House Judiciary Committee
January 31, 2023
Rep Dalby: House Judiciary will come to order. Chair sees a quorum. First bill that we’re going to hear this morning is going to be Senate Bill 48. Representative Pilkington, you’re recognized to come to the end of the table and present your bill. And I see you have someone with you, so if you’ll have them introduce themselves for the record. And once everybody’s introduced, you’re recognized to proceed.
Rep Pilkington: Thank you, Chairwoman Dalby. Committee, thank you for letting me be here today. I’m Representative Aaron Pilkington, District 45. And with me, my guest, Sam. I’ll let him introduce himself and the organization he’s with as well.
Sellers: Yep. Sam Sellers with We Are the 22.
Rep Dalby: And members, we have at your desk a letter from Mr. Sellers or an information sheet that’s there. So that has been approved for you to review that. You’re recognized to present your bill.
Rep Pilkington: Thank you, Chairwoman. Today I bring you a bill to change the Good Samaritan law here in Arkansas. There’s the organization We Are the 22, which recently tried to get liability insurance and found that they were unable to. And then realized that currently under Arkansas State law, Good Samaritan law, they do not have protection for the services that they provide. And so this is just a simple change to allow them or a non-profit like them that is aiding in suicide prevention to be covered by the Good Samaritan law. But I’ll let Sam kind of explain in a little more detail their situation but it’s a very simple law passing easily out of Senate Judiciary and then passed 35-0 on the Senate floor.
Sellers: Yeah. And again I’m executive director of We Are the 22. In February of 2003 went to Iraq. Was there for about 18 months, led a small team there. Returned home and almost immediately went to Afghanistan where I commanded psychological operations there. Easy for me to say, right? We got shot at a lot. And some of us came home with extra holes but we all came home alive.
Within 18 months of returning home, two of my soldiers committed suicide, died by suicide. So this issue is very personal, and I’m very passionate about the issue. There’s lots of organizations that do veteran suicide awareness campaigns and prevention efforts. We appreciate all of those. We’re not that. We’re the ones that when folks reach out to us through our hotline or online, we put on the body armor that I think we brought here. We take the trauma kit that includes the Narcan tourniquets and we go to that veteran at that time of crisis. We can knock on the door and we can say we’re not the cops. We’re not your shrink. We’re not here to judge. We’re here because we’re fellow veterans and we care enough to come out with you, 2:00 in the morning when you’re in your darkest place.
So far since 2017, we’ve saved well over 400 Arkansas veterans’ lives. Documented, the VA looks at us, we talk weekly with the VA both here locally and in New York because the VA is looking at us as an evidence-based operation that works and is saving lives.
This bill just fills a couple gaps in Arkansas code, so that when our guys go out and are sitting in front of a veteran that they don’t have in the back of their mind if something goes sideways– which it never has. We’ve had guns pulled, we’ve had all kinds of crazy things happen but nothing has ever gone crazy sideways. But if it does, would we be held civilly liable acting in good faith at their request to be there. So this bill just fills that gap.
Rep Dalby: Members, are there any questions? Seeing no questions. We have another individual who’s signed up to speak for the bill, Glenn Holt. Mr. Holt, would you like to come to the end of the table and speak in favor of the bill? Please identify yourself, and then you may make your statement
Holt: Thank you, Chairwoman. My name is Glenn Holt. I also am a responder, and I’ve been on multiple responses since I’ve joined We Are the 22. I’m also the secretary and treasurer. As Sam said, every time I go out on a response this goes underneath the shirt that I’m currently wearing today. This is what we carry with us because we don’t know what we’re going to run into when we get there. This is our blowout kit. So if you’ve served in the military, this will stop any traumatic bleed or injury that we have until higher-level care can get there. I’m fully in support of this bill because when we go out we’re going out when the veteran is at his darkest moment.
I’m the third or fourth generation to serve in the services. Starting with my grandfather in World War II. My father was an Air Force veteran. I am an Air Force veteran. I’m also the father of a veteran. My oldest son is an Iraq combat vet and suffered from PTSD. And actually has a service-connected disability and has had three attempts, one in the field. Today I’m glad to say he’s doing well.
