Senate Judiciary Committee

January 30, 2023

Sen Stubblefield: I’m going to call this Judiciary meeting to order. Chair sees we have a quorum, finally. All right, the first item of business of today is Senator Chesterfield. You’re recognized to present your bill, Senate Bill 59.

Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning.

Sen Stubblefield: Good morning.

Sen Chesterfield: I do have an amendment I would hope that the Committee would vote positively on.

Sen Stubblefield: 59. Yeah, if you’d go ahead and explain your amendment.

Sen Chesterfield: The amendment simply adds ‘person, or if the’. And it seems simple because it was in response to a concern from the Family Council. And we were able to accommodate their concern by making sure that it did not preclude parents from being able to punish their children. So it’s just a simple amendment.

Sen Stubblefield: Okay, any members have a question? Senator Tucker? All right, we have a motion to adopt the amendment at the proper time. Any discussion? Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.

Sen Flowers: Exactly where is this? I don’t have the amendment, where is–

Sen Chesterfield: It’s on page 2, line 2. It deletes ‘person if the’, and substitutes ‘person or if the’. It’s a simple amendment.

Sen Flowers: If the person.

Sen Chesterfield: It’s a simple change. Really basically all you’re adding in is or which would allow parents to discipline their children and it was inadvertently left out of the original bill.

Sen Flowers: Okay.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, any other questions on the amendment? All right, we have a motion to adopt the amendment. Have a second? Have a second. All those in favor say aye. All opposed? All right, your amendment has been adopted. Senator Chesterfield, go ahead and explain your bill.

Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. This is a simple bill. This is already existing law. The bill itself is already existing law. What we have done is to amend it to clarify that teacher means not only certified people but also classified folks. And I brought it because several paras this year have been beaten up. And they did not defend themselves because they thought they would lose their jobs.

If we do nothing else, the bill will allow that self-defense but we need to clarify that when we say teacher, we’re not just talking about those in the classroom, we’re talking about the bus driver. We’re talking about the– well, the maintenance people don’t see them. But we’re talking about the cafeteria workers. Our workers should have the right to self-defense. And that’s all this bill does is to expand that to mean not only teacher but classified. Otherwise, the law is already in place.

Sen Stubblefield: So basically this bill just expands discipline to staff?

Sen Chesterfield: It just clarifies that it’s both certified and classified staff who have the right to self-defense.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, members, you’ve heard an explanation of the bill. Any discussion? This could be the only bill you and I agree on, Senator Chesterfield.

Sen Chesterfield: Well, you know even a broken clock is right twice a day. [laughter]

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Flowers, you have a question?

Sen Flowers: Senator Chesterfield, you say this is already in the law.

Sen Chesterfield: Yes, ma’am.

Sen Flowers: Where?

Sen Chesterfield: It’s in– I’m supposed to have all of that. But you will see that the amendment only deals with line 10. The rest of it is already incorporated in the law and I don’t remember where it is. Because I left my–

Sen Flowers: Line 10? 

Sen Chesterfield: If you would look at line beginning at 25, the rest of this none of it has changed. There’s no line under it, there’s nothing. There is no new law but when we get to 25 it says school employee includes without limitation a person employed by a school under a written contract, including without limitation a classified school employee. In the original bill, it says teacher. It says parents but it never said that people who drive our buses are included in this, and they should be included because there’s two people who were jumped on and beaten up were paras.

Sen Flowers: Okay. So I looked at 5-2-601, you’re adding school employee.

Sen Chesterfield: It says teacher.

Sen Flowers: No, on line 25 you’re adding.

Sen Chesterfield: I’m talking about the original bill provides for teachers, parents, et cetera.

Sen Flowers: Well, I’m talking about the law in 5-2-601, which this obviously is amending. You’re putting an additional line to include school employee. And then under that, classified school employee and licensed school employee. Those are new and would be new to section 5-2-601 of the code.

Sen Chesterfield: 5-2-601 refers to teachers as one of those entities.

