, but not the Senate. And as a new coming member of the Senate, we’re here to organize the 94th General Assembly. And as I looked at the options of voting for or against the motion that was offered, I couldn’t find a comfort zone for me. I was not part of the litigation and the arguments that were made, and I understand Senator Clark coming to defend himself. I’ve not spoken with him at all since all those proceedings. I watched a lot of them on the TV. But the bottom line is, I felt like if I was to vote for this motion to set his seniority at 35 for the 94th General Assembly that I would be voting for further punishment. I do want to respect the decision of the 93rd General Assembly and the punishment that they imposed, which was to strip him of his seniority. And so it seems that if I vote against the motion to set him at 35, then I’m voting against the penalties that were imposed by the 93rd General Assembly, and I don’t want to do that. If I vote for the motion that sets his seniority at 35, I feel like I’m voting to impose further penalty than what the 93rd General Assembly had authority to do. So my substitute motion is this: that we respect the decision of the 93rd General Assembly and the fact that they stripped Senator Clark of his seniority, and that he come in to the 94th as a freshman like myself but that instead of setting his seniority at 35, that he draw with the rest of the freshman with his prior service not recognized. So my substitute motion is that, that he would draw with the rest of us new coming members and his seniority and prior membership would not be recognized. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Senator Hickey, you are recognized to speak on the motion, or?


Sen Hickey: Substitute to a substitute.


Sen Hester: Senator Hickey, you’re recognized for a substitute to the substitute motion.


Sen Hickey: Yes. I’d like to make a motion that we uphold the Senate Ethics Committee’s recommendation with one small change in that the day before we come into the session, it says that the time will end at 11:59. I want to back that up to 11:58 so that we can comply with the Rules of a change. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Okay. Senator Hickey has substituted the substitute. All those in– Senator Stubblefield, would you like to speak for or against the motion?


Sen Stubblefield: I couldn’t understand what he said.


Sen Hester: Senator Hickey, will you clarify your motion?


Sen Hickey: My motion is a substitute to the substitute, which is allowed. The only thing is, is

you cannot go back to the original motion exactly the way it is. So what I’m doing is I’m changing the time. So that will be the motion before us. Thank you.


Sen Hester: All those in favor of Senator Hickey’s motion, signify by saying, aye. Opposed, say no. Motion carries. Moving on to Item 3, recommendation interpretation of Senate Rule 7.05(a), seniority concerning previous senatorial service. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized for point of order.


Sen Chesterfield: Yes, Mr. Chair, that was a substitute motion. Does it not have to then be voted on as the main motion, or do we do that in the Senate? Okay. That was a substitute motion. Does it have to then be voted on as the main motion, or is that not what Mason’s requires? Once the substitute has taken place, then when it is voted upon, it becomes the main motion in most parliamentary procedure, and then we vote on it as the main motion. Or under Mason’s, once the substitute has taken place, is it just automatically the main motion?


Cook (Parliamentarian): It’s my impression that we were voting on his substitute motion which carried.


Sen Chesterfield: I understand that, Steve, but in many parliamentary areas, when the substitute is offered, it then becomes the main motion and a second vote is taken. And so I’m asking you if that is necessary under Senate Rules. It is not?


Cook (Parliamentarian): It is not.


Sen Chesterfield: Okay. That’s what I need to know. Thank you.


Sen Hester: So Senator Johnson, you’re recognized for parliamentary inquiry.


Sen M Johnson: And this is simply– I guess it’s for Steve. It may be for the Chair. The motion passed to sustain, or shall I say, continue the punishment recommended on Senator Clark in the 93rd General Assembly. And my recollection is that it would be continued through the 94th General Assembly to, I guess, to the end of the 94th General Assembly. At that point, would that seniority at 35 remain or would it revert? Assuming, for example, Senator Clark draws a four-year term today in the 95th, would he revert to his previous position of seniority? Has that been clarified?


Sen Hester: I think my interpretation of that is he is now 35, and if there are any changes, he’d move 34, 33, on as if he was 35. It would not be continued on past the 94th General Assembly.


Sen M Johnson: Does our general counsel concur in that?


Sen Hester: So the question is– we’re only talking about seniority starting the 94th General Assembly. Will Senator Clark’s position of 35 have the ability to move up, or will it be 35 in perpetuity?


Sen M Johnson: My question is, in the future, at the end of the 94th, would Senator Clark’s seniority go back to what it would have been otherwise, or will he be restored to where he was? Or is this, in effect, everlasting punishment? He’s 35. He might move up to 36– 34, 33, whatever. I know that this may be more technical. It may require clarification. But I did want to get an inquiry, if at all possible. And I’ll withdraw my inquiry just because it’s already confusing enough.


Sen Hester: Well, I think Senator Johnson’s inquiry is– now I’ve confused myself when I had a very clear answer. But, yes, Senator Hammer?


Sen Hammer: May I address what I think is Senator Clark’s– or I mean, Senator Johnson’s intention? He can clarify that it is. Would that be okay with the Chair?


Sen Hester: Yes.


Sen Hammer: I think the question is that, based upon what we just voted, that when it comes the next time around and the next General Assembly meets, will Senator Clark revert back to where he is prior to that, or will he, for example, if five new senators come in next time, he would go from 35 to 30 and resume there? Is that–?


Rule Interpretation on Senator King

Sen Hester: No. It’s as if he drew 35 today, and everything else remains the same, just like any other member. So it’s as if he came in and drew 35. And so all of the Rules will remain just like any other member. So the only thing we’re choosing today is that Senator Clark is 35, then nothing else beyond that. Okay. Moving on to item number 3, recommendation and interpretation of Senate Rule 7.05(a), seniority concerning previous senatorial service. This is involving Senator Bryan King. My interpretation of that rule is that Senator Bryan King has previous service, and therefore, he will be number one in his class. Was there any discussion on my interpretation? So without objection, Senator King will be number one in his class. Seeing no objection, moving on. Item number 4, discussion and adoption of Senate Rules for the 94th General Assembly. So I guess I need somebody to come take the Chair. Senator Dismang or Senator Hickey, would you– Senator Dismang.


Sen Dismang: Senator Hester, you’re recognized to present a rule change.


Trading Committees

Sen Hester: So members, I’m going to propose we follow the House’s lead, which is something we should rarely do, but the House has a rule that allows members to trade committees. And I’m making a proposal of a rule change that we can trade committees; an A committee for an A committee, B committee for a B committee, or an A or B for a C during today only. And you will not be able to trade a vice chair or chair position, so only a member’s position. And it has to be signed off by the minority leader or the majority leader, whichever party you’re in, and the newly elected pro tem. So I’m happy to answer any questions.


Sen Dismang: Members, you’ve heard an explanation of the rule change. Are there any questions? All right. Senator Hickey, you’re recognized for a question.


Sen Hickey: Just for complete clarification, you said today. Do you want to put a time on it or are we saying midnight or how do you want to do that, just so that everything will be clear?


Sen Hester: So I would say close of business today, which I will say that– let’s say 20 minutes after the last– what’s the last thing on our agenda here? Say, 20 minutes after item 13 is finished. So session parking space selection, 20 minutes after that, or 5 o’clock, whichever comes second.


Sen Hickey: Thank you, Senator.


