House Rules

Feb. 22, 2023


Rep Cozart: …my first time since I originally came my first session. So I am back and glad to be here, and whenever you’re ready, I will present. 


Rep Vaught: You may begin. 


Rep Cozart: All right. This is a pretty small bill. Senator Boyd and Senator Johnson and myself are on this bill, and it’s an act to amend the Charitable Bingo and Raffles Enabling Act to authorize electronic advertising on raffles. Basically, all this bill does, it takes the licensed authorized organization and uncompensated volunteers of a licensed authorized organization. May advertise a charitable raffle through the mail, telephone, licensed authorized organization’s website, or social media outlets of the licensed authorized organization or the uncompensated volunteers of the licensed authorized organization. I believe this is really already in law, but we are clarifying the way they can do it. So that’s what this bill is all about. And I’d be glad to take questions. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Wardlaw? 


Rep Wardlaw: Madam Chair, since the sponsor don’t know how to conduct himself in front of your Committee, I would table, make a motion to table this until a later date. 


Rep Vaught: I’m not going to take that motion. Thank you. Representative Moore, you’re recognized. 


Rep Moore: Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Cozart, are you telling me that all those Ducks Unlimited raffles that I see advertised all over Facebook, that’s currently illegal? 


Rep Cozart: Yes, sir, they could be. And it’s according to who they are and what they are. The way I read the language, if they already are licensed with the AG, it’s pretty well that they could do this. But I’m not a lawyer, so I’m never going to say that exactly, but just what it is. But this was from some of the people that actually represent the casinos in the State of Arkansas. Would rather this language be like this than what we had originally. So it’s pretty simple language and it directs it down to just raffles on this. 


Rep Moore: Follow up. Is there any opposition to this bill that you know of? 


Rep Cozart: Not now. Since we amended it to get it here. I have had nobody contact me in opposition. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Jean, you’re recognized. 


Rep Jean: Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Cozart, are you running this bill for the casinos? 


Rep Cozart: No, sir. 


Rep Jean: Well, you referenced them. 


Rep Cozart: Well, I referenced that they had opposition to it originally. 


Rep Jean: Who are you running this bill for? 


Rep Cozart: I’m running this for our charity organizations so they could be able to do their raffles. 


Rep Jean: Any in particular? 


Rep Cozart: No, sir. 


Rep Jean: Okay. Thank you. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Madam Chair. So we had to do a raffle one time for a nonprofit on an automobile to help us raise money. And we had to apply for a permit to do all that. We’re not changing any of that. 


Rep Cozart: No, ma’am. 


Rep Cavenaugh: So you still have to apply to get the program? 


Rep Cozart: You still have to be licensed authorized organization with the AG’s office to be able to do this. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. I guess I don’t know what we’re accomplishing because when we did that, we could advertise everywhere for this raffle. 


Rep Cozart: If it was a one time permit, you probably could. If it would have been a lengthy thing. In the way I read it, you had to have a special license to do that. But I’m only getting for what I get from who opposed it on why we had a problem. This would open it up for a church that wants to have a raffle of a shotgun or anything they want to raffle, that they could advertise. It’s all about the advertising, how you advertise it. And they could not originally advertise on the web or anything that was electronic to do that. They just had to sell them locally, hand to hand selling or people just coming up and buying them. That’s the way it used to be. Now they can advertise on those by mail, telephone, their website and things like that. That’s what this will allow to do. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. I’m just confused because when we did ours, we could do on the internet and everywhere else to buy these. We did commercials, put them on TV. I mean, we did everything. So that’s why I’m just curious. 


Rep Cozart: And I know, and I’m not sure if that was illegal or not, but like I said, I’m only doing what they asked us to do so we wouldn’t be in conflict and they wouldn’t oppose it. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Tosh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Tosh: Thank you, Madam Chair. For some reason I was thinking on a raffle here in the State of Arkansas, there was a cap that couldn’t exceed a certain amount. And I understand that was language that was based in our Constitution, that on a rifle, it couldn’t go over a certain amount. I can’t remember what that amount is. This in no way is violating that type of language that’s in our Constitution or exceeding that amount that’s allowed in the Constitution, is that correct? 


Rep Cozart: No, sir. Will not. 


Rep Tosh: Okay. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Duffield, you’re recognized. 


Rep Duffield: Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Cozart, it’s my understanding in some conversations with Senator Boyd that the purpose of this bill is simply to allow fundraising for some good causes in this state. Because it’s my understanding that casinos can go online with online gambling now. And collect money from Arkansans in the form of gambling. And what this bill would do would allow Arkansans legally to raise money for good causes. And currently it is not legal in certain circumstances for them to do that. And this bill would clarify that and allow Arkansans to raise money for a good cause. Is that correct? 


Rep Cozart: That is correct. It was illegal for them to do it before because of some of the laws that the gambling casinos had put in place. 


