Senate Transportation

Jan. 11. 2023


Sen M Johnson: …the vice chair, Senator Terry Rice, Senator Jane English, Senator Linda Chesterfield. Senator Hill will be here, but I’m not quite sure. Senator Murdock, and Senator Clark. Thank you all for serving. And we’re going to get moving on a few things. She gave me a little script that says, Give a little background about yourselves. So I will start on my far right. Senator Rice, if you’ll just give a quick intro of yourself, and we’ll move around the table, and then–


Sen Rice: Thank you. Terry Rice, State Senator, starting my 15th year after 6 years at the House. I’ve served on Transportation one other time and look forward to work on the Transportation Committee.


Sen M Johnson: Thank you. Senator English.


Sen English: I’m Senator English, and I’m north Pulaski county. And this is my second time to be on Transportation. Good committee. That’s it.


Sen M Johnson: Senator Chesterfield.


Sen Chesterfield: Linda Chesterfield, Senate District 12. I’m the former chair of this committee. We worked with members of the committee to provide funding for transportation that allowed us to complete highway work that we needed to do some time ago. I am moving toward my 20th year in the legislature.


Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Senator. Senator Boyd.


Sen Boyd: Justin Boyd, Senate District 27. I had eight years in the House before starting first term. This is my first term on Transportation.


Sen M Johnson: And I am Mark Johnson, District 17, and this is my first time to serve on Transportation and first time to be chair. So thank you all.


Sen M Johnson: Senator Murdock.


Sen Murdock: Reginald Murdock. I spent 12 years in the House. This is my first term in the Senate. I was on Transportation my very first term in the House and enjoyed it, and I look forward to the opportunity.


Sen M Johnson: Senator Clark.


Sen Clark: Senator Alan Clark, District 7, the first time to serve on Transportation Committee, and I’m looking very forward to it.


Sen M Johnson: Thank you. And I’m proud to introduce our staff. Jessica Whittaker is our analyst. She already got us moving along and we got great things about to happen. Ashley Miller is our committee secretary. Thank you, Ashley, for everything. Diane Torres Parker is our drafting attorney. Because of the way BLR is organized, she won’t necessarily have to be here unless there’s some specific reason. But I’m glad to have her as well. We have a couple of pieces of business, and then I just want to recognize a few people in the audience. First is, we need to adopt the committee rules, and the chair would seek a motion. Have a motion and second to adopt the rules. Any discussion? Senator Clark.


Sen Clark: Yes. It’s one of the rules that we don’t have any written– that any amendments have to be written.


Sen M Johnson: Is that correct, Jessica?


BLR Staff: Yes.


Sen M Johnson: Yes, sir.


Sen Clark: I would propose that we admit that to if we had [inaudible] that we can [do?] that [inaudible] so that we don’t waste a lot of time.


Sen M Johnson: The chair will hear that motion. Any other discussion? Basically, Senator is–


Sen Clark: I would like to amend the motion that we accept the rules as they are with the change being that amendments have to be in writing unless it’s a technical– one, two, three word– that we can do that here in the committee.


Sen M Johnson: And we have a motion and a second. To reiterate Senator Clark’s motion is that in something that should be non-substantial but technical in nature, what we sometimes call a scrivener’s error or just a word or a number is– I think everyone’s got it. Any other questions? All in favor of the motion say aye. Opposed? Motion carried. Thank you. And now, we’ll adopt the rules as amended. Second. Senator Boyd. All in favor say aye. Opposed? Thank you so much. We got the hard part done. I was asked by Jessica to remind y’all, and all of you have served in the legislature so you kind of know about this, but these green folders are the Bureau’s way of keeping up with everything we’re doing. Obviously, if you need to pull some bill or explanation out of it, but please leave the folder because they will keep us informed by keeping these folders up to date. So please make sure you don’t take off your green folder. I want to introduce just a few people in the room. Mr. Joe Malinero is with cable communications, former House member.


Sen Chesterfield: He and I were in the House together.


Sen M Johnson: I’m sorry?


Sen Chesterfield: I said he and I were in the House together.


Sen M Johnson: I think you were, yes. Also, Miss Alex Benton is with the Attorney General’s office. Now, usually, Rosalind Middleton with the AG’s office will be here, but if you don’t know, Alex, will be the chief legislative liaison for the Attorney General. And so, you’ll get to know her a lot better. And, let’s see. Our friend, Martha Hill, with Mitchell Firm, is here. Looks like the DF&A is in the jury box over there, but commissioner of revenues, Charlie Collins, Mr. Paul Gehring. Lookie here. Charlie, would you introduce all of the DF&A people, just so I don’t miss anybody? Okay.


