Jan. 12, 2023
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- Senate Rules
- Ethics Proceedings changes (Sen. Hammer)
- Senator financial interest clarification (Sen. Tucker)
- No campaign pledges during session (Sen. Dismang)
- Sen. B. Johnson asking Sen. King and Sen. Hester to pull down their amendments
- Sen. King’s rule requiring 5 recorded votes for a bill to leave committee (ultimately withdrawn)
- Sen. King’s rule requiring a maximum of one bill per senator per day on the floor (failed)
- Sen. King’s rule requiring garnishment of per diem if a senator owes back taxes (failed)
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senate will be called to order. Are there any requests for leave at this time? Senator Flowers?
Sen Flowers: Request for leave for Senator Leding.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. We have Senator King, I believe. Senator King. Are there requests for leave?
Sen King: Oh, request leave for Senator Clark.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, sir. Any others? Madam Secretary, please call the roll.
Madam Secretary: Boyd, Bryant, Caldwell, Chesterfield, Clark on leave, Crowell, Davis, Dees, Dismang, Dotson, English, Flippo, Flowers, Gilmore, Hammer, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Irvin, Blake Johnson, Mark Johnson, King, Leding on leave, Love, McKee, Murdock, Payton, Penzo, Petty, Rice, Stone, Stubblefield, Sullivan, Tucker, Wallace.
Lt Gov Rutledge: And at this time, if everyone in the chamber and the galleries would please rise for the prayer led by Senator Gilmore followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sen Gilmore: Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, Lord, we just thank you for this day. We thank you for your many blessings, Lord. We thank you for the way you guide and lead us. Lord, we pray for wisdom today. We pray for the ability to do what you’ve called us to do in your way, Lord. And we pray that you would be with the state, be with our governor, and be with all of our elected officials, Lord, that you would grant wisdom. And Lord, I pray that you would, again, just help us to do the people’s work and to do it in a way that you would want us to, Lord. And we pray that everything that we do, Lord, you would increase, and that we would decrease in order for you to get all the honor and all the glory and all the praise. And we thank you for what you’re going to do. In His name we pray, amen.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Ladies and gentlemen in the galleries, welcome to the Arkansas Senate. It is our expectation that each of you will exercise proper decorum and govern yourselves accordingly during today’s proceedings. Without objection, the rules will be suspended and the Senate will dispense with the reading of the journal. The morning hour has begun. Are there any announcements or introductions at this time? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, are there items at the desk?
Madam Secretary: Yes, ma’am. Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 by Senator Penzo to adopt the Joint Rules of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the 94th General Assembly. Senate Concurrent Resolution 1.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Rules.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 49 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Veterans Affairs appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 49.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 50 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 50.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 51 by Joint Budget. An act for the Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities Service appropriation for 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 51.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 52 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Human Services Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 52.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 53 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 53.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 54 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 54
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 55 by Joint Budget, An act for the Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 55.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Joint Budget. Is there any further business to come before the body in the morning hour? If not, the morning hour has expired, we will now start the business agenda. Senator Dismang, you are recognized.
Sen Dismang: Do you need to read across?
Madam Secretary: The General Appropriation Act for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
Sen Dismang: All right. Members, this is the appropriation that lets us conduct our business. Just shortly, I mean, just in short, it’s got $815,000 for the Constitutional Officers fund, $368,000 for the House of Representatives, and $200,000 for the Arkansas State Senate. Be happy to take any questions.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Are there any questions from the body? Is there any objection to rolling the vote? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, roll the vote.
Madam Secretary: Boyd, Bryant, Caldwell, Chesterfield, Clark’s on leave, Crowell, Davis, Dees, Dismang, Dotson, English, Flippo, Flowers, Gilmore, Hammer, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Irvin, Blake Johnson, Mark Johnson, King, Leding on leave, Love, McKee, Murdock, Payton, Penzo, Petty, Rice, Stone, Stubblefield, Sullivan, Tucker, Wallace.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Are there any Senators who would like to vote or change the vote? Seeing none, cast up the ballot. By a vote of 33 yeas, zero nays, and two on leave, the bill has passed. Emergency clause adopted and returned to the House. Now we’ll move to the business agenda. Senator Davis, you’re recognized.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 1 by Senate Efficiency, an act for the expenses of the Arkansas Senate for the 94th General Assembly appropriation for the 2023 fiscal year. Senate Bill one.
Sen Davis: Thank you, members. This is simply what the title says. It’s the bill that will pay for session employees and all of our expenses for session. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. Are there any questions? Hearing no questions, is there any objection to rolling the vote. Seeing none, Madam Secretary, call the roll– rather, will you roll the vote?
Madam Secretary: Boyd, Bryant, Caldwell, Chesterfield, Clark leave, Crowell, Davis, Dees, Dismang, Dotson, English, Flippo, Flowers, Gilmore, Hammer, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Irvin, Blake Johnson, Mark Johnson, King, Leding leave, Love, Murdock, McKee, Murdock, Payton, Penzo, Petty, Rice, Stone, Stubblefield, Sullivan, Tucker, Wallace.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Do any Senators desire to vote or change the vote at this time? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, cast up the ballot. With 33 yay, zero nay, and two on leave, the bill passes with emergency clause adopted, and transmit to the House. Senator Davis, you’re recognized.
Madam Secretary: House Bill 1001 by House Management, An act for the Arkansas House of Representatives of the 94th General Assembly appropriation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
Sen Davis: Members, this bill allows payment for the House for all of their expenses for session and also the House session employees. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. Are there any questions at this time? Seeing none, is there any objection to rolling the vote? Hearing none, Madam Secretary, please roll the vote.
Madam Secretary: Boyd, Bryant, Caldwell, Chesterfield, Clark leave, Crowell, Davis, Dees, Dismang, Dotson, English, Flippo, Flowers, Gilmore, Hammer, Hester, Hickey, Hill, Irvin, Blake Johnson, Mark Johnson, King, Leding leave, Love, McKee, Murdock, Payton, Penzo, Petty, Rice, Stone, Stubblefield, Sullivan, Tucker, Wallace.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Are there any Senators who have not voted or desire to change their vote? Seeing none, Madam Secretary, cast up the ballot. By a vote of 33 yay, zero nay and two on leave, the bill has passed, emergency clause adopted and return to the House. Senator Hammer, you may be recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Madam. Chair, point of personal privilege, if I may.
Lt Gov Rutledge: You may.
Sen Hammer: Members, from time to time, we’re walking through the parking lot and people stop and they say they need a little help, they need a little direction because they’ve come to our Capitol to tour it. I wanted to take a point of personal privilege to recognize a couple that are watching today in the gallery. It is Craig and Julie Johnson, who are here from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and they’ve come here to visit our Capitol. And when I told them we were going to be in session today, they said, we think we’ll just stop and watch. If I’ve got my information right, at one point in Julie’s life, though, she was a hospice patient on a hospice bed. She is here and they are here today touring and they’ve made it a point to come to our Capitol and wanted to visit with us. And because of that, I thought it would be appropriate for us to recognize them and tell them thank you for being here all the way from Minnesota. They’re in the gallery up here to my left, if y’all would.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Penzo, you are recognized.
Changes to Senate rules
Sen Penzo: Thank you, Madam President. Members, we will now proceed with adopting the Senate rules for the 94th General Assembly. During our Senate organizational meeting last November, two rule changes were adopted. Are there any other Senators who have a proposed rule change at this time?
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hammer, you’re recognized. If there are multiple proposals, we’re going to take each one separately and vote on each one separately.
Changes to ethics proceedings
Sen Hammer: All right. Thank you, Madam Chair. Speaking to proposed change to Rule 24.
Lt Gov Rutledge: You’re recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. And Madam Chair, with the chair’s permission, I’d like Senator Clarke Tucker to stand with me who is the Vice Chair of Senate Ethics Committee and I’m the Chair of Senate Ethics Committee. We’d like to do this together if the chair permits it, please.
Lt Gov Rutledge: You are permitted.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Members, Rule 24, you should have a copy of it. I wanted to point out a couple of things for those of you that attended the orientation meeting. This in large portion is what we discussed up there, but there are a couple of changes that I would like to draw to your attention. I’m going to take a couple of them for the more detailed things. Okay. And being passed out is a copy of a suggestion that was made to us just prior to this. So we’ll let that get passed out to you before we start discussing it. But in the meantime, there’ll be a couple that I will speak on, and then I’ll yield to Senator Tucker, who’s honestly more proficient in some of the greater detailed portions of it. And we want to do this in a both bipartisan way, but also we have worked very well together as chair and co-chair and I respect his leadership role as much as he respects mine. And we’ll wait for this to be passed out and then. First of all, I’d like to draw your attention to page 11, if you would, please. On page 11, you’ll see highlighted in red– and this is a word that was not included in the discussion we had previously in orientation– it’s the word ‘substantially.’ This was brought by Senator Hickey as a suggestion that we put the word ‘substantially’ in there, because in the event that maybe somebody had to get up and leave to go to the bathroom or step out and take a call, maybe testimony was going at that time, we felt that there might be a case made that somebody could on a point of technicality say that that person was not in the room for all of the testimony of the committee. So this created a little latitude. From personal experience, I’ll tell you it was our previous experience that we would typically recess for people to take care of the necessities of life or take care of catching up on their business. However, this was a suggestion that was brought and both Senator Tucker and I felt that it was worthy of including in that. So we did want to bring that to your attention. The other thing that I would note is that because of realignment, once the changes were made, if you go to page 5 where there’s a green 1, that is just so that as the new language was inserted, that there was a reformatting approach, and that’s what that is about. And then what I’d like to do, spirit of cooperation, is yield to Senator Tucker to come and talk about a couple other things. The one thing that was handed out to you, what page is that on?
Sen Tucker: Page 9.
