Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs

February 13, 2023

Sen M Johnson: Transportation, Technology, and Legislative Affairs will come to order. I apologize for us being a few minutes late to start but we got our official portrait done today. So I’m glad we got that out of the way. House Bill 1086, is General Berry here? Are you going to run that bill? Okay. Senator, you’re recognized to run House Bill 1086. Senator Bryant, you’re recognized.

Sen Bryant: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Joshua Bryant, District 32. So what this bill is doing is amending our laws to put back on our citizens the need for a handicap permit to park in the ADA accessible spots throughout our businesses in the state. Several years ago, I want to say at least 10, we passed a law to allow disabled veterans to park in ADA spots. It’s kind of looked as maybe a way to honor them. I’m not sure what the intent of the bill was back at that time. But what I think we failed to realize is disabled veterans, their service-connected disability, whether it’s 10% or 100% doesn’t have anything to do necessarily with their ambulatory status.

And so actually, Representative Collins is going to run a bill to lower that threshold from 30% disabled, which is again just a compensation measurement, down to 10% to allow that veteran that’s disabled to display that status that he served the country and received disability compensation through his years of service.

What this bill would require is for those disabled veterans that truly are non-ambulatory, that meet the conditions, that are being seen regularly by the VA for those conditions, to do the same requirement and fill out the single page form and send that to DFA to receive that special permit, which is a four-year permit if there is no fee. That way we are truly using our ADA spots for disability purposes, and not just as a recognition of status. So that’s the measure of the bill, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Sen M Johnson: Senator Boyd has a question. You’re recognized.

Sen Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Chair. So to clarify this, there’s a difference between disability and handicap, is that a fair way to describe it?

Sen Bryant: Yes. Once you serve, like I served five years, and as you exit, different groups from the American Legion to Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW, they take exiting members and look at their service jackets to determine if there’s any eligibility. And they do that as a free service for exiting veterans. If they agree there is then they kind of guide you through the process to look for compensation.

Now you could have a dislocated shoulder that you did that you can’t have mobility above your arm or above your chest level and you may get 80% disabled vet benefits on that. It doesn’t affect your ability to walk, to breathe, to do anything that a disabled member of society has to be able to get access to that spot.

Sen Boyd: Thank you.

Sen M Johnson: Other questions from the Committee? Okay, is there anyone– I’m sorry, go ahead.

Sen Bryant: I would also, there’s a coalition of veterans that make up several different individual memberships throughout the state. They sent a letter in support and understanding of why this measure is because it is not– I mean, it’s a simple page that you fill out, it’s every four years to get that special, that use permit. And so if you’re going to be seen for an ambulatory disability caused by veteran-related compensation, you’re going to be seen by the VA doctor. So it’s his signature that requires that.

Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Senator Bryant. Senator Hill?

Sen Hill: Will you explain to us how will this be displayed, will be on the mirror, or will be on the tags or how they display that?

Sen Bryant: It is on the mirror. It’s a tag that they give you that you can put on the mirror. Same for any citizen of society that has a physician that if you list under the qualifying section of why you need the tag.

Sen Hill: Okay, thank you.

Sen Bryant: So it wouldn’t change anything with DFAs and the tag, they wouldn’t have to change anything in their system. It’d just be requirement of the tag.

Sen M Johnson: Senator Bryant, is there any distinction between a non-veteran that qualifies for the handicap permit to – hangar as we call it – and the hangar that would be used by these veterans with the ambulatory disability?

Sen Bryant: There is not. There would not be a distinction. If you were a disabled vet, you’d get your tag to put on your vehicle, which reduces registration fees and all the taxes that we normally apply but then you’d get a marker to hang in your mirror.

Sen M Johnson: Does it– and again I might if someone from either ARDOT or DFA wants to correct me if I have this wrong but my understanding is if you have a disabled veteran tag and you park at a metered spot, you’re not required to slug the meter. Is that law still in place, can anybody? Y’all can nod if you know the answer to that. So okay, Mr. Gehring doesn’t know which means that we have a dearth of knowledge because he knows almost everything. So okay we’ll find that out later. I don’t think that’s necessarily relevant to the bill but I did want to know. Any other questions from Committee?

