House Judiciary

Feb. 7, 2023


Rep Dalby House Judiciary will come to order. Chair sees a quorum. Members, we have one item on our agenda this morning, and it will be House Bill ten13. House Bill ten13 will be the only bill that we have on our agenda. And at this time I would recognize Representative Flowers.


Members, at your desk, or soon to be at your desk, we have an amendment. It would be amendment number 2 that’s being passed out. I’m going to give you a second to see that amendment. And also, I want to call your attention– you should have the green legislative fiscal impact statement should be at your desk, too. So let’s take just a couple of moments, Representative Flowers, before you are recognized. Let’s get our paperwork out and let people take a look at it and then we’ll get started.


Members, we also, our analysts have put a copy of the bill at your desk since it’s 13 pages long. And we have this amendment that refers to several different pages. So you should have all of that paperwork. If anyone doesn’t, just let us know. But I believe everybody has both the bill, the amendment and the fiscal impact statement. Once you’ve had an opportunity to kind of review those, if you would look up here just so that we can kind of know that we’re ready. I’m not rushing anybody. Just when you get an opportunity, just kind of let us know you’re ready. All right, members, I believe we’re ready to proceed. Representative Flowers, you’re recognized. Please introduce yourself for the record and you are recognized to present your amendment.


Rep V Flowers Thank you, Madam Chair. So the amendment– first of all, I’m Representative Vivian Flowers, State Representative for District 65 out of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County. It is my honor and pleasure to bring before you today House Bill ten13. And I believe we’ll start with my request that you consider adoption of amendment number 2. Amendment number 2 essentially does three things. It strikes the language that was at the end of the bill that basically outlines how a petitioner would restore his or her voting rights, which is repetitive because that is already covered in our state Constitution and in law. So, we, just to bar from any confusion, decided to strike that language. The second thing it does is address a federal issue regarding CDL licensees that is defined at the end of the fiscal impact statement. DFA brought the language for this substantive change. And then finally, you’ll see where on page 9 there is a section that would require the prosecuting attorney to file a response to any petition where essentially the conviction of a nonviolent felony resulted in a plea bargain where a firearm was used in the commission of the crime. That is what I call my Tosh amendment. That’s something that he brought to me on Friday, and I was happy to incorporate that into this bill with the understanding that there were several members who were concerned about that being something that slips through the cracks. And with that, I’d answer any questions and certainly ask that you consider adoption.


Rep Dalby Are there any questions regarding amendment number 2? Seeing no questions, what is the will of the committee? We have a motion to adopt amendment number 2. Is there any discussion on that motion? All in favor of motion to adopt amendment number 2, please say aye. Any opposed, say no. The ayes have it. Adopted. Amendment 2 is adopted. Representative Flowers, you’re now recognized to present your bill as amended.


Rep V Flowers Okay. Thank you, Madam Chair. So a lot of people don’t know that I grew up in a household where I wasn’t even allowed to play with toy guns. For a very short period of time we had a weapon in the house for protection, which is something that my dad elected to do to protect his family. I also grew up taking family trips with my uncle, who was a pharmacist and keeps a weapon in his pharmacy. And when we took family trips with him, there was always a weapon in the center console. I always felt safe and never had to think about whether or not I would ever consider purchasing a firearm for myself. Fast forward, I was a single woman living in Little Rock and was burglarized twice, so I bought a weapon. And I’ve had that weapon ever since. And as I have continued to live my life driving up and down the highway and living in a house alone and now helping to take care of my parents, I have a concealed carry license and I have purchased 2 additional weapons since then. And that is my right. I am a free American and I’m free as an Arkansan to do that.


Fast forward to a little over 2 years ago, I received a call from a gentleman who I’ll call Mr. Hawkins– he might be here today, but I don’t think he’s here yet– who contacted me. He’s my constituent and told me that he wanted to see if there was something I could do to help him because he made an unfortunate and not smart decision when he was young, almost 20 years ago, or over 20 years ago and was arrested for, I believe, possession of an illegal substance with intent. He paid his debt and now he has a family. He has a business. And he let me know– I didn’t know this and several of you have heard the story that his business is landscaping. That riding lawn mower jacking is a thing and he wants to take his young son with him, just like a lot of people do, to run his business and show his son the ropes. But he doesn’t want to do it, he can’t do it because he believes that he would be vulnerable. And while the law allows for his wife to possess a weapon and maybe have it in the home to protect the family, what that does is pose a threat to his freedom. Say there was an intruder and he’s upstairs, let’s say, in their home. And I don’t know what their house is like but say he’s upstairs and he hears a noise and he hears his wife scream and their weapon is in a drawer that’s accessible only to them. Does he grab that weapon and go protect his wife, does he risk going to prison? Well, that is the quagmire that he experiences every day of his life. Even though he paid his debt to society and is a law abiding and has been for over almost 20 years.


And there you’ll hear from people today with a similar story. And so that’s how Vivian Flowers, African American woman, Democrat from Pine Bluff, ended up bringing you this bill. I started to work on it 2 years ago and found out that Senator Stubblefield and Senator Caldwell were working on it. And we actually joined forces. We worked diligently with several stakeholders who helped us with the language, including the prosecutor’s office, who I met with again in December to make sure that they were comfortable with the language and I pre-filed the bill to put it out there, because I knew that there would be this. Wanted to make sure that anyone who had any issues, concerns, suggested amendments that we would get them. And we’ve actually made several changes to the bill. As you see, there have been 2 amendments. And it’s a much better bill. I’m almost glad that it didn’t get out. We ran out of time a couple of years ago because it really is a good bill. And so I’ll go through a little bit about the bill and then, Madam Chair, make myself available for any questions before we hear from our witnesses today. So essentially what the bill does is restore the Second Amendment rights to Arkansans who have committed nonviolent felonies. And this doesn’t, by the way, this doesn’t include all nonviolent felonies. And I don’t know how many of you have access to the bill, but you’ll notice–


Rep Dalby Everyone has the bill at their desk.


Rep V Flowers Okay. Okay, great. You’ll notice that. On page 6, starting in line 19, or actually starting on line 25, it not only refers to the violent felony statute, but it also goes through a very particular list of felonies that are violent and some that are nonviolent. For example, felony fleeing. For example, residential burglary. Those felonies are excluded from this bill and that came after a lot of conversation with the prosecutor’s office. And that goes all the way down to the next page on line– actually, the next couple of pages. But the bottom, the point is you’ll see that it’s an exhaustive list that covers all felony offenses that exist now and language incorporated for felonies that may, for felonies that may not be in the code right now. If you’ll also notice, there was a fiscal impact statement done and there would be no cost. And we’ll explain a little bit about how this process would work.


The bill the language of the bill was patterned after our First Offender Law, as well as our Drug Court Act. And I think that’s really, really important for you to remember, because for anyone who might say that there is a concern about the ceiling of the record or there’s a concern about the dismissal and the discharge process, we already do it. I had a couple of members share with me a concern about the possibility of an employer not being able to access the record of a nonviolent felon through this process. That nonviolent felon could apply for this same petition as a first offender, but not seek to get his or her gun rights back. And that issue still exists right now today. So the example I was given, if someone was arrested and convicted of selling opioid drugs and let’s say they served a five year sentence and five years probation, so after 10 years, then the clock would start for 10 years, in this case. In the case of the first offender, after they serve their sentence, they could apply for this petition. And that same person might want to get a job as a driver, and it ends up being a driver for a pharmacist. Under the current law, that record is still sealed. So that is not an issue that is particular to this bill alone. I want to talk a little bit about the ten year cleansing period that we mentioned. That didn’t just materialize out of thin air. So the federal government, has done a longitudinal study on the recidivism of federal prisoners or federal felons in the federal system. And in that longitudinal study and every other report from any state that I read, by the time you get to year eight, recidivism reduces to 2%.