Sen Hammer: Page 9, we’ll go ahead and talk about. On page 9, one of the suggestions that was just brought to us a minute ago before the proceedings is that where it says on page 9 down there, a party– I’m sorry, above that– ‘chair may rule that a question posed to a witness is out of order.’ It was suggested, and Senator Tucker and I agree that it was a good recommendation brought by Senator Flowers, I believe, that we will insert language that would say, but must state the reason why. So what it would do is that if the Chair rules something out of order, for purposes of clarity, that the Chair would state the reason why it was ruled out of order. We felt that that was a good suggestion brought by Senator Flowers, and so on the floor, we are asking that that would be included in the permanent rules. If everybody would allow, I want to recognize Senator Clarke [Tucker], my co-chair, to come and speak on the other points. And then together, we’ll take questions afterwards. Senator?
Sen Tucker: Thank you, Senator Hammer. As he said, we’re really just addressing the changes that have been made since our discussion at Petit Jean in December. So I’ll start with the second change that was just handed out to the members on page 7. This was another suggestion from Senator Flowers, which was a really good catch by her and an excellent suggestion. If you look at subsection F in the middle of the page, you can see that section reads that senators are discouraged from discussing the subject matter of the petition while the proceeding is taking place. And the purpose of this section is that members of the Ethics Committee really should be like members of a jury. They should really just review the subject matter of their petition based on what they see during the Ethics Committee proceeding from the witnesses and the exhibits before them and not be subject to any outside influence. That’s the purpose of the section. It does include language that says senators are discouraged from discussing the subject matter of the petition with witnesses. Now, by and large, that’s the way that it ought to be. However, there needs to be an exception. And this was the suggestion from Senator Flowers, that the claimants and the respondents, because they’re making their case to the Ethics Committee, they really need to be able to talk to witnesses ahead of the proceeding. So that’s what that suggestion changes. And apologies for the quality of the handwriting on the copies that you’re looking at. You might think I’m a doctor based on my handwriting only, but I’m not smart enough to be a doctor. But anyway, that’s the language. Claimants and respondents, however, may discuss the subject matter of the petition with potential witnesses.
Senators with financial interest with the state
So with that, the last two changes that I’ll address, and we discussed this before in the Ethics Committee context and at Petit Jean and otherwise, but a lot of times– we’re borrowing this concept from the law– whether someone is guilty of something or not depends on what they do, but it also depends on what’s in their mind. In the law, we call that the mental state. And so if you look at section 24.07, which starts on page 5 and goes through page 6, this is a list of prohibitions of things members can not do. And in every single one of those subsections, there’s the mental state of ‘knowingly.’ You might be able to do something, but you can not knowingly do that. Well, our new general counsel caught the fact that in subsection H, we were missing ‘knowingly’ in one of those subsections. So we’re just adding that word ‘knowingly’ to be consistent with the rest of the subsections in 24.07. That’s a pretty easy change. And then the last one, this is on page 2 in section 24.05. If you recall, this was really a subject of probably the most discussion at Petit Jean that day, and it has to do with whether members can have a financial interest in any contract with the state. If you recall, the way the rule reads now, there is no mental state. And there was some concern about that. And I think there’s legitimate concern, which is why we’re making this suggested revision. To give an example, let’s say a member works for a huge company. I’ll just use Walmart. They’re an easy example. Now, Walmart may have a contract with the state, but this member, who’s not the CEO, but just an employee who works in a particular division, may have no knowledge of that contract whatsoever. Without any mental state included in section 24.05, that member would be guilty of a violation of 24.05 at that point. And so I think there needs to be a little protection included. At the same time, if we only include the mental state of ‘knowingly,’ the concern that we discussed was you could have a business owner who might instruct his employees, ‘Go and get as many contracts with the state as you can and just don’t tell me about it,’ and just kind of bury their head in the sand. And really, they would be violating the spirit of the provision. But if the only mental state in here was knowingly, they wouldn’t technically be violating the letter of the provision. So there is some language that’s used in the law– and again, we borrowed from that– and it’s where someone either knows or should know about something. So that’s the language that we put in. If you own a business or you’re a lawyer or an employee or a consultant or whatever the case might be, and the entity that you’re affiliated with has a contract with the state, then you’re in violation of section 24.05 if you either know about that contract or you should know about that contract. So that’s the middle ground to strike the balance that we are proposing. So with that, those are the changes that we’ve made since our discussion at Petit Jean. And I know Senator Hammer and I would be very happy to take any questions.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Clarke Tucker and Senator Kim Hammer. Are there any questions for the Senators? Senator Payton, you’re recognized.
Sen Payton: Thank you, Madam President. So as we know–
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Payton, would you mind to stand, please? Thank you, sir.
Sen Payton: Absolutely. Thank you. So as you know, many of these came about because of criminal activity that had happened. And on page 7, subsection E, where it talks about a senator shall not make an allegation outside of the ethics rules here and could be subject to penalty, I know the spirit of this is not to squash any accusation of criminal, but you’re talking to legal authorities or if you’re making allegations to spur an investigation by legal authorities, I mean, that’s outside of our Senate ethics process. Do we need to somehow note any of that or put something in there to exempt if you make criminal allegations to legal authorities?
Sen Tucker: So it’s a good question. And there needs to be a little bit of clarity, because we’ve had some confusion about this over the last six months. So what these rules are about are only for Senate ethics proceedings only. It has nothing to do with a criminal proceeding or a civil proceeding in a court of law. And a lot of times we talk about constitutional rights in the ethics provisions. There are no constitutional rights. No one in here has a constitutional right to be a member of the State Senate. Now, we do have a constitutional right not to be required to testify against ourselves. That’s in a criminal proceeding. That’s totally separate from a Senate ethics proceeding. So what the subsection you’re talking about on page 7, that’s only with the initiation of a Senate ethics proceeding only. Now, if a member has concern about a criminal proceeding involving another member, and you talk to a prosecutor or law enforcement about that, that is totally separate from this. And that is not governed by anything in this rule whatsoever.
Sen Payton: Thank you. Thank you, Madam President.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. Are there any other questions? Seeing no more questions, would anyone like to speak against the amendment? Anyone like to speak for? Senator wish to close for his bill?
Sen Hammer: I’ll close now. I would appreciate a good vote for the proposed rule change with the changes that had been verbalized on the floor today, so they would all be included. I make that motion to approve them.
Lt Gov Rutledge: The question before the Senate is the adoption of the proposed amendment by Senators Hammer and Senator Tucker. And at this time, we’ll take a voice vote, all those in favor, please say aye. All those opposed? Ayes have it. Amendment passes–is adopted. At this time we’ll recognize Senator Dismang.
No campaign pledges during the session
Sen Dismang: You ready for me? All right. All right, members, we’ve talked about this, I think, when we were in orientation, but also amongst each other for quite a while now as far as the specific changes in this rule. And so I’m just going to tell you what it does quickly. I think you received it a week or so ago. And there’s been one small change since you received it. I’ll make sure to detail that. The first thing it’s going to do is if you look on the very last page, it’s striking the existing language about campaign contributions, and all that is to do is to move it to a different section. What we found out when looking at the reason for the change, which I’ll get to in a minute, was that there was really no teeth for that. I mean, there’s no one that was going to and no process to follow if someone had actually violated that. If you’ll remember, this is our rules and not the Ethics Commission’s rules. And so to be able to have a process put in place, it was moved to be under section 24.06, which has our prohibited conduct. And so specifically, the changes that are made aside from just moving that language over, is it adds language for including a pledge for a campaign contribution. Last year, this was tested a little bit– or maybe a session ago, it was tested a little bit where a member had established a website to accept pledges while we were in session. I would argue that’s probably a worse place to be in than even just outright accepting the contribution, and so this would just make it known amongst the members that you can not accept a pledge for money that you’re going to be receiving at a future point during the session. So that’s what that language does. The second thing it does is there was the word ‘special’ in front of the election for United States Representative. It removes that word for special and just makes it for any election for US Representative. We can have a bigger conversation about why that exists. I don’t know. My goal was to make as few changes as possible with what we were doing here. But again, that’s the major components of the rule change and be happy to take any questions.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Dismang. Are there any questions at this time?
Sen Dismang: All right. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Would anyone like to speak against the amendment? Anyone like to speak for? Senator wish to close for his bill?
Sen Dismang: I’m closed and make a motion to adopt.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. The motion before us is to adopt the proposed amendment. All those in favor, please signify by saying aye. Any opposed? Hearing none, it has been adopted. At this time I recognize Senator Blake Johnson.
Sen. B. Johnson asking Senators Hester and King to pull down their amendments
Sen B Johnson: Members, as the Republican Caucus leader, I would request the sponsor of the next rule change to pull that down so it can be heard in our caucus.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hester, you’re recognized.
Sen Hester: I’m comfortable pulling mine down until a further date. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: The amendment is pulled down at this time. I recognize Senator Blake Johnson.
Sen B Johnson: Members, same. As the Republican Caucus leader, I would request the sponsor of the next rule change to pull those rules down so it can be heard in the Republican Caucus. For clarification, I’m going to request that all four of Senator King’s bills be pulled down by the sponsor until they can be heard in the Republican Caucus.
Sen King: I have a question. I mean, I’ve had these out here. This is the first I’ve known of this. Why didn’t you come up and say something to me?
Sen B Johnson: The substance of the last two rule changes were brought before the caucus. Senator Hester’s was not brought before the caucus and your rule changes hadn’t been brought before the caucus.
Sen King: Why didn’t you say something when I talked about is that orientation a month ago and say, hey, why don’t you bring it to caucus, which I would have gladly done.
Sen B Johnson: Senator, I’m not going to argue. If you want to present them, go ahead. I’m going to request the caucus not vote for them.
Sen King: I have a question for the Parliamentarian. So when adopting these rules, if we adopt the rules initially, it’s an 18 vote, but to amend them later is a two-thirds vote, correct?
