House Transportation

Jan. 19, 2023 

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HB 1087 Increasing fines for speeding 25+ mph over limit

Rep Holcomb: We will start this morning with Representative Berry, House Bill 1087. Representative Berry, introduce yourself and you may proceed.


Rep M Berry: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and colleagues. Representative Mark Berry from District 82. And this is my amendment and my bill, and the amendment involves where the funds from the fines on this bill would be placed. Originally it was going to go to the Public Health Trust Fund, which my understanding is there’s–


Rep Holcomb: Hang on just a minute, Representative. We don’t have the– we don’t have the amendment.


Rep M Berry: You don’t have the amendment?


Rep Holcomb: It’s engrossed. Okay. It’s engrossed. All right. Go ahead.


Rep M Berry: Okay. So the amendment is changing that fund to the fund that– well, the long title– it’s a long title, but it’s the state drug crime enforcement and prosecution grant fund used by the DFA. Thank you. And that’s to fund our drug task forces because the drug task forces have some severe needs right now, and they need the money much more than that Public Health Trust Fund. So it’s engrossed, so we don’t need to make a motion.


Rep M Berry: So ladies and gentlemen, since 2018, there have been 11,174 citations written for speeders exceeding 100 miles an hour on Arkansas highways. Some of the fastest– you might be surprised, but the fastest is 192, 196, and 197. Since 2018, the number of citations for speeders over 100 miles an hour has tripled. The rule of law on our highways has become extinct. Nobody’s paying attention to speed limits. The numbers that I’m giving you, these are the ones that’s been caught. There’s a lot of them that fly past me every day that hasn’t been caught. In 2020, Arkansas was credited with having the third highest rise in traffic deaths in the United States. There have been 2,915 traffic fatalities in Arkansas since 2018. Crazy people are driving deadly weapons and killing innocent people. And quite frankly, it’s just got to stop. We have to do something about it. It’s not only killing our loved ones, but it’s putting those at risk that protect our lives, our state law enforcement officers. And these numbers that I’ve given you, that’s not just on the interstate. 2,000 of those citations are written on highways throughout the state of Arkansas, not on interstates. The days of pleading down a reckless driving citation in local traffic court, it just doesn’t work. It’s not working. They’ve been doing it ever since I started driving at 16 years old. You go to the court. You have a fine. The prosecutor pleads it down, and you walk away with a small fine. So we’ve got to get away from that. We have to get people’s attention.


Rep M Berry: We create laws for two reasons. One is to deter bad behavior, and the other one is to hold people accountable that choose not to follow the laws. This bill has the support of Arkansas Chiefs of Police Association, the Sheriff’s Association, the Prosecutor’s Association, and the District Judges Association. And I worked with – excuse me – the district judges to ensure– I changed the language from ‘shall’ to ‘may’ on the community service because, quite honestly, a lot of the district courts, they just do not have the manpower to monitor community service. So that’s been given an option to the district court judges, and they were very receptive to that. So essentially what the bill is going to do, if you’re 25 miles an hour over the posted speed limit, it’s gonna cost you an additional $250 in fines. And those fines go to the DTF task forces. If you’re going 35 miles an hour over the posted limit, it’s going to cost you additional $500. And if you’re going 45 miles an hour over the posted speed limit, it’s going to cost you an additional $1,000. So I’m hoping that this is a deterrent, but it’ll get people’s attention. And they’ll start abiding by the law, and we’ll be able to protect the citizens of the state of Arkansas. And with that being said, I’d be happy to take any questions.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. Questions from committee? Okay. Representative McCollum, you’re recognized. Excuse me. Wait a minute. I forgot. I got a board here I’ve got to go by. All right. Representative Whitaker.


Rep Whitaker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Berry, you got a good list of people who you worked with on this. I was wondering where do the Arkansas State Police stand on this bill?


Rep M Berry: Well, typically, as my colleague, Representative Tosh, will tell you, they don’t take a stand on any law enforcement bills, but the data that I presented this morning came from the Arkansas State Police data files.