Okay, we do have some citizens signed up to speak. Justice Samuel Strain from Faulkner County. Would you like to come testify? You’ll come around and sit next to Senator Bryant.

Justice, push that button. Make sure that red light’s on, on the button.

Strain: Thank you, my name is–

Sen M Johnson: Please identify yourself for the record, Justice Strain. I know who you are but the rest of the Committee doesn’t.

Strain: Okay. I’m Justice Samuel Strain. I’m District 4, Faulkner County. So when you’re going north on Interstate 40, as soon as you cross out of Pulaski County you’ll be in District 4. So I was pretty disappointed to hear about this bill. I kind of watch the– I’m a disabled veteran. I was a Navy veteran. I was injured while I was on active duty and I’m also 100% disabled on Social Security. 

But I’m retired now, I’m 70 years old. And some people tell me I look pretty good to be 70 years old and I think that may be part of the problem is that we have people that– we have doctors, well-trained doctors, that have all kinds of expensive tests that look inside our bodies to see what kind of disabilities that we might have, what problems we have. But yet we’ve got a lot of people that look across a parking lot and they can diagnose your physical conditions and decide if you’re disabled or not. And it kind of appears that might be what’s going on, part of our problem that we have now.

I think our bigger problem that we have with the handicapped parking is just quite frankly, lack of enforcement. I commonly see people without any kind of tag or sticker or anything, parking in spots. I see people parking over the lines so that people can’t get into the parking spots. And I have only known one person to ever have gotten a ticket for any of those infractions. And I even was at the store the other day and a gal parked on the right side got out, emptied her cart, and went over and pushed her shopping cart instead of going to the corral where they collect them, she pushed it into the middle of a handicap parking spot and went back to get into her truck. And I confronted her about it and she went over and pushed the cart into the cross hatch area under duress.

But anyway, I guess we do have some struggles, you say we’re just going to go down and fill out this form. I know military veterans, I know one I’m thinking of right now that has been out of the service for probably pushing three years. He has yet to be assigned a primary care physician. So you think he’s going to take– he doesn’t even have a primary care and it’s been close to three years or around three years since he got out of the service. He’s not going to be able to take that form down.

Most veterans, even if you have physical problems, you’re lucky to see your primary care physician five minutes every six months. I know veterans older and in worse shape than I am in that are lucky to see their physician five minutes in a year. So to take that form to your primary care at the VA, good luck with that. It’s going to probably be at least a year before you could get that paperwork signed by your primary care of the VA.

The other problem is that we’ve got an aging population – and I read through a list the other day of some of the things that a private citizen can go and get handicapped plates for – and that includes obesity and Parkinson’s, and you could have a hurt arm, and you mentioned a shoulder a while ago. Yeah, you can do that, you can go to your doctor and get a handicap sticker if you have a hurt arm or a lot of different things that we want to scoff at. If a veteran has got those and he parks there then that’s a problem.

But I guess what I’m thinking is that we need to– I guess in conclusion. I would like to suggest that if the State of Arkansas is going to start a crusade against handicapped parking violations that we not start with our heroes and disabled veterans. And I would like for you to please vote against HB1086. I’m not saying there’s nothing that we could do because maybe there are people that– but you can’t tell by looking at them. I mean, like in my case, I’ve got all kinds of problems that would qualify me for a disability or a handicapped parking sticker but if you tell me I have to go get one today, then it’ll probably be at least six months before I can see my doctor.

And I’ll tell you another problem we have is that the federal government doctors, they don’t like to fill out local paperwork. So if I left it with them I might not see it again for another six months or a year. So that’s my situation. I appreciate you letting me address the Committee. Do you have any questions for me?

Sen M Johnson: Any questions for Justice Strain from the Committee? Thank you, Justice Strain.