So I’m just as passionate about this bill, and I believe to be in full support of. So when we go out that’s one less thing we have to worry about because our focus is on that veteran. Our focus is on making sure that we get through the night with him. That we can get him to a safe place is that possible or we stay with him until such time we feel safe with him. And that he’s going to see the sun or she’s going to see the sun come up the next day. So we can put a plan in place for them so that their lives can be fuller than it is when we arrive that night. Thank you.
Rep Dalby: Thank you, Mr. Holt. Does anyone have any questions for Mr. Holt? Representative Collins, you’re recognized for a question.
Rep Collins: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m not sure, this may be for Mr. Holt, may be for the sponsor. So obviously, this is all very good, and appreciate what you guys are doing and want to be supportive. I’m curious, so the way this bill is written, it says that you’re not liable unless the act or omission was not in good faith and was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. So those two are both part of it. So that means that someone who in good faith is grossly negligent is going to be exempt from liability. So it does allow gross negligence so long as it was in good faith, is that correct? And what would something– can I have an example of something that would be a good faith gross negligence act? I just want to make sure that we know what we’re doing here and we’re doing it all the right way. I’m not against anything here.
Holt: I can’t think of a specific example of that because we are trained in an evidence-based suicide assistance training called ASIST. We also have training in crisis intervention. So our guys are highly trained. We meet monthly to retrain and stay up on our skill sets. So I can’t think of a situation where someone would go in and act in a way that would put themselves or that veteran at risk knowing that that’s what they’re doing. So that’s to me gross negligence. Is I have an intent going in that I’m going to act in a way that is not in keeping with our training, not in keeping with our missions and values, with an anticipated bad outcome.
That is not something we do. In fact, we’ve had responses that we’ve had to call our responses off on because it was an unsafe situation. Those are, fortunately, not frequent, but we make sure that it’s as safe as possible for us to go into the home. We have relationships across the state with various law enforcement agencies and we’ve interacted with them. Some of our response calls, I’ve been on too that were initiated by local law enforcement. So we don’t act with that intent. And we vet our veterans very seriously to vet that out. And we train them and retrain them monthly to ensure that that outcome is not the outcome that we expect when we go in.
Rep Collins: A follow-up?
Rep Dalby: You’re recognized for a follow-up.
Rep Collins: Well, I guess, I mean– and that of course, is what should happen. But then I would say you might not need this bill. If you guys are always operating on the level and there’s never any negligence in the execution of what you’re doing, then this bill is totally not necessary. This bill is only for situations where it’s gross negligence or negligence or willful misconduct. And that you’re protected under those situations, right?
Holt: We are but being in a litigious kind of society we are today if we go in– let’s say I go in tonight, and we get the veteran safe. And then a week later he has an attempt and it’s successful. And the family decides that there could have been something that our responders did or failed to do and wants to bring litigation against us. This bill would protect us if we can show that we went in with the clear intent and training to do what we did. And we did our job and we did it within the scope of our training and our mission. If the family or someone decided to pursue some sort of litigation against us because that veteran, unfortunately, made a decision that we had no control over at that time.
Rep Dalby: If I can interject, Representative Collins. So I think there may be some misunderstanding maybe between your question. But let me ask this of you so that maybe you could ask this of the sponsor. Are you asking if Section (c)1, which is page 2 line 9, should it mirror the language on page 1, Section (a) line 26? Is that what your question really goes to? Because it appears that maybe that language is not mirroring. Is that what you’re questioning?
Rep Collins: Yeah. I think that is getting at it, yes. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Rep Pilkington: I think the intention was to mirror the language. Granted, I wasn’t the original drafter of this legislation but that was my understanding when discussing it with Senator Clarke Tucker and Senator Mark Johnson, was that was the intention. I think that if I’m understanding the question right, but I may not be.
Rep Dalby: I think you are understanding the question right. And I think that I see where Representative Collins’ line of questioning is. Representative Pilkington, would you like to maybe step away from the table for a little bit and let’s double-check that language because I’m not seeing that anybody on the Committee necessarily is having a problem. But this Committee is like the wordsmith committee. And we want to make sure that your language is mirroring the other language in the bill. So if we can– if you want to step away. I’ll be happy to bring it back up today, or if you want to bring it back up on Thursday just to make sure that we have all that language tightened up because we want this to be in a good shape.
Rep Pilkington: That’s fine. I must have missed that when I read it. I’ll be happy to go back and check everything and come back to you all with a better answer.
Rep Dalby: Yes. I think that might be the best way because we don’t want your bill not to be in the best shape.