Sen Flowers: 5-2-605 refers to teacher, concerning the use of physical force that’s considered justifiable. But 5-2-601 under your bill is a new section. It’s a new definition added under 5-2-601 to include school employee. I’m just trying to understand. I think our law already provides for defense of one’s person or even a third person. But when you say classified school employee and licensed school employee. What I want to know are these people trained because when I’m thinking about our children with disabilities, and what the proper process under the Individuals with Disability Education Act requires in terms of their conduct and behavior. So I guess my question is, are these people that you’re adding under this definition of school employee, are they presently trained to deal with discipline of school children, and particularly disabled children?

Sen Chesterfield: A part of our training as educators is to deal with all children. And those children with special needs are in special needs classes. 

Sen Flowers:. Not all of them. 

Sen Chesterfield: I had them in both Special Ed and in regular classrooms. However, we have to be trained in discipline. There’s not a lot of it that goes on unfortunately. But what I am saying this is about is the individuals, too. And when you have two people beaten up and they don’t defend themselves because they think they will lose their jobs by simply holding a child and say don’t hit me anymore, then we have a problem. And that has happened at least twice this year. It may be happening more prevalently around this state.

I was a classroom teacher. I was trained somewhat in discipline but we’re basically thrown into the classroom with very little professional development about what our rights are and what we can do in order to maintain order, especially if we are attacked. And I’m aware that– I always thought I had the right to it but what this is doing is to put a light on the fact that it’s not okay to beat up on teachers. It’s not okay to beat up on professional drivers and secretaries. That’s what this is about. 

I want our kids to be protected just as you do but at the same time, I want our workers to stay in environments that are safe for them and would give them the right to say or to defend themselves. That’s all this is about.

Rep Flowers: Well, I’m concerned not only about the employees of the school district but more importantly, about the children.

Sen Chesterfield: Well, if it’s the children that are beating up folks, then we need to do something to stop that.

Sen Flowers: And sometimes it’s the reverse. And as an attorney, I’ve seen that. So I’m just concerned because I think the code already provides for self-defense and defense of third persons. And I don’t just necessarily see giving carte blanche classified school employees. And a licensed school employee, I would imagine that would be a teacher. Without knowing there is some training, that they understand what the rights of the students are as well as their own rights. That’s all I have.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, any other members have any questions? All right, seeing none, we have someone here to speak for the bill. If you’ll come to the table and recognize yourself.

Cox (FC): Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you members of the Committee. My name is Jerry Cox. I’m executive director of Family Council. And we appreciate Senator Chesterfield bringing this bill, and we appreciate her working with us on a good amendment to the bill. And I believe there was probably just a drafting error on it and she was able to correct that with the amendment. And the bill is really as she explained it. And it is not only a pro-school employee bill but it’s also a pro-student bill. Because sometimes things have to be done for the welfare of that student or other students that may be in the classroom.

I myself have been a classroom teacher for 11 years before I got involved in coming here to the Capitol. And also have been a school bus driver and drove a school bus back in my younger days. And so, I think this is a good common sense bill that seeks to protect everybody and do as much good as we can. So, Mr. Chair, with that, that concludes my testimony.

Sen Stubblefield: All right. Thank you, Mr. Cox. Any other members–anyone else in the audience here to speak for or against the bill? Any members have any questions? All right, we have a motion. I have a motion from Senator Tucker, do pass as amended. I have a second. All those in favor say aye. All opposed? Your bill passes, Senator Chesterfield.

Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, members of the Committee.

Sen Stubblefield: I understand you have another bill, Senate Bill 60.

Sen Chesterfield: Yes I do, Mr. Chair.

Sen Stubblefield: You’re recognized to go ahead and present that bill.

Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. This bill says very simply that when you are scared you don’t have the right to hurt other people simply because of who they are. It’s a simple bill. I was so scared because the person was gay that I thought I needed to just beat him up or kill them is not acceptable to us. And so what it’s saying here in this bill is that the panic defense really should not exist. When a person decides to commit a violent act against a person it should not be because of what that person looks like or who that person is. And I’d be happy to take any questions.

Sen Stubblefield: All right. You heard an explanation of the bill. Any questions from members? We have, I think one person signed up to speak on the bill. If you want to go ahead and come to the end of the table and recognize yourself for the record. You’re recognized to speak

O’Connell: Thank you, Chairman. My name is Reverend Marie Maynard O’Connell. I’m a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. And I’m also the parent of a transgender non-binary child. I have three kids. My oldest is 16. I have a 12 year old and a 7 year-old. And this year my family went to an event called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. And it’s where you remember everyone who has been killed in the past year for being gender non-conforming. And at least 32 people have been killed in the United States in 2022.