Rep Whitaker: Follow up, please?


Rep Holcomb: Follow up, go ahead.


Rep Whitaker: Yeah. To clarify, I understand that they don’t yea or nay on bills. But you worked with them, and you got the data from them, and they have had opportunity to give you input on this bill?


Rep M Berry: Oh, absolutely.


Rep Whitaker: Okay. That’s what I needed.


Rep M Berry: Absolutely.


Rep Whitaker: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. Representative Shephard, you’re recognized for question.


Rep Shephard: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative, so I’m new to this process.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Shephard, will you pull your mic down just a little bit where they can hear– there you go. Thank you.


Rep Shephard: Okay. Thank you. If I heard you correctly in the beginning, you stated there are current laws that are not being enforced as it relates to speeding.


Rep M Berry: No. I’m sorry if I misspoke, but what I meant to say was that there are current laws that are not being followed. They’re being enforced as a result of 11,000 citations. The laws are not being followed.


Rep Shephard: So the solution according to this bill– the laws aren’t being followed, but we’re going to increase the amounts in order for the laws to be followed.


Rep M Berry: I know if I had to pay an additional $1,000 for speeding, I would probably start following the law. So this is a deterrent to get people to follow the speed limits. But if they choose not to follow those speed limits, then they’ll have to pay the price.


Rep Shephard: Okay. Thank you.


Rep M Berry: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Andrews, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Andrews: What’s the current penalties for speeding? This is additional fines, but what’s the current ones?


Rep M Berry: It’s for different speeds. I don’t know what all the fines are. But really those fines aren’t working, and so that’s why the additional fines are there. Because you can go into a court, and if you’re driving 20 miles an hour over, the fees vary by jurisdiction. And that fee could be pled down, so it’s really hard to say what the fees are. But these are additional fines, regardless of what the other fees are.


Rep Andrews: Follow up?


Rep Holcomb: Follow up.


Rep Andrews: Is there any data to show the difference between in-state drivers versus out-of-state drivers on this?


Rep M Berry: I don’t have any of that data.


Rep Andrews: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Tosh, you’re recognized.


Rep Tosh: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Berry, I understand your intent here and where you want to go. But already over the years, we’ve added so many different revenue sources to people that are speeding or violating the law that now when someone is stopped for a speeding violation, by the time you add the fine and the court cost, I mean, gee whiz, sometimes you’re looking at $300-$400 already, and that’s not been able to deter it. I think visibility of law enforcement on that highway– if we make that our priority, which I think we’re moving in that direction to do so. But adding these additional costs– and I just want to– I just want to say this, and hopefully, you’ll understand this and the people in this room will, but it’s easy to set sometimes as legislators and pass legislation that increases these fines and increases the cost. But I’m going to tell you when you walk out of here, then the difficult part comes when you’re out there on the side of the road as a law enforcement officer and you look at that individual, and you know that the fines and the cost and everything now are exceeding $500 to a $1,000 dollars. And you realize that when you write that ticket what kind of– what are you actually doing? I mean, are you costing that family a month’s rent or able to buy groceries. And I mean, if the fines are reasonable and the cost is reasonable then the enforcement will be more applied by law enforcement because it’s difficult sometimes.


Rep Tosh: And we have to really be careful, Representative Berry– and I’m getting to a question, Mr. Chairman– but we really have to be careful not to impose these fines to the point that would even deter law enforcement officers from writing the ticket because they know they’re unreasonable. And if we’re not careful, that’s what we’re going to end up doing. And I think somebody mentioned a while ago, there’s already a law on the books, and I don’t know of it ever being pled down. If it is, that’s this court system. It’s not law enforcement, not the legislative body. But there’s a reckless driving charge. I’ve used it many times over the course of the years when somebody was showing a wanton disregard for those others out on the highway. That charge is there. That’s a class A misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine if my memory serves me correctly. So my question to you is, is this really a way to deter speeding and possibly reduce fatalities, or are we just kind of contributing to the problem by passing this type of legislation when we increase fines that’s going to cause law enforcement officers to be more reluctant to write those individuals tickets because it’s just going to be overwhelming to them when they reach– trying to pay a $1,000 and end up back in our court system and end up back in failure to appear and end up in jail instead of being able to go on? So what are your thoughts on that, Representative?