Sen King: So if we wait to adopt these and I visit with the caucus, then to amend them later will take 26 votes–
Sen King: –24 votes instead 18.
Parliamentarian: Yeah, 24.
Sen King: Okay.
Parliamentarian: We’ve got the rule book today. Anything after–
Sen King: Anything after that? But I mean, we know the Senate rules. We can amend the Senate rules, that rule, by 18 votes to do that. So, I mean, it’s just a complicated process. So I’d like to speak against the amendment to the proposed rules. Yeah, I’ll speak to the, to the–what he has to–
Lt Gov Rutledge: Hold on. Hold on. Senator King, just one moment, please. Let me just get a point of clarification from the Parliamentarian. Before we have any comments speaking against the motion, are there any more questions for Senator Blake Johnson? Seeing none, Senator King, you’re now recognized to speak against.
Sen King: So, my past history, I’ve been a Republican leader, run a caucus. I understand what the difficulty is and how hard a job that is. But you know, there’s two things in a campaign and one thing that I think is down here is a fair word and a fair fight. I mean, I think that’s what people expect in government and what we should do. And I have no problem or issue with the problem of discussing the caucus. Anybody knows me, if I’m going to do something, I’m more than happy and amenable to tell you exactly what everything’s going to do. I would just have appreciated the respect to say, hey, why don’t you come to the caucus beforehand and do that? And I would have gladly done that. But we didn’t do that. So I think today, I think I would appreciate this body to just go ahead and vote for the rules because I have went through the process. I have been transparent. I have been available. I started this process all the way back at Petit Jean Mountain. Okay? And you come in the last minute and want to do this when I prepared and everything, talked to members, been amenable to that, open discussions with anybody and everybody to do that. Like I said, I understand. I’ve been a caucus leader. It’s a very difficult job to do that. But this is the thing. We’ve had the plans, had the structure, everything like that. I think today is the day we do business on that. And I would have been extremely amenable to the caucus to have talked about these rules beforehand had I been given proper notice. I wasn’t, so I feel like today we need to vote on these issues today.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Anyone else wish to speak against Senator Blake Johnson’s amendment to have before withdrawn from consideration today. His motion to withdraw. Seeing none, anyone wish to speak for? Seeing none, Senator, you wish close?
Sen B Johnson: Yes. Members, you know I gave everyone the opportunity to present rules before the caucus. This is not new today. I asked Senator Hester the same thing. That has not been substantially brought before our caucus. He gladly pulled those down. The substance of both of the first rule changes had been brought before the caucus. These have not, and I would request that they be pulled down.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Johnson. The Senator has closed. All those in favor. We have a question by Senator Irvin.
Sen Irvin: Yes, Madam Chair. Just a point of clarification. Are we voting on a motion made by Senator Johnson to withdraw these four rule changes? Is that the motion on the floor?
Lt Gov Rutledge: Yes, that is correct. Senator Blake Johnson’s motion is to withdraw from consideration the four proposed rules changes by Senator King today.
Sen Irvin: Okay, thank you, ma’am.
Lt Gov Rutledge: And by Senator Hester. Any other questions? Senator Petty, you’re recognized.
Sen Petty: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. So if we vote today and vote against these, what is the next step after that? Do they come back before us after we caucus them later or are they dead or what’s the process?
Lt Gov Rutledge: They would be referred back to the caucus. Senator Johnson, you’re recognized.
Sen B Johnson: I am more than glad to let these rules be heard before the caucus, same with Senator Hester’s, and brought back here later.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Dees, you’re recognized.
Sen Dees: Thank you, Madam Chair. One more follow-up question, would the next step be to vote to accept our rules moving forward after this vote?
Lt Gov Rutledge: And that is to be determined, Senator Dees, after we move forward. I recognize Senator Dismang. Did you have a–
Sen Dismang: I just want to make sure I understand? Do we have a motion to withdraw or a motion to pass over? His motion was a motion to withdraw, which is going to carry, I believe, a different weight than if we were just to pass over.
Sen Dismang: Okay. Thanks.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hammer, you’re recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Madam Chair. The first question, I just want to tag on what Senator Dismang said. The motion is going to be for us to withdraw and not take up for consideration today these rules that have been proposed by Senator King. Is that a correct interpretation?
Lt Gov Rutledge: Correct.
Sen Hammer: Okay. May I have follow-up question, please?
Lt Gov Rutledge: You may.
Sen Hammer: The other rules that we have adopted already, including Senator Dismang’s, will be adopted and will not be held up by this vote. Is that correct?
Lt Gov Rutledge: That is correct.
Sen Hammer: One last one?
Lt Gov Rutledge: You’re pushing it, Senator. No, I’m just kidding.
Sen Hammer: Yeah. Well, that’s my reputation. That’s my reputation, Madam Chair. You will find out.
Lt Gov Rutledge: After eight years as the Attorney General, I’m aware. (laughter)
Sen Hammer: Thank you, ma’am. Thank you. Welcome to our world. But anyway, respectfully, I would like to know, the printing of the rule book, with us having taken up what we have today, by us passing over this, is it going to delay getting the rule book printed? And maybe that would be a question directed to Ann if the chair would allow, or could she give us insight to that please?
Lt Gov Rutledge: I would ask that the Secretary address the Senator’s question.
Madam Secretary: The rule book will be updated with the changes today, and primarily, these are all ethics amendments that y’all have. I can send it– since these were adopted, and if they get adopted into the rule book, and we adopt the rule book today, then I will send it to the printer. But it’ll take a little bit to get it together, because I’ve got to put it–
Sen Hammer: Okay.
Madam Secretary: Now, if you have a Rules meeting next week, but Rules Committee meeting’s postponed a long time, you’re not going to have a rule book printed.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator McKee, you’re recognized.
Sen McKee: Thank you, Madam President. So it’s my understanding, in addition to adopting the amendments that we made today, we will need to take a separate vote to adopt the rules as a whole. So by just putting these aside does not necessarily mean we adopt the rule book, which would mean those could be added later?
Lt Gov Rutledge: That will be a separate motion if there is one.
Sen McKee: Yes. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: And that will take 24 votes. I recognize Senator Blake Johnson.
Sen B Johnson: I’m going to withdraw my motion to withdraw these. I had requested the Senator pull them down. I will go back to that motion so we can vote on them and continue in this process. If the Senator chooses to, he can choose to pull them down and bring them to caucus and we can bring them up at a later date or we can continue this process today.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Blake Johnson, to clarify, you have withdrawn your motion with regard to Senator King’s amendments but not with regard to Senator Hester? Is that correct?
Sen B Johnson: Just the request to pull them down.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Just King’s, not Senator Hester’s, correct?
Sen B Johnson: No.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Okay. Senator Hester’s has been pulled down. Senator Bryan King, you’re recognized to present your amendments.
Sen King: Thank you, Mr. President. Which rule is it first?
Madam Secretary: Which one would you like?
Sen. King’s amendment requiring 5 recorded votes for a bill to come out of committee
Sen King: The five committee members. 7.5L3. This deals with the five bills in committee– five votes, I’m sorry, in committee.
Madam Secretary: It should be the second one in your stapled packet.
Sen King: I got mine mixed up.
Madam Secretary: And you say 7.05-L3?
Sen King: Yeah.
Madam Secretary: That’s one you’re on?
Sen King: ‘No bill or resolution should be reported to the Senate floor unless– by Class A, B committee unless five recorded votes. That’s the base gist of it.
Lt Gov Rutledge: I’m sorry. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized.
Sen Chesterfield: I did not hear what Senator King said, and I’m trying to find out what he is talking about.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Chesterfield. Senator King, would you mind to enunciate and specifically state where you are to all the Senate.
Sen King: Yes, ma’am. No bill or resolution should be reported to the Senate floor unless under this code by the class A, B, or C committee unless five or more committee members were in attendance, and five or more committee members while in attendance, had a recorded vote on the recorded committee action. Pair voting shall not be recognized.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hester, you’re recognized.
Sen Hester: So Senator King, in reading this, when you say a recorded vote, that would eliminate the opportunity for voice votes?
Sen King: No, it includes voice votes.
Sen Hester: Okay.
Sen King: That’s still recorded.
Sen Hester: It says pair voting shall not be recognized. We utilize that when members have to be in another committee presenting or whatever. So this would eliminate our opportunity for pair voting?
Sen King: From my interpretation from some of the discussions I had that pair voting is not– in committee really, I don’t know it is in the Senate rules as it is. So this just kind of clarifies that. So if you’re sick, or something like that, today’s social media, you can put out, I was going to vote against this. I don’t know that we need to actually have pair voting in today’s world of being able to do that. You have a register back here that you can do that. It’s just clears up that rule. Right now, the Senate rule from my interpretation is that pair voting is not covered in committees. So it’s been one of these things when we’ve done it, it’s been one of these ambiguity things. So this would clear that up. It does not include signing bills out of committee. That’s a recorded vote.
Sen Hester: And I guess the last thing, when you’re being very specific on five members. Is the intention– there are times in session when we’re busy and we’re in and out and maybe there’s only five members in there or four members in there. That’s been rumored that that has happened. Any time that there–
Sen King: I think that’s been a fact.
Sen Hester: Okay, well, that’s already Senate rule. Only one member sitting in the room has to say, hey, I want to call the roll.
Sen King: Yeah, but I think it would eliminate the, 9:15 at night, it would eliminate a lot of possible things that in appearance does not look well of walk in there and there’s two members. We had a quorum, and then we don’t have a quorum, and it would just say, hey, we have to have five people say. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t sign a bill out. It doesn’t mean any of that. It just needs to be– there needs to be five recorded votes. It would eliminate the other thing, too, that people do like they pass out, there’s no one there, it’s late at night or whatever. And I’m using those examples. And then there’s only three people in there. They vote it out to just do a favor and get it on the floor, and then they vote against it and they help and it just has a more straightforward process to it.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Dismang, you’re recognized.