So don’t forget that this bill would start the clock after the person paid his or her debt to society, which could involve prison time, parole time, probation time. So we’re not just talking about 10 years in a vacuum. There’s been longitudinal study of states. We were not included in that longitudinal study. But after 10 years, recidivism reduces to 20%. I’d ask you to think about that, because what the studies show is that these folks are less likely to re-offend at a rate that is much lower than the general population outside of those being studied. So I’m not talking about from year 1 to 8 or year 1 to 10. I’m talking about those after that who have not re-offended are less likely to commit a crime than the folks in here. And then the other thing that I would like to share with you is that we would not be setting a precedent, that there are almost 2 dozen states that either in which nonviolent felons never lose their rights, that’s in Delaware, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wyoming. And the remaining states create some sort of pathway outside of pardon in which a felon, a nonviolent felon, could restore their rights. Of those remaining states, five of them are automatic. There is no hearing process like what we have currently and what we would have under this law. New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. And I’d be happy to share the link with you that describes how these processes work in every state. I think I want to stop now and answer any questions so that we can leave ample time for our witnesses who have taken off work and one who has driven for 3 hours to be here today.


Rep Dalby Members, are there any questions? Representative Scott, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Scott Thank you, Ms. Chairwoman. Representative Flowers, has this bill passed in any other states or did I miss that in your opening?


Rep V Flowers So I wouldn’t say this bill, because every state is kind of different. And let me give you an example. So I just mentioned there were over or almost 2 dozen states. Oh, okay. Here it is. There are almost 2 dozen states that provide a pathway so that there is, I would say, similar legislation that exists. So, for example, in New Mexico, a person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm. This right is restored 10 years after completion of sentence or earlier by pardon. And I’ll give you North Dakota. In North Dakota, a person convicted of a felony or Class A misdemeanor loses the right to possess a firearm. A person convicted of a nonviolent felony or a Class A misdemeanor regains their rights automatically five years after release from prison or probation. For someone convicted of a felony involving violence or intimidation. The waiting period is 10 years. A person subject to a five year waiting period may petition the court to have these rights restored sooner. So you’ll see that in North Dakota it’s just an automatic timeline and you use the pardon for a sooner attempt at restoration. And I think it’s important to know that in Arkansas, under this law, there would be a very, I would say strenuous process. And this law, if there is a victim involved in these nonviolent offenses, the victim would be required to be notified, the prosecutor would be required to be notified, and then there would be a hearing from a judge, which is the same process that we use for our First Offender Law, as well as our Drug Court Law. And for, you know, one of the questions that came up pretty consistently is about the existing law. It’s a very, very narrow pathway. I would say it’s almost nonexistent.


The likelihood for the average person who has committed a nonviolent felony to actually go through what is a pretty lengthy process, and it should be, it shouldn’t be quick, for I think a violent felon. The likelihood of that person being given an, a balanced opportunity that any other person in their circumstance would be given is slim to none. And to be fair, you know, the governor sits in a very, it’s a quagmire kind of situation. Because if the governor believes that, you know, the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment is really a precious right and that people who commit nonviolent felons should get a second chance if we really believe in reentry. Is, should that governor be responsible for making that decision for throngs of people and having that on his or her record? Or should there be an even process for those folks? And the other thing that I would, and this doesn’t do anything to change that that is Constitutional. Someone, let’s say before year ten could say, hey, I think I could get it quicker through the pardon process. Or nonviolent–violent offenders could go through that process after 10 years. And the other thing that I think is important is this is not something that is just there for anytime someone violates the law and let’s enough time pass by. There is one bite at this apple. And so it really does serve as I think, for a population of people who are really less likely to offend or re-offend. It also serves as an incentive. And I could send you information based on a study and reports from Washington State where that data demonstrates that it really does serve as a sort of incentive for people to continue to exercise good behavior.


Rep Dalby Members, any other questions? Representative Unger, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Unger Thank you, Madam Chair. Representative Flowers, is there a way for a nonviolent offender to regain their Second Amendment rights without all of the sealing and removing of records and files?


Rep V Flowers Thank you for that question, Representative Unger. No. And that is because there’s a federal law and I didn’t know this until I started working on this bill. The federal law, which I think is strange, but the federal law covers all felonies, state and federal, and without the dismissal, discharge and sealing, what we would be doing is that–this this was a discussion in our very first meeting. We would be setting Arkansans up to be free from arrest in Arkansas, but that person could be hunting and ultimately with a weapon, be violating the federal law and be turned over from whatever Game and Fish law enforcement authority over to ATF and risk a federal possession charge for hunting.


Rep Unger Thank you.


Rep Dalby Any other questions? Seeing no further questions, we do have. Oh, I’m sorry. Representative Moore, you’re recognized.


Rep Moore Thank you, Madam Chair. Does this only applies if you’ve been convicted of just one felony. Or does it apply if you’ve been convicted of multiple nonviolent offenses at the same time?


Rep V Flowers Good question. So it there may be and I’ve asked this the other day, I might not be using the right language, but let’s say there might be 2 counts, but one conviction. This covers one conviction. So if a person got in trouble at 19 and didn’t learn their lesson and they got in trouble again at 23, 2 different nonviolent felony convictions, that person would not be eligible to restore their rights under this law.


Rep Dalby Any other questions? Seeing no other questions, we do have a number of people who signed up to speak for and against the bill.


Rep V Flowers Madam Chair, before we go there, I have, and I don’t know if I was supposed to share this, I have 2 witnesses who came with me today. Could we hear from them first?


Rep Dalby Without objection, I’ll allow that. You can call your witnesses.


Rep V Flowers Thank you so much. And I’ll just ask them to come at the same time. Miss Tammy Bare and Mr. Harold West. I don’t believe, is Mr. Hawkins here?


Rep Dalby Mr. Hawkins, are you in the room? No, I don’t believe so.


Rep V Flowers These 2 witnesses, then.


Rep Dalby If you’ll press the button, so the microphone will come on and then state your name for the record, and then you’ll be recognized to make your statement.


Rep Scott My name is Tamara Bare.


Rep Dalby Would you spell your last name for us, please? You have to press the button on the air.


Rep V Flowers Wait don’t press. Okay.


Bare Okay. My last name is Bare


Rep Dalby It’s not working. Just use the microphone next to you. We’ve been having a little trouble with that one. Members, if you have a microphone on, make sure you turn your microphones off. All right, Miss Bare. Now, if you’ll start all over again, please.


Bare Yes, ma’am. My name is Tamara Bare. My last name is spelled B A R E.


Rep Dalby All right. You’re recognized. You may make your statement.


Bare I’m nervous. So I wrote it down.


Rep Dalby So could you get just a little closer to the microphone? So we’ll make sure everybody can hear. Thank you.