Rep M Berry: Well, I have to respectfully disagree with Representative Tosh because when a person is going 197 miles an hour or a person is going 150 miles an hour, they know that they are breaking the law. And the point being is people have to be held accountable for their actions. It’s just like if somebody’s going to– we have laws to deter people from criminal actions, just like we have laws to try to deter people from committing murder, any breaking of the laws. So as youngsters, we grow up in our families understanding that if I’m not going to obey what my mother or father tells me or what the law says, I’m going to pay a penalty. It’s a privilege to drive on Arkansas highways. There’s a posted speed limit, and if you choose to violate that law, then you’re going to be held accountable for your actions. And again, I will say, this bill has the support of the Chiefs of Police Association, the Sheriff’s Association, the Prosecutor’s Association, and the District Judges Association because they believe in the rule of law. And if we do not do something about it, Arkansas will continue to grow from the third highest for highway fatalities to the number one. And this is a method in order to be able to do that.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Breaux, you’re recognized. Okay. We are confused on our chart. Go ahead, Representative McCollum.


Rep McCollum: On the lines that have the changes in the fees, do we know the last time that these fines were raised?


Rep M Berry: I sure don’t, Representative McCollum.


Rep McCollum: Gotcha. And then kind of on the conversation around deterrence, what you’re saying makes sense to me. What are some good sources to look at in terms of have we seen in other states when we go to certain thresholds of fines and the response in the change of driving behavior? That’s kind of the way I’m thinking about it. It makes sense. Punishment is X. Perhaps behavior changes. And I heard some of the statistics that you put. Have you seen any studies out there that have been helpful to kind of guide your thought process on that?


Rep M Berry: Thank you, Representative McCollum. And I haven’t seen any studies in relation to that, but the idea from this bill came from the state of Georgia, and I visited with Chairman Holcomb on it also. But in the state of Georgia, they not only fine you that $1,000, they take your license for 6 months. And if you take an individual’s license, they can’t go to work. They can’t pay the fines anyway. So this is not meant to just crucify somebody. It’s there as a deterrent and to get their attention. We don’t want to take their driver’s license or their privileges away from them. We just want them to obey the law and follow the speed limit. So that’s why this is a very mild version of what some of the other states are doing.


Rep McCollum: Thank you.


Rep M Berry: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Steimel, is that correct?


Rep Steimel: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Berry. I have just one quick question. How will this impact municipalities with the city ordinances for speeding?


Rep M Berry: Well, if somebody breaks the law there, they will be able to charge those fines as well. And at that point, it’s between the prosecutor and the judge. Just like they do with reckless driving, they can always plea it down. You go in there and you plead your soul to the prosecutor and to the judge, and then they can do whatever they want.


Rep Steimel: May I have a follow up, Mr. Chair?


Rep Holcomb: Follow up.


Rep Steimel: On a lot of the city ordinances when you do get fines for speeding, it does not give the threshold that that infraction was for. How would they know which to fine those folks for the speed limit infraction?


Rep M Berry: Well, I don’t know what the municipality– there’s so many different ones, and it depended upon the courts. But I would say that that was going to be up to the district court or the municipal judge in order to make that determination.


Rep Steimel: Thank you, Representative Berry.


Rep M Berry: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Achor, you’re recognized for question.


Rep Achor: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative Berry, as someone who has gotten his fair share of experiences to take the defensive driving courses over the years, I wanted to ask, in your talks with the judicial members and judicial system in general, are they currently not able to assess these fines in their own independent judgment? I do see that you say the sentencing court shall assess, which means that they will basically have the backdrop and the confidence to make these because it is a requirement by law. Currently in that scenario, are judges prevented from assessing these fines already at their purview?