Sen M Johnson: FIX [no mic]


Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Paul. It’s been a pleasure to work with you in Revenue and Tax and with Charlie. And Wayne, thank you for all you do for us. A few other people were invited to attend. We’ll do this now. ARDOT coincidentally is having a briefing for legislators this afternoon. And of course, I didn’t necessarily think we’d be through by 10:20 upstairs. But y’all are encouraged to go to that, especially if you’re not that cognizant of all the ARDOT programs, but we will have them at our next meeting and introduce ARDOT officials. Others who will be invited to attend and discuss will be the Aeronautics Department, Motor Vehicle Commission, Towing and Recovery Board, Waterways Commission, and Colonel Hagar with the State Police.


Sen Chesterfield: Question. Who are the other people?


Sen M Johnson: Okay. The ones I didn’t introduce, would y’all just introduce yourselves?


Audience: [No mic]


Sen M Johnson: Okay. Great. And I’ll add one thing. As most of you know, but just for the general benefit of the public here, we are the committee on Transportation, Technology, and Legislative affairs. The House is organized a little differently. Their Technology Committee is separate from Transportation, and my friend and fellow Faulkner County person, Representative Stephen Meeks is the chair of that. As far as legislative affairs, I asked Steve Cook what that meant. And he said, “It’s anything we don’t know where else to put. We’ll get it.” So it’s kind of whatever else is laying around. So don’t be shocked if you see something that doesn’t make sense jurisdictionally, but we can check with our chief counsel’s office and get an explanation of why it’s here. Normally, we’re going to meet on Mondays at 11 here. Obviously, as a C committee, we got to have a little bit of flexibility, especially when things are going on in the A and B committees that we need to know about. But we should have the agendas prepared at least two days before the meeting in most cases. And sponsors will be given notification that their bills will be coming up. Senator Murdock, hit your button, sir.


Sen Murdock: I think the Legislative Black Caucus meets at that time on Mondays.


Sen M Johnson: Is that a regular meeting?


Sen Murdock: Yes, sir.


Sen Chesterfield: Yes, sir.  It’s every other week.


Sen M Johnson: Is it every other week?


Sen Chesterfield: We’re not sure. Ordinarily, it’s been every–


Sen Murdock: Ordinarily, it’s been every week in the past.


Sen M Johnson: We will work to accommodate that. And I’ll speak with Jessica and the other chairs that have these other things going on that’s like that. Again, as a C committee, we’re kind of a different creature, and we’ll work it out.


Sen Murdock: Okay.


Sen M Johnson: Okay. Thank you, for bringing that to my attention, Senator Murdock. Senator Rice.


Sen Rice: Just a question of how the chair wants to handle what Senator Chesterfield mentioned in the Senate a while ago about conflicts. And I guess we need to get our speed dial set up. I know Judiciary will be meeting, I think, Monday and Wednesday. We’ll start at 9. Judiciary goes long, it’s just one floor down. I can shuffle back and forth, but we definitely need to get set up our numbers where we can do that efficiently. I don’t know if you want to check to see who else has conflicts on the committee.


Sen M Johnson: Well, as you know, Senator Rice, Senator Stubblefield is my seatmate, and you’re just on the other side of him. So we will corner him and get that worked out so we can accommodate everybody. And let me apologize in advance. We are going to have to be– as a C committee, we may have to have a little bit more of a flexible schedule than the A and B committees do. But we will create a text thread or whatever where I can text all of y’all and instantly let you know whatever’s going on soon as I know it.


Sen Rice: It always seems to get worked out, but it is a little bit getting started definitely.


Sen M Johnson: Yes, sir. And let me say to all y’all as members, especially when you have legislation in other committees, if there’s some problem, we need to shift things just a tiny bit to accommodate y’all, let me know. I’ll do everything I can to do that. Senator Chesterfield.


Sen Chesterfield: Mr. Chair, it has been a committee of flexibility. That’s because, as you said, we are a C committee.


Sen M Johnson: Well, as you know, I’m a flexible person. So we’ll be flexible.


Sen Chesterfield: Sometimes you are.


Sen M Johnson: Most of the time, I hope.


Sen M Johnson: Sometimes you’re not, as the befits us all. But a lot of times, it’s upon adjournment. And sometimes it’s at noon, depending upon what it is. But we have been blessed not to have a huge agenda. This may be different, because we are technology and infrastructure. Technology and infrastructure is going to be a great part of what we do going forward.


Sen M Johnson: Yes, ma’am. I’m glad you brought that point up.


Sen Chesterfield: I just look forward to working with everyone on the committee.


Sen M Johnson: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that point up. Senator Boyd filed a bill this morning that we’ll be considering at the next meeting. It’s, I think, a good bill. It has to do with correcting some old statute that I consider outdated, but I’ll let him present his bill next week when we meet and we’ll try to move through this agenda as quickly as possible. So I don’t believe I have anything else. Jessica, is there anything else we need to cover? Any announcements or anything from committee members? DF&A, anything you need to tell us? All right. Well, folks, y’all have a great rest of the week, and we’ll see you next week here in this committee. And senators, we’ll see you tomorrow morning. And if there’s no other business, the committee stands adjourned.