Bare Yes, ma’am. I’m here today to tell my story. The reason why I support this bill and I want to start; I want the first part to be about regaining my Second Amendment rights. I grew up in Bee Branch, a small town north of Conway. My dad was a gunsmith. My dad was a gunsmith and he taught me how to shoot. At a young age, he taught safety. He also taught me that this was a way to protect myself if the need ever arose. I never considered a life without a way to offer protection for myself until I got in trouble. Up until then, I always had a gun in my house, in my bedroom, because it made me feel safe. And I’m 56 years old, and I live alone in an apartment in Conway. Where I currently live, I have a neighbor who makes me feel very uncomfortable. The lady next door said the same. She got a camera so she could see who would come up to her door and he would come up to her door. He wouldn’t knock, but he would just stand there. It’s a very creepy feeling.


A gun for me is protection. If anyone came in my home uninvited, I would be defenseless. And that makes me vulnerable. This is why I want my right to bear arms reinstated. The second part to provide the discharge, dismissal and sealing of a felony conviction. In January of 2005, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He was given six weeks to live. He and I were very close, so it was very hard on me. It’s still hard for me to talk about it. He ended up living 18 months and as glad as I was, that he was still here, it didn’t take away that everyday torment of waking up and wondering if today was going to be that day. I couldn’t find a way to accept it or deal with it or cope with it. I would get in my truck and I would drive around on the back roads in Greenbriar, you know, think and cry and listen to music. And one morning I was out driving and I stopped by a friend’s house. And this is where I met the guy who helped me start my path of destruction and helped me stay on it for far too long. I hadn’t been there that long when he handed me a meth pipe.


This was during a time when I really didn’t care about a whole lot, and I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I never considered that it would start a long and very hard way of life, but within minutes I felt different. It was like this huge burden had been lifted off of me. I wasn’t crying. And so, you know, instantly it became my escape and it stayed my escape until March of 2009. I was arrested and I didn’t get to go home. I was sent to a facility in Pine Bluff. And it was I want to say it’s a horrible place. It has its purpose, but it’s very hard to live in that environment and not have your freedom. But the one thing that helped me the most was we had to go once or twice a week to a class where a counselor would ask us or, you know, ask us to go through just various exercises, going outside, scream as loud as you can, repeating positive affirmations. But the one thing that helped me the most was when she said not for herself, but for ourself. She wanted us to write down why and how we ended up where we were. Once I started writing, it’s like I couldn’t stop. It’s like all my emotions, my feelings, everything was just pouring out on the paper. I still cried. I cried a lot. But it was more of a cleansing cry. Like I was getting this grief out of my system.


My dad was diagnosed in January of 2005. In December of 2005, I left an 18 year career at Acxiom in Conway, Arkansas. I spent the next three years running away from the grief, doing whatever it took to keep my mind off my dad, even though my dad passed away in September of 2006. So I was still caught in my world. Couldn’t figure out how to get it, get out of it. When I was released, though, when I was released from Pine Bluff, I immediately moved to Tennessee with my mom and my brother. It took a while, about six months, but I did find a job. I worked as a server at a Japanese restaurant. A few years later, they had decided to open a new location and they asked me to manage it. I managed that location for about three years and that was up until the time my son called me and said, Mom, it’s time to come home. And at that point, I was ready. I was strong and I knew there was nothing that could influence me to take that path again. And I wanted to be I want to be close to my kids, but I wanted to be close to my grandkids. I have six grandkids, you know, and they’re my world.


My path hasn’t been easy. It’s been extremely difficult. Not having a job, trying to search for a job and trying to get a job when you’re a convicted felon. I feel like I’ve been lucky. I feel like God’s had his hand on me because he’s, the doors have opened for me that I didn’t think would ever open for me. I want to say it took about a year for me to finally get a job in Conway, and I went through a temp service and they sent me to Conway Regional Medical Center. I worked in their Environmental Services department. And at six weeks after I started they terminated my supervisor and they asked me to fill the position. Most hospitals don’t hire convicted felons. I kind of came in a back door and once I was already there and they got to know me. And, you know, they were ready to bring us underneath their umbrella. They didn’t question it. They knew my background and they said, it’s okay because we already know her. Most people don’t get that opportunity to prove themselves. I want to say, it was a couple of years, a couple of years I stayed in that position and then I accepted a position as an administrative assistant for the maintenance department. That’s where I am today. I work with some of the best people I’ve ever known, and I’m very happy where I am. Not everyone has the same opportunities I’ve had, and there are others who have a similar story to mine. They are the type of people this bill could help. Not criminals, but people who took a wrong turn, made a decision they didn’t realize would impact their life forever. People who truly do deserve a second chance and bad decision should not be a life sentence. And thank you all for listening.


Rep Dalby Miss Bare, would you take questions if there are any?


Bare Yes, ma’am.


Rep Dalby Members, are there any questions of Miss Bare? Seeing none, thank you for your testimony today. Sir, you’re recognized to give us your name and identify yourself and you then you may proceed.


West I’m probably more scared than she would. My name’s Harold West. I live in western Arkansas, Magazine, and I was convicted of a felony in 1997. So it’s been 27 years. I own my own business. I just retired last December. Owned my own business since 2000, 2001, I’m a master electrician. So worked here in the community and I never had any problems, but I’ve got several grandbabies growing up that already want to go hunting. I can’t take them, without fear of going to jail. But I’ve been married for 30 something years, 32 years, and my wife’s helping me out over there.


Rep Dalby And that may be the hardest answer you give all day is how many years you’ve been married.


West Whatever she says, that’s what it is.


Rep Dalby Smart man.


West Yeah, I’m probably about as country hick as a feller can get. I was raised hunting and fishing. My weekends were on the mountain or on the creek bank. And I’ve got a nearly 9-year-old grandson at home right now that bout every day he wants to go hunting. If we squirrel hunting, deer hunting or whatever. But I can’t take him. I think this is a good bill. And it shouldn’t really matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, Liberal, whatever. This is about people’s lives. And as Miss Bare said you shouldn’t have pay for this for your whole life. Especially, 18 years old you write a hot check. You get a felony. You’re 60 years old, you’ve still got a felony for a hot check, you know. So I believe it should pass. I hope ya’ll pass it.


Rep Dalby Mr. West, would you entertain any questions if there are any? Members do you have any questions of Mr. West? Seeing no questions, thank you for your testimony today. Thank you for being here. Members, we have Dylan Jacobs, with the Attorney General’s office. If you’d like to…you may. If you’ll go to the end of the table and then identify yourselves and you’ll be recognized. Since we’re having microphone issues, I think we’re just going to have to use that one microphone that’s working.


Jacobs AG’s Office (Inaudible)


Rep Dalby If you’ll bring it up this way, we have to approve it first. So hang on just a moment. I believe all the members now have the handout. Please state your name, who you’re with, and you’re recognized to proceed.


Jacobs AG’s Office Thank you, Madam Chair. My name is Dylan Jacobs with the Attorney General’s office. I have with me Adam Jackson. We’re here on behalf of Attorney General Tim Griffin. And Tim has sent us here to let you know that it’s our position that you should vote no on this bill. I think it’s important to say at the outset what this bill is and isn’t or shouldn’t be viewed as. This isn’t really a firearms bill, and why is that?  Arkansas law already has a way to deal with the problem of Arkansans, with stale felony convictions who don’t have their firearm rights. And that is a petition to the governor either for a pardon or a limited restoration of firearm rights with which the law already provides for, and that anyone with a felony conviction is eligible to seek. And we think this poses somewhat of a separation of powers problem because it’s an end run around the governor’s authority to review and grant those pardon requests. And we think there’s an additional separation of powers problem with the courts.