Strain: Thank you, sir.

Sen M Johnson: For your friendship to me and for your service to our country.

Strain: All right, thank you.

Sen M Johnson: Mr. Paul Foster to speak against.

Mr. Foster, make sure that red light is on your microphone and please identify yourself for the record.

Foster: Okay. Well, first of all, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to come and testify. I am Master Sergeant or First Sergeant, Paul Foster. Spent 27 years in the Army, 22 for the Green Beret. I have over a thousand jumps, both knees have been replaced, my back has been fused together. But if I was young enough and strong enough I’d do it all again. I moved to Arkansas because a friend said Arkansas is veteran friendly. My dad was from Arkansas and that’s why I’m here, I have family here. And I’m proud to be an Arkansan now. 

We’re talking about HB1086, which is a duplicate of making the veteran, disabled veteran, duplicate what he did to get his license on his car. In order to get that license you must have a Department of Veterans Affairs letter stating that you are – and mine in fact, says your 100% rate, and you are permanently disabled due to your service-connected disabilities. I am a disabled veteran. I have one of those licenses on my car.

And now they want me to come back and prove again that I’m disabled. Otherwise, this is the only document that I have that proves I’m disabled. I have to present this again and get some certificate or something that I’m supposed to hang in my car. That’s a duplication of effort and it does not solve the problem that we have with people parking in disabled reserved parking spaces. I see it all the time. My wife gets so furious when she sees it. I’ll see some car come in, my license number starts with 18,000, and they’ll be less than 18,000, or around 18,000 on the license number but a young person gets out of that car and nobody else is in it, and they’ll run into Walmart. And I have to park in the back of the parking lot.

With my disabilities – and I walk a long distance, I have what is called claudication, which means a lack of oxygen to my legs. It’s very painful but I suck it up like I did in the Airborne. By the way, I broke my back in 1970, and the next day I went out and made two more jumps and I didn’t realize. I just twisted my back, that’s all. Three months later they said well, you have a hairline fracture on your L5 vertebrae. But anyways, suck it up, keep going, no complaining. And that’s what I’m not doing here, I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the facts, this is what happens. There’s no way that even the current law, anybody is going to be caught doing that. There’s no police officer will go into a Walmart parking lot unless they’re asked to come in. The Walmart parking lots in Conway at least, do not have security. So who’s going to find these people?

If they do have somebody come out, I went and got my new license which says veteran on it. And on the back it lists the license that I have, I have two cars that have DV license on them. And my wife’s car, we had to get a tag. And all they have to do is let me see your license, look on the front, veteran, in the back and it lists those DV license. But who’s going to do that?

You can’t even service the current law and now you’re making it stricter for the disabled veteran who is not at fault with this amendment to the law. And it’s still not going to solve the problem of these people going in and illegally using a disabled reserved parking lot. Thank you for listening.

Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Mr. Foster. Questions from the Committee members? Senator Boyd.

Sen Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Chair. So just help me understand, so I had a grandmother World War–

Foster: I’m sorry. I’m hard of hearing, sir.

Sen Boyd: I had a grandmother, World War II veteran who was 100% disabled but it was all because she had severe bipolar disorder. Would she have qualified for a disabled veteran license plate with a bipolar disorder disability?

Foster: Yes, sir.

Sen Boyd: Okay. So I also had a mother who was not a veteran, who had multiple hip replacements. She wouldn’t have the disabled veteran but should my grandmother who had the bipolar disorder who had no mobility issues preempt my mother, who had multiple hip surgeries? I mean, help me understand practically what the issue is there.

Foster: I’m no expert on it but what I would do if your mother would go down to her primary care and get a letter from the primary care, and then they would both be on that same vehicle. I believe that’s the way it should be. And then it would be on her license also showing she’s eligible to park there.

Sen M Johnson: You’re saying, Mr. Foster, in the case of Senator Boyd’s mother, she would get what I guess we would call a regular handicap permit as opposed to–

Foster: Yes, sir. But it will still be on the back of the license.