Sen Dismang: And I do know that we talked about these, but I didn’t get a copy of anything until last night, so that’s the reason I have a question this morning.
Sen King: I think there was copies of this sent out a month or so ago or something. I think I asked for copies to be sent out, but if you didn’t get it, you didn’t get it.
Sen Dismang: That’s irrelevant. I’m just trying to get the [inaudible] for my question. So I mean, what I’m afraid of when I read this is– I mean, the good news, everything that we do is recorded, even on the committee level. And if there’s only two members in that committee, everybody in the world knows it, and it’s very obvious that that’s the way that that’s occurred. So there’s no more hidden secret meeting or whatever it may be because we decided and made a move to live stream. What I am concerned about is four members banding together and essentially saying that we’re not going to allow anything– we don’t want to vote on something, so we’re just not going to show up to committee and every day we’re going to have an excuse for it. So one, ‘I’ve got to go sit in Public Health all day. I’m sorry, I can’t make the committee meeting.’ Somebody else is sick until, again, they can pretty much control what goes in and out of that committee with four members banding together. And so you’re rewarding someone by– they would never be forced to vote on a bill. You’re rewarding them by not showing up to the committee. And the other thing is that we’ve had lengthy discussions in the chamber over the last couple of sessions about signing bills out, and what that does is take away the ability for the public to have dialogue on the bill. And so if we move to a place where something like this could actually encourage us from not having the needed dialogue on a bill, again, with four members deciding they’re not going to show up to allow it to occur. Those are my concerns. And I’d appreciate if you could address them.
Sen King: Yeah, I mean, as far as omitting the attendance part, what I’m wanting is five recorded votes. So if you have four members in there and you’re in the House end running bills and you want to vote for it and you don’t want the other four to knock it out, maybe we could amend the attendance part and you could sign that, hey, I’m in support of this bill. I just think there needs to be five recorded votes in a committee to get it out. Not four recorded votes, not three recorded votes, not two recorded votes. And I understand with video now today from when I left, you can obviously see that there’s somebody not there. But I mean, I get your point. I mean, I think that’s a valid point. I mean, some of these other rule changes, I’m hoping they’re going to address some of this stuff of how things get so busy and clustered. That’s another matter. But if we want to amend it where the attendance and say, you’ve got four votes to get a bill out of committee and, for example, you support it, but yet you’ve got to be at a meeting or you’ve got to be somewhere else or something happens, then you can sign your name and say, I support this bill. And then you only need the four votes in committee. My goal is just that we need five recorded votes to get a bill out of committee. How that happens is the secondary part. Does that address you? I know that’s not the most perfect example in the world. It’s confusing, but yet.
Sen Dismang: I don’t want to lead you down some road where I make suggestions and edits, whatever. I don’t believe there to be a problem because of the recording, the live stream that occurs now. I mean, and so I don’t think that we need to do anything, personally. I’m just saying, I think even if we were to follow through with adoption, and I think we’re going to create some issues that may have unintended consequences. So, I mean, that’s up to you on what you do moving forward.
Sen King: Well, and I’ve been down here, every ship that never leaves the port never reaches the storm. So I get that. But yet, on the other hand, there’s also consequences of the way we do it down here, and you get the thing of there’s only three people in the committee and everybody voted for it. And listen, hey, it’s a bill that’s not an issue. It’s no big deal. I don’t have a problem with three people doing it. I just think that we just need to start to set a precedent that some way, some how, in a majority, when you have to have five votes, that five votes, five people on record vote that out of committee. That’s just it. I get what you’re saying. I just want to get back to having five recorded votes that gets a bill out of committee.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hammer, you are recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Senator King, I appreciate the intent. My question is, though, as I read this, I’m not sure that all that you’re asking to be achieved could be achieved now because if I’m sitting in a committee and I have strong feelings about a bill, I can ask for a roll call vote, and that be done. The chairman has the ability now to put something on the inactive or deferred list. And I’m just trying to get a mind around–
Sen King: Well, that’s a separate rule, the inactive and deferred part. That’s not part of this. This is just five recorded votes to get a bill out of committee.
Sen Hammer: Which bill are you– which one are you deliberating now? Which one are you talking about now then?
Sen King: The second page.
Sen Hammer: All right, thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Petty, you’re recognized.
Sen Petty: Thank you Madam President. I don’t know if this is in order or if this is proper or not, but I’m new, and I know there’s 12 others that are new to the Senate at least. And I was just able to get my Senate email turned on last night. So I have not seen these and don’t have the perspective of knowing what Senator Hammer knows about the rules. And so there’s not a comparison unless I get the old rule book. And I would just ask, if it’s proper, if it’s in order, that you would consider allowing us to caucus it, because there’s obviously a lot of perspective that us new guys, especially the true freshman, don’t have that I would like to make a informed decision on. And I just don’t have that perspective here today. And if it’s proper– I don’t know if it is– and if you would be willing to allow us to have that discussion in caucus, I think that would be very helpful for me. And I don’t know about the other senators. I can’t speak for them. But just for your consideration.
Sen King: I mean, I understand being a new member. But this is about a basic tenet of democracy that a majority rules, okay? Not a minority, but a majority. And this is just a basic avenue to say five recorded votes need– just like 18 votes in here– need to get a bill out of committee. I think, from what I remember, you were on the City Council, I think, in Van Buren. And it’s more constrained a little bit. Down here, it’s much more confusing. I mean, I talked about some of these rule changes. I know I must have discussed these at the orientation, so this discussion has been out there. And I haven’t deviated from the discussion originally I had at Petit Jean way back in December. The thing about the caucus thing, I was a caucus leader and one time I got my rea- end chewed because I didn’t go through the process correctly. I corrected it, I admitted it. And I respect Senator Johnson doing that because I would have certainly done that or done whatever I needed to do to do the caucus first. But yet, we’re here today. I mean, here’s the thing, Senator Petty. It can come back up again. I mean, it’s just going to take 24 votes. I mean, so, we can vote on it today and discuss it. I mean, I feel like it’s been out there tonight. I discussed it at Petit Jean. I feel like I had not brought this up. I’ve been available to discuss that. I’ve been around all morning. So I feel like a vote, if it fails, for that reason, you want more time, then it can come back again later. But I just feel like this basic thing, that we need five votes to get a bill out of committee.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you Senator. Senator Murdock. Did you have a question? No question. Senator Chesterfield, did you have a question?
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Madam Chair. Senator King, for clarity. Once the quorum is established in the committee, the quorum is established. Many of our votes are done by voice votes rather than recorded votes. Is this then going to require us to have a recorded vote in every one of the meetings? Because when the quorum is established, that allows members who have bills other places, especially toward the end of the session, to be able to go there and still know that they are part of the quorum and can be called back. So we’re doing away with the voice vote totally or are we going to now– is that what we’re doing? Are we doing away with the voice vote that gets bills out of committees if you have to have a recorded vote on all of them?
Sen King: If you have a voice vote and there’s five members there, then you obviously know that it passed. I mean, I understand. You and I both chaired and have a quorum at the beginning and then don’t. So I think that whatever we need to do, we had discussions and we talked about bringing something up when we just had written instructions on the last amendment that we passed and I understand that. That happens. So if there needs to be some type of clarification, I just would appreciate an 18 vote. Because I have talked about these for a long time. Is that maybe we need to say something about attendance, but there needs to be five recorded votes, either a voice, signing it, or roll call motion that gets five votes to get it out. Whatever we have to do to sit there and say, Get it out, is what I think.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hammer, you’re recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Senator King, let me give you a scenario and tell me how this would affect it. We’re in a committee. We start. We got a quorum declared. The deliberation starts. It’s one of those bills that takes an hour and a half. All of a sudden, we drop down below the five level. And the bill sponsor is done with the deliberation, and we’re sitting there. What happens then?
Sen King: And you have a voice vote to do pass? And there’s less than five there? Is that what you’re– I’m sorry, repeat that?
Sen Hammer: I’m just saying in real life scenarios where we’re in a debate and somebody steps out and we drop below the five, if I understand this right, you’re wanting five votes in order for it to get out. But if the bill sponsor is done and maybe one of the members had stepped out to go run another bill or whatever, and he says, I’m done presenting, and we’re waiting to take a vote, could we still take the voice vote and get out, even though we may not have five members? Or how’s that going to play out?
Sen King: Before that member leaves, and he’s supporting it, the bill sponsor leaves that meeting and knows and sees that situation, we’re all aware of that. We’ve been there and need five votes to get a bill out, then he needs to notify the chair or the staff people in writing that he supports the bill. That way, he can get up and leave and be free.
Sen Hammer: What happens if something happens after he signs it and says it and new information comes out?
Sen King: Well, that is his. Once you sign that and vote that the same way we vote on something and send it to the House. It’s happened that I didn’t know that was in there. That’s your responsibility, and you need to own it.
Sen Hammer: Okay. All right. Thank you.
Sen King: But that would allow people to be able to be flexible and breathe and do whatever they need to do and still vote. And I get back to this thing. I just think that we need five recorded votes to get a bill out of committee. One way or another somehow.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thanks, Senator King. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Madam Chair. Through the chair to the Parliamentarian, we have various ways of deciding what the quorum is. It’s the majority of the membership or it could be the totality of the membership. In our standing committee rules, please remind me, is it a majority of the membership of the committee that constitutes a quorum or do we deal with the totality of the body for a quorum?
Sen Chesterfield: Five. So if we have a quorum of five, and the majority of that quorum votes to let the bill out, that’s not going to be five people. So what we’re talking about then is changing even more than you’re saying, because all we need then is three people, which is the majority of the quorum. That’s why I’m trying to get clarity on what it is you’re really trying to do. Because our Senate rules say, if a committee has five persons there, it constitutes a quorum. It is not the totality of the body, but only five of the eight. Am I making any sense to anybody?