While we were at that event my family learned about the events at a nightclub, Club Q, where a mass shooter killed people for being gay. And as we learned about that at that event, my youngest child got it. He understood why we were there as a family to protect his eldest sibling. And he snuggled in real close and he looked me in the eye and then he said loud enough for everyone to hear. Mom, is my sibling going to be murdered for being trans?

And as a parent, I didn’t know what to say. So I said well, we’re going to have to start talking about this issue and changing the world for the better so it doesn’t happen. And I see this as a very common sense bill to remove the panic defense as a legitimate reason for committing a crime of violence against anyone for their gender or sexuality. I was surprised to realize that it was already permitted. And I would like to ask the members today to go ahead and do pass this bill so that I can look at my youngest and say that I had a tiny part in making Arkansas a better place to live. Thank you

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Rice, you have a question?

Sen Rice: Yes. Sorry, I didn’t get your name, but the witness. I think we all want safety. We want equality for people. You know, we just had a committee and we’ve had other committees previously, which the only one that was threatening was from the testimony that you’re telling us to protect this from.

So while I understand your concern, I always look at are we making a special classification, are we giving somebody special rights when we’re not trying to keep everybody safe. How many people in Arkansas, you named national statistics, how many people in Arkansas have been killed?

O’Connell: I’m trying to remember the name of the young lady that was killed. I believe in 2021. I could have the date wrong thanks to the pandemic. But we did have a child in North Little Rock who was misgendered repeatedly. And she was shot in the front seat of a vehicle in North Little Rock. I’m sure some enterprising person can look that up.

But I would also like to, if I may respond to your question about a specified class of individuals. It takes very little imagination to think of someone being surprised that their date is not who they thought they were regardless of gender or presentation. And also to imagine that crimes of violence against women, panic defense can be used in that as well. I don’t think we should be giving criminals an easy out.

And I frankly, look at the fact that panic, the assertion yes I did this and I am guilty but I shouldn’t be held accountable because I had feelings is not something that Arkansas wants to stand for. This is a good common sense change to the law to prevent criminals from hurting others and getting away with it.

Sen Rice: Well, and I appreciate your comment that you didn’t think we need to be giving criminals an easy out because there’s a lot of people sit at the end of that table that have different views than I do, and that’s exactly what they’re wanting to do. They want to give criminals or those who are locked up for criminality an easy out. So I appreciate you saying that. I don’t take lightly anybody being harmed, especially killed, but we live in a society that’s continuing to digress. And anybody wants to argue with that needs to look at some stats. I am concerned and Mr. Chair, before there’s a vote on this I’m going to make a motion. But I’d like to have some testimony from judicial experts if this has possible other ramifications that we’re not discussing right now.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, is there anybody in the room that would like to come up and talk about this bill who has a legal– no public defenders?

Sen Chesterfield: Mr. Chair?

Sen Stubblefield: Yes?

Sen Chesterfield: We’ve had this bill out for a long time. And one of the reasons I did not want to run it last week was because I wanted people to have the opportunity to speak for or against the bill. Having taught for some 30 years, I have seen my kids– I’ve never judged my kids on what they look like but I knew that some of them were gay. And if they got beaten up, and one young man who was trans who was being beaten up until they found out he could beat them up. And that cut out a lot of that. But it’s not okay. I’m closing for my bill. It is not okay.

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Chesterfield, I think one of the problems is some of us have- maybe the defining the word panic. Panic?

Sen Chesterfield: Well, some people are saying oh, I found out they were gay and I just had to respond and it made me shoot somebody. That’s panicking and it’s not okay.

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Tucker, you’re recognized.

Sen Tucker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just wanted to note that the word panic is in the title for the code section but it’s not actually in the language in the code section. It’s really fleshed out. What it’s saying there is the discovery, knowledge, or disclosure of– that your conduct can’t result from the discovery, knowledge, or disclosure of the victim’s sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, and so forth. So that word panic is not actually in the law.