Sen M Johnson: Thank you, Mr. Foster. Any other questions for Mr. Foster? Thank you for your testimony. Thank you for your service and your friendship, thanks.

Foster: Thank you.

Sen M Johnson: We have one more witness signed up to speak, Hugh D. Castles. Mr. Castles, please come forward.

Castles: My name is Hugh Castles. I’m an Arkansas citizen and also a veteran. I’m not disabled and this bill is pretty irritating to me even though I’m not disabled and it’s very clearly going to add a burden, additional burden to our disabled veterans to have something in addition to their disabled tag. A handicap tag or a handicap placard is all that’s necessary, not both. So if fair is fair, make the handicapped people have a placard as well. Otherwise, this is totally unfair to our disabled veterans.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. Any questions from the Committee for Mr. Castles? If not, thank you for your testimony.

Castles: Thank you.

Sen M Johnson: Thank you for your service. Any discussion or questions related to the bill? If not, Senator, you are welcome to close for your bill.

Sen Bryant: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would first start out by saying I don’t find this bill being anti-veteran. I think we’ve made progress in the state to address the needs of our veterans. I think the federal government is trying to meet those needs, especially as we come home from overseas with a large population. The companion bill to this by Representative Collins is going to lower our current ability to get a 30% disabled tag, which again has nothing to do with ambulatory status, it could be bipolar disorder, it could be a broken nose during war. It’s however the VA thinks your compensation benefit should be set.

We’re going to be asked by Representative Collins to lower that threshold to 10%, which means you could technically not be able to bend your ring finger or maybe even put your ring on your finger and be allowed 10% compensation, which again the VA, to the gentleman’s point, VA gives you a letter that says you’re 10% disabled, which means you’re going to get a small stipend the rest of your life. You can proudly display that tag on your vehicle.

Under current law that broken finger will give you the right to park in an ADA handicap-accessible spot. Passed in federal law in the early 1990s to give those rights to our citizens who do lack mobility issues. So I’m not going to say that every veteran takes advantage of that. I know every part of society has a component that’s going to abuse the privileges they’re given but I think we have an obligation to protect those members of our society that do need those spaces for ambulatory issues. And so I do not think personally one form every four years to identify that need is a burden on our population, especially our veterans.

General Berry, Three Star General, he’s the one that brought this bill because he sees that there is a need to protect the most vulnerable first. Even though veterans are deserving of accolades, we need to not set it to where they have more ability to park in those spots than those that already need the spot because of ambulatory issues. So with that, I am closed for my bill.

Sen M Johnson: What are the wishes of the Committee? Senator Bryant, I’m afraid you didn’t get a motion but thank you for presenting the bill. House Bill 1101, I believe Senator Wallace is going to present that. Senator Wallace, you are recognized. Pull the mic closer to you. I can hear you but we want it to be on the live stream where all the folks out in the country can hear.

Sen Wallace: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Senator Dave Wallace, District 19. Members, this bill makes a very simple change, it’s all down in line 35 and 36. And what it does is lowers the requirement for a veteran who is disabled. The old requirement was you had to be at 30% to have a license plate. This lowers it to 10%. And what it does is recognizes a veteran that has some type of injury from service to his country or her country. It just simply recognizes with a license plate. This particular bill has nothing to do with handicap stickers. And with that, I’ll stand by for your questions.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. Any questions by members of the Committee for Senator Wallace? Senator Clark, I believe your hand was a little faster than Senator Hill’s, you go right ahead.

Sen Clark: Senator Wallace– thank you, Mr. Chair. Seeing the presentation of the last bill, does it not in fact have something to do with it if it lowers it down to 10% with handicapped parking?

Sen Wallace: It would, based on the last vote.

Sen Clark: Thank you.

Sen M Johnson: Senator Hill.