Rep Pilkington: No, of course. Definitely.
Rep Dalby: And so if you want to just hold off. If that’s okay with the Committee, do I see anybody objecting? I see no one objecting. So if you want to get that language and make sure everything is tightened up really good, we’ll put you back first in line Thursday. And your witnesses, they won’t need to come back. I mean, this is a technical thing that the Judiciary Committee often looks at. But with the Committee’s permission, let’s let Representative Pilkington make sure he’s got that language just like it needs to be to flow real good. And we’ll pick it first thing Thursday. And you don’t need to bring any witnesses. We’ve heard their testimony.
Rep Pilkington: Sounds great.
Rep Dalby: Okay. Thank you for your time.
Rep Pilkington: Thanks, Chairwoman.
Rep Dalby: Members, let’s turn to House Bill 1004. House Bill 1004. Representative Ray, you’re recognized to introduce yourself and present your bill.
Rep Ray: Thank you, Madam Chair. With your permission, I’ve got a couple of guests I’d like to bring to help explain.
Rep Dalby: Sure. While you have your guests coming, we’re passing out the fiscal impact statement and the Sentencing Commission Report. So hang on, Barbara’s doing the duty of two folks today. So we’ll get those out and then we’ll proceed. Okay, Representative Ray, you’re recognized.
Rep Ray: Okay. Thank you, Madam Chair. Scott, do you want to introduce yourself?
Bradley (ASA): I’m Scott Bradley, I’m the director of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association.
Rep Ray: Okay. Thank you, Committee. This is my first time in front of Judiciary Committee. As a non-lawyer that makes me a little nervous but glad to be here with you this morning. House Bill 1004, this is a bill, legislation that was brought to me by my sheriff in Faulkner County, Tim Ryals. He made me aware of this idea and that’s where the bill came from. What it would do is it would simply require the collection and publication of the full physical address of sex offenders who are required to be on the sex offender registry, including the house number, and if applicable, the apartment and unit number where they reside.
Currently, Arkansas only requires the street name and the block number for sex offenders on the registry. And we are one of only four states in the entire country that require less than the full physical address. So there’s Maine and Washington state that use block number and street name like we do. And then Vermont is the only state in the country that actually publishes less information than we do.
And so what that looks like in practice is the registry may tell you that there’s a registered sex offender, let’s say for example, in the 200 block of Oak Street. But that leaves potentially as many as 100 different houses that that could be. And there are all sorts of examples where you would want to know the actual physical address. Say, for example, you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating. Let’s say you’re a political canvasser who’s going door to door. I think of the salespeople who canvassed my neighborhood recently selling solar panels. If you let your kids play in the front yard, or if they’re going to a classmate’s house for a sleepover in a neighborhood that you may not be familiar with. There are literally innumerable examples in which you would want to know this information.
And if you’re living in an apartment complex where there’s potentially hundreds of units, there’s no way to know if there’s a level four sex offender, if that person is entirely on the other side of the complex from you, or whether they’re literally just across the sheetrock in the unit next to you.
The purpose of the sex offender registry is to give people information that they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. And it’s our role as lawmakers to do everything within our power to keep folks in our community safe. And that’s why this bill is supported by law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Association is in support of this bill, as well as Attorney General Griffin.
I will point out this bill has been amended from the previous version. This was in response to conversations that I had with business groups who had some concerns about the employer information. The original bill that I filed included the physical address of the offender’s employer as well. The amended version does not change that. Sorry, the amended version leaves it as it was. So there are no changes that this bill is proposing to the employer information. It’s just strictly to the residential information.
Rep Dalby: Representative Ray, your amendments have already been engrossed, correct?
Rep Ray: Yes, that’s correct.
Rep Dalby: We had that discussion. So it’s been engrossed. So, members, we don’t have to take up those amendments this morning. I think there may have been a question on that, but it has been engrossed. So I think we’re good to go. Is it not showing online that it’s been engrossed? Some have it online, some don’t online, I think.
Rep Ray: Okay, I checked it this morning and it was showing up.
Rep Dalby: Yes, it was filed yesterday morning, correct? Representative Ray and I– it’s attached. Right, it should be attached to everything, Representative Ray and I had this discussion yesterday. So are we okay, Representative Clowney? Sorry to interrupt, you’re right in the middle. But I was getting some messages up here asking about the amendment.