Rep M Berry: Well, the fines and everything are left up to the district courts and the municipal court judges, whatever their fines are in place. And I don’t know what those are. These are additional fines that would end up going into the fund that I was telling you about.


Rep Achor: Follow-up question?


Rep Holcomb: Follow up.


Rep Achor: Are there any concerns that you have after speaking to law enforcement and the judges from changing that ‘shall’ to a ‘may’ assess?


Rep M Berry: Well, yes. And now, I did change the ‘shall’ to a ‘may’ for the community service. But none of the agencies I mentioned that supported this bill– and I spoke with the Prosecutor’s Association yesterday and the District Court Judges, and they’re good with the bill the way it’s written.


Rep Achor: So in your opinion and research, they would prefer to have the confidence of this saying that they shall do it rather than it be their individual purview?


Rep M Berry: Well, I will tell you this. I’ve talked to all of these, and the District Court Judges and the Prosecutor’s Association, and nobody mentioned anything to me about changing that.


Rep Achor: Okay. Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Any other questions from committee? Anyone here to testify for or against the bill? All right, seeing none. Representative Berry, you like to close?


Rep M Berry: I’m closed, thank you. I make a motion for do pass.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. I have a motion for a do pass. Any discussion? All right. Representative Whitaker, you’re recognized.


Rep Whitaker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative, I share your concern about the incredible excessive speed we’ve seen, particularly in the last two or three years. Witnessed it myself on the interstates, and yes, even on secondary state highways. I just have to defer to a degree to my colleague Representative Tosh on some of the methods you’re using here. And I think this is one of those bills that could use a little bit more work and a little bit more time in a broader discussion with people who’ve expressed concerns here today. I don’t think anybody here doesn’t want to fix this problem, but we don’t want to create three other problems while we’re doing it. So for today, I’m going to be a no on this.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Tosh, you’re recognized.


Rep Tosh: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I agree. And Representative Berry, I appreciate the intent of this. But just looking at it from the other side, I think that the laws that we already have on the books are sufficient. I think just making sure that we have officers out there to enforce the laws– I think the visibility of that, and that’s the approach we need to take. I think the fines and the costs that are already being assessed by our courts in regards to the speed that people are running when they are caught by law.


Rep Tosh: Enforcement, I think everything that I’ve heard, those are sufficient. And like I said, there’s already a reckless driving charge to deal with those that are at excessive speed. And that’s up to $1000 or a year in jail. So I think we have the laws there. I think it’s a matter of enforcement and I think that’s where we need to focus attention. And I would say that, at this point, we need to not increase these fines.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. Seeing no other questions. We’ll take the vote. All in favor of passing House Bill 1087, say aye. All opposed, say aye. All opposed, say no. Representative Berry, I think it’s pretty obvious. All right, thank you. 


Next. No offense, Representative Collins, but I had told Representative Cavenaugh that she could go ahead. She’s got other bills to run in other committees. So Representative Cavenaugh, if you will come and present House Bill 1150. You may introduce yourself and proceed.


HB 1150 Extends time to license vehicles in Arkansas

Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Fran Cavenaugh, Representative District 30. This is just a bill that will extend the time for you to license a vehicle from 30 days to 60 days. That’s really all that it does. The impact statement, if you’ll read down in it, it says that it is a shift of revenue. And that’s all it is. It shifts the revenue for 30 days. We’re not reducing taxes. We’re not changing the rate people are going to pay on their taxes. We’re just giving them 30 extra days to do it. If any of you have tried to license a vehicle, you understand that sometimes there’s a problem to getting your titles in time in that 30-day window. This will allow you more time to be able to do that.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Cavenaugh–


Rep Cavenaugh: Amendment.


Rep Holcomb: –go ahead and do your amendment. Describe it, so we can pass it out.


Rep Cavenaugh: Amendment is real simple as adding– it is just adding Senator Blake Johnson as the cosponsor on the Senate side.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. Hang on just a minute while we get that passed out to– Okay. Everyone has a copy of the amendment. Can I get a– can I get a motion do pass on the amendment? I have a motion do pass, any discussion? All in favor say aye.  Okay. You may proceed.