Sen Hill: Senator Wallace, you know how I respect you and your service to this country. I would like for you to explain to us why this is necessary to lower it to 10% from the 30%? And also does this include injuries that someone could have sustained that was a veteran after their service?

Sen Wallace: No. To answer the second part first, your service-connected disability is only related to injuries that you received while you were on active duty or in the reserve status if you were on the active duty status while doing reserve training. So if you’re driving down the road and you are not on active duty, or if you’re a reservist not in the reserve duty status, if you’re injured it has nothing to do with this bill. And I forgot the first question. 

Sen Hill: The first part of the question I guess in a nutshell is since we did not pass the other bill, is this one really necessary since it’s been in place for so long at the 30%, to lower it to 10% threshold.

Sen Wallace: What this bill does is it recognizes the group of individuals from the 10% threshold to the 30% threshold, it recognizes that they did do service to our country. And it’s important to those individuals to be recognized.

Sen Hill: Does Dave Wallace feel like this is necessary?

Sen Wallace: I’m sorry?

Sen Hill: Does Senator Wallace feel like this is necessary for our veterans?

Sen Wallace: I would have voted for the last bill. But I’m not on this Committee. And this bill would be a better bill if the previous bill had passed.

Sen Hill: Thank you, Sir.

Sen M Johnson: Senator English.

Sen English: Thank you. Senator Wallace, there are– so we’re speaking about tags and DAV tags and DV tags. Can you tell me the difference between the two? I know that one of them is for more disabled than the other. So where would 10% of the folks fit into that, those two license plates or do you know? I know there’s a distinction.

Sen Wallace: There’s a distinction and I could not tell you that distinction.

Sen English: And I can’t remember what it is.

Sen Wallace: Yeah. I personally believe they could probably be combined. I think that’s two different tags that because of laws passed in the last three or four sessions, that those bills, those two tags could probably be combined in my opinion.

Sen English: Thanks.

Sen M Johnson: Other questions for Senator Wallace? Senator, would you like to close for your bill?

Sen Wallace: I am closed.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. What is the will of the Committee? Senator Wallace, I think again we don’t have a motion but thank you for presenting your bill.

Sen Wallace: Thank you for the time. Committee, thank you for the time.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. Let’s move now to Senate Bill 120. Is Senator Love here? Okay, this bill will be moved to a special order. Well, we’re going to move it to the deferred list but I’m going to tell Senator Love that if indeed he wants to bring it back we need to set a special order of business. 

We’ve had several people indicate an interest in testifying on this and I want to do it as a general matter of policy that if people really concerned about some of these bills I don’t want them to have to drive from Blytheville or Bentonville or Texarkana to come up here and testify and the bill not come up. So it will move to the deferred list, and then we will do a special order if indeed it comes back. And that’ll be up to Senator Love, of course. So since he’s not here, we’ll move to House Bill 1324 by Representative Vaught. I’m sorry.

Sen Boyd: Mr. Chair, I’m the Senate sponsor on 1324 and 1321 and with your permission, I’d like to present 1324 at the next meeting and 1321 at this meeting.

Sen M Johnson: That’ll be fine. It will not go on deferred because I believe this is the first meeting that it’s been on the calendar. So those two bills will be at our next meeting, and the one we have left is House Bill 1171 by Representative Haak. Oh, you’re going to do that one too, okay? It’s certainly okay with me if it’s okay with her. Senator Boyd, you’re recognized to present House Bill 1171.

Sen Boyd: And may I invite Shannon Newton with Arkansas Trucking Association to assist me with the presentation.

Sen M Johnson: Ms. Newton, you may join Senator Boyd at the table.

Sen Boyd: Yes, sir.

Sen M Johnson: So we’re doing 1321 now?

Sen Boyd: Yes. And we’re going to if you’ll let me at the next meeting, I’ll present the other House bill, the one from DeAnn Vaught.

Sen M Johnson: But not 1171? Not the one from Representative Haak?

Sen Boyd: The one from Representative Vaught, I’m the Senate sponsor on it.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. I got it now. Okay.