Sen Dismang: All right, members, any other questions? Would anyone like any other discussion on the motion for the rule change? For or against? All right. Seeing none, Senator Hester, would you like to close?


Sen Hester: I think I’m closed.


Sen Dismang: All right. With that, we’ve got a motion to adopt this rule change related to the trading of committees. All those in favor, signify by saying aye. All those opposed? Motion carries.


Sen Hester: Senator Blake Johnson, you are recognized for a rule change proposal.


Limiting Democrats on committees to 2 max

Sen B Johnson: Members, I’m proposing a rule of change to 7.01(b)(2). We changed this in, I think, 2019 to reflect the percentage of the body, and this change said that standing committees shall be composed of at least, the new is six members of the majority party, and the minority party shall have no more than two members. New wording. I make a motion, Chair.


Sen Hester: Okay. So Senator Chesterfield, you are recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I’m one of those who understands that when trains are rolling and I’m about to get run over by a caboose, but I would be remiss if I did not say that I think this is a poor rule. There is absolutely nothing that six people can do to diminish your power. Not anything. You have won, and you have won greatly. And now we would be so small as to say that if three of us had an interest in a committee, too bad, too sad. Too bad, too sad. And that’s exactly what you’re saying, and that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. But I don’t think it speaks well of this body that I have known all these years as a deliberative body that has been expansive in allowing the intercourse of conversation. And what you are doing now is diminishing the ability to hear anything that does not agree with what your thought processes are. That is not what the Senate is about. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Against the motion? Senator Clarke Tucker, you’re recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Tucker: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m not a big fan of partisanship, and some of my Democratic friends might actually not like to hear me say that, but it’s the truth. I don’t like a label being put on me. And frankly, I don’t like putting labels on other people. I think it limits us as individuals. I think it limits us as an institution. And because of that, it limits our potential as a State. I think the idea of parties is a means to an end, and that end being policy. But in politics, in America these days, it seems like parties have become an end in themselves– winning for winning’s sake, where winning becomes more important than what you’ve won. And in a lot of cases, what you’ve lost in the process as well. Now, I’m not ignorant to the political reality that Senator Chesterfield alluded to and the fact that we have to operate within that reality. And that reality is, in the 94th General Assembly, 29 senators were elected as Republicans, and 6 were elected as Democrats. And as Senator Chesterfield eloquently said, why have this rule with those numbers? There’s nothing that the six members of the minority party can do to stop any legislation that comes out ultimately. So why have the rule?


Sen Tucker: As a practical matter, I’m not sure that this actually is going to affect any committees that any of the Democratic members select anyway, which makes it even further unimportant or irrelevant. But beyond the practicalities of it, there’s a bigger issue here, in my opinion, and this is what Senator Chesterfield was getting at. We’re going to have those labels put on us– Democrat, Republican, other labels as well that we may not like very much– but there’s one label that all 35 of us have in this chamber, and that label is Senator. That label is Senator. And that means a lot of different things. One of the most important meanings it has is that we’re here representing 90,000 people in this State. Now, it’s not a coincidence that any of you are here representing your districts. Your constituents chose you, while Senator Chesterfield’s constituents chose her to be their voice, to be their senator. The same for Senator Leding and Senator Flowers, Senator Love and Murdock and myself. The way this institution has always operated is that once you’re here, everyone’s voice is equal. And what this rule says is everyone’s voice is equal unless you’re a Democrat in the committee selection process. And we’re chipping away at what that word Senator means. And when you start to chip away at it, you don’t know where the next chips are coming. So I think this rule lowers this institution, and I think it’s a poor way to start off the 94th General Assembly.


Sen Hester: Senator Clarke’s [Tucker] spoken against the motion. Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Seeing none, Senator Leding, you’re recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Leding: Thank you, Mr. President. I will be brief. My colleagues made most of the good points. I just wanted to refer back to the story that I had the fortune to share last night at our orientation meeting where I talked about some of the very important bipartisan work that we’re able to do. I know we will have partisan fights in here, but the overwhelming amount of the work that we do in here doesn’t fall across partisan lines. We’re all working together on issues to better serve Arkansans. And as I said last night, you never know where you’re going to get that vote that you need. And so there are just six of us. Why we would need this rule to further restrict where any of us choose they would be best able to serve their constituents by picking a committee I just think goes against the whole spirit of why we’re here. So I would ask that you vote no. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Senator Leding spoke against the motion. Would you like to speak for the motion? Against the motion? Senator Flowers, you are recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Flowers: Thank you, Mr. President. I’d just like to say I have no clue why a rule such as this is necessary. Like my colleague said, we’re down to six now Democrats in this body. There is no reasonable explanation for changing this rule. It used to be that we could choose our committees and we could have four on a committee from the minority party. Or maybe we had– we changed it to three, and three still wasn’t enough to defeat a bill. Committees are made up of eight members. It takes five members to pass a bill. So I don’t understand the point of this. I was elected just as Senator Clarke [Tucker], Senator Chesterfield, and Senator Leding said. I came here to represent the people in District 8. I hope you will allow me to do that and allow other members in the minority party to do that.


Sen Flowers: We need to know what it is that we are deliberating on in this body. And sometimes the subject matter of a committee might be more important for one part of the State, maybe the part of the State that I represent. And maybe two other colleagues on the Democratic side feel the same way. Should we be shut out of even having some input, impact into those kinds of decisions? I come from Southeast Arkansas, a rural part of the State. You have to look at the makeup of the body. Where are the most members from? I welcome the new members, even those that are laughing. I don’t know whether you’re laughing at me or what, but I hope that we can all get along. I understand that I’m human. I represent  Arkansans, just like you all do in the majority party. I think this rule is wrong. I think before we start changing Rules, we need to consider the reason for changing Rules. What’s behind the change? What are you trying to do? What’s the impact going to be? I’d appreciate a no vote.


Sen Hester: Senator Flowers has spoken against the motion. Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Against the motion? Seeing none, Senator Johnson, would you like to close, or I guess– yeah, close for the motion?


Sen B Johnson: Members, this rule change represents the elective will of the people of Arkansas and mirrors the percentage in this body. And I would appreciate a good vote.


Sen Hester: All those in favor of this rule change– Okay. Members, remember we talked about this. Aye. Thumbs up. I prefer a voice vote. Aye, nay, or present, or if you say nothing, your voice will not be heard. But Director Cornwell, please call the roll.


Cornwell (Secretary): Boyd?


Sen Boyd: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Bryant?


Sen Bryant: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Caldwell?


Sen Caldwell: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Chesterfield?


Sen Chesterfield: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): Clark?


Sen Clark: Present.


Cornwell (Secretary): Crowell?


Sen Crowell: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Davis?


Sen Davis: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dees?


Sen Dees: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dismang? Dismang? Dotson?


Sen Dotson: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): English?


Sen English: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flippo?


Sen Flippo: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flowers?


Sen Flowers: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): Gilmore?


Sen Gilmore: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hammer?


Sen Hammer: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hester?


Sen Hester: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hickey? Hickey? Hill?


Sen Hill: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Irvin? Irvin? Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Mark Johnson?


Sen M Johnson: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): King? King? Leding?


Sen Leding: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): Love?


Sen Love: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): McKee?


Sen McKee: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Murdock?