The bill before you is pretty explicit in how it directs the courts to deal with sealed records when one of these petitions is granted in a way that’s not true under the current 2013 Comprehensive Sealing Act, and it’s not true under the First Offenders Act. And we think there are serious problems with that. And it’s quite possible that it would be struck down by the courts as unenforceable. In particular, this is the provisions about removing records from the docket sheet, specifying exactly what can and can’t show up when someone goes and views records of a of a criminal docket. And we also think it’s important to know what exactly this is relevant to current law. We already have today the Comprehensive Sealing Act of 2013, which provides for a certain limited category of felony offenses and largely for misdemeanor offenses, a circuit court process by which people can have their convictions sealed. And what does this bill do differently than that?


So the first thing is that the proceedings when a felon goes in front of a circuit court and wants to have his conviction sealed. Under current law for the for the set of convictions that are eligible for this, it’s really the felon’s burden to show that this ought to be granted. And there’s a whole list of factors in the statute the circuit court has to consider at minimum. And the circuit court has pretty broad authority to decide whether this is in the interest of justice. And that’s the standard that a circuit court has to apply. Under this bill, this bill applies the current standard for sealing misdemeanor convictions to felonies. And so what does that mean? This means that a circuit court has to grant a petition to seal one of these felony convictions unless there is clear and convincing evidence that it should not do so. And what does that mean? Clear and convincing evidence, as we lawyers like to say, is a very high burden of proof, can’t really ascribe a percentage to it. But evidence wise, it’s much higher than 51%. Maybe it’s 75%, 70%. It’s a pretty high threshold that a circuit court has to determine that this isn’t warranted before it can deny one of these petitions. And the statute doesn’t lay out like current law, the various factors that a circuit court has to consider when it’s doing this. And it’s not entirely clear, you know what, if anything, a circuit court does have to consider.


Another change based on current law is, as I’ve been saying, we already have the 2013 Comprehensive Sealing Act where you can have these felony convictions sealed. This bill doesn’t replace that. It adds an additional petition procedure on it. And that is important because under the current Sealing Act, you generally get one of these. And under this bill, the way that I read it, you get another. So, under current law, we only allow you generally, I think, to go and have one set of felony convictions sealed. And that’s all that we give you. And this bill adds an entirely new process with these much lower burdens of proof. For another bite of the apple of sealing an entirely new set of felony convictions in the way that I read the bill is if someone’s already had a set of felony convictions sealed under the 2013 Act, they’re still eligible to go and get a new set of felony convictions sealed under this act. And that’s a real change. And so, I’ll go back to the first point I made. Why is this not a firearms bill? There are processes under the law where a felon can go get their firearm rights back and you could change the Comprehensive Sealing Act of 2013 today and make it so that all of the convictions currently eligible to be sealed under current law come with the restoration of your firearm rights. You could probably do that.


There’s still some problems with that running up against the governor’s authority, but that’s at least a little bit more arguable. You can do that today, but what you don’t have to do is create an entirely new process for sealing old felony convictions that expands, at least to some extent, the number of and types of convictions that are eligible to be sealed over and above current law. I can’t tell you today exactly what the new eligible convictions are because this statute is written in a different way than the 2013 law. There’s a section of the 2013 Act that lists pretty clearly which offenses are eligible to be sealed. And the bill here, the way that I read it, it’s everything but a very long list. I don’t know how many of you have ever seen the code books of the criminal law. They’re very thick. There’s a lot of them. I don’t know what all the offenses are in there, certainly. And it’s very difficult to go and figure out what offenses under the, under this bill are eligible or ineligible for this new second sealing process. There are a lot of problems and risks there. Yeah. I’ll turn it over to my colleague, Adam Jackson.


Jackson AG’s Office Adam Jackson with the attorney General’s office. I do want to address a couple of questions that were brought up earlier. The process under state law does when you go to the governor and seek the restoration of firearms rights is actually contemplated by the federal law as well. The federal gun rights law, 18 U.S.C. 921 has a definition section. It’s A 20, that says if the conviction, trying to pull it up here, was otherwise pardoned by the state action, It’s not going to be treated as a conviction. So technically going the, going the route of the governor’s pardon with restoration of firearms rights does get federal firearms rights back as well. And there were some comments earlier about how we already kind of have a process for this. This is, by actually going through the court system to essentially get rid of a conviction as if it never existed. This is something that would be new in the state. The expungement under the First Offenders Program is different because in that instance, it’s a delayed adjudication of guilt where a conviction is never actually entered. So once probation is completed under the first offenders program, that’s wiped out because a conviction was never actually entered. The Comprehensive Sealing Act, all that happens there is the conviction is sealed, but they still remain to be a convicted felon. This is not, this takes a whole conviction that’s out there and completely throws it out. It really does nothing for, I mean, it’ll throw out the conviction, but it does nothing to hide any conviction that went up on appeal. The court records that are up on appeal as part of that or any Supreme Court or Court of Appeals appellate opinion of those convictions, those are all still out there.


Jacobs AG’s Office All right. So just to sum up again, it’s not a firearms bill. I don’t know if you all know Tim. You know, he’s not against firearm rights. We have a process in place for that. There could be a different policy in place for that if you think it’s a problem. But we don’t think this is the bill to do it. And Attorney General Griffin urges you to vote no on this. Happy to answer any of the member’s questions if there are any.


Rep Dalby Representative Richmond, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Richmond Thank you, Madam Chair. My question is you talk about the dramatic expansion of offenses. And so I take it that the list of offenses that you would, would prohibit you from being qualified is insufficient. So if this was turned into a more of a gun rights bill and you listed only those offenses where you would be eligible. Would that answer some of the questions that we’re having here?


Jacobs AG’s Office So there are 2 parts to that. The first is in the way that we read the bill, this provides 2 separate instances where a felony conviction or set of convictions can be sealed under this. So that’s double what you get under current law in the first place. And I think the part of the problem with the list of offenses and we I think we identified a few that may not be covered under this one is, again, as I mentioned, the current law gives you a list of of felony convictions that are eligible. This law says everything but. I don’t, I can’t tell you that we don’t cover everything that we should cover because I can’t read this bill and figure out what all is eligible or not eligible just from reading this. And it would take someone sitting down for probably quite a long time, you know, to figure that out. And this is the law of the people, if it’s passed, are going to have to work with, you know, our office and the prosecutor’s office having to figure, just to sit down and figure out whether a conviction is eligible. And you got to think, you know, from the person, the perspective of a felon is trying to figure out whether their conviction is eligible. A layperson doing this, you know, that would be pretty difficult, you know, or they’re going to have to go pay an attorney to figure it out for them. And so that, again, if the problem is firearms, you know, you can file a petition with the governor and Governor Sanders can, you know, in this term anyway to determine whether you ought to get your firearm rights back. And our position is we think that’s a satisfactory, you know, remedy for anyone trying to go through the process and get firearm rights back.


Rep Richmond Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.


Rep Dalby Representative Collins. You’re recognized for a question.


Rep Collins Thank you, Madam Chair. I guess my question really was on a pretty similar topic, but slightly different and maybe you can’t answer, but when you say dramatically expands the number of felony convictions that can be sealed, what, what is being added? What are the felony convictions that we are now letting people seal or that we couldn’t let them seal before?