Sen Stubblefield: Yeah, I know I read that too but when you read the word panic defense, you kind of wonder where does the word panic fit in? Any other questions from members? All right, we have a motion at the proper time. Senator Flowers, what’s your motion?

Sen Flowers: Motion do pass.

Sen Stubblefield: We have a motion do pass. We have a substitute motion. Senator Rice, what’s your substitute motion?

Sen Rice: I move at this time since I had asked before this was allowed to pass. I’m going to ask that it be tabled at this time.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, we have a motion to table Senate Bill 60.

Sen Tucker: Can I have a question of Senator Rice?

Sen Stubblefield: All right, Senator Tucker, you’re recognized.

Sen Tucker: Just clarifying question, is the motion just tabled indefinitely or is it tabled until a particular time?

Sen Rice: I had asked for time to check in to more. I had read the bill, didn’t understand all of it with what testimony we’ve had. I’ve got more questions than I originally did. So that’s the reason I asked prior to any motions, I asked that I would like to have some more input.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, we have a motion to table the bill. Is there a second? We have a second. All those in favor of tabling the bill? Is there any discussion on tabling the bill? All right, Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.

Sen Flowers: I noticed that this bill was on the agenda for last week and we’re trying to I thought be efficient with our agenda, expedite matters on the agenda. I think the purpose of posting the agenda on the calendar, which is available to all the public in Arkansas, including justices, if they were concerned and had some position opposite of what the Senator’s proposed legislation is, they would have been here. So I would say not to table.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, we have the original motion to table. We have a second. Discussion, Senator Tucker?

Sen Tucker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would just say I’m personally comfortable with the bill as it is for the reasons given. You shouldn’t be able to harm someone simply because of who they are. Also, I’m respectful of my colleague Senator Rice’s questions that he wants to get answered. We’re early in the session and we can get those questions answered. I would just personally be more comfortable if there were a timetable on the motion rather than just having it be indefinite. So that’s my comment.

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Rice, you didn’t have a timetable on the motion did you? All right, the motion will stand as Senator Rice stated it. All those in favor say aye. All opposed. The motion passes. The bill is tabled. Next item of business, House Bill 1125.

Sen Flowers: I have a question.

Sen Stubblefield: You’re recognized, Senator Flowers.

Sen Flowers: So since the bill is tabled, is it going to continue to be on the agenda or what?

Sen Stubblefield: Until it’s brought off the table. A motion to bring it off the table.

Sen Flowers: A motion to bring it off the table. To put back on the agenda?

Sen Stubblefield: Correct. And if it needs to be put on the active agenda we could suspend the rules if that may need be.

Sen Flowers: I’m not familiar with the motion to bring it off the table. I don’t know that our rules address that. You might enlighten me on where that is in the rules.

Sen Stubblefield: Well, Senator Hill, you’re recognized to present House Bill 1125.

Sen Hill: Thank you, Mr. Chair. If you’d allow, I’d like to ask Representative Evans to come down here as I present this bill for some input on this since it was his bill on the House side.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, Representative Evans, you are recognized to come to the end of the table and help explain your bill.

Sen Hill: To start with this is just kind of a pretty simple bill as far as I’m concerned. It prevents a convicted sex offender level three and four from purchasing, owning, possessing, using, or operating an unmanned aircraft, AKA a drone, if they’ve been convicted of those crimes. Simply put, to keep someone from flying over and recording young people as they’re outside at the pool laying out when they’re flying their unmanned aircraft around or things that are no good.

And we had this actually happening Cabot, just so happens the drone crashed. Parents were there and were able to get that and take it to the authorities. And it was found that it was a level four, wasn’t it Brian? Level three sexual offender that was filming people. And so this is just kind of wanting to fill in some loopholes on some other voyeurism laws, just kind of keep that from happening. And I’m going to let Representative Evans expand on that. 

Rep Evans: Thank you, Senator Hill. And thank you for joining me in this constituent-led bill. Senator Hill stated we’ve had a situation in our district where a couple of ladies were in the privacy of their own home, privacy of their own fenced-in backyard just laying out relaxing during the summer. And they hear that familiar noise that causes all of us to look up and try to figure out what it is. And it was a drone, a drone hovering over them as they were out relaxing in the privacy of their backyard.