Sen Murdock: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): Payton?


Sen Payton: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Penzo?


Sen Penzo: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Petty?


Sen Petty: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice?


Sen Rice: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stone?


Sen Stone: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stubblefield? Stubblefield? Sullivan?


Sen Sullivan: Aye.


Cornwell (Secretary): Tucker?


Sen Tucker: No.


Cornwell (Secretary): Wallace?


Sen Wallace: Aye.


Sen Hester: Would any member like to– would any member like to vote that has not or change their vote? Senator Irvin, aye. Any other members? Please, cast up the ballot. By a vote of 24 yea, 6 nay, 1 present, and 4 non-voting, Senator Blake Johnson’s rule for 7.01(b)(2) passes. Senator Mark Johnson, you’re recognized for a rule change proposal.


Proposed Ethics Changes

Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Mr. President. For those of you that are new, I apologize. You haven’t seen this before. For those of you that are returning senators, this was the rule change that I handed out to you during our last meeting, and it just clarifies the responsibility and procedures of the Senate Ethics Committee. It takes away the executive session in 24.085, and it adds a section 24.10 on procedures. The biggest change is that it means that this committee, like every other committee and the General Assembly as a whole, does its business in public. The claimant and respondent in any ethics complaint shall make their Statements in public, all witness testimony will be in public, and the respondent has a right to retain counsel and have such counsel at the Ethics Committee meeting, and the respondent’s counsel shall be allowed to direct questions to the respondent, the claimant, and any witness. And these are Constitutional rights that are enshrined where just about any tribunal of any kind in the United States of America, these Constitutional rights are a guarantee. It also States that the Ethics Committee hearings shall be live streamed, and all testimony recorded and archived as we do our standing committees as well as our special committees, the Legislative Council, Audit, and ALC.


Sen M Johnson: The final thing is it says the Ethics Committee may only meet and deliberate in executive session after all testimony has been heard from the claimants and respondents and from all witnesses. The committee may deliberate, but not vote, in executive session. Any findings and recommendations by the Ethics Committee shall take place by public vote. Those of you that have served on different boards or commissions or city Councils or quorum courts know that that’s how we do business in Arkansas. Sometimes there may be an executive session, but before an official action is taken, you come back in the public, and the public’s business is done in the sunshine. So this is to me a cleanup thing. I don’t, in any way, disparage the authors of the previous ethics rule because we’re kind of feeling our way along and trying to do things right. But I think a recent situation, at least from my viewpoint, showed that we needed a little bit more openness and a little bit more transparency and a little bit more due process. So I would appreciate a positive vote on this real change. I’d be happy to answer any questions if there are any, Mr. President.


Sen Hester: Are there any questions for Senator Mark Johnson? Senator Sullivan, you’re recognized for a question.


Sen Sullivan: Does this address the issue of someone who’s charged to withdraw their complaint just prior to a determination? Does it address that at all?


Sen M Johnson: It would not affect that, in my opinion, Senator Sullivan, one way or the other. So it doesn’t change the existing rule on that particular point.


Sen Sullivan: Okay, thank you.


Sen Hester: Any other questions? Senator Blake Johnson, you’re recognized for a question.


Sen B Johnson: Have you had a discussion with the Ethics Committee about this? Are you a member of that committee?


Sen M Johnson: No, sir. Senator Johnson, you may recall I handed this out at our last meeting. I say the last meeting– one of the last meetings we met as a senate business meeting, I handed this out. And I was originally going to have it considered at that point. Senator Hickey had an amendment that would require more than one senator to actually make a complaint to the committee and that change passed, and I voted for that. And I handed this out but decided it would be best to hold it until we had this meeting. And also, many of you may recall, I asked if you had any ideas or changes, I would be open to amending the draft of this. No one contacted me to make any changes, so I decided that we just go on like it was. I’ve tried to keep the changes minimal about transparency, due process, and the right of the accused to have attorney or other counsel present. But I did make that and hand it out to everyone during the last meeting we had. But not specifically to the Ethics Committee.


Sen Hester: Any other questions? Seeing none, would anyone like to speak against the motion? Senator Hammer, you’re recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Hammer: Members, I would just ask you to consider something when you cast this vote. And that is that there are sensitive matters that are dealt with that, in cases such as what we have had to deal with, not once but twice in the past, that it is to the best interest, I think, of everybody that there is the ability for the chair to be able to put us into executive session. And if you want to use a comparison such as school boards, for example. They go into executive session. This is not like we’re trying to hide anything. This is to the best interest of the process. And as the previous chair, I would just encourage you to weigh heavily, and I would encourage you not to vote for this. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Against the motion? Senator Dismang, you’re recognized to speak against the motion.


Sen Dismang: I mean, the first thing I’d like to say is thank you for looking at the ethics Rules. I don’t think they’re perfect. I don’t think anybody in this room thinks they are. We went through some things that we’ve never experienced before as a body or as a chamber, and you would expect you’re going to flesh out some issues. I don’t think that necessarily all those are fleshed out with this particular rule change, and some of them I have some great concerns about. With that– I mean, I would say– and I thought where we were headed with the Ethics Committee and really as a chamber was to have a more robust conversation about change that would need to be made. In fact, I mean, I could rattle off several ethics changes that I would like to see made, not just for the process, but as we conduct ourselves here in the chamber. With that, I would ask that we take some time. You’ve got new members out here that have never seen this language. And I think it’s important that it is fully vetted because having an attorney here and giving them the right to conduct their selves how they’d like to see fit, I mean, that’s a concern of mine. And I think we need to fully flesh that out as membership with additional changes that need to be made to our ethics Rules. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Against the motion? Senator Clarke Tucker, did you want to speak? No? And I will say from the Chair that there is a significant portion of our next orientation meeting involved around ethics and reworking this language. Senator Irvin, you would like to speak against– would like to speak against the motion.


Sen Irvin: I’m going to keep this brief and just agree with the folks that have spoke against this. There are things that could be sensitive in nature that affect each of us differently. We don’t all look alike, and there may be some issues in the future that would require an executive session to protect some of those very private, intimate details that could be a part of anything like that. So I do believe it’s very important that the Ethics Committee have the ability to go into an executive session so that the process can really be as thoughtful as possible. So I’d ask you to vote against the motion.


Sen Hester: Would anyone like to speak for the motion? Senator Alan Clark, you’re recognized to speak for the motion.


Sen Clark: Once again, nothing I think is going to make a difference. But there’s things that ought to be said. All the arguments for secrecy almost never end up being what happens. The sensitive things, however well-intentioned, are normally what’s protected. What happens is all the hours of questions, debate, discussion, you never see, you never hear any of it. Whoever’s charged, either you don’t feel like you ought to talk to them, or they don’t talk to you. But I assure you, no matter what is said, word gets back to you. And whether you’ve talked to one or two, it’s the word of the Ethics Committee. Now, beyond that, on the attorney, from the very fact that we had a motion, and if we hadn’t had a motion that people be turned over to prosecutors, certainly, things could be turned over to prosecutors. And the fact that you can’t have an attorney and can’t have that attorney speak for you is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. So maybe you don’t do it today, but you certainly ought to do it. And I would rather wait until you’re sitting there, and you get to experience it. But you really want to change it, I can assure you.