Jacobs AG’s Office So as far as offenses, I can tell you sitting here today, which offenses are being added because of the discussion I was just having with Representative Richmond, I can’t tell from this bill because of the way that it’s written, as in everything but, versus current law, which is, you know, has a section that is entitled Felonies Eligible for for Sealing. We think we’ve identified a few. I can’t give you a list because we’re not certain of it. But I think the dramatic expansion is, again, double for a particular felon what they can during the course of, you know, committing crimes. Current law is you get one, I guess set of felonies one, you know, of course of a crime conduct and that’s you know as I understand it, all you get under current law and this creates an entirely new process where even if you’ve had felony convictions sealed in the past, you can get a whole new set of crimes sealed, which is something not contemplated under the current law. And it allows you to do it on this much lower burden of proof. So that’s, we think it’s overall, it is a dramatic expansion of the ability of felons to have their convictions sealed versus the current state of the law. And that’s separate and apart from what it does in terms of firearm rights. Firearm rights are a very small piece of what this bill does from our perspective. This is really a criminal justice bill and really a public safety, you know, bill.


Rep Collins Follow up.


Rep Dalby You’re recognized for a follow up.


Rep Collins So outside, which I understand you’re saying about doubling the opportunities that there’s multiple crimes for sealing. Outside of that do you, do you know that it does dramatically expand the number of felony convictions as in types of felonies, or is that presumed or you guys I mean, I know you can tell from the bill, but you could tell from the code.


Jacobs AG’s Office I can’t answer that today. Okay. The way that the bill reads, it would take someone going and sitting down for a long time to figure that out, I think we might have identified a few. But I can’t, I can’t tell you sitting here today a list of that.


Rep Collins Thank you.


Representative Hudson, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Hudson Thank you, Madam Chair. So, if I understand what your concern is correctly is that that we’ve in this bill Representative Flowers is creating this new process. But don’t we already have statutes that that have created their own new processes? And I’m thinking specifically of the Drug Court Act, which also outlines a pathway for participants in the drug court or in veteran court, so in these specialty court programs to have their firearm rights restored and also is not explicit as to the types of offenses that are included as eligible for having those rights restored because they leave those decisions up to the rulemaking of the individual courts who are handling the specialty court. So why is it unworkable in this case but was workable in terms of the specialty courts?


Jacobs AG’s Office So I think this goes back to what my colleague was talking about under the First Offenders Act, for example. It’s a different process. Under that act, you know, you don’t get a conviction. The drug courts are there to address a specific slice of felony issues. And we already have a comprehensive sealing act that is targeted at the exact same problem that this act is. And I don’t know, you know, setting aside the firearm issue, I don’t know that anyone thinks that there’s really something not working with our current Comprehensive Sealing Act. People are eligible today to go and have a large number of felony convictions sealed currently. And this bill does something additional to that that I think people focus a little bit on firearms, but that’s a very small part of what the bill does. It, you know, attempts to completely erase these convictions in a much larger way than current law does. And it does so with a much lower standard of proof. And we think the current system works for that, especially when considering the governor has the ability to pardon or grant firearm rights. And that’s a more involved process. And it really brings law enforcement into the process as well. Any time someone is going to request firearm rights to be stored, the chief law enforcement officer where they live, you know, is notified about this. And, you know, they can if this person has a problem, then the governor is going to know that. And if this person isn’t a problem, the governor is going to be told that. Whereas, you know, going in in this new bill I won’t belabor the point, but there are a lot of problems with the procedures of this bill.


Rep Hudson Follow up?


Rep Dalby You’re recognized for a follow up.


Rep Hudson And I appreciate your position on that, but I’m not sure it got to the root of the question that I’m asking, which is in a situation in which we have already taken the steps to expand the opportunities for firearm rights to be restored through the drug court program, which has built in to the statute, which I’m reading now, and a lot of discretion for the circuit court judge in sitting in in the court in which they are making these determinations to use their judicial discretion to determine whether or not the felon is eligible to have their firearms rights restored. Why can we do it in that case, but not in the case of this bill? And I understand you don’t like this bill, but I’m asking why in one case, we trust the judges to take in the information gathered from the original petition from the prosecutors, which is also included in HB 1013, where prosecutors have a chance to respond and to have a hearing if necessary. Why is the same mechanism that we use in specialty courts not applicable to what’s in this bill? Because to me, those mechanisms look very similar.


Jacobs AG’s Office Again, I’m not familiar enough with the specific drug court provisions to answer that question as to the First Offenders Act regime, as my colleague was explaining, the difference is there’s no conviction in the first place. And so there’s no, you know, rights taken away in the first place once, you know, there isn’t a conviction. And I think the problem is not that we, that this bill does something, that this bill gives too much discretion to the circuit judges. The problem is that it doesn’t give enough discretion. So, under the current Sealing Act, the you know, the circuit court judges are required to consider whether this would be in the interest of justice. There’s a lot of factors that they’re required to consider and they can consider more under this bill. And circuit judges really don’t have much discretion to deny one of these petitions. They have to determine there’s clear and convincing evidence to say that this petition should be denied, which is the current standard that we apply to misdemeanor convictions. And this is just to seal misdemeanor convictions. We’re not even glomming on the additional, you know, firearm restriction that we are under the current bill. So it’s taking away the power of the circuit judges to monitor this. And, you know, the consequences are much greater than under current law.


Jackson AG’s Office I think I’ve got something to help out concern this really what we’ve kind of been talking about, the first offender stuff. Your interest is drug court. To qualify for drug court, the person is charged with a criminal offense that charge is not a conviction. So my understanding of drug court in this context is, again, they’ve not actually had the conviction yet. And so what they’re doing going through drug court is avoiding, you know, the conviction, by successfully completing the drug court. And if someone’s here from the court, they might be able to correct me on that. But that’s my understanding of it.


Jacobs AG’s Office And currently, you can have, I think, see, I think all the way up to Class A felonies sealed under current law for drug offenses. And the governor has the ability to restore firearm rights for drug felonies currently.


Rep Dalby Representative Gazaway, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Gazaway Thank you, Madam Chair. This is the follow up. To some degree on what Representative Hudson asked. One of the things that she mentioned was trusting circuit judges to make these decisions like we do in sealing. What’s the difference in making a decision about sealing or making a decision about drug court versus the procedure that’s set out in this bill? But there are a couple of things that are noted in this bill, some specific language that I’d like you guys to comment on. One is this idea that we’re reinvesting the circuit court with jurisdiction. So, this is after a conviction has been entered and the idea that this re-invests the circuit court with jurisdiction. And then the question is, again, referring to specific language in the bill to do what? And that is.


Rep Gazaway To discharge, dismiss and seal. And so the way I understand it, and I want to get your explanation on this, this authorizes the circuit court to discharge a conviction as if it never existed. And the way I understand your explanation, and again, I want you to elaborate, is that when we do that, that has a whole host of other implications beyond maybe just this particular firearms issue. That is for purposes of the habitual offender statute or purposes of felon in possession of a firearm, for instance, which requires a previous conviction. And so can you explain how some of the specific language, specifically the reinvesting the circuit court with jurisdiction in the language about discharging a conviction, how those factor into what this bill does?