Sen Boyd: I can’t remember the title.

Sen M Johnson: Senator Boyd, you are recognized.

Sen Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Committee members, this bill is an act to amend the law concerning truck platooning we passed in 2017. And so I’m going to let Ms. Newton present the update if that’s okay.

Sen M Johnson: Ms. Newton, please identify yourself for the record.

Newton (ATA): Yes, sir. Thank you, Chairman. My name is Shannon Newton, I’m the President of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Sen M Johnson: You’re recognized.

Newton (ATA): Thank you. House Bill 1321 is designed to go back and update language from a bill that passed in 2017. In 2017 there was not a framework in Arkansas for autonomous trucks. And so the legislation that we passed at that time required drivers to be in both vehicles, even though they were communicating using vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The platooning bill is much like adaptive cruise control, which is a technology that many of you are familiar with in your personal vehicles. It allows the two trucks to communicate, maintain a distance, and have efficiencies from fuel efficiency as well as safety.

In 2021, the language that was passed in the autonomous vehicle legislation allowed for a platform in which there would not be a driver present in the vehicle as long as all of the safety systems were in place and the plan was approved by ARDOT. This bill simply copies the language from 2021 that passed through both chambers and goes back and inserts it into the 2017 bill, allowing for the follow truck to not have a driver in it.

All of the safety precautions with regard to filing a plan with ARDOT, how many trucks, what time of day, if and when it were to be approved, how they would be marked, is all still subject to ARDOT approval. So all we’re trying to do is make the language match in those two pieces of technology legislation that have been through this Committee before so that our statute is technology agnostic if you will.

I do think it’s worth noting that no one has actually used the 2017 legislation. The provider of this technology is a member of my Association. The company which they are trying to implement the test project is also a member, and that’s why the legislation has been brought to me in order to ask that we make that update so that should they choose to deploy it in Arkansas we would have the framework necessary. It is legal in Oklahoma, in Texas as proposed today. It is also working its way through Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, which have the 2017 language which are updating it to this model this year.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. Ms. Newton, I’ve got a couple questions. The first one, I called this bill when we passed it a few years ago. It was like one truck was the driver and the other one was like a puppy dog following it around. Is that a fairly decent analogy?

Newton (ATA): Yes, sir. That could be a fair analogy.

Sen M Johnson: Now this technology, of course, has changed and improved and does a lot more. Tesla for example, as you probably know is about to release their electric semi, which has a lot of these autonomous features. Are we covering some of the upcoming technology in this bill or are we going to be– and I’m not saying anything wrong with coming back in two years when something new comes out and tweaking it again. But are we pretty well up to date for 2023 on the technology and our law with this?

Newton (ATA): Both the framework that was passed in 2017 and 2021 are pretty permissive with allowing ARDOT to make the rule-making policies. So it’s a little bit more nimble than actual legislation. This bill is pretty simple and so I don’t want to say that it does more than it does. It’s really just updating the language of the 2017 law to match the framework that was passed in 2021.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. When I first saw platooning I thought about these two drivers, one sleeping and one– and so that’s not– then I realized that’s not what it was. And even when we passed this other bill I was not familiar with that nomenclature but I’m glad to see what it is. Is there an overall, I’m going to call it length or limitation to the second truck, and maybe the two counted together? And is there some interval, in other words, how much can the other truck tailgate the first truck? How is that set up?

Newton (ATA): So the laws with regard to how long a unit could be remains the same. So you still have a 53-foot trailer, the combined length of that vehicle as itself remains the same as it is today. We’re not adjusting that at all. The 2017 bill actually did, it changed the following distance. That’s kind of how we got around– that was why it was necessary to adopt language in 2017 because the following distance I believe at the time for you and I is I want to say 50 feet, that could be incorrect but the purpose of the 2017 legislation was to allow those trucks to travel closer than would otherwise be legal.