Rep Vaught: Are there any other questions? Seeing no other questions. There is nobody that signed up to speak for the bill or against the bill. Is there anybody that would like to speak for the bill? Against the bill? What’s the will of the Committee? Motion do pass. All in favor, say aye. Opposed no. Congratulations, you passed your bill. 


Rep Cozart: Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. 


Rep Vaught: Next, we have Senate Bill 66. Senator Dees and Representative McAlindon, please identify yourself for the record and then you may begin. Staff is passing out an amendment for this bill. I’ll give you all a few minutes to go over that amendment. Are you ready to explain your amendment? Introduce yourself for the record. 


Sen Dees: Thank you. Thank you, members. Thank you, Madam Chair. Tyler Dees, Select District 35. 


Rep McAlindon: Representative Mindy McAlindon, House District 10. 


Rep Vaught: You may explain your amendment. 


Sen Dees: Thank you so much. We have a slight amendment to Senate Bill 66, which we’ll discuss more in detail. But the amendment today is really a cleanup on language to help support and strengthen after talking with many lawyers throughout different agencies. Go through those real fast. It changes the word or to the word and in section, on page 3, line 30. Strengthens the ability to make sure it includes everything on the descriptions. And then the rest of the changes have to do with changing the phrase of may be harmful to is harmful. And so just adding clarity of what we’re talking about is harmful to children instead of leaving it up for interpretation of it may or may not be harmful. We’re clarifying that it is harmful. Happy to take any questions on those amendments. 


Rep Vaught: Are there any questions on the amendments? Seeing no questions. Is there anyone that wants to speak against the amendment? For the amendment? What’s the will of the Committee on the amendment? Motion do pass on the amendment. All in favor, say aye. Those opposed. Congratulations, you passed your amendment. Now you may explain the bill. 


Sen Dees: Thank you, members. I appreciate the opportunity to bring this bill. Representative McAlindon and I, we have been able to work hard on these issues. I’ll tell you what we presented and communicated of why this bill is important. I’m thankful that as a body of House and Senate members, we get to solve problems. And this is a problem that’s needed to be solved. Many parents have reached out and said this is an issue that needs to be taken care of. I view this as an upstream solution-based issue that we can actually affect. Senate Bill 66 is about protection of our minors against harmful material online. And the foremost of that is pornography. And so that’s what this does. It asks for a reasonable age verification process in order to consume material online in efforts to protect our minors. And so that’s what this does. According to why this matters, is because we are seeing damaging ramifications downstream, if you will, that are affecting our youth, affecting our culture. And so here’s some statistics to help drive home what we’re seeing. According to one of the largest pornography sites, Pornhub, the word teen has topped the search engines across their sites for six years running. And so they are preying on young and youth with over 5 billion hours of pornography viewed and over 33 billion individual visits. This is definitely an issue affecting our culture. Child porn is one of the fastest-growing online businesses, with over 55% of victims just 10 years old or younger. 


In many studies, and I think this is very important to realize, that many studies are starting to come back to show linkage to porn use to be directly tied to anxiety and depression of our youth. And we’ve got to make sure that we as a body figure out ways that we can help with that. Many statistics from the National Institute of Health are showing that even married couples who are viewing pornography are more than twice as likely to end in divorce or claim of less fulfilling relationships. And so we’re also seeing, according the National Institute of Health, a higher rate of sexual violence and abuse against women tied back to consumption and exposure to pornography. And so it is our attempt that we put in place a bill like this that helps protect upstream. Helps protect our children, that they’re not exposed to this type of material. The reasonable age verification process in this bill would be very similar to what you would expect when you go to a convenience store and ask to buy cigarettes or alcohol. There’s a reasonable age verification process that’s asked for. That we as a society have said this is the correct measure to protect people in our care. And so we have, for some reason, not taken that care when it comes to online pornography. And today, I believe we’re seeing the damaging ramifications of that with some of the statistics I mentioned before. And so my prayer for this bill is that not only do we pass this in Arkansas and take a stand here in our state but that we send a loud, clear message across the country that we’re going to protect our youth and protect the people that are most vulnerable, which are our children and our future. So I’d be honored that we pass this and be happy to take any questions about this bill. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Duffield, you’re recognized. 


Rep Duffield: Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative McAlindon and Senator Dees, I commend you for coming forward with this. And I agree with everything you said. I know that pornography is an issue in a lot of different areas. In regards to this bill, I’ve received some emails from my constituents with some concerns about data breaching. Can you kind of address that, please? Thank you. 