Jackson AG’s Office Thank you, Representative Gazaway. Okay. That specific language there about reinvesting the circuit court, filing a petition in the circuit court to reinvest jurisdiction in the circuit court. I got to admit we’ve been kind of scratching our heads on that one because the when a conviction is going up on appeal, it goes up to the appellate court to either affirm the conviction or overturn it based on some problem with trial. But to then reopen the case in this case, to get rid of the conviction all the way around, somehow jurisdiction has to would, in theory, have to be reinvested for that purpose. Now, when you’re, because what you’re doing is you’re getting rid of the conviction altogether. In the instance of sealing a conviction you’re not actually getting rid of the conviction. You’re not undoing the conviction. You’re just sealing it so the circuit court can go and do that. But to get rid of it all completely, jurisdiction has to come back to the circuit court. And that’s what this whole idea of filing a petition in the circuit court to reinvest jurisdiction in the circuit court is going about doing. But it seems to me that that would likely have to actually come from the appellate court. But this, again, goes back to the nuance difference between the sealing route and what is actually happening here of getting rid of the conviction. And this is most likely an attempt to get around the issues relating to the federal charges that you could still get, because if you get rid of the conviction altogether, obviously the federal, your federal firearms rights come back. But if you have to go through the state process with the pardon system, that’s how you get them back. But this runs into a separation of powers issue because of that because the governor is the only one that can actually pardon an offense. And that is the Arkansas Constitution, Article six, section 18, the executive clemency process. So if you’re going through the courts to actually get rid of a conviction, you’re effectively, the courts are granting a pardon. So it becomes a separation of powers issue that really falls with the governor. When you’re sealing it or under the First Offenders Act, you’re not running into that because it doesn’t have the effect of a pardon.


Rep Dalby Do you have a follow up?


Rep Gazaway A follow up.


Rep Dalby You’re recognized for a follow up.


Rep Gazaway Okay. And I think you answered part of my question because I’ve continually heard you guys refer to the separation of powers issue. And I understand that the governor has the power for restoration of firearms rights currently. But that is a specific Constitutional provision that gives the governor that power. And so you’re saying then to allow the circuit courts to do that would give a power to the, I’m sorry, to the judiciary, to the judge that’s only granted by the Constitution, to the governor? Is that what you’re saying? The pardon power?


Jackson AG’s Office Yes.


Rep Gazaway Okay. All right. That’s all.


Rep Dalby Representative Crawford. You’re recognized for a question.


Rep Crawford Thank you, Madam Chair. You referred to this as a criminal justice bill partly. In 2019, I ran a bill because a grandmother could not get custody, guardianship of her grandchild because she had written a hot check 25 years ago. So, we’re in the same hot seat. And I understand the laws. I understand the rules. We have to have that. But my question is, will the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office commit to helping these people get their rights restored 60 years later, 25 years later? This is ridiculous. So, justice reform has got to happen. This is showing us it has to happen. And I’m just asking if the offices would be available to help with that.


Jacobs AG’s Office So I can’t exactly speak for General Griffin on that. I mean, I’ll say that that again. The current law provides for relief on a lot of these issues. Both the current sealing law for someone with an old hot check conviction or, you know, for firearm rights. And I know there’s, you know, criminal justice bill in the works. I can’t tell you what’s in it because I haven’t seen it. But I’m sure that it will be introduced and debated widely very soon. And those issues might, you know, be addressed on that. That’s about as much as I can say on that issue.


Rep Dalby Representative Richardson, you’re recognized for question.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, Madam Chair. My question is pretty simple, actually. So, the bill has been out for a while now. Have you guys reached out to Representative Flowers with your concerns regarding this bill, or is this the first time you’ve come to the table?


Jacobs AG’s Office I’m not aware of who we have or haven’t reached out to on the legislative side.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, ma’am.


Rep Dalby Representative Moore, you’re recognized for question. Are you good? Okay. Representative Hudson-she left. Any other questions of these 2 gentlemen? All right. Thank you, Mr. Jacobs. Thank you, Mr. Jackson. Next, we have speaking in favor of the bill is Gary Epperson. Mr. Epperson, you’re recognized to come to the table, state your name for the record, and then you’re recognized to make your statement.


Epperson Morning, Madam Chair. Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of this bill. I’ve heard about rights, bill.


Rep Dalby If you’ll state your name for the record.


Epperson Gary Epperson and I’m president of (guns of??) Arkansas. I’m trying to get through this quick because you are going to be here a long day. But this is not a powers bill. It’s a human rights bill. It’s a good bill. We disagree with the attorney general’s assessment that it violates separation of powers between the governor. My colleague will address that later on in committee. Thank you all. And we will be on record to support this bill.


Rep Dalby Thank you. Next, we have speaking against the bill, Joan Shipley. Ms. Shipley, once you get to the end of the table, you’ll identify yourselves and you’ll be recognized.


Shipley DPS Thank you. And Madam Chair, if I may, I have Colonel Mike Hager with me this morning.


Rep Dalby Yes.


Shipley DPS Okay. Thank you. My name is Joan Shipley. I am general counsel for the Department of Public Safety.


Hager ASP/DPS I’m Mike Hager, director of Arkansas State Police and Secretary, Department of Public Safety.


Shipley DPS Madam Chair, if I may. The Department of Public Safety is opposing this bill, and we would ask the members of this committee to vote no on it. There are several things and to not to belabor some of the points that have already been made this morning. We do think that we agree with the attorney general’s office that it does basically take the pardon power away from the governor or it begins to share that power with the judiciary, which we think is a problem with the separation of powers as well. We also think, we also agree with them that it would completely take away felony convictions, not just give back gun rights. Sometimes–one of the things that this bill provides for is that when this petition is presented to a circuit judge, according to the language and how I understand the language of the bill is that that judge can only consider that petition and the information concerning the conviction at hand. That judge does not have the record to look back on. He cannot he or she cannot consider whether that conviction was pled down from more serious charges when the plea was entered. They cannot find out if other charges were dismissed. At that time, they only have the conviction at hand to make the decision on. So, considering the fact that there are already various ways which have also been discussed by the Attorney General’s office for those firearm rights to be restored, we feel that this bill causes some issues with the court system and takes away some of the powers of the governor.


Rep Dalby Secretary Hager, you’re recognized, if you’d like to make a statement.


Hager ASP/DPS Just very briefly, we think a common misconception with law enforcement is that we’re anti-gun. And truthfully, you probably be hard pressed to find a member of the law enforcement community that is not very pro-Second Amendment rights and very much supportive of our citizens to be able to defend themselves. Again, as Ms. Shipley said, we don’t want to belabor the point, but there are pathways out there for people that are convicted felons. But our concern with this is that we’ve taken a pathway that, you know, may need to be broadened some and to provide for that that course to go through the governor’s office. But our concern with this would be that, you know, it it turns that four-wheeler path that needs to be widened out into an interstate system. And we have a, you know, this bill would allow for this to go in front of the circuit court judges, which there’s more than 120 in the state of Arkansas right now. So, it’s just a very broad path. And as a police officer in this state that, you know, we’re facing an epidemic right now with violent crime. We know that a lot of the charges that and the cases that we make in circuit court a lot of times are pled down. And it’s so while this bill would eliminate certain felony convictions to be considered. We also know as police officers that when we go to court, a lot of times these cases are all wrapped into one. And a lot of the crimes that were committed have been pled down to only one case that where if all the cases, if all the convictions had applied, if the case been heard in full, that they would not qualify. But now under this in this circumstance, that would not be the case.


