Senate City Council Local

January 31, 2023

Sen Flippo: Affairs Committee and with that, Senator McKee, I believe you were going to run, is it House Bill 1024? Okay. You’re recognized to proceed. 

All right, Senator, get the microphone and you’ll be recognized to present your bill.


Senator McKee: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you members of the committee. This is a bill you’ve seen before, very simple. All we’re trying to do is remove the requirement that cities have to impose an A and P tax if they want to have an entertainment district. I’d entertain any questions. 


Sen Flippo: Are there any questions from members of the committee? All right. Seeing none, is there anybody  here signed up to speak for or against the bill? All right. Seeing none, Senator, you’re recognized to close for your bill. 


Senator McKee: Appreciate a good vote. 


Sen Flippo: Do you have a motion? Motion and a second by Senator Sullivan. All in favor signify by saying, aye. Opposed? Congratulations Senator, your bill passes.  All right. Representative Vaught do you– and members that is House Bill 1123.


Rep Vaught:  Thank you, Mr. Chair. This house bill will allow people who voluntarily put themselves into a mental place to get healthy or feel more healthy, a way for them to be able to get back their concealed carry rights. We already do this for veterans, but there was no way for anybody to do that if they were not a veteran. So, this just takes and copies what we do for veterans and it will allow all citizens to be able to do it that same exact way.


Sen Flippo: All right. Members, are there any questions from members of the committee? All right. Seeing none, is there anybody signed up to speak for or against this bill? All right. Seeing none, Representative you are recognized to close for your bill. 


Rep Vaught:  I’m closed for my bill and I would appreciate at good vote. 


Sen Flippo: All right. Members, we’ve got a motion from Senator Sullivan, a second from Senator Hammer. All in favor signify by saying, aye. Opposed? Congratulations Representative, your bill passes. 


Rep Vaught:  Thank you, Mr.. Chair and committee. 


Sen Flippo: Representative Watson. We’re on a roll, don’t mess it up. 


Rep Watson: Let’s get it. 


Sen Flippo: You are recognized to proceed with your bill. 


Rep Watson: Thank you, Mr. Chair. House Bill 1014. To allow online training for county coroners, to provide for additional training classes for county coroners. And to provide that a person with a felony conviction is not eligible to be a deputy coroner. I want everybody to be crystal clear, a coroner is a position of trust, just as though a commissioned police officer is and a jailer. The bill provides that a person convicted of a felon are not eligible to be a deputy coroner. 


The same is true for law enforcement officers and jailers in Arkansas. Neither are law enforcement officers or jailers can, in Arkansas can be convicted felons. Coroners and deputy coroners, again, are positions of trust. Coroners and Deputy coroners are entrusted with gathering evidence and investigating the cause and manner of deaths. Some deaths are suspicious deaths and part of criminal investigations. Coroners and law enforcement officers are both subject to cross-examination as witnesses, as to the evidence they gathered during an investigation and handled as part of the chain of custody. 


Also, coroners and deputy coroners are authorized to assess crime scenes which are in private residences and in places of business. They are charged with responsibility to confiscate drugs under a prescription and illicit drugs at the scene of a death of a crime. Again, let’s make sure it’s not ever watered down on the qualifications of being a coroner or a deputy coroner. If there are no questions I’m closed. 


Sen Flippo: All right. Members, are there any questions from members of the committee? 

Senator Bryant, recognized for a question, sir.


Senator Bryant: Has this been a problem in the past? How come this is something we’ve never had in the state and it’s an issue now? 


Rep Watson: I do not know why it’s coming up. I understand that there have been questions before, I have a felony — I have a previous felony conviction, can I be hired? I’m just making this up, and I believe it’s just, Senator, I believe it’s just to have it in print to be crystal clear that no means no. 


Sen Flippo: Senator Hammer, you are recognized for a question.


Senator Hammer: Thank you. Representative Watson, I seem to recall a story about a gentleman that actually did have a felony here in the state, and the he went through –he even went through, I think ALETA or went through the law enforcement class. Made it all the way through, then was a coroner, and there was a case that seems like it went to court. And it was called into question as far as the integrity of the investigation because the person did have a felony. And as a result, it gave the defense an opportunity to weaken the case because of that fact. I do believe that’s one of the reasons behind the bill is, so is to make sure that those that have any fingerprints on any investigation, involving any death that may go to a prosecutor would make sure that the integrity is protected all the way through. Does that ring any bells to you or does that sound familiar to you?


Rep Watson: Absolutely, Senator Hammer. I have heard the same thing and I appreciate the point. 


Senator Hammer: Okay. Thank you. That’s all I would make at this time. Thank you. 


Sen Flippo: All right. Thank you, Senator Hammer. All right, members, are there any more questions? All right. Seeing none, is there anybody in the audience that’s signed up to speak for or against this? All right. Seeing nobody, Representative Watson you can close for your bill.


Rep Watson: I have closed. Appreciate a good vote, thank you.


Sen Flippo: All right. Members, Representative Watson’s closed for a bill. Do I have a motion? Got a motion and a second. All in favor, signify by saying, aye. Opposed? Congratulations, Representative, your bill passes. All right. Any other business to come before the committee? All right, seeing none, we are adjourned.