Sen Dees: Absolutely. Thanks for the question. So I, too, have received some of those concerns. And I’ll tell you, the language that we have in the bill is purposely addressing some of those concerns. In fact, the teeth that we are putting in this bill is to bring libel charges if there’s damages not only to our youth but also libel charges, if there’s damages, if there’s leaked personal data being exposed out there. We are not, in fact, it is against the law to hold the personal data. That’s what we’re saying here. It is intended to verify and dump. There is no intention to hold or consume or capture any personal data in this. I’d also add that anybody who does have concerns, you should have concerns. You should always have concerns about your personal data online. We should all do, whether that’s online banking, online purchases through, anything should be held with a regard of protective nature about your personal data. And so if you have those concerns as an individual, I would also tell you, if you don’t believe that that site has the ability to accurately protect your data, then I would advise you not to visit those sites as well. 


Rep McAlindon: And if I could add, the way that this has been implemented in other states like Louisiana is that they typically go through a third-party identifier, which is used for a lot of different sites. Right now, it is literally easier to get onto Pornhub than it is to go look at the Budweiser website. So something needs to be done, without question. But in Louisiana, what they do is they have contracted with a third-party identifier who goes in, you pull up Pornhub and this pops up. It asks you to put in your information, you put it in. That third party – I think it’s LA ID in Louisiana – they verify it and then they allow you into the Pornhub site. So Pornhub is not capturing any of that data. So if someone were to hack, they would be hacking Pornhub, not this third-party identifier. The third-party identifier then is to get rid of your information and it’s in their best interest to be on top of that because otherwise, their business model fails. So that’s how it’s typically done. 


Rep Duffield: A follow up, Madam Chair? 


Rep Vaught: Yes sir, you’re recognized. 


Rep Duffield: The world of pornography is an international business. So there are these porn sites that are based all over the world. This bill in regards to this process of showing your identification in order to access these sites. And it’s my understanding that pornography is still the most downloaded, viewed entity or thing, whatever you want to call it, on the Internet. I guess what I’m asking is, is the scope of pornography is so large across the world. I guess can you kind of go into some more detail about the management of how this is going to work and a little bit more on the data as to where that information, when someone does choose that’s of age to view this material, when they do scan it and their information is taken, where does that information go? 


Sen Dees: So to clarify your last part first, when a consumer goes, and in this model and this bill, when they insert any personal information, where does that data go? After verified, it is immediately deleted. And that’s the intent. And that’s the legislative intent of this process. There is no other legislative intent to hold on or validate or check in any other capacities. And so you’re right, this is a– it’s an epidemic, I believe, across the world. And this right here gives us the ability to say in our state, we’re going to take a stand. And I can tell you, we’ve also had conversations with our federal delegation as well to encourage that not only do we set up our barriers here for our state, but this encourages the rest of the country to say we’re going to do something federally to take a stand on this. And I believe that we are seeing state after state finally start to say enough is enough. For some reason, we have said that we believe this same concept and logic when it comes to alcohol and tobacco. But we don’t view it the same way when it comes to online consumption. And I know in my district I hear from our parents that say thank you for allowing us to actually address this issue. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We are not trying to be big government and control people’s lives. This is being viewed as a partnership with our parents, and that’s the intent today. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Madam Chair. So my question is, since this is a worldwide situation that we have with porn, and it’s not just in America, it’s everywhere, it’s the most downloaded. How are we going to get these websites to be forced to do this? How are we going to do that if we’ve got a company in England and they’re actually able to access. You can go to that website anywhere in the world. So how are we addressing that? 


Sen Dees: Sure. That’s a great question. I would say this is the first step. And this helps us put up borders and controls for our state. And I’ll be frank with you, I don’t believe we’ll be able to stop everything. And to be able to come up here and tell you that this will stop everything, I believe would be a misconception. I do believe it will take us in the right direction. I can speak personally that I’ve been reached out to from individuals who have said, whether you pass this or not, we are already starting to put a healthy amount of consideration for an individual who said, should I be looking at that or not? You know what, thank you for putting this concept together because all of a sudden having to put my name out there for a second or an identification for a second makes it actually a deterrent. A little bit of friction is what the term is. A little bit of friction helps deter a little bit of this consumption. And so I believe today we’re taking a step forward to send a message to across the other areas where we don’t have jurisdiction. But today we can stop what we can stop. And that’s the intent. 


Rep McAlindon: And some of the larger websites– I’m sorry. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Follow up, Madam Chair. 


Rep Vaught: You’re welcome. You’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: So we’re talking about international, but our jurisdiction’s Arkansas. So how are you going to stop it from California, Tennessee? I mean, how are we going to make these? And I like the concept, but I’m just asking, in reality, how are we going to make a website that’s hosted in another state that’s accessed in Arkansas go through this process? How are we going to force them to do that? 


Rep McAlindon: Yeah. Thank you. So I will say some of the larger porn sites are complying with this because they don’t want legal actions brought against them in any way. There are going to be plenty of websites that kids can find that aren’t going to comply with that. And that’s just going to have to be something that we follow up with probably in a different bill. But as Senator Dees said, this is kind of that first step in trying to protect our children and trying to stop kids from accidentally getting in and being able to access that information. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. 