Rep Dalby I’m guessing you’ll be amenable to answering any questions. I see we have some questions. Representative Collins. I believe I saw you first. You’re recognized for a question.


Rep Collins Thank you, Madam Chair. And so I’m on the violent crime question. I want to make sure I understand. So, is your concern that we’ll lose some deterrent power if we widen the pathway for gun rights to be restored or and or is it that these folks who were convicted felons who get their guns right, gun rights restored later will commit violent crimes? Are those both concerns? Either one concerns?


Hager ASP/DPS Yes, sir. I think in many circumstances both are concerns.


Rep Dalby Representative Clowney–who–Representative Richardson. And you look so much like your seatmate, I apologize again.


Rep J Richardson Thank you. Actually, so my question is the same of you guys. Bill has been out for a while. Have you reached out to the sponsor to talk about the things that you had issue with?


Hager ASP/DPS No, sir.


Shipley DPS We have not reached out to her.


Rep J Richardson Thank you.


Rep Dalby Members, any other questions? Seeing no questions. Thank you for your testimony this morning.


Shipley DPS Thank you, Madam Chair.


Rep Dalby We have Mr. Steve Taylor to speak for the bill. Mr. Taylor, you’re recognized to come to the table and identify yourself.


Taylor I’d like to think this committee, first of all, for allowing me to speak before it is my first time. My name is Steve Taylor. I’m from Columbia County, Arkansas. Three hour drive a little farther down from Tim Griffin, about nearly 30 miles further down than he lives. And I feel somewhat like a Davy Crockett in Washington today. I am very much out of my element. So please bear with me. Well, I’m speaking in favor of HB 1013, and I understand that this bill specifically exempts what they’re calling violent crime. And the charge that I received would be, I think, considered a violent crime under this statute. But if I can’t speak for myself, I’ll speak for those others, because I’m with Gary Epperson, and this is a human rights issue. I’m from Columbia County. I’m active in the Columbia County Republican Committee. I’m active in my local church. And I’m and I’m a logging contractor. I strongly believe in my faith, the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States of America. I work very hard to pay taxes and I vote. But I don’t enjoy gun sports in the state of Arkansas because I’m a convicted felon. I was arrested in August of 1991 and convicted in June of 1992. I was sentenced to seven and a half years for defending my own life with a firearm because I was on the wrong side of the politics of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. After being divorced my ex-wife–is that on? Okay, I can’t hear myself. But even after divorced, my ex-wife began to keep company with a child molester named David. David began to cross the line with my 9-year-old daughter. Being extremely concerned with the safety of my daughter, I retained 2 attorneys to assist me in gaining full custody of my daughter. David decided to take matters into his own hands. Completely unexpected and unprovoked David attacked me from behind and drove my head into the side of my car, causing $900 damage to the automobile. He then maneuvered his left arm under my neck and lifted me off of the ground by my neck and began to beat me in the ribs with his right fist. At the point of near passing out I pulled my pistol from my waistband and I shot David in the stomach. David threw his hands up and I caught a breath of air. And then he and then he rushed me, hitting me in the head with both hands as I ran backwards, trying to get away from him. I raised my pistol and began to pull the trigger as fast as I could. David continued the attack and then suddenly fell to the ground. I was nearly murdered and I went to prison for it. I cannot begin to explain the trauma and loss I experienced, especially the loss of liberty, more precious than my own blood. My financial and emotional situations can never be recompensed. But the one thing that this committee can do is start the process of restoring my liberty, which was unconstitutionally violated. All felons have a God given right to peace and safety in their lives. HB ten13 will be a giant leap forward in restoring my right to protect and defend my life, my family and my property, not to mention the ability to put food on my table. The majority of our government in this state is Republican that can call themselves conservative and Christian. Foundational principles of these three are mercy, forgiveness and restoration. I plead with my fellow Republicans to join with the Democrats in this issue. Do the right thing, do the Constitutional thing, and do the godly thing. Support HB ten13 for all convicted felons who have paid their debt. Thank you and yes, I am open to questions. I have nothing to hide.


Rep Dalby If you have a question, Mr. Richmond, Representative Richmond, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you sir, for your testimony. My question is, you’ve heard testimony in here from other individuals talking about the existing procedures that we have where people can get their gun rights restored. How much do you know about those existing procedures?


Taylor Actually, I didn’t know they existed. Other than that, you can petition the governor for a pardon. And I’m not aware of even the procedure. But from what we would call street talk of, I’ve heard that it’s very difficult.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, sir. Thank you, Madam Chair


Rep Dalby Seeing no other questions. Thank you, Mr. Taylor, for your testimony today. Next, we have speaking against the bill, Scott Bradley. Mr. Bradley, Mr. Sipes, when you get to the end of the table, if you’ll identify yourself, then you’ll be recognized.


Bradley ASA Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m Scott Bradley. I’m the director of the Arkansas Sheriffs Association, and I–Representative Richardson, I did reach out so before you ask me. And actually we did have some good conversations and the and the sheriffs in the state and I brought to my board and we discussed this bill. And the original vote was to stay neutral. Okay. I told her that I would bring that up and I’d be completely open and honest. A lot of discussion. But after that vote, we started receiving some calls from other agencies and some other sheriffs and really get digging deeper into the subject and talking about it. And with that, I think what we came up with is there is a pathway that you can get your rights back. And that would be something that was for anybody, even the gentleman that just spoke. I think anyone can put in for that. And I know it’s a narrow pathway and it is, you know, pretty difficult. But if it’s that important to you in your life to get your gun rights back and get your voting rights back and get everything in order, there is a pathway for that. And it is through the governor. I’ve written many letters of support during the time I was sheriff to citizens in my county that I knew, personally knew and knew that they would turn their lives around. And I do. I believe that my shares I’m here to speak for the sheriffs, believe in second chances for people that can do that and really turned their lives around. So I don’t, we can’t support this bill as it’s written. And I guess that’s all I have to say. And I’ll, I’ll answer any kind of any questions you guys have for me. I’ll do the best I can.


Rep Dalby Seeing no questions. You’re recognized, Mr. Sipes.


Sipes APCA Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m Gary Sipes, the director of the Arkansas Police Chiefs Association. And like Mr. Bradley just said, the law enforcement is in the current law enforcement is against more guns. There’s a lot of things that we like about your bill, but  there are avenues to get your gun rights back. And I was surprised to hear that this gentleman didn’t know that. Maybe we should publicize that more. But as a police chief, I, like Sheriff said, had signed off on several applications to seek pardon. I’ve also written letters and it’s kind of strange but the one of the individuals they helped build my house was a young man and he had been convicted of a felon, drug charges. And he asked me how to go about getting a pardon because he wanted his hunting rights to take his son along and I wrote a letter for him. But I do not, I don’t know if he actually went through the process or not, but he’s one that also didn’t know the process. I polled our police chiefs across the state, and they’re all opposed to the bill as it is.


Rep Dalby Members, are there any questions? Representative Unger, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Unger Thank you, Madam Chair, to both of you. You have mentioned the applications for pardon for the restoration of gun rights. How many times has it happened that the pardon has been granted? Could you give me a ratio of that?


Sipes APCA I cannot give you an answer to that. All I know is that typically during the year I would sign one every year, and I don’t know what the end process is.