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you. Sorry about that. So this is just a simple bill that allows us 30 extra days to license a vehicle.


Rep Holcomb: Okay. Any questions from any members? Okay. Representative Whitaker, you’re recognized.


Rep Whitaker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Cavenaugh, a real quick, easy question. Why does this seem so familiar?


Rep Cavenaugh: We ran it last session. We passed it out of the House. It did not make it out of Senate.


Rep Whitaker: Thank you.


Rep Cavenaugh: You’re welcome.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Tosh.


Rep Tosh: Well, that was my question because I know in the last session, you appeared before committee and was running a bill, and I remember telling you that I thought it would be a great idea if we could extend the time that people were allowed because of the issues they were having with out-of-state financial institution being able to get that lien. And I thought you came back and filed that and I thought we passed it. So like Representative Whitaker, I was a little confused why we were running this bill. So didn’t we extend it from 30 to 60 days before?


Rep Cavenaugh: No, sir. We did in the House. It passed the House on the floor, but it did not make it out of the Senate last session.


Rep Tosh: Okay. One follow-up, Mr. Chair, and I’ll be brief. In the language that we passed out of the House before, is this not the same identical language in this bill? Because I noticed something in this bill, Representative Cavenaugh, that it said that the clock would start, I guess you should say, on the 60 days from the time that the individual received the release of their lien. So I thought that’s the way that was worded. It’s kind of towards them. We don’t have any paper bills here to go by. So I would have to pull it back up.


Rep Cavenaugh: Yes. That was already existing language. All this is doing is changing it from 30 to 60. That was already existing language in the statute. So I haven’t changed any of that language.


Rep Tosh: Okay. Well–


Rep Cavenaugh: The other bill, I think, that you may be talking about is I ran a bill that went from 45 days to 60 days that allows you– when you have a vehicle and you sell it, you can go back to the state and ask for credit on the new one that you purchased. That did pass both the House and the Senate. So we now have 60 days to claim that credit. But the one that actually allows you to license for 60 days did not make out of both chambers.


Rep Tosh: Didn’t make it out of the Senate.


Rep Cavenaugh: Yes, sir.


Rep Tosh: And we already had language in there because I didn’t remember that language because it concerns me a little bit that we’re allowing someone 60 days from the day they’ve received the lien. And you know as well as I do, Representative, that sometimes those liens from out-of-state financial institutions where those liens are being held. Sometimes it takes forever to get those back here for that lien to be released, and it just extends that period of time. I guess my concern is and I know this was already– but how does law enforcement supposed to know? How are they able– if they’re on a traffic stop, how do they know based on what we’re reading here in this bill today– how do they know when that person received that lien and when that clock started and when that person is actually in violation of law? Does that question make sense?


Rep Cavenaugh: Yes. So I’ll try to answer it now just so I haven’t changed any of that. That’s preexisting law–


Rep Tosh: I understand.


Rep Cavenaugh: –but the way that I believe that it currently works– and I only know this because we have a finance company also. When we release a lien on a title, we put that date that we actually released it. So it could be that it was released two weeks before it got mailed to the bank– from the bank to the person that paid it off. And it could be another week – it’s lost in the mail – before it gets returned to you.


Rep Tosh: I know.


Rep Cavenaugh: So the date of the lien release is usually right on the front of the title. So that’s what it is. But for practicality purposes, what most people do is look at when we fill out the paperwork on the sale of the vehicle. We put the day that it sold, and that’s usually what they go by. When we issue the temporary tags, it’ll have a expiration date. What this will do is allow us to put that expiration date out, not 30 days, but 60 days.


Rep Tosh: Perfect. Okay. And I knew if anybody can answer that question, it would be you. So thank you.


Rep Cavenaugh: No problem.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Andrews. You’re recognized for question.


Rep Andrews: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Cavenaugh. I understand the return of this bill, but to me, kind of encourages financial irresponsibility because in my opinion, when you go to purchase a vehicle, shouldn’t you have all your ducks in a row and be ready to pay that sales tax and get your license within 30 days?