Sen King: I’ve tried to address that, where if you go in, and we’ve been both chairs of committees and not had a quorum, and let’s just be honest, we recognize a quorum because we know members are going to show up and we’ve got to do business or business that does not matter. It would allow us to say, let’s say you walk in there and you’re chairing a committee and there’s only four people, you recognize the quorum. There is not five people there. But if a sponsor or somebody, if I’m running a bill in there, I’m going to make sure that I need the support of the five people to get the bill out.
Sen Chesterfield: You need three of the five people to get the bill out. But if you’re requiring five of the five.
Sen King: And I talked about that in the attendance part of it about amending the attendance part out to say, if you have four members in there and you need five votes, then if I’ve already got Senator Irvin over here that’s already signed on to the bill to support it, then all I need is the four members present to vote for it.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thanks, Senator. Senator Flowers.
Sen Flowers: I’d like this answered by the Parliamentarian. My understanding of the rules, it takes five votes to get a bill out of committee now under our rules. So even if you have a quorum of five people, three votes do pass is not sufficient to pass a bill out of committee. That needs to be clarified. It takes five votes to get a bill out of committee. And I think there is confusion with that. And I’d like for the Parliamentarian, Madam President, to explain what it takes to get a bill out of committee.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Flowers for your question. I would ask the Parliamentarian to address the Senator’s question.
Parliamentarian: You’re correct. It takes five members to get a bill out of a standing committee. It’s always in order to question if there’s a quorum. Any member can challenge a quorum if there’s not five there. But when the vote is called, five people have to be recorded before we get a committee report form, five people were on the do pass motion that comes out of that committee. On the floor, we don’t look into how that occurred. But any member out here can challenge any bill that came out of committee if there were one or two or three people there, that there wasn’t a quorum to bring it to the floor.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, sir. And, Senator Flowers, before your follow-up, Senator Irvin had a question. Then I’ll recognize you again, Senator Flowers.
Sen Irvin: Thank you, Madam Chair. Again, to the Parliamentarian, my concern is that language matters, and I think we’ve had a scenario described by Senator King that’s not specific in the language of this amendment to the rule change about tracking attendance. As chair of a standing committee, we don’t track attendance. We declare quorums. And so you could declare a quorum, so is it my understanding that before any vote occurred on any piece of legislation, we would have to reestablish a quorum? And at that point– because we don’t track attendance, and–
Parliamentarian: You wouldn’t have to establish that, but a member could call–
Sen Irvin: Right, but I’m saying–
Parliamentarian: –“I see a lack of a quorum, so we cannot do business.”
Sen Irvin: Right.
Parliamentarian: You can’t take any official action. You can hear a bill with less than five, but you can’t take official action.
Sen Irvin: Correct. But my understanding would then be that if this were to be adopted, then we would have to reestablish a quorum before every single vote on every bill because if there were not five there, then we could not vote on the bill.
Parliamentarian: If a member called that.
Sen Irvin: Right. But also, if this passed, then we would have to then track attendance and reestablish a quorum before every single vote to guarantee that there would be five there. And then if not, we would just have to adjourn and stop with the business of the day.
Parliamentarian: If you didn’t do that, it could be challenged as a violation of the rules by a member, yes.
Sen Irvin: Correct. And so then we would just– we would at that point just adjourn and not be able to meet or hear any other legislation.
Parliamentarian: If it’s not challenged on the floor, it would proceed.
Sen Irvin: Yes.
Parliamentarian: But yes, if a member challenged that–
Sen Irvin: But there’s no language in this proposal about a member signing a piece of paper saying they’re supporting a bill or not. That process is not in this language that was described by Senator King. So thank you, sir.
Sen King: Well, if I could address it. So we talked about this, about signing bills out. So if you come in, you don’t have a quorum, you recognize there’s a quorum, as I continue to say, you only have four members there, and somebody presents a bill with four members, there needs to be of the other four members on the committee, somebody sign, and if you get the other four. I mean, I’m trying to make this work where you just don’t shut it down because there’s not five people there. They can actually sign that. I mean, and the other– we talked about the signing out of committee is in another rule, so that didn’t affect it. So, like I said, for clarification on this one with all the discussion, I would be willing to pull this one down and bring it back again. I’ve known enough down here when things get chewed on enough when it’s not– so I would be willing to pull that one down.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Flowers, in light of Senator King’s offer to pull down, do you have a follow-up question? Okay. Is that a yes, or no? Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.
Sen Flowers: Well, I don’t have a question since he’s going to pull it down, but I would like to make a comment that a member of a committee, after a quorum has been established and if they lose the quorum, a member of the committee can challenge whether there is a quorum. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to, before any bill is presented, determine whether there’s a quorum. The membership of the committee decides upon the point if you get to a vote that you don’t have a quorum and it can be challenged. But the idea that every time a bill is before the committee, you have to establish a quorum, that’s done at the beginning of the meeting. And there’s no need to continually, with each bill, ask or determine if there’s a quorum.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you.
Sen Flowers: The duty of the members is pursuant to the rule book, and a lot of this is already in the rules.
Sen King: Let me make one last comment and we’ll move on. Let’s think of the flip side of that, for one second, and then I’m going to end it with that. Let’s say you walk in and you know you have five votes of a committee to do it. You know you have opposition that doesn’t want it, but yet you have five votes that you know of the majority get it out. Let’s say there’s only four members there, and there’s one or two against it, but yet you’ve got three other votes running around somewhere else. You could walk in, those three members could sign they support that bill and with the other two, you can pass it out. So it’s not just about allowing stop and trying to stop votes or kill it. It’s also allowing people to pass it. So if you have three members in there, you know there’s only four members, we obviously don’t have a quorum. Your bill’s done if one member sits there and says to roll call it, even though you have five people supporting it. So with those three or two that you have, you have two others sign it, you can pass the bill out. So anyway, we’ll discuss that later.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. Thank you, Senator King. And to clarify for the body, Senator King, you have withdrawn your first of four–
Sen King: That’s right.
Sen. King’s amendment to limit senators to one bill per day on the floor
Lt Gov Rutledge: –amendments. And so now I’ll ask Senator King to go to number two of four amendments, which is Senate rule 8.02, which I believe–
Sen King: That’s right.
Lt Gov Rutledge: –is on the third page of Senator King’s packet.
Sen King: May bill a resolution to not be called for third reading and final passing unless it appears for the calendar of the Senate. A senator may be prohibited from placing more than one bill per day on the Senate business calendar.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King. Are there any questions for Senator King?
Sen King: Can I explain the amendment first?
Lt Gov Rutledge: I apologize.
Sen King: That’s okay. So explaining that amendment basically is– this is my seventh session. And every one, six before that, has been where the first month, like today– and it’s a little different today because of filing, is that it’s like 70 degrees and no weather. And then by the end of the session, it’s like a Cat 5. You got bills running here, you got running here, and it just seems like it’s been every session that the last 30 days, and especially the last 20 days, people realize the door’s closing and they start running bills. So to address that– and I always say, there’s a bubble world down here, and there’s a real world back home. And if you saw in Washington, DC, people getting tired of passing bills, not knowing what’s in it. You have to vote for it before you find out what’s in it. This would slow down the process. And the goal is– I was talking with Senator Wallace earlier back there– to try and even the flow. Where we don’t spend the first month of the session down here gaveling in at 1 o’clock and leaving at 1:20. And at the end of the session, we’ve got a full calendar of bills. Now this does not apply to budget bills. So this just applies to our bills that you come in here and the max bills you can have is 35. Now, we know that several of you are not running bills, you don’t do that. People went into things like, “Well, why don’t we just limit the number of bills filed?” And this is something that I actually started talking about before I left four years ago, and that creates problems too. But this would just allow one bill per senator today. What that is addressing is, once again, that we don’t get here at the end of the session, that we’re sitting here at 7:45. We didn’t get done that day. We’ve got a deadline coming up, and we’re just sitting here batching bills and voting them out. That’s not the way I do business, the corporations I work for or personal business. Rubber stamping is a bad way to do government.
Sen King: Now, most of these bills are not. There’s nothing nefarious. There’s nothing happening. But a lot of times, there is, and there’s been cases of that. So it’s about making the process where we spend and you come down here and you make sure. I mean, I filed some bills, and I’ve already told people in Judiciary, “Get ready. I’m coming to run those bills.” We’ve all had the gate, if they’ve been down here, shut and not get bills run. But we’re going to have that. We’re going to have House bills coming over here at the end. It’s happened the last sessions that– there are six sessions that I was a part of and could see, and it’s just not a way to allow people to do good business when you’re sitting there batching bills. You don’t even read them. And you can’t read them. So you would sit there and go, “Well, in week two and three, I better get on the ball here and start getting this down and getting down to business, rather than waiting till the last of session.” The other thing is, it’s very hard on the staff people when we’re sitting here at 10:45, 11:45, whatever, and they have to go through everything out there and make sure every corrections and then be back here the next morning. I want to get down to doing business where we do business the way we should out here in front of people and everything, instead of being up here late at night, passing things you don’t know what’s in. You’ve got a bill in the batch bill and you go, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t ask questions because it’s going to do that.” And I know we could pull bills out and stuff, but when you have that many bills and stuff, there’s no way to read and actually know what’s going to go on and what it’s going to do.
Sen King: This is a change, I can admit. But hopefully, it’s going to change the behavior of not doing this thing that we get at the end of the session, and we’re sitting here passing bills, vote on it. You have to find out what’s in it before you know– vote for it before you know what’s in it. It’s just not a good way to do business to be rubber stamping bills.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator, for that. Senator Hester, you are recognized with a question.
Sen Hester: Senator King, the problem you identified, I 100% agree with. The concern that I’d ultimately have is members are, we are elected by the people to represent the people. I don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s district, the strategy that they used. They’re elected by the people; maybe they have a particular strategy that they’re going to do everything in the last few weeks. How do we account for someone constitutionally elected to be able to do business the best way that they think is right to represent their people? Maybe it is five bills in a day if they all are aligned on the same subject.