Rep Ray: That’s okay. No worries. So I’m sure everybody’s gotten a few emails about this bill so I’ll try to preemptively answer some of the questions that have been brought to me. There’s been some people who have asked me well, does this violate people’s privacy? Well, the sex offender registry already contains a large amount of information concerning the offenders on the list. And there’s all sorts of places within society where people’s addresses are public record. Whether that’s voter registration, property tax records, deed recordings, things of that nature.
Another question I’ve been asked is does this put sex offenders in danger of any sort. Well, I would submit that there’s 46 states out of 50 that already publish the information that I’m proposing we publish. And there’s no instances that I’m aware of in which there’s instances of vigilante violence or attempts of violence against this population.
Another thing that I’ve been asked several times is are we just trying to punish people further. The purpose of the sex offender registry is not to punish people. It’s to protect innocent people that have to live amongst sex offenders. Sex offender registries have been challenged in court many, many times on all sorts of grounds. Everything from ex post facto, to due process, to cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection, search and seizure, you name it. And they’ve been consistently upheld and that’s because it’s a civil measure reasonably designed to protect people. And so those are the main concerns that have been or questions that have been brought to me. And with that, Scott, do you have anything you want to add?
Bradley (ASA): The only thing I would add is the Sheriff’s Association, along with Sheriff Ryals, we feel like this bill is necessary. And we feel like that’s what they had in mind when this was put together, was the actual physical address, not the block number. Block number causes lots of confusion. If you can imagine it’s an apartment building on a block. I mean, how would you know? So we would just– the Sheriff’s Association’s in full support and we would ask that you guys would support it also.
Rep Dalby: Members, are there any questions? Representative Collins, you’re recognized for a question.
Rep Collins: Thank you, Madam Chair. So, Sheriff Bradley, I’m curious, why do you think that they intended the house number when they said block number in the original statute?
Bradley (ASA): I just think it’s important that we know the actual physical address to keep our citizens safe, to know exactly where they’re at. Like we were, spoken earlier, if you’re going to let your children go out and play in your yard, you’d like to know. If there’s a sex offender next door you should know that. You should know that.
Rep Collins: So it sounds like maybe that’s–
Rep Dalby: Are you asking for a follow-up?
Rep Collins: Sure. Follow-up, please?
Rep Dalby: You’re recognized.
Rep Collins: But I mean, I’m curious, is there any information about the intent of the original bill that you have that we don’t have?
Bradley (ASA): No.
Rep Collins: Okay. Thank you.
Rep Ray: The other thing I would add, Representative Collins, is in rural areas a lot of times there are no blocks. And so that leads to information being less user-friendly for people who are trying to access that information.
Rep Dalby: Representative Scott, you’re recognized for a question.
Rep Scott: Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Ray, did you go into the story of what actually transpired for your sheriff to reach out to you about this bill or did I miss that part?
Rep Ray: So Sheriff Ryals contacted me about this bill because it came to his attention that some sheriffs across the state – I hope I’m not speaking out of turn – some sheriffs across the state were publishing the full physical address on their registry in their county. And when it came to their attention that’s actually not what the statute said verbatim, there was some concern that they may be subject to litigation. And so that’s why Sheriff Ryals approached me with this bill and asked me to help clarify it.
Rep Dalby: Representative Richardson, you’re recognized for– you’re good? Representative Clowney, you’re recognized for a question.
Rep Clowney: Thank you, Madam Chair. And thank you, Representative Ray and Sheriff Bradley. I guess my question is, so you mentioned that in 46 other states, they’re already doing what you’re proposing today. Of course, I think everybody on this Committee wants to keep people safer. Sex offenders I know are historically some of the lowest percentage of people to re-offend. Do you have data that shows that these laws in the other 46 states are in fact serving the purpose of keeping people safer?
Rep Ray: Well, I can tell you what the description of folks on the sex offender registry is. And I think this is very instructive. So the three categories of people who are required to register are level four sex offenders, level three sex offenders, and what are colloquially referred to as high twos. So level four sex offenders, the description is sexually dangerous person.
These are individuals with impaired judgment or control who have sexual or violent compulsions that they lack the ability to control. This may be due to pedophilia or other disorder of sexual attraction, mental illness, or personality disorder that distorts thinking, interferes with behavioral control, and predisposes the person to acts of predatory sexual violence.