Sen Dees: Louisiana also being a few steps ahead of us on this has seen websites start to comply. And I think that is what we’re seeing. And I’m thankful we’re seeing that because we’re bringing libel charges. We’re hitting them in their pocketbook. And we will keep hitting them as much as possible as we can. Because I believe the smut-peddling garbage that’s out there is an issue. And so if today, if this only stops a small percentage, it’s a worthy cause. And that’s what we’re going to do. And again, the intention too, the second fold is that we encourage other states to do it as well. We take a stand, say this is not right, and we need to be a leader in this. And then the next step would be that we encourage a national view of this. And so you’re right, it may not solve all problems, but it’s solving where we can. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Moore, you’re recognized for a question. 


Rep Moore: Thank you, Madam Chair. So, my first question, if I’m allowed a follow,up after this, is on the amendment. And I was trying to figure out how to phrase it when we were passing the amendment, and I think it’s a good amendment. But my question is, it says substantial portion is defined as one-third of the total material on the website. How do you quantify that one-third? And if I might clarify that question, is it a certain portion of one-third of the data used on the website, or if it’s streaming footage or how do we clarify what that one-third means? 


Rep McAlindon: I believe it’s one-third of the information that is housed there. So the accessible, not how many times – it’s not one-third like one is downloaded 100 times. It’s not that. It’s one-third of what is available on the website is deemed to be pornographic. And I believe that number was originally lower and the attorney general’s office asked us to increase that number. 


Rep Vaught: You’re recognized for a follow up. 


Rep Moore: My follow up, and I appreciate you two bringing this issue because our society, our culture is too focused on the sexualization of everything. And porn is a massive problem in our youth today. It really is. My other question is how do you account for kids getting on there and circumventing this process or not even kids, but anybody circumventing this process through VPNs or a different IP address? 


Rep McAlindon: That is not addressed. So, again, this is not perfect in any way. And this is not all encompassing in any way. But it is a first step to say, what I don’t want is my kid to accidentally pull up Pornhub. I’ll give you an example. I worked at a Christian record label and it was in the early days of the Internet and I had an album, it was a great album. One of our top sellers, it was called Wow. Okay. So I said, You know what, we should have a website. So cutting edge at the time. So I typed in Wow and hit Enter and instead on my Christian record label computer, I got Women of the Web popped up and I was like, delete. So needless to say, you can accidentally find that information. Kids are on the Internet all the time, and if we can at least put some barriers to some of them, I think it’s a great help. We’re not going to get them all by any stretch. Kids are smarter than we are. They can get around all of those things and they know how to get around those things. But we can at least start to put those barriers in place to protect them. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Holcomb, you’re recognized. 


Rep Holcomb: Well, I think they just answered my question. I was going to ask about the verification process because I’m not technology smart like my grandchild who’s in middle school. He can take my phone and just – so I’m just concerned – I’m not concerned, I think it’s a good bill. But I’m just worried about, I know they’re going to be able to get around this verification process. How is that going to work? Are you going to show an ID? You’re just going to fill out a form? Kind of just tell us what’s taking place there? Because there again, I think our kids are going to get around it some way. So appreciate it. 


Sen Dees: Great question. And for a little bit of clarity, we do have some language in the bill that talks about a digital identification. And I would say the most easiest concept to recognize would be a driver’s license, something like that, driver’s license ID, a driver’s license number. And that’s the intent, to prove age exactly like we would do – again, it’s not a foreign concept – exactly like you would do when you purchase alcohol. Exactly like you do when you go purchase cigarettes. But I get that it is a little bit different application once it moves to online. But I could tell you the concept in totality is the same that we’ve done for years, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We are trying to bring friction into a progressively frictionless world that is harming our children. I’ll tell you, for my children, I’ve got three under 13, and there is a tablet, a phone, a watch, all capacity with Internet access near them at all times almost. And so anything we can do to stop the– put friction and barriers to say, hold on, we’re going to try to protect you. That’s what this is trying to do. 


Rep McAlindon: And we did just pass the digital ID bill or through the House yesterday. So that is available for people to have their ID digitized, their driver’s license digitized, and to be able to use that for identification. 


Rep Vaught: Vice-Chair Pearce, you’re recognized. 


Rep Pearce: Thank you, Madam Chair. My question is, how is it going to be policed? Can you explain that to me? I know a couple of questions have been asked in certain directions, but can you tell me how it is going to be policed? 