Sen Hester: Senator Clark has spoken for the motion. Would anyone like to speak against the motion? Seeing none, Senator Mark Johnson, would you like to close for your motion?


Sen M Johnson: Mr. President, I take to heart Senator Dismang’s comment about the entire body working on this. If I could have your assurance that this could be an agenda item for our December meeting, where we could give everyone a chance to think about it for a little while, maybe this time when I said, “I gave this out to you,” pay attention. If you got some good ideas, I want to hear them. And let’s deliberate, and let’s come up with something good. And with your acquiescence and pledge on that, I’ll be happy to withdraw this motion and ask it be placed on our agenda for the December meeting.


Sen Hester: Senator Mark Johnson, you have my commitment we will discuss ethics and this proposal specifically.


Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Mr. President. I think it can always take a little more brushing up. Thank you. Thank you, members.


Draw for Seniority

Sen Hester: Thank you. Okay. Members, at this time, we’re going to vote on our entire Rules as amended with the two amendments that did pass. So this next vote, by voice vote, we’re going to vote on our Rules as amended with the two Rules that we just passed. For the 94th General Assembly, all those in favor, say aye. Opposed say no. Motion carries. We’re going to move on to agenda item number 5, newly elected members of the Senate draw for seniority. That’s tab three. And you will be called up by your district number. So if you guys, you can go ahead and fill in Senator King for number 22.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator-elect Matt Stone, District 2, if you’ll come down and draw. Senator Stone is 30. So he will be 30 in seniority. Senator-elect Crowell. Senator-elect Crowell is 29. Senator-elect McKee. Senator-elect McKee is 24. Senator-elect Murdock. Senator-elect Murdock is 23. Senator-elect Love, District 15. Senator-elect Love is 33. Senator-elect Payton. Senator-elect Payton is 32. Senator-elect Boyd, District 27. Senator Boyd is 26. Senator King is 22. Senator-elect Petty. Senator Petty is 27. Senator-elect Penzo. Senator Penzo is 25. Senator-elect Bryant. Senator-elect Bryant is 28. Senator-elect Dotson. Senator-elect Dotson is 34. Senator-elect Dees, come get yours.  I know. Absolutely. Absolutely. Is there another one in there? Open it up. Senator-elect Dees is 31.


Draw for 2- or 4-year Terms

Sen Hester: Okay. Moving on to agenda item number 6, all senators draw by seniority for two or four-year terms. There are 18 two-year terms and 17 four-year terms.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Chesterfield. These are twos or fours.


Sen Chesterfield: Yes, two.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Chesterfield drew a two. Senator Flowers.  Just twist. There you go.


Sen Hester: So, members, it is apparent you need to twist when you get up here rather than just try to open.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Flowers drew a two. Senator Irvin. Senator Irvin drew a four. Senator Dismang. Senator Dismang drew a two.


Sen Dismang: I didn’t twist right.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Caldwell. Senator Caldwell drew a four. Senator English.  Senator English drew a four. Senator Stubblefield. Senator Stubblefield drew a two. Senator Hickey. Senator Hickey drew a two. Senator Hester. Senator Hester drew a two. Senator Flippo. Senator Flippo drew a two. Senator Rice. Senator Rice drew a two. Senator Blake Johnson. Senator Blake Johnson drew a four. Senator Wallace.  Senator Wallace drew a two. Here you go. Senator Davis. Senator Davis drew two. Senator Hill. Senator Hill drew four. Senator Mark Johnson. Senator Mark Johnson Hammer drew a two. Senator Leding. Senator Leding drew a four. Senator Hammer. Senator Hammer drew a four. Senator Sullivan. Senator Sullivan drew a two. Senator Tucker. Senator Tucker drew a four. Senator Gilmore. Senator Gilmore drew a two. Thank you. Senator King. Senator King picked a four. Senator Murdock. Senator Murdock drew a four. Senator McKee. Senator McKee drew a two. Senator Penzo. Senator Penzo drew a four. Thank you. Senator Boyd. Senator Boyd drew a four. Thank you. Senator Petty. Senator Petty drew a two. Senator Bryant. Senator Bryant drew a four. Senator Crowell. Is that right?


Sen Crowell: Yes.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Crowell drew a two. Senator Stone. Senator Stone drew a four. Thank you. Senator Dees. Senator Dees drew a four. Thank you. Senator Payton. Senator Payton drew a two. Thank you. Senator Love. Senator Love drew a four.  Four. Senator Dotson. Senator Dotson drew a two. Senator Clark.


Sen Clark: That’s all that’s left.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Clark drew a four. Thank you.


Sen Hester: Okay. We’re going to move on to item number 7. I think we’re going to take just a quick break. So if the Democrats would like to go meet in the pro tem office, unless are you all prepared to announce your– no. We’re going to take five minutes. If the Democrats want to go to the pro tem office and the Republicans want to go to the quiet room, we’ll take 5 or 10 minutes here and then we’ll come back. So we’re on recess, 10 minutes.




Majority Leader and Whip

Sen Hester: Okay, members, if you can take your seats, we’ll get going. So on item number 7, the majority leader is Blake Johnson. The majority whip is Ricky Hill. And then we are going to move the minority leader and the minority whip to after item 10. So we’ll be talking about the minority leader and the minority whip after item 10. Everybody good with that? Okay.

Committee Selection

Sen Hester: On to number 8, Committee Selections. So when you make a selection, Secretary Cornwell will say your name. There will not be a time restraint unless you take too long. So Secretary Cornwell will say your name, and then you can just say it loudly so we understand and everybody hears what you’re picking because everybody’s going to be keeping up, but Steve Cook will be writing them on the board here. Your first round, you can pick an A, B, or C committee with your first pick, A, B, or C with your first pick. And only majority members can chair. Okay. I guess we’re ready to get going.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Flowers. Senator Flowers, vice chair of Judiciary. Irvin. Irvin, Chair of Public Health. Dismang. Dismang, member, Education. Caldwell. Caldwell, chair of Agri. English. English, chair of Education. Stubblefield. Stubblefield, chair of Judiciary. Hickey. Hickey, chair, Revenue and Tax. Hester. Hester, member, Education. Flippo. Flippo, chair of– Okay. Flippo, chair of City, County. Rice. Rice, vice chair of City, County. Blake Johnson. Chair of which? Chair of State Agencies? State Agencies. Wallace. Wallace, member of Public Health. Davis. Davis, member, Education. Hill. Hill, Chair, Insurance and Commerce. Mark Johnson. Mark Johnson, chair of Transportation.


Leding. Leding, member, Education. Hammer. Hammer, member, Education. Sullivan. Sullivan, vice chair, Public Health. Tucker. Tucker, vice chair, State Agencies. Gilmore. Gilmore, member, Judiciary. King. King, member of Public Health. Murdock. Murdock, vice chair, Insurance and Commerce. McKee. McKee, member, Judiciary. Penzo. Penzo, member, Public Health. Boyd. Boyd, member, Public Health. Beaty. Beaty, vice chair? Just a member or vice chair? Vice chair, Revenue and Tax. Bryant. Bryant, member, Education. And that closes Education. Crowell. Crowell, a member of Revenue and Tax. Stone. Senator Stone, which one? Ag? Okay, vice chair of Ag. Dees. Revenue and Tax? Member, Revenue and Tax. That’s Dees. Payton. Payton, member of Revenue and Tax. Love. Love, member of Public Health. Dotson. Dotson, member of Judiciary. Clark. Clark, member of Judiciary. Chesterfield. Chesterfield, vice chair of– oh, okay, a member of Transportation. Okay.