On level threes, these are what are considered high-level offenders. These individuals usually have strong histories of repeat sexual offending and/or strong anti-social, violent, or predatory characteristics. Sexual compulsions are likely to be present but may be kept under control when release prevention plans are followed and treatment is continued. The offense patterns of these individuals reflect a relatively high probability of re-offense and/or a risk of substantial injury to victims should a re-offense occur.
And then level two offenders represent what is described as a moderate level of danger. But the only level two offenders that are required to register are when the perpetrator is 18 years of age or older and the victim is 14 years of age or under.
Specifically, to your question, I’m not aware of research that has been done on this issue. I’m sure there is much out there but I will say that federal law requires every state to have a sex offender registry. That has been the case since I believe 1993. And as long as federal law requires us to have a registry, it’s my opinion that the information that’s made available to the public should be as user-friendly as possible.
Rep Dalby: Representative Clowney, follow-up?
Rep Clowney: Follow-up.
Rep Dalby: You’re recognized.
Rep Clowney: Thank you, Madam Chair. And I do appreciate that. And again, of course, want to keep people safe. I just think that we have to acknowledge that there is a balancing that needs to be done here with respect to the civil liberties of people who are on the registry. And I understand that they are people that share a lot of characteristics that you just read off. But if we are going to infringe on people’s rights, which is I think what publishing their address does to an extent. And I think some of us would say that’s worth it, but to do that calculation of whether or not it’s worth it do you not think that it’s important that we have data that shows that there would be a benefit? That would actually in fact pay off with a reward of increased public safety.
Rep Ray: Well, I think as I mentioned in my explanation of the bill, there’s countless examples of where this information would–people would want or need to have access to this information. I could go through those examples again, but I don’t think everyone needs to hear them again. In terms of the balancing, I have had a lot of conversations with people about what is and is not absolutely necessary to include. And that’s why I made the amendments to the bill that I did after consulting with business groups. And so I feel like I’ve addressed that balancing to the best of my ability.
Rep Dalby: Members, any other questions? We do have one individual who has signed up to speak against this bill. Mr. Teague, David Teague. If you’ll come to the end of the table, identify yourself and you’ll be recognized to make your statement.
Teague: My name is David Teague. I’m here as a personal situation. I just retired recently from 40 years of being in public safety, in the fire service most recently. The last 11 years as the fire chief of one of the towns here in central Arkansas. I got involved with this about five or six years ago when my son-in-law was arrested for child pornography. I was surprised, never would have thought it, but it happened.
Since that time, I’ve learned more about child porn than I ever thought I would need to know. And part of that is to try to figure out where – and he’s still incarcerated by the way – try to figure out where do we go with his life after he gets out. I continually see as I’ve represented the fire service in the last two legislative sessions, continually adding more and more stuff to the registry requirements.
When this bill came out I was– and I’m glad to see that they’ve taken out the employer name and things like that because part of it is how do we give these guys or girls a chance to live their life and be successful after their time incarcerated. Now the Sentencing Commission says this, “the increased public disclosure of personal information may have a potential impact on the housing and employment opportunities of the impacted offender which could result in longer prison stays while awaiting an approved parole plan.”
One more thing, in my research that I’ve done. I go back to and I’d like to read some quotes just real quickly from an article or a pamphlet put out by Sheri Flynn and Michael Wood, who are the people that run the sex registry organization or whatever here in the state. First off, it says they lead the nation and the approach to sex offender assessment. The publication contains the following statements, “recidivism rates for a sex offender are not any higher than other criminal offenses.” And this is where I think sometimes– this next one is where I think sometimes maybe we go overboard, “treating low-risk offenders with high levels of intervention makes them worse and wastes resources.”
Not all sex offenders re-offend. Sex offenders present with varying levels of risk and that’s the purpose of the assessment. Low risks should equal lower supervision and intensity of service. And then also they come up and say this, residency restrictions are not likely to stop the majority of sex offenses as they are committed by people known and loved.
So the personal part of this is one, I want to see my son-in-law have a chance to make it. He lost a job paying over $100,000 a year and I don’t know what he’s going to do now. But with the address out there I know on my daughter’s street, she lives in the 300 block, there’s like five houses in that 300 block. And that’s in a town. Most cities, if you’re in a hundred block, you’re going to have 8 or 10 houses is all.