Sen Dees: Sure. So the teeth to the bill is around liability charges. And so if there’s an instance where a child has been exposed to inappropriate, harmful material as defined here. And that site and that content did not follow the age verification requirements, then the AG’s office is involved as far as bringing charges to the content providers. So that’s the model. The model is we are seeing children be harmed and hurt across the board. So now there’s a way for parents to say you didn’t follow the law, the one that we’re trying to work on here. And so there’s actually a damage process for libel charges there. 


Rep Pearce: And so what department did you say would be policing that? 


Sen Dees: Through the AG’s office has been a part. 


Rep Pearce: The AG’s office? 


Rep McAlindon: The AG is not policing it. So the parents have the cause of action. So I as a parent can say, hey, you were supposed to have some sort of verification. You did not. My kid got in. And the AG’s office will defend that. They will defend the parent in that. But the AG’s office is not policing websites to make sure they’re doing it. 


Rep Pearce: Do you know the cost of this? 


Rep McAlindon: The cost? 


Rep Pearce: The cost to be able to do that? 


Rep McAlindon: I don’t– 


Rep Pearce: To implement this, what we’re trying to do. I think it’s great for our children but I’m just trying to figure out coming from a law enforcement background, first of all, how it’s policed, and how we police it. And the cost of that. 


Sen Dees: I appreciate that concern. There is not any expected cost with this. I believe this is a framework to be able to give our parents the ability to bring litigation and hold accountable to the harmful material. It won’t be an agency overhead expense is my understanding. 


Rep Pearce: Thank you, Madam Chair. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to talk about the safeguards that are in here. So to be honest with you, when I was a child, if y’all told me I couldn’t do something, I would have went right out and found a way to do it. That was just my personality. Probably still is. So just in full disclosure, probably still is. So the safeguard for the company, if a child steals an ID, whether it’s in a form of a handheld or a digital that we just passed. What is the safeguard for the company if they did the verification but the child still got on? Child got caught, child doesn’t say mom and dad I stole your ID, where is the liability checkoff? Because if a company’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing and we’re dumping the record, so we don’t really know. So, I mean, where’s the safeguard for the company against that liability? 


Sen Dees: Great question. The company, they are– we are requiring them to age verify. That’s it. And that voids them from being liable from any charges. That’s the language here. That’s what’s being presented. So as long as the company is following that rubric, then they are avoiding any libel charges that this bill brings. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Follow up, Madam Chair? 


Rep Vaught: You’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: I guess where I’m going through this, is a child, if they’re going to go look at porn, they’re not going to tell their parents they stole their ID and got on. And if we’re creating a liability that all the parent has to do is go to the AG – and I got a question about that – about that they say, my child, they didn’t show an ID and got on. How are we providing that– and I’m not trying to defend the porn sites. I’m just looking from a business standpoint. How are we able to put a safeguard in there that those companies do have a defense that, yes, I did do it, but the child used a fake one? 


Rep McAlindon: So the company like Pornhub is contracting with a third-party identifier. So they can verify with that third-party identifier that, yes, we are in place and yes, we have been doing that. So it sounds to me that there is actually a safeguard because the company can show proof that they have had this in place, that the system hasn’t gone down, I mean, companies have records of those things. Even if they don’t have record of your ID, they have record that yes, they have been running. Yes, it has been accessed. And so they can show that that verification has been in place. Then I think the next logical conclusion is they used someone else’s ID to verify. So I think there’s some protection there for the company. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. And does the AG really have the ability to bring lawsuits for individuals? So if I get mad and I want to go to AG and I tell them to bring lawsuit against Pornhub or whatever– I can’t believe we keep saying Pornhub over and over again. But does the AG really have the ability and is that what the AG should be doing, handling individual lawsuits? 


Sen Dees: Well, fortunately, our attorney general is about following all laws for our state. And so I think he’s an elected representative, and his team is about protection and is about taking care of this entire state in all those different avenues and capacities. And so I believe this is a worthy enough endeavor that they will very much so take it with all intensity and ensure that our children are protected. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Well, I understand that. But when we start allowing the AG to represent individuals in lawsuits do we not open up some questions should they not be representing other people? Because, I mean, my thing is they’re representing the individual. And I’ll be honest with you, we’ve had AGs that wouldn’t represent Representatives on a bill that they passed when they got sued. So I guess, I have a little bit of concern that we’re telling the AG that you’re going to handle, which is essentially a civil lawsuit. That you’re going to handle that for a citizen, rather than a citizen going to a private lawyer to handle that. We’re putting it on the State and there is a cost of that to the State. 


Rep McAlindon: Correct. There will be a cost if the AG’s involved. But I think in the same way that the AG will go out if there’s fraud, right? If there’s mail fraud or some sort of mail scam against older people, the AG jumps in. And it’s not the AG defending the individual, it’s the AG, as a state, we are going against whoever created that fraud. In this case, I would believe that the AG would be going against Pornhub because they are violating the laws of Arkansas. It is not the AG sitting next to mom in that civil lawsuit. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. Thank you. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Dalby, you’re recognized. 