Sen King: So you’re saying, if you run a package bill on certain– I mean, I don’t understand the process of waiting until the last two weeks to run everything. I know that people, in the past, have had strategies to do that because it’s easier. If you don’t want to narrow scope on your bill about what it’s going to do or the consequences of it, I mean, quite frankly, the easiest thing to do is run it in with a bunch of other bills at the end.
Sen Hester: I agree. And all your–
Sen King: Well, then what’s the solution to–
Sen Hester: Well, that’s not your strategy, but it could be another member’s strategy that they feel is best and most appropriate to represent their constituents.
Sen King: And I think as a body and what we do with the people that we don’t come in here and batch bills and then vote on 43 bills or 27 bills or whatever you can. Even though you can pull one out, all right, there’s no way to be able to read that and actually know what you’re doing. I don’t do that back home, and I don’t think that as a body should be something that we do down here. Once again, everybody sits there and says– and I know it’s a big thing to swallow. It’s a totally change to have to do that because I’ve had the process of running election bills and be down here and run 3 or 4 at one time. I get that. But I also know the value– I mean, I’ll give you an example. I mean, photo ID took me 12 years to finally get it on the ballot and pass it. Church Protection Act, there was another thing. There was a value of going slow in the process and thinking about situations. There was a bill passed last session that small town police departments that were working well and doing great now have been done away with. Now, they’re having to make major changes of everything they’ve had to do because things roll down here.
Sen King: There has been nefarious things happen with rolling bills down here. It’s just not a good way to do business to rubber stamp, and if you wait till the end of the session– and we’ve all had that. You wait until the session, you don’t get a bill, the gate closes. Then you come back in two years. And it’s just like I was– me and my brother were two different personalities. One of us was a lot of trouble and raised a lot of hell and stuff like that. And my dad would tell the one, “Well, you’re not going to learn your lesson til you learn your lesson.” Fortunately, my brother did, but– that’s a joke, by the way, if anybody knows– since I’m on video. But I’m just saying, you know what, if you learn the lesson, you’re going to sit here at week two instead of coming in here– it makes no sense at all for the people, and it’s not justified, to come in here and gavel in at 1 o’clock, and at 1:20, we’re going out. And then at the end of the session, you’re running through everything like a floodgate. It’s just an attempt to do that.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. And I would ask the body to, again, please stand when you’re asking your questions, so that we– and I believe I’ve got Senator Payton next.
Sen Payton: Thank you, Madam President. And I think I share in a lot of your frustration of how some of this works. And I think I like what you’re trying to achieve, but I can’t say that I agree with how you’re doing it. I was glad when we started, that Madam President stated we would take up these rule changes individually instead of as a batch. And therefore, you’re required to present four individuals on the floor right now instead of one. I don’t like omnibus bills. And I’m afraid that this change would encourage somebody to pack 3 or 4 or 8 or 10 topics into one bill rather than to have them separated up where I can vote for what I like and not vote for what I don’t like. And so how would you address that concern that somehow this might encourage packing too much into one bill because of the limitation on presentment?
Sen King: Well, I think that’s a good point, and I’m glad you asked that. I think it would actually help you break up omnibus bills because you could vote against it as an omnibus bill. And then once something fails, as we know, we all have to go back and develop a different strategy, and you might come back and piecemeal it. I’ve actually had to do that with some election bills. So, to answer your question, this would actually help that if you don’t like ominous bills, and it fails because it’s got too much in it, then it makes them come back and piece it together. Build a Cadillac like Johnny Cash did, a piece at a time. Or it could be that a ominous bill, you have no problem with it and realize that you need to do it. But I’m just saying– my thing is, I’ve been down here every session. Everybody gets at the end, and they complain about all these bills. They complain about this. The amount of burden that we put on the staff people is– it really brings me a problem to do that and expect them to do that. We have the Code Revision Commission that has to go back because everything is so flood-gated through. So I want an even flow, as Senator Wallace– whether he supports it or not, he used the correct term. Try to get an even flow and people manage the session in an even flow. There is 80% of these bills or 70% of these bills ran at the end that could be run next week. But everybody in their nature waits down here to do that, so this actually would help that situation. And my question is– since you’ve been down here before, everybody complains about it, and no one does it. So I’m stepping up to do it, and if you don’t have a solution to it, then what is your solution to stopping this process that everybody complains about?
Sen Payton: If I could have a follow-up, Madam President?
Lt Gov Rutledge: You may.
Sen Payton: So my other question would be is, it doesn’t seem to separate between House bills and Senate bills. So you’re saying you could only present one Senate bill or one House bill? Or would House bills don’t count towards that limitation, or how would that be?
Sen King: No, I mean, I think to slow the process down down here, and properly vet bills and have a process that we watch that we don’t have the situation that we’re devastating small town police departments and putting those bills in in that situation, then, yes, we’ll slow the process down. Let’s actually know what we’re voting on, and be able to read it and have a process that you can swallow every day. I don’t want an appetizer at the start and a Western Sizzlin buffet to have to eat at the end.
Sen Payton: Thank you. Thank you, Madam President.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. Senator Dotson, do you still have a question for Senator King?
Sen Dotson: Yes, thank you, Madam Chair. I’m a little new here in this end. I’m not sure if the Senate business calendar is separate from what the House bills are, but does this include– you could only have one total bill like House or Senate in one given day?
Sen King: Yes.
Sen Dotson: Okay. So 35 total bills would be on the calendar any given day, including House bills?
Sen King: At any given day, there would only be 35 bills from here, either House or Senate. And I understand, I mean, how many bills– if we have a 90-day session, how many bills are you going to run? Are you going to run a bill every 90 days? No. I mean, I know it’s hard to think about this, but the reality is, if you look back, how many in the House did you run each day, I mean, a total session went down the floor, 12, 14? Some people only run 3 or 4. Some people were in the 20s. You have a 60-, 70-, 80-, 90-degree session, it’s not going to limit that ability.
Sen Dotson: So–
Sen King: If you plan on running 90 bills, then I’d say it’s going to be an issue.
Sen Dotson: Are you at all concerned that this would extend the session past 90 days–
Sen King: That was brought. That was brought up. The only thing I will say is if there’s been one thing indicative of every session that I’ve had is that this thing happens, that there’s this flood of bills at the end. The one thing I will also say is, we have to vote to extend the session to seat from 60 days– correct? Is that right? So we vote to extend the session. When we get down at the end and everything, if there’s one nature about this, everybody is ready to go home. The people are ready for us to go home. This would send a message to everybody to say, “You know what? Don’t sit around here for the next two or three weeks, and let’s not do anything. Let’s get to work and do the business of people. Let’s don’t just sit here and work 20 minutes and then be up here for 4 and a half hours later.”
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King. And I did note that Senator Hammer, did you still have a question?
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Madam Chair. So here’s the scenario I’m concerned about, Senator King. I’m working on a package right now that’s going to be broken up into eight bills. You don’t want a omnibus bill, so we’re going to do– I would do eight bills. That means I’ve got to wait and file one bill a day for eight days in a row, which means I’ve got to go to the committee eight different times, where as opposed to– because of some of the other rules that are being proposed– to me, I think that would be a cluster that would cause a log jam unnecessarily because we’re all responsible for managing our own issues and bills when we come down here. What I’m afraid of, the unintended consequences is it’s actually going to log jam in some of the committees. Do you agree, disagree, and why? Thank you.
Sen King: Well, the committee part is separate. So basically, in one way, it could log jam things. I will say what you said about– I’ll use the example of photo ID and the election bills I had. When we started doing these all the way back in 2007, these were all in federal court cases. And if you go to election law in federal court cases, even though we weren’t a preclearance state that had to get court approval, we had to go through all type of preparation. There was also other bills that followed that. So I fully understand that, but once again, it is allowing you to slow the process down where you actually know what’s going to happen. I mean, we passed bills out of here, gun bills, and not know the unintended consequences. The slower it goes, the better job you do. As a farmer, when we work cattle, we don’t just let 30 and 40 go at a time. For our best way for cattle herd is to do one at a time. In our business, it’s not to walk in here and look at every proposal and everything you do because everything we do and the value of it at the same time, it’s just going to be two years, most generally, before you can change it back. So slowing the process down in this thing is respectful for the people. It’s respectful for the members. And I know it has a consequence, but the other intended consequences is the faster you go and the bigger package you do, and the more you do, the less you can find that you find out later was unintended consequences. And I’ll say that I learned that myself.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thanks, Senator King. And for the body to know, if you make eye contact with me or note that you have a question, I am making a list and if you want to wave off that list, make eye contact again and kind of give me the no question. Next, I have Senator Dismang followed by– and he’s waving me off, so Senator Murdock. Waving me off. Senator Flippo.
Sen Flippo: Thank you, Madam President. I’d like to move for immediate consideration–
Sen King: Yeah, I agree.
Sen Flippo: –for 802, and was it 7O5? Yeah.
Lt Gov Rutledge: I believe that he pulled–
Sen Flippo: Okay, so then I’d like to move my motion just to move for immediate consideration for proposed rule 802.
Sen King: And I agree with immediate consideration.
Lt Gov Rutledge: And Senator King would have to relinquish the chair in order for that motion to be proper.
Sen King: What now?
Lt Gov Rutledge: You would have to relinquish.
Sen King: Okay, I tell you what, I make a motion do pass, and let’s vote on this and go. Is that fine? Is that how it goes? Okay, I make a motion do pass on this. The one bill per day.
Lt Gov Rutledge: So to be clear, Senator King–
Sen King: Number two.
Lt Gov Rutledge: –you’re asking just for the Senate rule change for 8.02?
Sen King: That’s correct.