There was an actual incident in Pulaski County in 2020 to where somebody, I call them a keyboard cowboy, decided he was going to get a sex offender and went to somebody’s house. Found out where they were and did harm to them. If somebody does that to my son-in-law, if they do a drive-by on my daughter’s house, there’s a better chance of them hitting my grandson, one of my grandsons, than to hit the sex offender. I just think the information that’s there is all we need. If it’s somebody living next to me, I’m going to know what they look like, that kind of stuff. So I just see as putting one more thing on here is really not necessary. I don’t see a need for this bill.
Rep Dalby: Thank you, Mr. Teague. Would you accept questions if there are any? Members, are there any questions of this witness? Seeing none. Thank you, Mr. Teague, for your testimony. We have no one else who has signed up to speak for or against the bill. Representative Ray, you’re recognized to close for your bill.
Rep Ray: Thank you, Madam Chair. Colleagues, in closing, I just want to give you three numbers to think about, one, two, and three. The first number is one. Unfortunately, Arkansas ranks number one in the nation for the number of child sex abuse cases per 100,000 residents. The national average is 79 cases per 100,000. And at 254 per 100,000, we are more than triple the national average. That’s not something to be proud of.
The second number is two. We’re second in the nation for most rapes per 100,000. At 74, we’re more than double the national rate of 38. And third, we’re number third in the nation for the number of sex offenders per 100,000 residents at 596. And there’s been data put out by the Columbia Missourian that suggests that because Arkansas is one of only four states in the country and the only state in the South that does not publish the full physical address of sex offenders, that we are actually a state that has migration from Missouri of sex offenders into Arkansas.
The purpose of the sex offender registry is to protect innocent people by giving them the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. And this bill just brings Arkansas into conformity with what 46 other states are already doing. And with that, I’m closed for the bill.
Rep Dalby: Members, Representative Ray has closed for his bill. Is there a motion? Representative Andrews, you’re recognized. Members, we have a motion to do pass on the floor. Is there any discussion of the motion? Representative Unger, you’re recognized for discussion of the motion.
Rep Unger: Thank you, Madam Chair. If I can tell you real quickly, I’m going to vote for this and I’ll tell you why. Up until a few months ago, I was a reserve sheriff’s deputy. And back in the spring, I was able to go along with some multi-agencies up there led by the U.S. Marshals Service on what was called Operation Clean Sweep. And it was to make physical contact with every sex offender in Benton County. That hadn’t been done in over two years because of COVID.
This was the first time I’d ever done anything like this. And so I was the paperwork guy in the back of the Chevy Tahoe. And we went out in the boondocks and we found the address listed, and we were looking for a certain individual. And because I was the paperwork guy, I could see what this person had been convicted of. So imagine the worst and you would have it.
We went up to a dilapidated farmhouse but it wasn’t the person we were looking for, it was actually a young mother who came out with a small child, like a little boy four or five years old. And we told her we are looking for this person. She goes I think that’s the person who lives around back. So it wasn’t the farmhouse but it was the incredibly dilapidated camper trailer parked 10 or 20 feet behind the farmhouse. And she had no idea who was living behind her. The landlord hadn’t told her. And as we drove around the boondocks for several days, I will never look at a what I might think is an abandoned camper the same way again because you might be surprised who’s living in there.
In my prior life, I was stationed at Marine Corps Base Twenty Nine Palms, California in the middle of Mojave Desert. California has an interactive sex offender map that they update frequently. San Bernardino County, where Twenty Nine Palms is located, is one of the least policed parts of the United States that I can think of. And a lot of sex offenders from Los Angeles and San Diego, that’s where they go because they know it’s so less policed.
And so basically, if you are a marine or a sailor getting stationed at Twenty Nine Palms, California you learn pretty quickly how to find that map online because there’s not enough base housing. And so we have to go out and look in the community. And you boot up this street in Twenty Nine Palms or Yucca Valley and you might be amazed by how many sex offenders are living on your street. And so for those reasons, I support this bill. Thank you, ma’am.
Rep Dalby: Any other discussion? Members, we have a motion on the floor. All in favor of the motion do pass say aye. All opposed say no. The ayes have it. The motion carries. Congratulations, you have passed your bill.
Rep Ray: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Committee.
Rep Dalby: Members, if you’ll turn your attention to House Bill 1245. House Bill 1245.
Rep S Berry: House Bill 1245 will be presented by Ms. Dalby. We all know who you are, but would you introduce yourself and then feel free to– or introduce your guest also or he may, whatever. And after your introductions, you are free to present your bill.