First couple of days that it happened they thought it was kind of funny that somebody would actually care to just come back a second time or third time. And as they began to ask around the neighborhood there was no record of anyone within their neighborhood. They live adjacent to a large area, a wooded area and they began to think that maybe that drone was coming up over those woods and coming, hovering down over them in their neighborhood.

After several days of this, they kind of made a joke amongst themselves that, what would we do if it ever crashed? Well, sure enough, as fate would have it, a couple of days later the drone crashed in their backyard. They pick up the drone. Out of frustration, they load it up the trunk of their car, down the road they go. They’re cut off at the end of the road by a gentleman who gets out of his truck. He’s visibly angry. Says any of y’all seen a drone around here? As a matter of fact, we have. Well, where is it? It’s in the trunk of our car. What are you going to do with it? Why don’t you just give it back? No, we’re going to take it to the sheriff’s office.

He wasn’t going to follow them to the sheriff’s office because he knew he was probably already breaking the law. He gets to the sheriff’s office, they turn it in, explain the situation. Deputy sheriff looks at it, there’s a name tag on it. He mentions the gentleman’s name and he says oh yeah, we’re very familiar with him. He said well, can’t you do something about it? Deputy sheriff said no, not really. Said the laws are just a little bit vague on this. He said especially in the sense the fact that he’s a level three sex offender. There’s nothing right now that we can do about it.

So we decided we were going to try to fix this. You know, we got a lot of laws that people say we’re going to do this on the what ifs, what if somebody breaks into our home, what if somebody does this? Maybe this is a what if but here’s what the what if that I see. I see what if he really wasn’t interested in looking and videotaping and recording them? What if he was trying to figure out when mom and dad are not home? Trying to figure out how many teenage girls or young boys are out in the backyard playing when mom and dad are gone. Trying to figure out if they’ve got a big dog in the backyard.

What we see here I believe is just a loophole in the law that has allowed this to happen. And I believe that all of us have the duty to protect our children and protect any type of predatory type situation that might prevail in our districts. With that, we’ll be happy to take any questions.

Sen Stubblefield: All right, members, you’ve heard an explanation of the bill, any questions? Senator Tucker?

Sen Tucker: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I visited with Representative Evans about this, texted very briefly with Senator Hill. The behavior you describe it as it happened, I believe that ought to be illegal. So we’re in agreement there. I have some concerns about the way the bill is written because in some sense, I think it’s too broad and in another sense, I think it’s not broad enough. And I’ll start with that, everything that you’re describing if that had been done by a person who was not a level three or four sex offender, then it would not be illegal if your bill passes. And I believe it ought to be illegal no matter who does it, whether they’re a level three or four sex offender or not.

So there’s an existing law on voyeurism. And I mentioned this to Representative Evans. I’ll read it now just for the context. Well, let me say first, the way in which I think it may be overly broad is there are different types of sex offenses.

Now if someone is a level three or four sex offender because they were a voyeur or because they had child sexual abuse material, then they might not ought to have a drone. I understand that. If someone is a level three or four sex offender because they were convicted of sexual assault of an adult woman and there was no video involved. That’s a horrible crime but I’m not sure that being able to have a drone or not is really applicable to that person.

And there’s a lot of things that you can do with a drone that are obviously not illegal. Whether it’s a sporting event, or the natural beauty of Arkansas, or whatever the case might be. And the way the bill is written it’s criminalizing a person’s ability to do things that are basically fine under our society’s standards. So my thought would be the way the law is written now, I’ll get to that. It says, “a person commits the offense of voyeurism if for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, he or she knowingly without the consent of each person who is present in the private place personally or through the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft” – so a drone is already in the law for voyeurism – “looks into a private place in which a person may reasonably be expected to be nude or partially nude.”

So we already have– the way the law is written now it’s criminalizing the behavior that we really want to focus on. You can’t spy on people, especially when they may be nude without their knowledge or consent. And I would– there is a loophole in the law. I agree with you, I think what you’re describing should be illegal. Because the people in the backyard in the example you’re describing may not have been nude or partially nude, I don’t know. Let’s assume that they weren’t for the sake of this conversation.