Rep Dalby: Thank you, Madam Chair. Can y’all just explain to me how you reconcile this bill with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, and then there’s the federal law. And I’m afraid I don’t have that site in front of me. But the federal statute regarding the regulation of the Internet. Can you explain how this all melds together? What actually could even fit within those ramifications? Thank you. 


Sen Dees: Great question. I think my response to that would be that we believe this is constitutional. We believe this is in line. We believe the essence of this and the legislative intent with this bill is from a public need, from a public health issue with what we’re seeing with our children. We’re seeing downstream effects. And so I believe it is still constitutional. I believe it is at a point where we’ve got to stand up and make this change and intercede as a partner for the parents. And I do not believe it conflicts with anything in our Constitution. 


Rep McAlindon: And I did check with BLR on the Commerce Clause. And she did say, excuse me, I was looking it up. She did say that it would be a question of trier of fact is how she worded it. And that she did not, up front she didn’t have concerns. There was an issue if it did go to a lawsuit and she said the issue was the trier of fact. So it depends on how it was brought and who was bringing it. But up front, she was not saying, she wasn’t ringing any bells. 


Rep Vaught: Okay. I think I have a couple of questions now. I am the rep that got sued personally by somebody not from our state. And the AG’s office didn’t defend me because I was alluded to on the front page as DeAnn Vaught, not Representative DeAnn Vaught. So, I don’t know that they can actually work for people outside of, and Representative Cavenaugh made the perfect point because they couldn’t defend me because I wasn’t on the front cover DeAnn– because I wasn’t Representative Vaught they couldn’t. Even though 92 pages was nothing but Representative Vaught. So did the AG think they could actually do this or? 


Rep McAlindon: Again, I think the AG would be taking action against the website. Not defending mom whose child has viewed the website. So those are two different lawsuits. 


Rep Vaught: No, I do understand. But he’s still representing that parent. Whenever he is going after the site. They couldn’t represent me because of something very similar to that. So I’m just confused. 


Sen Dees: Madam Chair, the clarity that I would like to bring on that, would be my intent on communicating the AG’s role in this is more a holistic view of defending the laws that we pass, and in this case, this law we pass. And would defend the ability for civil litigation to go pursue. There’s been damages done now according to this. That’s really the framework that I meant from the AG’s office involvement. And so if this were to continue to pass throughout, then AG’s office would be adamantly supporting the ability for this to be executed, if you will. Not necessarily personally representing any damaged or personally even attacking, but standing behind the ability for this to be litigated. 


Rep Vaught: And then I have one more question. I know that we asked about the cost just a second ago. Who is paying Pornhub to grab the– or to monitor or whatever they’re going to be doing. Nobody’s pay– it’s a free thing to every state that wants to implement it? 


Rep McAlindon: Pornhub has to take it upon themselves to do it. So it is for them it will be a cost of doing business. 


Rep Vaught: Okay. All right. And then I guess there would be a cost if the attorney general had to pursue, right? 


Rep McAlindon: Correct. That would be the cost. 


Rep Vaught: That would be where the cost would come in? 


Rep McAlindon: Correct. 


Rep Vaught: Okay. Thank you very much. Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Madam Chair. Back to the lawsuit. So currently, the way the attorney general works is they don’t bring individual lawsuits. What they do is if fraud is reported to them, they will file class action lawsuits for the State of Arkansas on things. And they file lawsuits on, I mean, car dealers, everybody else. But it’s multiple complaints. It’s not a one-on-one complaint. So is that what we’re saying? If one person makes a complaint the AG is going to file a lawsuit or is there going to be– because to be honest with you, people can make a complaint and it may not be valid. And that’s why I’m asking. As a car dealer who always gets complained on I mean, car dealers do– I mean, next to lawyers we’re probably the most unloved people in the world but that’s another story. So is that what we’re saying that the attorney general is going to do, he’s going to handle it like a fraud? And so it’s going to be depending on how many complaints he gets in? 


Sen Dees: No, that’s not my interpretation of this law. And I appreciate the clarification on that question. I don’t view it as an individual lawsuit coming from the AG’s office at all. I view it as, and I believe how we have it written is it gives the ability for an individual who has been damaged or their family has been damaged to be able to bring litigation. And the AG’s office has worked with us on the language to help make sure that that would be able to stand up in court and has advised on that just from a legal mindset, but not necessarily AG’s office actually being the one that brings the litigation themselves. 


Rep Cavenaugh: So, if we’re saying that we’re creating a civil liability, that the person who got on the website, the parents, the child that got on that shouldn’t have, they can bring a lawsuit against the company. Then where is the AG in the process? Because normally in civil litigation, you don’t have to go to the AG and ask to bring that. Might not be a bad idea sometimes, but it doesn’t happen. And so I guess I’m kind of confused where the AG comes? 