Rep Dalby: Thank you, Mr. Chair, I’m Carol Dalby, State Representative for District 100. Beside me, I have John Wilkerson, who is the legal counsel for the Arkansas Municipal League. Members, you have before you House Bill 1245, it’s really a very simple bill. Give you a little bit of background, those of you who have been on this Committee for a number of years know that often in our judicial system, we fund that system via fees. Fines that are assessed to those who come before the court. This bill is a collaboration between the Arkansas Judicial Council, who’s fully in support of this bill, the Arkansas Municipal League, and the Association of Counties. And I believe I saw Mr. Whitmore step in a few moments ago.
This bill is asking for a task force to be formed during the interim that we can study all the fees that are tacked on to folks who come before whether it’s in the civil or basically the criminal division. And to just give you an example, you could come before a district court judge on a traffic violation, possibly a speeding ticket. Maybe that speeding ticket carries a fine of $250. You can’t pay that fine in full when you come to court. You ask for an installment fee and then we tack on $10 a month on that installment fee. So if you can only pay $10 a month on your fine, you get tacked another $10. And so you can see how it piles up. And we need to take a look at those. That’s what we’re looking at, not just that one but that’s just an easy example that comes to mind.
And you will see within this bill that we’re going to look at the input of the many varied interested parties, the Arkansas Supreme Court, the District Court Judges Association, the circuit judges, and the state, the Administrative Office of the Court, the mayors, the Arkansas Municipal League, the county judges. We need to look at it from a holistic approach, simply because a lot of times counties and cities also look at this money to help balance their budgets.
We’re not trying to hurt anybody budget-wise but it’s just time. It’s been a good number of years since this is done and it’s doing that. And if you’re worried about the cost of a task force, in this particular Committee, the budget would come out of here. In all my years of being on this Committee and being Chair of this Committee we have never expended our budget in the interim because we just don’t meet. And I would anticipate that we would only meet about quarterly but we need to get this going so that come next session we will have some meaningful legislation as to the fines and fees that are charged in our state. With that, I would ask Mr. Wilkerson if he has anything he’d like to add and certainly we would be amenable to any questions.
Rep Berry: You’re recognized.
Wilkerson (ML): Not a whole lot to add. I’m sorry. John Wilkerson with the Municipal League. I’m sorry, Mr. Chair. Yeah, we really appreciate you, Representative Dalby talking with us and working with us on this. This is something that we focused on for a long time and trying to understand the financial systems and the fines and fees and all that sort of stuff as well, worked with the counties. We’re excited to have the time in the interim to take a look at this holistic approach as Representative Dalby mentioned. And so we’re very excited and we appreciate your consideration on this.
Rep S Berry: Are there any questions from the Committee? Seeing none. Is there anyone– no one in the audience has asked to speak for or against the bill. Ms. Dalby, are you ready to close for your bill?
Rep Dalby: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am closed for the bill and make a motion to do pass.
Rep S Berry: All right, any questions on the motion? All those in favor of the do pass motion say aye. Opposed? Motion carried. You have successfully passed your bill, Ms. Dalby.
Rep Dalby: Thank you. And I appreciate that, Mr. Chair. Thank you, members. I do believe that this is going to be something that’s important. And this is going to be something that all of y’all are going to be involved in, so thank you.
Rep S Berry: We’ll let the chair get back to her seat and we’ll proceed.
Rep Dalby: All right, members, assuming that we’re here and I haven’t heard any other direction that we will be here on Thursday. The first thing we will take back up will be Senate Bill 48.Just to make sure that we’ve got that language tightened up and correct in that bill. So Senate Bill 48 will be taken up. Then House Bill 1144 will be taken up. Representative Gazaway has slammed our agenda with a lot– and he’s not even here today that we can even poke at him but I have discussed with him. These are technical corrections that come from the Code Revision Commission. He has I think a few little tweaks here and there. We will set those all on a day for code revision. And so they will stay on our agenda for a while but those are coming up.
I have nothing else lined up for Thursday other than those two things. Watch your text messages. Watch your emails because we’re all watching the weather. But I’m anticipating we will be here Thursday morning. I’m anticipating 10:00 because I can’t imagine that either one of those bills will take two hours. And with that, thank you for your time this morning. We are adjourned.