Flowers. Flowers, member of State Agencies. Irvin. Member, Insurance and Commerce, Senator Irvin. Dismang. Dismang, member, Insurance and Commerce. Caldwell. Caldwell, member, Revenue and Tax. English. English, member, City, County, Local. Stubblefield. City, County, Local. Stubblefield, member, City, County, Local. Hickey. Hickey, member, Insurance and Commerce. Hester. Hester, member of State Agencies. Flippo. Flippo, member of Public Health. Now Public Health is closed. Rice. Transportation? Okay. Rice – did you get that? – member of Transportation. Blake Johnson. Blake Johnson, member of Revenue and Tax. Wallace. Wallace, member of Agri. Davis. Okay. I believe we just finished with Wallace.


Okay. Davis. Davis, a member of Agri. Hill. Revenue? Senator Hill, member of Revenue and Tax. That closes Revenue and Tax. Mark Johnson. Mark Johnson, member of Insurance and Commerce. Leding. Leding, member of Agri.  Hammer. Hammer, member, City, County, Local. Sullivan. Sullivan, member, City, County, Local. Tucker. Tucker, Judiciary. Tucker, member of Judiciary. Gilmore. Gilmore, member of Agri. King. King, member of State Agencies. Murdock. Murdock, member of Transportation. McKee. McKee, a member of City, County, Local. And that closes City, County, Local, doesn’t it? Oh, I’ve got something written down wrong. City, County, Local? Okay. Where were we? Penzo?


Sen Penzo: Insurance and Commerce.


Cornwell (Secretary): Penzo, member of Insurance and Commerce. Boyd?


Sen Boyd: Insurance and Commerce.


Cornwell (Secretary): Boyd, member of Insurance and Commerce. And that closes Insurance and Commerce. Petty?


Sen Petty: City, County, Local.


Cornwell (Secretary): Petty, member, City, County, Local. And that closes City, County, Local. Bryant?


Sen Bryant: Transportation.


Cornwell (Secretary): Transportation? Bryant, member of Transportation. Crowell?


Sen Crowell: State Agencies.


Cornwell (Secretary): Crowell, State Agencies. Senator Bryant? Bryant– we do have him as a member. Stone?


Sen Stone: Transportation.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stone, member of Transportation. Dees?


Sen Dees: Agri.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dees, member of Agri. Payton?


Sen Payton: State Agencies.


Cornwell (Secretary): Payton, member of State Agencies. Love?


Sen Love: Ag.


Cornwell (Secretary): Ag. Stone– I mean, Love, member of Agri. And that closes Agri. Dotson?


Sen Dotson: State Agencies.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dotson, member of State Agencies. And that closes State Agencies. Clark? Member of Transportation. Okay. There will be two positions open that the pro tem will name, and that will be the vice chair of Transportation and a member of Judiciary. Those are the two open slots. Now we’ll go to the next one.


Sen Hester: Do I need to go say anything?


Cornwell (Secretary): Well, do you know who you’re going to name? You don’t have to do anything yet. Okay. Now, we’ll go to the Senate Joint committees and select committees, and that will be this board. You can’t be two vice chairs. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Okay, Senator Chesterfield, member of which?


Sen Chesterfield: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Member of Joint Retirement. Chesterfield, member of Retirement. Flowers?


Sen Flowers: Member of Joint energy. Okay. Flowers. Member of energy. Irvin?


Sen Irvin: Member of Joint energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): Irvin, member of Joint energy. Dismang? Okay. Dismang, member Joint Performance Review. Caldwell?


Sen Caldwell: Member of energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): Caldwell, member of Joint energy. English? Didn’t hear you. English, member of Joint energy. Stubblefield? Stubblefield, member of Joint energy. Hickey?


Sen Hickey: Member of Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hickey, member of Efficiency. Hester?


Sen Hester: Efficiency member.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hester, member of Efficiency. Flippo?


Sen Flippo: Member of JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flippo, member of Joint Performance Review. Rice?


Sen Rice: Member of Joint Performance Review.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice, member of joining Performance Review. Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: Member of energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): Blake Johnson, member of Joint energy. Wallace?


Sen Wallace: Member of JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Wallace, member of Joint Performance Review. Davis?


Sen Davis: Chair of Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Davis, chair of Efficiency. Hill?


Sen Hill: Member of energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hill, member of Joint energy. Mark Johnson? Mark Johnson, vice chair of Joint– what did he say?


Cook (Parliamentarian): Since you’re already chairman, you cannot be–


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Mark Johnson, a member of Joint energy. Wallace? Oh, I’m sorry. Leding. I was on the wrong Johnson.


Sen Leding: Vice chair of Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Leding, Vice chair of Joint Retirement. Hammer?


Sen Hammer: Chair of JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hammer, chair of Joint Performance Review. Sullivan?


Sen Sullivan: Vice chair of Joint Performance Review.


Cornwell (Secretary): Sullivan, vice chair, Joint Performance Review. He already– he can’t do it? You’d have to be a member. A member of Joint Performance Review, Sullivan. JPR. That’s Sullivan. Tucker?


Sen Tucker: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Tucker, member of Efficiency. Gilmore?


Sen Gilmore: Chair of energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): Gilmore, chair of Joint energy. King?  King, chair of Children and Youth. Murdock?


Sen Murdock: JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Murdock, member of Joint Performance Review. McKee?


Sen McKee: Vice chair of energy.


Cornwell (Secretary): McKee, vice chair of Joint energy. Joint energy is filled. Penzo? Penzo, chair of Rules. Boyd?


Sen Boyd: JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Boyd, member of Joint Performance Review. Petty?


Sen Petty: Joint Performance Review.


Cornwell (Secretary): Petty, Joint Performance Review. Bryant?


Sen Bryant: Vice chair of JPR.


Cornwell (Secretary): Bryant, vice chair of Joint Performance Review. Crowell?


Sen Crowell: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Crowell, member of Efficiency. Stone?


Sen Stone: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stone, member of Efficiency. Dees?


Sen Dees: Vice chair of Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dees, vice chair of Efficiency. Payton?


Sen Payton: Chair of Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Payton, chair of Retirement. Love? Love, vice of Rules. Dotson?


Sen Dotson: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dotson member of Efficiency. Clark?


Sen Clark: Vice chair of Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): Clark, vice chair, Children and Youth. Chesterfield?


Sen Chesterfield: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Chesterfield, member of Efficiency. Flowers?


Sen Flowers: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Flowers, member of Rules. Irvin?


Sen Irvin: Efficiency.


Cornwell (Secretary): Irving, member of Efficiency. Efficiency is filled. Dismang?


Sen Dismang: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dismang, member of Rules. Caldwell?


Sen Caldwell: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Caldwell, member of Rules. English? English, member of Children and Youth. Stubblefield?


Sen Stubblefield: Member of Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stubblefield, member of Rules. Hickey? Hickey, member of Retirement. Okay. Hester?