Sen Dees: Sure, that’s fair. And I will admit I may have not explained that well. We worked with their team on the language and to make sure that this would pass legal muster if you will. And then our AG does defend our laws that we pass as a body. And that’s what I truly mean by their involvement, by their support, if you will. But any litigation, any lawsuit that is brought would be from an individual in a civil manner. 


Rep Cavenaugh: And they would use another attorney. Not the AG would have — okay, thank you. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thanks for asking that. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Dalby, you’re recognized. 


Rep Dalby: Thank you, Madam Chair. I think that that has answered my concerns because there is nowhere in this bill the attorney general is never, ever mentioned in this bill. So I think the previous testimony was somewhat misleading. So that is not correct. And I guess so now, I want to go to what keeps an individual from having a civil cause of action without this bill? It appears to me that there is a civil cause of action without even the need of the bill. And can you address that? 


Rep McAlindon: Yeah. So the bill is requiring Pornhub- sorry, Representative Cavenaugh. Requiring the website to have a third-party identifier. That’s the crux of the bill. Is that you have to verify, I’m sorry, it doesn’t have to be a third party. You have to verify the age of the person accessing the website. 


Rep Dalby: I understand that, but your previous testimony, if I understand it. Maybe I’ve misread the bill or misunderstood, but your previous testimony was of the harm. In fact, Senator Dees listed the harm, and I think we all agree on that. So that’s really your cause of action is the harm to the child, correct? 


Sen Dees: Correct. 


Rep Dalby: So that is already a cause of action that can be had without some age verification? I mean, because that’s what you’re basing your cause of action is correct? Right. 


Sen Dees: I think you bring up a good point. I think anybody who can bring proof of damages would have the ability to bring civil litigation. I believe this highlights it. I believe it also provides a solution that if the harmful material does not follow this direction. Then now they’re willing and almost you could argue encouraging potential more damages. And so that’s the intent today is you’re right, there could be ability for any civil litigation to happen without this bill. But I believe this strengthens it. I believe it gives a framework that shows that the content that’s out there that’s being exposed to our children, if they are willingly going to disregard this law, then now we’re going to say you are legally liable and hopefully the damages would be potentially worse for them. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Cavenaugh, You’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: And we’re talking about liability and people’s IDs. Thank you, Madam Chair. My ID gets stolen. It gets used on this website. What course do I have? I mean, what recourse am I going to have if it shows that Fran went to the website when she didn’t go to the website. I know you talked about they’re dumping the record, but you’re also saying they’re verifying it and they can go back and say they did. So they’re either dumping or they’re not dumping. And I guess it’s kind of like, was that Madison? Whatever that was, that website everybody was getting on? 


Rep McAlindon: Ashley Madison. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Yeah. And so then they were looking at everybody. I mean, what safeguards do we have if that happens? 


Sen Dees: Representative Cavenaugh, thank you for that question. In the bill, we talk about the same type of damages that if your information, whether stolen or not, is exposed, is leaked. So they are also liable for those situations. 


Rep McAlindon: By that verifier, if that verifier does not dump your information or if their information before they could dump it is stolen, then you do have a cause of action as well. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you. 


Rep Vaught: Seeing no other questions. Mark Stodola is here to speak against the bill. For the bill- sorry, for the bill. Please introduce yourself, who you’re with for the record. And then you may begin. 


Stodola: Thank you, Madam Chair. My name is Mark Stodola. I’m an attorney, at least at this point in time. Having had a couple of hats on in the past. And I am with the Barber Law Firm. I represent the Motion Picture Association. And I want to express the support of the Motion Picture Association for this bill and its intended desire to try and curb the proliferation of porn access to our minor children. I’m here because this is something that obviously is of concern to the major movie studios and everyone that is providing certain content, whether it be in movies or whether it be streaming, all of the kind of things that we know is happening. We worked with Senator Dees and with Representative McAlindon on some amendments that were put in on today, because we have seen this type of legislation be litigated in other states. And we wanted to try and help improve it, which in fact these amendments do. And I wanted to express our support for what the Senator and the Representative are doing with respect to this legislation. 


I can, I think, help offer a bit of understanding about the issue of the causes of action under this bill. Certainly from a public policy standpoint, the attorney general might very well desire to take some action for violating this statute once passed. In terms of sites that are obviously not providing the kind of regulation that this is intended to do. But it also creates an individual cause of action on behalf of the individual. Which would be the parents taking it on behalf of the individual and taking a cause of action against them as well. So it’s a dual area of opportunity for taking action if one chooses to do that. So I think hopefully that helps clear up a little bit. It’s very clear in the language. I’m on page 5 of the initial bill, which talks about the fact that it creates a cause of action specifically for the individual who’s violated the requirements in the statute. So. I’m happy to answer any questions if there happen to be any. 