I still think that ought to be illegal. My thought would be to amend the law that criminalizes voyeurism, so we’re criminalizing the behavior that we want to prevent Spying on people without their knowledge or consent. But then we’re not criminalizing behavior that we really don’t care about, like using a drone for the natural beauty of Arkansas or whatever the case might be. Because I think that would better capture preventing the behavior that we want to prevent. Because whether someone’s a sex offender or not, they wouldn’t be able to do what you’re describing if we amended the law on voyeurism. And then if they are a sex offender, level three or four sex offender, and they just want to get a view of Mount Gaylor or some other thing, that we’re not criminalizing their ability to do that. So those are my thoughts about that.

The last thing which I mentioned to Representative Evans is if this bill, House Bill 1125 were to pass, I would also want there to be one line in there that there’s no criminal liability for selling a drone if you’re a commercial dealer of drones to a level three or four sex offender because there’s other crimes in the law if you give a gun to someone that you shouldn’t give it to, then you can be subject to criminal liability. And I just don’t think we want commercial drone dealers to have to check the sex registry at the point of sale.

And just to be clear, not that this would create criminal liability because I don’t think it would, but if I were a drone dealer I would be nervous about it if this law were to pass without a line in there saying you’re not subject to criminal liability for not checking the sex offender registry before you sell a drone. So those are all my thoughts.

Sen Hill: Appreciate your statements and comments there, Senator Tucker. But I will say nowhere in this bill does it say that we will criminalize the one who sells it to him. If I was them though, I’d be interested in checking to find out and take care of my people. The same way as y’all like firearms managed strictly. So I feel like that the drone business if I was running one, I would definitely want to check it to make sure things are safe.

Rep Evans: If I may add to that, Mr. Chair, to Senator Tucker’s comments. We actually had something similar to that in the original draft. And after quite a bit of research by the Bureau in looking at other states, we decided to take that out because we didn’t want in any way to provide a hint that there would be any type of liability upon who was selling the drone. We took that out for that purpose just so that there wasn’t any particular mention of that in the bill or that it could open up any type of liability.

And to Senator Tucker’s point also on the voyeurism, I couldn’t agree more, Senator Tucker. We have laws on the books pertaining specifically to voyeurism. However, when it comes to the potential of being a predator to a child, being predator to a single young lady in the privacy of their own home. I believe when that crime was committed and that person became that level three, level four sex offender, they gave up that additional right to be able to– for us to put something back into their hands and allow them to create another crime with different circumstances.

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Tucker, you might be familiar with this. Do we have a law that prevents someone from flying a drone over private property?

Sen Tucker: My understanding, the primary law that we have is the one that I just read from. So I would be -again, I would be more concerned – I share Representative Evans’ concern that he just laid out. But my question is should that not be illegal whether you’re a level three or four sex offender or not? I mean, I could go buy a drone and fly it over his constituent’s house and it wouldn’t be illegal under this bill because I’m not a level three or four sex offender. And so I don’t know the answer but I think it’s a very good question, Mr. Chair, that you’re asking. And in my view, we ought to tweak that law about anyone who can use drones over someone’s private property.

Sen Stubblefield: We live on a farm and if a drone flies around our house. I think you know what happens to it. There’s not enough of it left to take to the police station because that’s our private property. And nobody has any right to fly anything other than a commercial airline. So having said that, is there any more questions from the Committee? Senator McKee.

Sen McKee: In the same way– Senator Tucker, I appreciate your comments. In the same way that we prohibit felons from you mentioned firearms, I think it’s entirely reasonable that that prohibition is not based on what kind of felony they committed. It’s entirely reasonable to make this prohibition for the people in that classification of people.

Sen Flowers: I have a question.

Sen Stubblefield: Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.

Sen Flowers: And this may be for someone that’s with the sex offender registry. Do level three and level four offenders, assessed offenders, are they eligible at any point in time to come off the list? I see that gentleman over there. I don’t know if you’re on that board or what?

Sen Stubblefield: Would you like to come to the table and answer that, recognize yourself? That’s what happens when you shake your head in here.

Sen Flowers: And for the sponsors, I want to know for certain, are you talking about those that are currently assessed or have been assessed but been removed from that classification?