Sen Hester: Member of Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hester, member of Children and Youth. Flippo?


Sen Flippo: Member of Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flippo, member of Rules. Rice?


Sen Rice: Pass.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hmm?


Sen Rice: Pass.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice passes. Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Blake Johnson, Rules, member. Leding?


Sen Leding: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Leding, member of Rules.


Lewellan (Staff): Can’t do that. There are two Democrats already on Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): That’s just A, B, and C. Leding, member of Rules.


Sen Davis: After Blake Johnson–


Cornwell (Secretary): Hmm? Hmm?


Sen Davis: After Blake Johnson–


Cornwell (Secretary): Oh, what’d I do? Skip down to–


Sen Davis: Yeah. Wallace, me, and–


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. We got Blake Johnson? Okay. Wallace?


Sen Wallace: Rules. Did we take Leding off?


Cornwell (Secretary): Yeah. Wallace, member of Rules. Oh, I dropped down to Mark Johnson. Wallace is Rules. Davis?


Sen Davis: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Davis, member of Retirement. Hill?


Sen Hill: Rules.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hill, member of Rules. And that closes Rules. Mark Johnson? Mark Johnson?


Sen M Johnson: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Mark Johnson, member of Retirement. Leding? Now– I went to the wrong Johnson. Leding, member of Children and Youth. Hammer?


Sen Hammer: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hammer, member of Retirement. Sullivan?


Sen Sullivan: Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): Sullivan, member of Children and Youth. Tucker?


Sen Tucker: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Tucker, member of Retirement. Gilmore? Gilmore, member of Children and Youth. King?


Sen King: I’ll take Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): King, member of Retirement. Murdock?


Sen Murdock: Retirement.


Cornwell (Secretary): Murdock, member of Retirement. And that closes Retirement. McKee?


Sen McKee: Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): McKee, Children and Youth. Penzo?


Sen Penzo: Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): Penzo, Children and Youth. Boyd?


Sen Boyd: Children and Youth.


Cornwell (Secretary): Boyd, Children and Youth. That completes the Joint and select. Okay. Senator Hester?


Sen Hester: Okay. We’ve completed the committee section. We’re going to move on to number 9 in the agenda, Congressional Caucus Meetings to select members of Legislative Council and Legislative Joint Audit. So, District 1, if you are a member of Congressional District 1, you’re going to room 205. If you’re District 2, go to the third-floor conference room. Yeah, the conference room right by the mail– where our mailboxes are. District 3, go to the pro tem office. District 4, go to the quiet room. So, District 4, quiet room. District 3, pro tem office. District 2, the third-floor conference room next to the mail. District 1, go to room 205. We are picking members of Legislative Council and Legislative Joint Audit.


Cornwell (Secretary): And tell them that they should bring them back to me.


Sen Hester: And bring them back to Anne. As soon as you get it filled out, bring it back to Anne.




Seat Selection

Sen Hester: Members if you’d take your seats. I understand. Members, we are going to pause number 9 and number 10 for a little bit while we work on a few more things. And just for the sake of time, we’re going to move on to section 11, chamber seat selection. So we will come back to 9 and 10 in a minute. There’s a lot of work going on, but we can be productive while that work is happening. So we’re going to go on to chamber seat selection, number 11, when Secretary Ann Cornwell– hey, and members, while I have all your attention, I want to make sure that we were clear on one thing. On the trades, if there are two Democrats, you only need the minority leader’s signature. If there’s a Democrat and a Republican, then you need both the majority and the minority leader signature. That’s my interpretation of that rule. Does anyone feel that that needs further discussion? Senator Mark Johnson, you’re recognized.


Sen M Johnson: Mr. President, my understanding was in that scenario, you said it would be the leader of whichever party you are in and the pro tem signature. Is that not correct?


Sen Hester: That’s correct. Whatever party you are and the pro tem signature. That’s right. So minimum of two signatures, but maximum–


Sen M Johnson: But for example, as a Republican, I would not need the minority leader’s signature or, for example, Senator Tucker would not need the majority leader’s signature. Is that correct?


Sen Hester: That’s correct.


Sen M Johnson: Thank you, sir.


Sen Hester: And Steve, maybe we need to clean that up. That’s your interpretation? Okay. Okay. So go to tab 8 in your book. And members, again, we are just skipping over– not skipping over, but there’s some more work going on in 9 and 10. But while that’s going on, we’re going to be productive. So go to tab 8 for seat selection. And on this, possession is law. So if you’re a current senator and you are sitting in a seat, it cannot be taken from you. All right, Cornwell (Secretary), when you’re ready.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Chesterfield, do you stay or move?


Sen Chesterfield: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Chesterfield stays. Senator Flowers?


Sen Flowers: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Flowers stays. Senator Irvin?


Sen Irvin: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Irvin stays.  Senator Dismang?


Sen Dismang: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Dismang stays. Senator Caldwell?


Sen Caldwell: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Caldwell stays. Senator English?


Sen English: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator English stays. Senator Stubblefield?


Sen Stubblefield: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Stubblefield stays. Senator Hickey?


Sen Hickey: I’ll go in that corner.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Hickey moves to Rapert. So that’s the one next to Irvin on your little map. You can put his name there, and that opens his seat. Scratch his name where it’s on your map. Hester?


Sen Hester: Right here, right behind Senator Hickey next to Caldwell.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hester takes Sample’s seat. So add Hester to the blank one next to Caldwell and scratch Hester’s name where he was. Flippo?


Sen Flippo: I’ll stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flippo stays. Rice?


Sen Rice: I’ll stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice stays. Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Blake Johnson stays. Wallace?


Sen Wallace: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Wallace stays. Davis?


Sen Davis: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Davis stays. Hill?


Sen Hill: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hill stays. Mark Johnson? Okay. Mark Johnson is changing to the one next to where Hester was. It’s an empty seat. It’s Fulfer. So now Senator Johnson’s is open. Okay. Leding?


Sen Leding: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Leding stays. Hammer?


Sen Hammer: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hammer stays. Sullivan?


Sen Sullivan: I move to Senator Hester’s.


Cornwell (Secretary): He’s moving to where?


Staff: Sen. Hester’s old seat.


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Sullivan is moving to Hester’s old seat. Now Sullivan’s is open. Tucker?


Sen Tucker: I’ll take Senator Garner’s.


Cornwell (Secretary): Tucker will take Senator Garner’s old seat which is right where Senator Stone is sitting next to Davis. So now Tucker’s is open. Gilmore?


Sen Gilmore: Senator Teague’s.


Cornwell (Secretary): Gilmore is moving to Teague’s on the other side of Davis. Now Gilmore’s is open. King?


Sen King: I’ll stay right here.


Cornwell (Secretary): King is going to stay in Ballinger’s old seat which is next to English. Murdock? Murdock is staying in what was Ingram’s seat. McKee? Okay. McKee is taking Senator Pitsch’s old seat next to Senator Blake Johnson. Penzo? Hickey’s is open. Hickey’s is open on the end there. Hickey moved. Hickey’s is open. I thought Sullivan said he was taking Hester’s, but he’s swapping back. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Sullivan will be in Hickey’s. And Penzo will be in Hester’s. Boyd? Boyd? Beckham’s? Okay. Senator Boyd will be– is that one right next– Beckham is next to– Hammer. Petty? Senator Mark Johnson’s is open, and Senator Sullivan’s is open. Those two are open.


