House Judiciary

Jan. 24, 2023


Rep S Berry: Members, I call the meeting to order. Committee, thank you for being here. And welcome our guests also. Miss Dalby is busy taking care of some business in another committee. She’ll be back I’m hoping pretty quick. And we have some legislation to run in her absence, and the first bill we have on the agenda is House Bill 1165. Mr. Nicks, we all know who you are, but if you would go the end of the table and identify yourself and then you’re– you can present your bill. Members, we have Mr. Nicks can probably tell you we have an amendment too.


Rep Nicks: Thank you.


Rep S Berry: I don’t think it’s in your packet. I think they’re passing it out right now.


Rep Nicks: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and committee members. First, we have an amendment and this is amendment is just to add a cosponsor on the Senate end, Representative Murdock. And I ask for a do pass.


Rep S Berry: Motion made. All in favor of the motion say aye. Opposed, no. Motion carried.


Rep Nicks: Thank you, Mr. Chair. This bill, House Bill 1165, currently in District 21 court, it has 7 courts in Crittenden County. And according to the existing statue, each court have to schedule one day a month for court. And this is what this amendment does. It’s going to reduce the District number of 7 to 6. According to the AOC and according to the judge, Jennette hadn’t held a court there in over 20 years. And the according to the statute, the judge still has to schedule a date for that. So the Administrative Office of Courts and the District judge, they’re requesting to delete Jennette in that the 7 courts is Earle, Gilmore, Jennette, Jericho, Marion, Turrell, and West Memphis. Excuse me, Jennette is the court that they’re requesting that we delete and that makes the change to 6. So as far as I know, there’s no opposition to this matter. Any questions?


Rep S Berry: Any questions of the committee?  Seeing none, did we have anyone signed up to speak for or against in the– okay? No. Okay. If we don’t have any further questions, what’s the wishes of the committee?


Rep Nicks: Mr. Chair, I move for do pass.


Rep S Berry: That you’re–


Rep Nicks: I’m closing.


Rep S Berry: –closing?


Rep Nicks: I’m closed for it.


Rep S Berry: All those in favor of the motion? Do you have a question? Oh. All those in favor of the motion say aye. Opposed? Motion carried. Mr. Nicks, you have passed your bill. We are going to take a five-minute recess to take care of some business and where we can run another bill. So we take five minutes.




Rep Dalby: All right, members. If you’ll come back to your seats, we’ll come back on. Members, the next bill that we’re going to take up is House Bill 1125 by Representative Evans. Representative Evans, you’re recognized to begin presenting your bill.


Rep Evans: Thank you, Madam Chair, and I hope that you conveyed to your committee members how well my committee in Education treated you earlier this morning.


Rep Dalby: I have. I must say I’ve never been treated nicer, so members, heads up, let’s be nice.


Rep Evans: Thank you, Madam Chair, and members, I apologize for making you wait. Members, it’s very simple. House Bill 1125, unfortunately, has come across as a necessity in my District. This is a constituent-based bill. It came to me by a family that has been somewhat traumatized from this issue. And very simply, if you look on the first page, what we’re adding is that a level 3 or level 4 sex offender cannot purchase, own, possess, use, or operate an unmanned aircraft for private use. We did put the exemption in there that if it was required by their employer to do that, such as, for instance, if they work for a surveyor. Surveyors very typically now use drones to survey property. So if it was part of their employment, then there would be an exemption for that. But otherwise, for personal use, that would no longer be available and a violation of this would be a class D felony. And Madam Chair, I’d be happy to take any questions.


Rep Dalby: Representative Richardson, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep J Richardson: Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Evans, when you talked about businesses, have you thought about– I see a lot of media companies and photographers that are using drones. Would that individual be exempt from that? If hypothetically, I own my own media company and I’m flying a drone, I’m saying it’s for work, but it may not be. You understand what I’m saying? Have you thought about identifying that piece in there?


Rep Evans: Again, I think that this would fall up under that. Because I mean, we did not specify just for surveyors. So I do believe that this was something that you were using for your employment on official business, I believe that that would fall underneath that exemption.