Rep Cavenaugh: Well, that’s simple for you to say. If you’re a person with good income, good credit. When you’re a person with limited income and your credit is a little bit dicey, it’s taking you every bit of money that you’ve got probably to put a down payment on a car plus get the insurance because your insurance is probably going to be higher. So some of those people in the lowest-income Arkansans need a little extra time. But the real issue arrives that as a dealer, we can’t get you the title in 30 days because we don’t get the title back from lien holders for 45. So you’re already out of compliance. So you’re already paying penalties and fines, which most reputable dealers end up paying for the customer because it’s not their problem. But this bill will allow us to be able to actually license a vehicle in a more timely manner based on what the conditions of the business is. It’s not the dealer’s fault that we can’t get a title. It’s not your fault because you can’t get a title. So why are we penalizing two different– or industry and a person for something that’s out of their control? When 60 days will give you that opportunity to be able to do it. Now, most Arkansans license them as soon as they get the title. So it’s not that there’s a bunch of people running around out there without licensing their vehicle. So this really does help two people. It helps the lowest-income Arkansans, but it also helps the everyday Arkansan who can’t get their title and not pay a penalty and fine to the state of Arkansas for something they can’t control.


Rep Andrews: Thank you.


Rep Cavenaugh: You’re welcome.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Steimel, you’re recognized for question.


Rep Steimel: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Cavenaugh. I have a little bit of insurance background and of course, prior to this, most insurance companies have a 30-day window with the purchase of a new vehicle to insure that said vehicle that they purchased. So how will this impact that? Because that window now could shift from 30 to 60 days. And is there an amendment or provision possibly to allow insurance to extend further? Because I know with the way the shelter and a lot of mutual companies have filed, you just have that 30-day window. So that could leave some potential customers out there without insurance, unknowingly, just assuming that they would have insurance as long as they had those temporary tags.


Rep Cavenaugh: Well, that’s up to the consumer. And that’s really up to the insurance company if they wish to have their policy, to have that ability to go 60 days. This doesn’t really affect that. But you’ve got to realize, whether you’ve got the title or not, you can go to your insurance company and add that to your policy. You don’t have to have your title to do that. So that really doesn’t affect it at all.


Rep Steimel: Yes. I understand that. And my concern is there would be just some confusion amongst the consumers that would just assume their insurance is covered for that 60 days because I can’t tell you how many folks I have seen come in. Like, “Oh, I know I have 30 days because that’s when my temporary tags run out.” And they may just assume– so I would like to see, hopefully, something potentially that will show these customers when they purchase a vehicle that they have just 30 days still on their insurance even though they may have 60 because I do see the value in your bill here. And–


Rep Cavenaugh: That might have to be run under a different statute. It would not be in this statute.


Rep Steimel: Yes, ma’am. So I appreciate your–


Rep Cavenaugh: But I understand the issue, yes.


Rep Steimel: Yes, ma’am. Appreciate your time.


Rep Cavenaugh: No problem.


Rep Holcomb: Representative McCollum. You’re recognized for question.


Rep McCollum: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And sorry, I kind of pivoted a moment on my phone in the beginning of the discussion. And it was on the conversation of this looking familiar or not. If this is something that we’ve worked on before, what was the debate on the Senate side in terms of concern that it wasn’t–?


Rep Cavenaugh: I cannot tell you what the Senate–


Rep McCollum: What the concern was?


Rep Cavenaugh: I can’t explain the Senate and their reasoning. I wish I could. I can’t explain it.


Rep McCollum: Gotcha. Okay. Thanks.


Rep Cavenaugh: And I’m not trying to be funny or rude, but I’m just being honest. I can’t explain it to you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Tosh.