Llewellen (Staff): Hendren’s is open. Bledsoe is open. Elliot is open.


Cornwell (Secretary): Any of those three? Elliot’s is open. Hendren’s is open.


Sen Petty: I’ll take the Elliot.


Cornwell (Secretary): Elliot, okay. Petty’s going into Elliot’s. Okay. Bryant? Bryant? Okay. Bryant is going to Hendren’s. Crowell? Crowell is going to Gilmore’s. Stone? Okay. He’s going to Senator Mark Johnson’s seat. Dees? Okay. Dees into Bledsoe which would be next to Hendren’s old one. Okay. Payton? Okay. Payton’s moving to Sullivan. Love?


Sen Love: Tucker’s old one.


Cornwell (Secretary): To which one?  Tucker’s old seat. Okay. Dotson? Sturch’s old seat will be Dotson. And Clark, you’re staying? Okay.


Office Selection

Sen Hester: Okay. Chamber selection is complete. We’ll move on to item 12, office location selection. That will be number 9, tab number 9. Secretary Cornwell, when you’re ready.


Cornwell (Secretary): Chesterfield.


Sen Hester: Senator Hickey.


Sen Hickey: Yeah. As pro tem.


Cornwell (Secretary): You’re already listed.


Sen Hester: Yeah.


Sen Hickey: You need to announce it?


Sen Hester: What office number is that? So Senator Hickey as pro tem has chosen to move to Senator Bledsoe’s old office. 274A. 274A. Oh, 274E.


Cornwell (Secretary): Well, that’s where Chesterfield is going.


Sen Hester: Okay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Senator Chesterfield is going to be moving from 274 H. That will now be open. And she’s moving into 274 E. Flowers?


Sen Flowers: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flowers is staying. Irvin?


Sen Irvin: I’ll stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Irvin is staying. Dismang?


Sen Dismang: I guess I’ll stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dismang’s staying. Caldwell?


Sen Caldwell: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Irvin stayed. Dismang stayed. Now, we’re at Caldwell.


Sen Caldwell: I’ll stay. Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Caldwell is staying. English?


Sen English: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): English is staying. Stubblefield?


Sen Stubblefield: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Stubblefield is staying. Hickey has already moved. Hester has moved. Flippo?


Sen Flippo: I’ll take 205A.


Cornwell (Secretary): Flippo is moving to 205 A. And 205A was Rapert’s old office. Okay. Okay. And so now 274 F is open. Rice?


Sen Rice: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice is staying. Blake Johnson?


Sen B Johnson: 305.


Cornwell (Secretary): 305, Blake Johnson. He’s moving into Teague’s old office.  305. So that makes 409 on the fourth floor empty. Johnson is moving out of 405. Hmm, 409, I’m sorry. Yeah. So that one’s open. Wallace?


Sen Wallace: I’ll stay. I’ll stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Wallace will stay. Davis?


Sen Davis: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Davis is staying. Hill?


Sen Hill: I’ll go 306.


Cornwell (Secretary): 306. Okay. Hill is moving to 306, which was Samples’ old office. So now 410 is open along with 409. Mark Johnson?


Sen M Johnson: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Mark Johnson stays. Leding?


Sen Leding: 406.


Cornwell (Secretary): Leding is moving to which one, 402?


Llewellen (Staff): 406.


Cornwell (Secretary): 406.  So he’s moving out of 407 into 406. Hammer?


Sen Hammer: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Hammer stays. Sullivan?


Sen Sullivan: 405.


Cornwell (Secretary): Sullivan is moving into 409.


Llewellen (Staff): 405.


Cornwell (Secretary): 405. Okay. And he was where?


Llewellen (Staff): 401.


Cornwell (Secretary): 401. 401 is now open. Tucker? Okay. Tucker is moving to 314. 314. It’s C or–


Llewellen (Staff): C. Yeah. He was 412.


Cornwell (Secretary): So now 412 is open. Gilmore?


Sen Gilmore: 274H.


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Gilmore is going into 274 H. He’s moving out of 402. King?


Sen King: 274F.


Cornwell (Secretary): King is moving into 274F. Murdock? Murdoch is moving into 412. McKee? McKee is moving into 270. Which one? 274E. Chesterfield moved in 274E. 274D is McKee. That was Pitsch’s old office. That was McKee? Okay, 274D is McKee. Penzo?  Okay.  407 will be Penzo. Boyd?


Sen Boyd: 205D as in dog.


Cornwell (Secretary): Boyd is moving to 205D. Petty?


Sen Petty: 205E.


Cornwell (Secretary): Petty is moving into 205E. Bryant?


Sen Bryant: 274C.


Cornwell (Secretary): Bryant is moving into 274C. Crowell? 410, Crowell. Stone.


Sen Stone: 408.


Cornwell (Secretary): 408 Stone. Dees. 274G, that’s Clark. You can’t kick him out of it. On the fourth floor, we’ve got 409 still open and 400.


Sen Dees: 400.


Cornwell (Secretary): 400. Dees is going into 400. That was Beckham’s office. Payton?


Sen Payton: 409.


Cornwell (Secretary): 409 is Payton. Love. 401 is open. 402 is open. It’s on the fourth floor. 401 is Love. Is that right, 401? 401. So Dotson gets 402, and Clark, you’ll be staying. Okay. Third floor. Hester, pro Tem. Then you’ve got Davis, 303. Flowers, 304. Blake Johnson, 305. Hill, 306. English, 307. And Tucker is 314C. We go to the second floor. We’ve got Hickey, 274A. Mark Johnson, 274B. Bryant, 274C. McKee, 274D. Chesterfield, 274E. King, 274F. Clark, 274G. Gilmore, 274H. On the other side, we’ve got 205A, Flippo. 205B is Rice. 205C is Hammer. 205D is Boyd. 205E is Petty. Fourth floor. 400 is Dees. 401 is Love. 402 is Dotson. 403 is Stubblefield. 404 is Caldwell. 405 is Sullivan. 406 is Leding. 407 is Penzo. 408 is Stone. 409 is Payton. 410 is Crowell. 411 is Irvin. 412 is Murdoch. 414 is Wallace. And Senator Dismang is staying in 171.


Sen Hester: Senator Chesterfield, you are recognized for a point of personal privilege.


Sen. Chesterfield on the 4th Congressional Caucus

Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and ladies and gentlemen of the Senate. I am a member for the first time of the 4th Congressional Caucus. And it was so interesting to be a part of that caucus because both Senator Flowers and I have reached the rank of one and two in seniority. But in my caucus, they decided that that didn’t matter, and let’s eliminate any black representation. Let’s make sure that only white people serve in the 4th Congressional District, and that’s exactly what they did. And that is what is causing difficulty today in the Democratic Caucus determining whether or not or whom it will be that will serve as their chair or their minority whip and their minority leader. It has been presented to both of us, both Senator Flowers and I, but we’ve come up through a time in America of where we have gone through enough Jim Crow not to make it go down well. We’ve suffered the indignities of racism. We have suffered the indignities of sexism and misogyny, and it doesn’t go down well. And so I didn’t want to go gently into this good night without saying how disappointing it is that the voices of diversity mean nothing in this body and certainly not in the 4th Congressional District. I don’t know who my caucus is going to choose for minority leader or minority whip. I’m going to leave it to young people because I earned the right to be on Council by my service here. But obviously, that is not appreciated in this body. And that’s fine because I’ve been in worse places. I’ve been called upon to desegregate institutions and all of that, and I’ve done it. But I’m not prepared to be a token, and I’m not prepared to accept the fact the individuals with whom I have worked across the aisles have decided to engage in rank racism in their decision-making. Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Parking Spot Selection

Sen Hester: Thank you. Cornwell (Secretary), I think we are ready to move on to number 13, session parking space selection.