Lt Gov Rutledge: And you still have one outstanding?
Sen King: I still have two outstanding.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Two outstanding. Would anyone like to speak against? Senator Dismang, you’re recognized.
Sen Dismang: Thank you, and I did have some questions. I think most of them were covered. I mean, the one thing that I just don’t want us to do is take away from our authority as senators. Most of you in this room are citizen legislators. I am. I have a job outside this place and I cram everything I can into the weeks leading up to the session. Now those that don’t have jobs, they can be here doing whatever it is they want to do. But for me, I need to be here. I need to be able to be committed to be here, and it will take me a little bit to file a bill. It’s just the nature of who I am because I’ve got a job outside of this building that takes my attention and demands my attention and should have my attention. Second, I do think we are creating a scenario that we’re giving the House leverage over the Senate. I understand that we’re saying only one member can carry one bill. Well, then we’re asking, are we going to carry a House version or a Senate version or whatever it may be. And I just think we’re taking away our authority as senators. Bills are going to be given to members that aren’t running bills that day for House members so that House bills can be ran, but the same member can’t run another Senate bill the same day. I just, again, I think we’re taking away from our authority as members here in this chamber. I understand the point of slowing it down. And one thing I would challenge is if everyone or anyone is concerned about any bill that is brought as a batch, you have full authority as one person in this chamber to pull every single bill out of that batch. You have the authority to do it. It doesn’t require a rule change today. It will happen if that’s what you want to happen. Again, I appreciate the intent. I completely agree on wanting to make sure we understand what’s in the bills and making sure you read the bills. And you have a responsibility to do that. Your time isn’t limited to just what’s in this chamber or sitting in the committee, it’s also outside this chamber. It’s when you’re sitting in bed tonight, ready to– and that’s your nightly reading. It’s in between meetings. It’s making sure that you’re caught up on and being present mentally by reading the bills as they come before you. But with that, again, just speaking against the bill, I appreciate a no vote.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. Anyone wish to speak for the bill– or for the amendment? All right, anyone want to speak against? Senator Irvin? Senator Blake Johnson, are you coming to speak against?
Sen B Johnson: Members, again, I was presented with these amendments yesterday, and I could not call you to caucus, and these were not presented to me before and prior in orientation, and I would request that the Republican caucus vote against this.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Anyone who wished to speak for? Anyone? Senator Stubblefield, do you rise to–?
Sen Stubblefield: Point of order. [inaudible]
Lt Gov Rutledge: That motion can be made when no one’s in the well. At the time Senator Flippo made the motion, Senator King was in the well. Therefore, that motion was improper.
Sen Stubblefield: [inaudible]. Motion for immediate consideration.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Okay, Senator Stubblefield has made the motion to immediate question. All those in favor of Senator Stubblefield’s motion, signify by saying aye. Any opposed? The ayes have it. Call the question. The question on the table will be a voice vote for Senator King’s amendment or opposed. All those in favor of Senator King’s amendment signify by saying aye.
Sen King: Aye.
Lt Gov Rutledge: All those opposed, signify by saying nay.
Lt Gov Rutledge: The amendment has failed. I’m sorry, Senator Chesterfield, would you mind to rise and state.
Sen Chesterfield: Present.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Present. Thank you, Senator Chesterfield. Senator King, you’re recognized for your third of four amendments.
Sen. King’s amendment requiring per diem garnishment if a senator owes back taxes
Sen King: Okay, I want to do the one on back taxes. I’m going to skip over the other one because I, obviously know the result of that, and we’re time-wise on Thursdays, so.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator King, to clarify, are you withdrawing the third one or not going to–?
Sen King: Yeah, I’m going to withdraw the third one.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Okay, the third one is withdrawn by Senator King and he is moving to the fourth. Senator King, you’re recognized.
Sen King: Okay, members this deals with members that owe back taxes. Okay, I feel like as an example with public leaders, the first thing we should do is pay our taxes. We expect the public to do our government functions. Do I understand that people get in situations or arrears and have to have payment plans? I have been part of that process and helping people get it. DFA, to their credit, even under two administrations that I dealt with, was good to work with in most of those cases. But as examples of public leaders, we should set a higher example. So, for example, if a member owes back taxes, even if they have a payment plan set up to owe those back taxes, that those per diem– instead of per diem payments that you would get, just like we would get this week, that would go to apply to the back taxes owed by that member.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King. Are there any questions? Senator Stubblefield.
Sen Stubblefield: Yeah, Senator King, doesn’t the DFA already have a penalty for people that owe back taxes?
Sen King: Yes, but we’re public officials.
Sen Stubblefield: [inaudible].
Sen King: Well, what I’m saying is, if you owe back taxes, it’s almost like child support. If you owe child support, then they may garnish your wages. I’m just saying as the Senate body if you owe back taxes, and you even have a payment plan, we expect to cash checks and do business off that, we should pay our taxes and set that example. So if you– down here and somebody owes back taxes to DFA, then any of those per diem payments should go to pay those back taxes until they’re paid in full before you start collecting them.
Sen Stubblefield: So, even if you have a payment plan set up, your per diem will go towards–
Sen King: Paying your back taxes.
Sen Stubblefield: –on top of what you’re paying in your payment plan.
Sen King: That’s right. I think as an example, we should set an example that if we owe back taxes, then we should pay that per diem and make sure it’s paid in full.
Sen Stubblefield: Thank you, Mister Chairman.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hammer, you recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Madam Chair. For the record, I do not owe any back taxes nor do I know that I’ve ever owed any back taxes. I want that on the record, first of all. Secondly, I’m just wondering– and maybe some of the attorneys in the room can speak to this, but I’m questioning the constitutionality of whether we can do this, number one. And number two, wouldn’t this be better run in legislation than as a rule? Because I’m just thinking of what would be some of the legal challenges that would occur if we were to pass this rule and somebody was to oppose. So have you checked with anybody in the legal realm as far as those issues I just expressed?
Sen King: I visited with the Senate legal staff about this. I talked about this at Petit Jean. I mean, this has been out there. And I actually even had a discussion with DFA about that and see if they had– their initial discussion was that they can basically garnish anything. So they didn’t see any problem initially on per diem, but it could be clarified.
Sen Hammer: Follow up, Madam Chair.
Lt Gov Rutledge: You may.
Sen Hammer: If they can garnish anything, then the mechanisms are already in place to recover the money from a senator. And is anybody doing this on the House end, or is this just going to be on the Senate? Thank you.
Sen King: It’s just going to be on the Senate. And I mean, on the legislation part, as you know, it just takes more of a process. I’m just starting out here in the Senate body. If you remember me, I filed four disclosure bills several years ago, and they get killed down in the House. I’m not saying the mechanism’s changed or whatever’s in. I’m just saying as senators, if we’re going to walk in here, we need to make sure we paid our taxes first before we start collecting taxes off the taxpayers, when we have not paid our taxes.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Flippo, do you still have a question?
Sen Flippo: Yes, ma’am. Thank you, Madam President. I guess, the question I have is per diem– since that is technically a reimbursement for mileage, lodging, meals, expenditures, why did we not word it to reference you wouldn’t be eligible to draw your salary versus per diem?
Sen King: I mean, I think the salary part– I mean, my thing is on per diem, I think it’s applicable. I mean, if you do salary then– but if you want to run a rule that says salary, then run a rule that says salary. I’ve said per diem. I mean, I’ve been out here since Petit Jean talking about this with per diem. This has been discussed about. And if you want to run a rule later on salary that says that, then you’re more than welcome.
Sen Flippo: And then would you be open to the prospects of changing– well, before I go there, Madam President, may I be recognized for a second question?
Lt Gov Rutledge: You may.
Sen Flippo: Knowingly owe back taxes. I mean, I think there’s certainly– you sell a trailer or a lawnmower or something, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that somebody could owe taxes and just was unaware of it. I know I’m kind of going down a rabbit hole there but–
Sen King: I think that’s totally possible. But if you didn’t– you bought a trailer and didn’t pay the license, taxes on that, then that comes up, then walk over and pay it. The next day, you collect per diem. Or you go pay it that morning and collect per diem that day. This is not that hard to figure out. I mean, if you owe back taxes, then you ought to not be able to collect per diem checks off taxpayers and then come up here and do business. It just sets a standard out there with people. Our schools and everything operates on most of us paying. We’ve all had our backs against the wall. I’ve had my back against the wall. You have mistakes and things come up. That’s not what this is about, folks. It’s about abuse of a system that we expect– that we have to start this body. We have to expect the people to pay their taxes on time. For us to collect a check, they need to be good. If everybody waited, and everybody got– and like I said, I’ve had my back against the wall and all that. It’s not about beating down on somebody. But if you’re going to come down here and do business with people, and you’re going to cash a check this week from the taxpayers, you know what, that they have already paid their taxes, well, then I think you should make sure you paid yours.
Sen Flippo: Sure. I get the point that you’re trying to make, Senator King. My question was, would it not be more preferable to look at salaries versus per diem? And that was simply it. Thank you, Madam President.
Sen King: And you had since Petit Jean to bring up a different rule and do this, and this issue’s been out there. And you’re more than happy to do that, but–
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King. And I would encourage the body– we’ve got a couple more questions, but as you’re making your questions and as Senator King is answering questions, too– we do have time for those for and against statements to have questions and answers, as opposed to doing against statements during that time. Senator Dismang, you have a question.
Sen Dismang: Yeah, and just really simple because I don’t know– two questions. First is, can they garnish salary now, the state senator’s salary? I don’t know the answer to that. Did you find the answer?
Sen King: My answer from DFA down there was that they said, “We pretty much can garnish anything.” So we didn’t see initially that there was a problem with that.
Sen Dismang: So they can garnish salary as it stands right now with or without a rule–
Sen King: My understanding is, and if you had past experience, when they come to garnishing, they typically don’t have any limits.