Rep Evans: Senator Flowers, I don’t– as the gentleman may be able to clarify but I believe once you are on that level three, level four, which is high-risk or sexually violent predator, I do not believe that you come off that list.

Sen Flowers: But you don’t know?

Rep Evans: No, ma’am.

Sen Flowers: Thank you.

Combs (CARC): Good morning my name is Robert Combs and I work with the Central Arkansas Reentry Coalition and I work closely with people on the sex offender registry. And if you’re a level four, you’re never coming off the registry. If you’re a level three, after 15 years you can apply to be relieved of the obligation to register.

Sen Flowers: So would the assessment, does that have the effect of the assessment being removed?

Combs (CARC): If you apply to be relieved of the obligation to register, you become– you’re going to be reassessed as part of the hearing.

Sen Flowers: So that might result in a person not being assessed again as a level three?

Combs (CARC): Well, after five years you can apply for a reassessment to change your level, to alter your level. After 15 years you can apply to be relieved completely of the obligation to register. It’s not a sure thing, people sometimes do get removed from the registry and sometimes they don’t.

Sen Flowers: So, Mr. Chair, I think we need at least the person that identified themselves on our organizational day as a person that’s a member of that assessment board to say whether or not. I don’t know whether the public defender has any knowledge of it.

Sen Stubblefield: To say what?

Sen Flowers: To tell us about the sex offender registry, and whether this is going to be a permanent classification of level three or level four. The sponsors don’t seem—

Sen Stubblefield: Well, I think he just explained that if you’re level four you never come off. And if you’re a level three you can apply for 15 years, 5 to 15 years to come off. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to come off.

Sen Flowers: I understand that but I’m not certain that this bill would prohibit somebody from ever owning a drone even if they are reassessed or come off a classification as a level three. And all I’m saying is–

Sen Stubblefield: The bill specifically says if you’re level three or level four, you cannot own a drone. So if you’re not a level three and you’ve been reclassified, I would think it’s pretty clear that you can own a drone.

Sen Flowers: Nothing’s that clear.

Sen Stubblefield: If you’ve been removed from the–

Sen Flowers: It says if he or she is assessed. So if you’ve been assessed one year, three years, five years, 15 years later, you were reassessed. Does it mean then that you can purchase a drone or simply because you’ve been assessed at some time prior you’ll never get to have a drone?

Sen Stubblefield: Well, if you are a level three according to what you said, and you have an assessment done, you are removed from the level three status, is that correct? If they find in favor of your–okay. So you’re removed so therefore it gives you the right to own a drone. You’re no longer a level three.

Sen Flowers: That’s not what it says.

Sen Stubblefield: Is that correct? Okay.

Sen Flowers: This says if he or she is assessed as a level three or level four offender.

Sen Stubblefield: That’s correct.

Sen Flowers: It doesn’t deal with after some years later and you’re taken off. It just says if you’re assessed. So if you’ve ever been assessed will you never have the right to have a drone or purchase a drone if you’ve been removed from that list? I think that’s a question that needs to be clarified. And I don’t think it’s just that simple as you put it, Mr. Chair.

Sen Stubblefield: All right. Any more discussion on the bill? Anyone from the audience have anything to say? We have no one here to speak up or against the bill. All right, what is the will of the Committee? We have a motion to do pass. We have a second. Any discussion? All those in favor say aye. All opposed. The bill passes.

Sen Flowers: I ask for a roll call.

Sen Stubblefield: Call for roll.

BLR Staff: Senator Hester. Senator Hester. Senator Rice. Senator Clarke Tucker. Senator Ben Gilmore. Senator Matt McKee. Senator Alan Clark. Senator Stephanie Flowers. Senator Bart Hester. 

Sen Stubblefield: Chair votes yes. With a vote of five ayes, one nay, one not voting, the bill passes. Congratulations, Senator.

Rep Evans: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Committee.

Sen Stubblefield: All right. Anyone else have anything else to say? I think those are the only three bills we have on the agenda this morning. If you have any bills you want to run Wednesday be sure and let the staff or myself know and we will get those on the active list and run those Wednesday. So having said that, we’re adjourned.