Cornwell (Secretary): You have the map. It’s Tab 10. We’ll do it the same way down seniority and you can either stay or move. Well, they aren’t numbered because the Secretary of the State didn’t have them numbered yet. But you see the empty ones that say just Senate? Those are empty spots.


Sen Hester: When it’s your turn to pick, if you just want to come up here and be standing when it’s your turn or very close to your turn, you can look and just pick.


Cornwell (Secretary): Y’all come look at this.


Sen Hester: Members it’s just like an office. Possession is law. So if it’s got a senator’s name on it, you can’t take it. There’s not a lot difference between the spots. This ought to move pretty quick.


Cornwell (Secretary): No one can move somebody out of their spot, just like the offices, but you can move. Senator Chesterfield, do you want to stay or move from where you’re parking? Senator Chesterfield is going to stay. Senator Flowers. She stays. Senator Flowers stays. Senator Irvin. You see where you are? You want this one?


Sen Irvin: Yeah.


Cornwell (Secretary): Okay. Okay. If y’all want to come up here and look at the map when I call your name, that might help. English. English is going to stay. Hickey. Flippo.


Sen Flippo: Staying.


Cornwell (Secretary): You’re staying? Flippo stays. Rice.


Sen Rice: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Rice stays. Blake Johnson. Blake Johnson. Are you going to stay or move? Okay. Okay, Blake Johnson is moving. Wallace? You want to stay or move? Davis. You’re staying? Okay. Hill. Mark Johnson.


Sen M Johnson: Staying.


Cornwell (Secretary): Mark Johnson stays. Leding?


Sen Leding: Stay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Leding stays. Hammer? Hammer stays. Sullivan? That’s where you want? Okay. Tucker? Okay, that’s fine.


Additional Committees

Sen Hester: Okay members, if you’ll take your seats, I think we’re down to just one more person. So if members will come in. And we are going to– we’re going to go back to– we’re on 35. Everybody knows if you’re on Council or Audit or Budget. Okay, we’re going to read off Budget first. And if you’re on– Okay, we’re going to do ALC first. If your name is called, please go to the quiet room quickly. It’s getting late. So if your name is called for Council, please go to the quiet room quickly. We’re going to pick the chair.


Cornwell (Secretary): District 1 members: Flippo, Irvin, Sullivan, Murdock. District 2 members: English, Mark Johnson, Hammer, and Tucker. District 3: King, Penzo, Boyd, and Petty. District 4: Stubblefield, Davis, Gilmore, McKee.


Minority Leader and Whip

Sen Hester: I guess it’s appropriate that the minority leader will be Greg Leding, and the minority whip will be Senator Chesterfield. So they, by ex officio, are on ALC. So Anne, would the ex officio members go back now as well? So that would be Hickey and Caldwell. And so if you’re an ex officio, you should know it. All right.


Cornwell (Secretary): If you don’t know it, it will be the pro tem, the immediate past pro tem– well, those aren’t picked yet– the past co-chair of Council, the past co-chair of Audit, the majority leader and majority whip, the minority leader and minority whip.


Sen Hester: Senator Terry Rice was elected chair of ALC, so we’re going to hold on the vice chair of ALC for now. Will you announce those on Audit? And if you’re on Audit, please go to the quiet room.


Cornwell (Secretary): Audit, 1 District: Murdock, Irvin, Sullivan, Flippo. 2nd District: Payton, English, Mark Johnson, Hammer. 3rd District: Bryant, Penzo, Petty, Dotson. 4th District: Crowell, Stone, Clark, and Chesterfield. Ex officio members, this is the past chair of Audit and the chair of Council which would you announced Senator Rice, I believe.


Sen Hester: Senator Wallace is the chair of Audit, and we will hold on the vice chair at this time. I’d like to move on to item 10. If you will announce the members, we will meet in the quiet room. On Budget. You’re going to the quiet room if you’re a member of Budget.


Cornwell (Secretary): Budget members are by seniority. 1st District: Senator Irvin, Senator Caldwell, Senator Flippo, Senator Blake Johnson, Senator Wallace, and Senator Hill. 2nd District: Senator Dismang, Senator English, Senator Mark Johnson, Senator Hammer, Senator Tucker, and Senator Payton. 3rd District: Senator Hester, Senator Leding, Senator Bryant, Senator Boyd, Senator Penzo, and Senator Petty. 4th District: Senator Chesterfield, Senator Flowers, Senator Stubblefield, Senator Hickey, Senator Rice, and Senator Davis.


Sen Hester: So Senator Dismang was elected chair of Budget, and we will hold on the vice chair until our orientation meeting. Members, hey, in the Senate, we have Senate coins. You have to pay for them. You can use campaign funds to pay for them, but you need to make that order today, if possible. It doesn’t have to be today, but we’re trying to get the order filled so we can get them ordered, and they’ll be here for session. So there’s a sample of them. Tab 11. If you look at tab 11, it’s a picture of what the coin looks like. And if you want to make your order, that would be great. And I’m just about to announce committee trades. Let me get Anne’s– make sure they’re all done. Okay. I’m going to announce the committee trades. Okay. We have an actual coin up here if you want to come see it. I’m going to announce the committee trades.


Sen Hester: Yeah. Okay, the first trade: Senator Hester trades Education to Senator Dotson for Judiciary. So Hester to Judiciary. Dotson to Education. Yes. So move Hester to Judiciary. Dotson to Education. Yeah, I’m waiting on Steve. Yes, Hester to Judiciary. Second one: Senator English to Transportation. Bryant to City, County, Local. English to Transportation. Bryant to City, County, Local. Okay, this next one is kind of a– Bryant to City, County, Local. The next one: Dismang to Transportation. Stone to Education. So remove Dismang from Education. Okay. And the next one will be Dismang to Rev and Tax. Hill to Transportation. So this is really just three swaps.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dismang to Transportation.


Sen Hester: That’s right. Well, no, no. Here we go. Dismang will end up in Revenue and Tax. Stone will end up in Education, and Ricky Hill will end up on Transportation. Stone to Education. Dismang to Rev and Tax. Hill to Transportation. Are there any other trades that I’m not aware of? Any other trades? Okay.


Cornwell (Secretary): Dismang was that one. What was the last one? The next one down, Rev and Tax.


Sen Hester: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Members, again, please come up, look at the coin, and make your order. Please come up and look at the coin and make your order. Thank you all for your patience. And does that conclude our day? Members, our business is concluded. If you want to go look at the dorms– if you want to go look at the available dorms, come see me. And we’re about to go over there now. All right, that concludes our day. Thank you.