Rep Dalby: Representative Collins, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Collins: Thank you, Madam Chair. So I’m just kind of curious about the intent in the definition of unmanned aircraft. So if you’re looking at section two in that subpart A, is it intended to say that an unmanned aircraft has the ability to photographically or electronically record because it has a camera mounted on there or because it could have a camera mounted on there? Does that make sense that distinction I’m trying to drive? So could someone fly a drone basically if they were a covered person under this without a camera mounted on there?


Rep Evans: No.


Rep Collins: Okay. So the capacity to have a camera photographically or electronically record would make it an unmanned aircraft in this bill?


Rep Evans: If I understand the language, yes, that is correct.


Rep Collins: Okay, thanks.


Rep Dalby: Members, any other questions? There is an impact statement. I believe you have it in front of you. I just want to draw your attention to that. Any other questions? Seeing no other questions, we do have someone who has signed up to speak for the bill. Dale James. Mr. James, if you’ll come to the end of the table and identify yourself, you’ll be recognized to make your statement. Just push that button. There you go. Representative Evans, can you?


James: First of all, thank you for letting me approach you today. I am–


Rep Dalby: Hang on. I don’t think– are we on? Look and see, is it on? Representative Evans, could you maybe slide your microphone over there? It was working and let’s try that one. Sometimes the mics will–Sorry about that, Mr. James, you’re recognized, and please state your name for the record.


James: Yes, ma’am. Thank you for allowing me to approach you today. I am Dale James. I am the County Judge in Van Buren County. And I come today in my official capacity as Van Buren County Judge in adamant support of not only this bill, but other bills that you are going to have before you today 1029, 1124, 1125, 1141.


Rep Dalby: Hang on, Judge.


James: Yes,


Rep Dalby: We’re not hearing those bills. And so you’ll need to confine your comments–


James: Absolutely. Yes, ma’am.


Rep Dalby: –strictly to this particular bill.


James: Yes, ma’am. Van Buren County has had more than its per capita share of issues and sexual abuse problems with children. Bills such as this is one that is a step in the right direction. It makes it more difficult for our children to be offended. Like he said, these bills come out of necessity. And I appreciate you guys taking the time and the bold step because sometimes it’s not difficult to acknowledge that we have problems of sexual abuse. In Van Buren County, our statistics are as high now as one in three children. So it is imperative that we address these issues the way you guys are. And I thank you for allowing me to approach.


Rep Dalby: Judge James, I don’t know that we have any questions, but will you entertain questions if we have any?


James: Absolutely.


Rep Dalby: Members, are there any questions of this witness? Seeing no questions. Thank you very much for your time and coming to the table. Seeing no one else who has signed up to speak for or against the bill, Representative Evans, you’re recognized to close for your bill.


Rep Evans: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m closed for the bill, and, committee, I’d appreciate a good vote.


Rep Dalby: Members, Representative Evans is closed for a bill. Do I have a motion, a motion to do pass? Have a motion to do pass. Is there any discussion on the motion? All in favor of the motion, please say aye. Any opposed, say no. Congratulations. You have passed your bill and we’d appreciate if you would report how kind we are in Judiciary.


Rep Evans: Yes, ma’am, I will. Thank you, committee, very much.


Rep Dalby: Thank you, Representative Evans. Members, that does conclude what we have that members have indicated that they were ready to hear, but let me give you what I know for sure that we’ll be hearing Thursday will be House Bill 1131. House Bill 1131, that’s by Representative Hawk. Possibly we will hear your House Bill 1144. That’s my bill if I get the word back from the court that they’re ready for that one to run. But other than that, we don’t have any members that are quite ready to run their bills. And with that being said, I’m anticipating that this committee will go into session at 10 o’clock Thursday. I think the House will go back into session at 11. But if for some reason, our agenda starts– more people are needing bills heard, just watch for your text message and I’ll let you know if we change to 9, but right now I think we can go to 10. You have your photographs. You all looked good. I appreciate all of that. I don’t think we have anything else on our agenda today. Thank you so much. We are adjourned.