Rep Tosh: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Cavenaugh, in our previous discussion, I think the bottom line as the reason we want to extend this for 60 days is that in the past, we place residents of the state of Arkansas in a position at the end of 30 days they had to make a choice. They either had to park their vehicle because they were unable to get a lease released from some out of state financial institution– and there was a delay. So at the end of 30 days they either had to park their vehicle, or they had to drive that vehicle and be in violation of the law. And so what you’re doing with this bill and what we tried to do in the last session is extend it for 60 days to make sure they were not put in that position whether they could drive or violate the law, which is unfair to the residents of this state because of statutes we passed. So I applaud you for bringing this, and if I’m wrong about my assessment of this bill and why you’re doing it, I apologize, but that’s the way I see it and–


Rep Cavenaugh: Yes, sir.


Rep Tosh: –I like the bill. Thank you.


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Seeing no other questions from committee. Is there anyone here to speak for or against the bill? Okay. Representative Cavenaugh, are you going to close?


Rep Cavenaugh: I would appreciate a good vote. This is good for the citizens of the state of Arkansas. Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Springer. Are you going to make a motion?


Rep Springer: I am.


Rep Holcomb: Make the motion as amended.


Rep Springer: I move that we accept this presentation by Representative Cavenaugh from her bill as amended. I move do pass.


Rep Holcomb: We have a motion of do pass as amended. Any discussion? All in favor, say aye. Any opposed no? Hearing none, congratulations, your bill passed.


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank y’all so much.


Rep Holcomb: Representative Collins. If you would you introduce yourself and you may go ahead and begin with HB 1101.


HB 1101 Reducing disability requirement for disabled veterans tag

Rep Collins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, committee. So a couple of days ago, General Berry was in here, had a bill, and mentioned that there was going to be a companion bill, and this is that companion bill. His bill, which passed out of here and out of the House, was to require that the disabled veteran plate had to also have a placard if you wanted to park in a handicapped spot. It really does complement what this bill does, which is a little bit different. I’ll go into sort of what this one does. I had a constituent who was a veteran and he brought up to me, which I didn’t realize, that under current law, you can only have a disabled veteran plate if you have 30% or greater disability. And he asked, “Is this what we want to be saying as a state that people who are 10% or 20% disabled are somehow less deserving of the honor of having this plate than people who were 30% or greater disabled?” And that made sense to me that the seemed like an arbitrary cutoff point.


Rep Collins: But of course, I didn’t want to just jump in. I wanted to make sure first and foremost that this was something that veterans wanted. I’m not a veteran myself. I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t some reason I was missing. I did talk to the Arkansas Veterans Coalition about this. They polled their membership. There was all positive or neutral responses. There was no negative responses or people who wanted to keep it at 30%. I spoke with Senator Wallace. He was enthusiastic about the bill, signed on as the Senate’s sponsor for this. The other aspect though, of course, is what General Berry brought up, which is that under current law, until this bill that he brought, you could park in a handicapped spot with your disabled veteran plate. And for some veterans, 30% or greater, or 30% or less, that made sense because they also had mobility issues. For some veterans, it didn’t make sense, whether 30% or greater, 30% or less. So with the two bills together, what we’ll do is make sure that the parking is limited to people who have the mobility issues, but if this bill is passed, we won’t have the distinction between the 30% or greater and the below 30%, which is an arbitrary distinction, and to me, insufficiently recognizes the sacrifices of the veterans who have been disabled at the 10 or 20 percent levels. So that’s what the bill does. Happy to answer any questions.


Rep Holcomb: Any questions from committee? Seeing none, anyone here to speak for or against the bill? Representative Collins, want to close?


Rep Collins: Thank you. I’m closed.


Rep Holcomb: What’s the will of the committee? Representative Tosh?


Rep Tosh: I move do pass.


Rep Holcomb: A recommendation do pass. Any discussion? All in favor, say aye.  Any opposed, say no. Hearing none, congratulations, your bill passed.


Rep Collins: Thank you.


Rep Holcomb: I see no other business come before this committee. I’m not sure about whether we will meet Tuesday or not. If we don’t have any more bills added to the docket, we probably won’t meet, but just look at your computer. Thank you for your attention today. Thank you for your cooperation. We stand adjourned.