Sen M Johnson: Okay. I can’t help but worry that– and again I’m sure everyone’s worked this out but you and I have both known people who would pull in between the two trucks if there was space. Is there some way to narrow it up to where maybe that couldn’t happen?

Newton (ATA): That’s actually the number one question or the most popular question in having this conversation is you and I or other four-wheelers tend to cut in or take advantage of any opportunity.

Sen M Johnson: You and I wouldn’t but other people.

Newton (ATA): Sure. Of course, not us. People like us might choose to do that. The technology is such that the second vehicle would recognize that and back off to allow appropriate distance. The first vehicle would be notified that there was an intruder is what it’s called in their lingo. And so the first driver could either slow down or change lanes or make some sort of accommodation to allow that other car to move along through traffic.

Sen M Johnson: You mentioned other states that have already implemented this. Any accident statistics that you can share with us or does it seem to have been working fairly smoothly?

Newton (ATA): There are no accidents that I’m aware of that are specifically related to the platooning technology. And the deployment is so small scale that any statistics would still be greater than in this case, I will say you and I because the technology does not have to be perfect. It just has to be better than us and we’re not that great.

Sen M Johnson: Okay, thank you. Any questions for Senator Boyd or Ms. Newton? Okay, anyone in the audience wish to speak for or against the bill? If not, what is the will of the Committee? Motion do pass.,There’s a second, Senator English, second from Senator Hill. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Opposed? Thank you. Congratulations, Senator, you’ve passed your bill. Okay, are you running 1171 too?

Sen Boyd: Senator Bryant.

Sen M Johnson: We kept Senator Bryant busy today. I should have let you go ahead earlier but that’s fine.

Sen Bryant: All right, I need to stop telling my House colleagues yes.

Sen M Johnson: House Bill 1171 by Representative Haak, and you’re recognized to present that, Senator.

Sen Bryant: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Joshua Bryant, District 32. Representative Haak brought this bill out of the Mennonite Community. It changes one word from prohibits to discourage because they want to make sure that they themselves are not violating the law because they wouldn’t prohibit an individual within this insurance, self-insurance program to go buy something so they don’t want to make that individual a liar. And the purposes of they don’t want them to prohibit them, they just want to discourage it. So we’re just trying to make sure the law follows what their intent is and change one word from prohibit to discourage on the self-insurance of religious denominations.

Sen M Johnson: Does this apply to buggies as well as cars?

Sen Bryant: I don’t know if buggies need it.

Sen M Johnson: You mentioned the Mennonite community.

Sen Bryant: Mennonites can use vehicles as far as I know.

Sen M Johnson: Okay, sounds pretty straightforward. Any questions of Senator Bryant about this bill? 

Sen Boyd: I’ve got one. 

Sen M Johnson: Senator Boyd.

Sen Boyd: All right, so you’re confident we vote for this we’re not going to hear from the Mennonite community that we somehow dictated their religion to them.

Sen Bryant: No, not to my knowledge.

Sen M Johnson: And I will say, Senator Boyd, after speaking to Representative Haak. If anything, the contrary because I think they seemed, I’m not going to say adamant but concerned that the word prohibits was not accurate as far as what the tenets of their religion was. The tenet of their religion was discourages, and this bill makes this align with the actual tenet. So that was the sponsor’s description to me. Would that be accurate you think, Senator Bryant? Okay.

Sen Bryant: Yes, Mr. Chair.

Sen M Johnson: It’s not the proper time yet. We need to see if there’s anybody in the audience that would like to speak for or against the bill? And if not, are you closed, Senator? And now it’s the proper time, Senator. Senator Chesterfield, motion do pass, second by Senator Hill. Any discussion? All in favor say aye. Opposed? You passed your bill. Thanks, Senator.

Committee, I don’t see anything else. I will reiterate that any bill that is on the Committee calendar more than two meetings, and then the third meeting no one shows up, we’re going to move it to deferred, and they’ll need to come back and let us know about it. So without any more we’re adjourned. Thank you, all.