Rep Vaught: Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Madam Chair. So when we’re talking about the civil liability that we’re talking about, that can be done, and we’re talking about an individual bringing it against a company. But how does the company have a defense if they don’t have any record of the ID that was used to access that? I mean, do they have any defense, what defense are they going to have to say or can somebody just say, you didn’t do it? My process is this. 


Stodola: Well, I think that the effort here is to make sure that you have that third party there that has documentation, that verifies that they have done that check, they have done that verification. That would be a defense that they would have if there’s an action that’s brought against them. 


Rep Cavenaugh: But they don’t keep the information. So they could not say what ID was used. Is that not correct? They dump the records is the testimony. 


Stodola: Well, I don’t know exactly when they dump the record. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Well, that was another concern that they hope they dumped it quickly, I think. 


Stodola: I know they can’t retain the information, but whether or not whether there’s a length of time on that, I’m sorry. That was not our particular issue. We were actually putting amendments in it to try and galvanize it against future litigation that we would anticipate might come with the passage of this particular act. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Follow up, Madam Chair? 


Rep Vaught: You’re recognized. 


Rep Cavenaugh: And I know you said that you’re with the Motion Picture Association. 


Stodola: That’s correct. 


Rep Cavenaugh: What steps do y’all have to keep children from getting into porn in motion pictures? 


Stodola: Well, I mean, the Motion Picture Association has a very strong process that they’ve had in place for many, many years on movie rating. And they do not participate in, quote, “pornographic” distribution of movies. I mean, they have, as I think probably everybody’s aware, they have a movie rating system based on age and based on content. And that’s what they have been using successfully for years. I’ve represented the Motion Picture Association, I think, since probably 2007, with a little hiatus in there when I was in public office. But other than that, I mean, I can tell you that over the years that’s been very, very effective in dealing with the issue of the distribution of movies through the major movie studios. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Yes. And I guess I’m talking about since we have so much streaming of movies now. So how are we able to verify that that person that’s streaming a movie, though it may be X-rated, is not actually under the age, or if it’s R-rated or what it is? Do y’all have any process? And the reason I’m trying to say is if you’ve had a process that’s worked well, could it not be similar? 


Stodola: For the Association, any of the member companies submit their content for review for a rating from the Motion Picture Association. That does not include XXX or pornographic. 


Rep Cavenaugh: But if a child is streaming information? 


Stodola: Well, but again, that’s not– I mean, it’s similar to what Representative McAlindon indicated. I mean, there may be sites out there that were international sites that we don’t have any control over, they’re not members of the Association. They’re not part of what we regulate. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. Like Paramount Plus or Disney Plus, you don’t regulate any of the stuff that streams through them or HBO? 


Stodola: No we do not. Only the membership, but that covers a vast, it covers all of the major motion picture studios and some of the streaming services as well are members. 


Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. Thank you. 


Rep Vaught: Seeing no other questions. Thank you for your testimony. 


Stodola: Thank you, Madam Chair. 


Rep Vaught: There’s no one signed up to speak against the bill. Is there anyone that would like to speak against the bill? Seeing no one. Would y’all like to close for your bill? 


Sen Dees: Thank you, members. This is an important bill. It’s one that I know I bring as a father with three young children that I take seriously. I can speak to it from that context. I know I’ve got a 12, 10, and 5-year-old. And when we go to travel basketball games and my kids are with other 12, 10, 11, 12, 13-year-olds. And half of them have cell phones already. We don’t have them in our house for our kids, but they are passing around content easily and accessible. And I know that that is harmful and is damaging to our youth, it’s causing ramifications downstream. I’m doing everything I can as a parent to help guard them from that. And I can tell you, I’m doing everything I can as a Senate member to make sure that we stand in the gap for our parents to partner with them to help this. And that’s what this bill does, it helps arm parents to have another step, another piece of friction, to make sure that our children aren’t exposed to harmful material online. And I’ll do everything I can to defend that. So, Representative McAlindon. 


Rep McAlindon: Yes. Thank you all very much for hearing the bill. Just I agree with Senator Dees. I have four kids. I’ve worked hard. I’ve homeschooled them. I’ve worked hard to protect them from things that I don’t think they should be seeing because of their age. And I think that is our job as parents. But I also think as legislators, that is our job. Our job is to protect those people who can’t protect themselves. Kids make bad choices. They don’t know any better. And as Representative Cavenaugh said, sometimes we have kids who just want to do things because we told them not to. But it is our job as legislators to make sure that we are protecting our children from things that they shouldn’t be exposed to yet. And I ask for a good vote. 


Rep Vaught: What is the will of the Committee? Seeing no motion. Your bill can’t advance at this time. 


Sen Dees: Thank you, members. 


Rep Vaught: We have no other business. So this meeting is adjourned.