Sen Dismang: And then more specific on the reimbursement, because it’s not pay, it’s reimbursement. I actually think it’s either– I don’t believe that they’re correct that they can garnish a reimbursement because it’s not pay, and only pay is garnishable.
Sen King: And that may be possible, but I had that conversation and like I said, I’ve had discussion out since Petit Jean. And so–
Sen Dismang: I understand that. I didn’t catch this part at Petit Jean. And also, I think all of us thought it was in a working phase mode. And I mean, again, I didn’t get any of this until last night.
Sen King: And I understand that. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, everybody that’s saying, I just come up with this, no, I’ve been just discussing this for a long time.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. Senator Petty, you’re recognized.
Sen Petty: Thank you, Madam President. So, I do have some concerns along the lines of what Senator Dismang says. I am relatively positive that it is not considered disposable income that is subject to garnishment. I’m not saying that the concept of, we need to pay our taxes first, doesn’t need to be addressed. I 100% agree with that. We do need to be the leaders and set the example. But I don’t know that this is the right vehicle for that because somebody somewhere with a judge or an attorney is going to, at some point, challenge this when it’s outside of our control. So I think– while I do respect– I did find some just real quick research, some BLR comment about it was not disposable income subject to garnishment. So not sure if BLR and DFA are on the same page. But I doubt, in my mind, and again, a brief discussion and research here, that we can do this legally. We haven’t had an attorney general as the president here, so we may get a different idea later. But for now, I have reservations that this is possible from a legal perspective. And I’m not an attorney.
Sen King: I mean, I understand, I’m bringing every question. I mean, you had a body that you sanctioned the senators, took away their laptops and did all those things. Is those legal or not? Maybe they were and you did that and the thing. But you know what? Here’s the situation. I mean, what’s the solution? It’s just like the other thing about slowing the process down ending this that we’re complaining about, once again, everybody complains about it. It’s a problem. And there’s no solution to fix it. I’m bringing these solutions out here. And saying, you know what, I think, as members, we should expect that to start this body is dependent on people working and paying their taxes on time. Schools have to open with people paying their taxes on time. We have payment plans. We need to set a higher standard that we need to make sure our taxes are paid before we collect, take trips, do everything else off the taxes. And it doesn’t cover mistakes, screw-ups, bad judgment, it doesn’t that. That’s the minor things. But what is your plan to address it?
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King.
Sen King: I think we–
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hickey, did you have a question?
Sen Hickey: Yes, and I’m going to ask Senator King– and again, I texted you on some of this stuff. I would ask if you would– would you consider pulling this down for more reasons than one? I believe that our membership here– that overall, we agree with the premise of what you’re trying to do. We believe that the character of this body should be that. However, there are multiple problems that we know within that. I agree with what some people have said, as far as the per diem, the garnishment on that, but also if we could do this as legislation, so that it was across the whole the entire constitutional body, try to figure out a way to do it with salaries and how to direct DFA so that if someone had back taxes, they have so long to establish a plan with them. We also need to know that, in the event that– if somebody is not complying with the terms of the plan, then there needs to be an avenue at that point so that they would do a garnishment. Under your rules that you have, you actually say that either– that you have to verify that the back taxes have been paid or that the senator has formally engaged in a state-approved tax payment plan. But just because they’ve engaged in it doesn’t mean that they’re following the terms of it. And then I can also think of a lot of additional type stuff that we would need to include in the legislation. And I mean, personally, I’d commit to giving my advice on that, but we would also probably need to look at members that owned a majority interest in some corporations or businesses to make sure that we want to include those. And then we’d also need to figure out, like in the event that a bankruptcy was done, that’s going to change the legal status on whether or not possibly a collection could or could not be done. So we would probably need to weigh all that out in the legislation. So again, I agree with the premise of what you’re trying to do. I just think that we need to try to do it within legislation to make sure we get it all correct and all thought out.
Sen King: And I would say to you, I mean, I understand that, but you know, we’ve had legislators even way back when I first came in that abused this process and used their position to abuse this. And I think that is an abuse. If you’re habitually not paying your taxes and you’re totally expecting somebody else, we cannot open these doors if people don’t pay their taxes on time. And that’s the first-thing example we should set. And everything that you just said, you can file on after this. Once again, nobody has ever stood up and said something and we need to address that. I felt like it should and do it. And every time I come up with disclosure bills and all that– and there’s always these reasons why and everything, and I get that. And there’s a lot of them are legit. But the reality is, either you want to address it and start addressing it and set a standard. And if you want to run those things and do those things later, then by all means have at it. But my issue here today is, I’ve discussed this, I’ve put it out here. It’s once again, everybody agrees there’s a problem, but no one offers a solution. And no one has done anything up until this point, and I’m going to stand up here and do it. I told people back home what I was going to do, and you know what, I’m going to come down here and do it. That’s my first bond.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Hickey, you’re recognized for a follow-up, but–
Sen Hickey: Just one thing as a clarification. I did text you about this prior to this meeting. So you said nobody has approached you. I would like that clarified that I did discuss this.
Sen King: I didn’t mean nobody. I mean, you texted me and I responded back, but I said I started this process back in Petit Jean. This is nothing I didn’t talk about and tell my people back home. I mean, you’re more than welcome to address this and take that on, but I told people back home what I was going to do. This issue was a big issue that people overwhelmingly, across political aisles, expect us to do. And you know what? I think you just need to pay your taxes on time. If you’ve got a different plan, we need to do it.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator King.
Sen King: I’m ready to make a– if nobody’s got any questions. I mean, we all know how we’re going to vote. I’ll just make a motion right– can I make a motion to just go ahead and consider it right now?
Lt Gov Rutledge: Does anyone–? You make the motion, and then we’ll ask if anyone needs to speak for or against.
Sen King: Okay.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Anyone against?
Sen King: I’m have a motion to do pass at the proper time.
Lt Gov Rutledge: So all those in favor of the motion do pass, please signify by saying aye. All those opposed? Motion fails.
Sen King: Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Amendment failed for adoption. I’ll now recognize Senator Penzo.
Sen Penzo: Madam President, I move the adoption of the Senate rules of the 94th General Assembly to include amendments adopted during the November 10, 2022, organizational meeting and amendments adopted today.
Lt Gov Rutledge: All right. And for clarification, Senator Penzo’s motion is to adopt the ones from November as well as the ones earlier today, the Hammer-Tucker amendment as well as the Dismang amendment–
Sen Penzo: Correct.
Lt Gov Rutledge: –and incorporate those into these Senate rules. Does anyone wish to speak for or against? Seeing none, all those in favor signify by saying aye. Any opposed? It is adopted.
Sen Penzo: Madam President, I move that the Senate ethics rules become a standalone document, separate from the Senate rulebook.
Lt Gov Rutledge: The motion is that the Senate ethics rule become a standalone document separate from the Senate rule book. Any questions? Senator Payton, you’re a recognized.
Sen Payton: Thank you, Madam President. Can you elaborate on why or what this accomplishes?
Sen Penzo: Usually, the ethics rules are going to be changing more than the actual Senate rules. So that way we only have to change one rule book instead of reprinting two rule books if there is a change made.
Sen Payton: So if I could follow up, is it going to be the same threshold on amending the rules?
Sen Penzo: Yes.
Sen Payton: Okay. Thank you.
Sen Penzo: I mean, for the beginning. And then you’re saying once they’re adopted?
Sen Payton: Right. Thank you.
Sen Penzo: Yes.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Any other questions? Seeing none, all those in favor signify by saying aye. Those opposed? Ayes have it. It is adopted. Do we have any other business to come before the Senate? Madam Secretary?
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 56 by Senator Hill, To regulate the use of social credit scores based on environmental, social, justice, or governance scores or metrics and prohibit a state agency from engaging in discrimination based on the use of a social credit system. Senate Bill 56.
Lt Gov Rutledge: State Agencies.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 57 by Senator Irvin, to modify the fees charged by the Arkansas State Medical Board and to authorize the Arkansas State Medical Board to reduce fees if the fee reduction is in the best interest of the state. Senate Bill 57.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Public Health.
Madam Secretary: Senate Bill 58 by Senator Irvin, To create a student and apprentice level or licensing of the massage therapy profession. Senate Bill 58.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Public Health.
Madam Secretary: Senate Resolution 1005 by Representative Bentley and Senator Stubblefield, To proclaim Religious Freedom Day. Senate Concurrent Resolution 1005.
Lt Gov Rutledge: State Agencies. Is there any other business? Senator Flippo, you’re recognized.
Sen Flippo: Thank you, Madam President. Members, I just want to remind members of the City, County, Local Committee that we will be meeting for our organizational meeting five minutes upon adjournment. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Senator Davis, you’re recognized.
Sen Davis: Thank you, Madam Chair. Efficiency will meet upon adjournment in room 309.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator Davis. Senator Caldwell?
Sen Caldwell: Thank you, Madam President. Agri will meet immediately after Efficiency. They’re going to be there for about five minutes. So we’ll meet in 309.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you, Senator. Any other announcements? Senator Hester?
Sen Hester: I’m sure this is about to be said, but we will not be back until Tuesday at 1 p.m. Oh, wait. Budget will be 9 a.m.. We’ll be in session Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Thank you. Senator Hammer?
Sen Hammer: I’d like to inform you that if you go ahead and get it on your calendar, if you’re interested, the Prayer Caucus will meet for its first time next Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock in the Old Supreme Court room. Representative DeAnn Vaught will be handling the House side. I’ll be taking care of Senate side. And that’ll be on Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock. Invite you to come. We’re only there for about 20 minutes, usually, so you can get about all your other business, but it’s a good way to start the day off. So invite y’all to be there, and we’ll remind you weekly of it. Thank you.
Lt Gov Rutledge: Any other announcements? All right. Seeing none, the Senate will stand in adjournment subject to clearing of the desk and will convene January 17 at 1 p.m.