Bradley ASA I think a lot of it is part of the form that they have to get the law and for the lead law enforcement agency in the county to sign off on their on their pardon. And I’ve signed many of those and I have chosen not to sign some of them. I have made that decision based on personal knowledge that I had. I believe I was in Van Buren County, pretty rural area. And I knew, I lived there my whole life, so I knew a lot of people that was there. And if I didn’t know them, I could find out, thanks to family members and friends. So I didn’t, I chose not to sign a lot of them, and I appreciate that ability to be able to do that. And that would go away, I think. So, I mean, I’m you know, we’re, it’s a tough it’s a tough decision. But I think that where the sheriff’s landed on this was there is a pathway and they’re good with the way the system works right now.


Rep Dalby Representative Richmond, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Richmond Thank you, Madam Chair. Police Chief, I’m sorry, I just need clarification. Did you say you’re not for more guns or did I misunderstand you?


Sipes APCA We we’re, we want less guns on the street, just like the President Biden said. I mean, we agree with the Second Amendment, don’t get me wrong. But the more guns, the more violence, the more problems.


Rep Richmond Okay. Well, we’ll agree to disagree.


Rep Dalby Members, any other questions? Representative Duffield, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Duffield Thank you, Madam Chair. Gentlemen, have you spoken with people in the areas of which you live about this bill and got their opinions?


Bradley ASA You know, all these people I’ve spoken with, all the shares, the ones that can take my job away from me. So that’s the people I’m talking to and that’s who they’re representing are the folks in the communities. And to answer that question, I have seen people get to receive their pardons. Okay. I have seen, I’ve known several of them that come back to me and thank me for signing the letters. And they’ve received their pardons and enjoying the freedom of that. I’d like to speak on the more guns on the street. I don’t think that’s the really the reason we’re, the sheriff’s, are opposed to this bill. We’re opposed this bill for the guns possibly getting into the wrong hands on the street. And I think that’s probably what Gary meant when he said what he said. We’re not opposed to law abiding citizens having firearms by any means, but we certainly don’t want the wrong people. You know, those forms that I chose not to sign through the years that I chose not to, there was a reason for that. And I personally felt like that person probably didn’t need to have those firearms in his possession. So it was it was minimal. I signed more than I didn’t sign. Let me say it that way. I don’t know if that’s clear as mud or not but.


Rep Dalby  Members, any other questions? Seeing no further questions, thank you for your testimony today.


Bradley ASA Thank you, Madam Chair.


Rep Dalby We have Leah Herron to speak for the bill. Ms. Herron, you’re recognized to come to the end of the table, identify yourself and then you may begin.


Herron 2A Women Madam Chair, thank you very much for the opportunity. Amelia Herron I’m the national President of 2A Women and we speak in support of this bill, both 2A Women nationally and 2A Women Arkansas. I will accept questions.


Rep Dalby Seeing no questions.


Herron 2A Women Thank you very much.


Rep Dalby Next, we have Rick Edwards to speak for the bill. Mr. Edwards, are you in the room? Not seeing Mr. Edwards, we’ll move down. Mr. Calvert. Paul Calvert. You’re recognized to speak for the bill.


Calvert My name is Paul Calvert. Thank you, committee. So I’m not here supporting the idea of lightening sentences for criminals. My issue with this and I, with the current system is that we let a bunch of criminals who we assume are still very dangerous, we turn them loose. That bothers me. If we can’t trust them to be free, why are we turning them loose if we can trust them to be free I think they probably need at least some of their rights, or maybe most of them, if not all of them, because it’s hard to live without them. And I think when we place such incredibly difficult barriers around these people, it makes them it makes their lives so difficult. I think sometimes it drives them to re-offend. I’ve been working with a felon here recently who’s moved into one of my rental properties, and it is difficult for him to navigate the system because it’s just so hard. And I think for a lot of us, we look at some of these things like, well, you can jump through that hoop and that hoop over there, but a lot of us have not been in trouble. And one of the reasons why we’ve not been in trouble is because we’ve had some better opportunities in our lives, better upbringings. And so we’re not behind the eight ball starting out. And I’m not trying to defend these people’s crimes. But I think sometimes what happens when we place such severe restrictions on people, we drive them back to crime. If there’s too dangerous, we can’t trust them, don’t turn them loose. If we can trust them to turn them loose, let’s give them some of their rights so that they can function in society. Some of these people probably need their rights to defend themselves better than most of us because of where they’re living. It’s difficult to find a place to live because it’s so expensive in some of the better neighborhoods. And so they rent in a rough neighborhood. So it’s dangerous. The people that that know them might want to hurt them. If they were, they took a plea deal. They may have ratted on somebody. And so there might, they may have a target on their back for that. In many of these cases, they probably do need the right to defend themselves more than most of us do. But if they’re safe to let free turn them loose and let them have some freedom. Thank you.


Rep Dalby Thank you, Mr. Calvert. Next up, we have Tim Loggins to speak for the bill.


Loggins GOA Thank you, Madam Chair, Committee, for this opportunity to speak. My name is Tim Loggins on an executive vice president of Gun Owners of Arkansas. As the president and Gary Epperson stated earlier, we completely support this bill. We think it’s a good bill. I do want to touch on a few more specifics on some things that were talked about by those speaking against it. Constitutional issues, separation of powers. If you if you look at Article six, section 18 of the state Constitution, you see the governor is vested with the power to pardon, commute or set aside crimes. I’m pretty sure the folks that wrote our Constitution would have said the sole power instead of the power. Words matter. The sole power to pardon and commute is not vested in the governor. I don’t see a conflict of interest and I don’t see this taking away from the executive branch’s powers. That’s number one. Number 2, since we’re on the topic of the Constitution, Article 2, section 2 of the state Constitution says that you have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and the right to defend such. You look at Article 2, Section five, it says you have a right to keep and bear arms. You look at Article 2, section 29, and it says that those powers are outside of the authority of state government. This is what I love about Representative Flowers bill. It resets the notion and the burden of proof back to the state. We have inalienable Rights given to us from God. Most of us in here believe that. I’m a convicted felon. I’ll lose those rights, maybe justifiably. Once I have paid my debt to society. It’s a reset. This bill allows me as a, not me personally, I’m not a convicted felon, by the way. This bill would allow a convicted felon to pay their debt fully. And we’re talking about ten, 12, 15, 20 years after the fact. Prove that they’re a good citizen. Jump through the hoops. Petition free of charge. By the way, that’s a very important part of this, because if you’re someone that’s been in prison and you probably don’t have access to attorneys, certainly not the best attorneys in the world, and this resets that burden of proof on the state to prove that you’re not eligible or should not be eligible to exercise your God given rights. And by the way, defense of yourself and your family is a God given right. And if we don’t believe they should have that right, there should be compelling evidence in the states to be able to state what that evidence is. So I appreciate your effort on this bill, and I’ll be happy to take any questions that the committee might have. And again, we ask that we get a pass on this, this is a good bill.


Rep Dalby Seeing no questions, thank you for your testimony today. We have our last to offer information. We have Bob McMahon and Matt Durrett. Gentlemen, once you get to the end of the table, state your name and then you’re recognized.


McMahon PAA Thank you, Madam Chair. And Bob McMahon, prosecutor coordinator representing the Prosecuting Attorneys Association.


Durrett APA I’m Matt Durrett, prosecutor, attorney for the Fourth Judicial District and the president of the Arkansas Prosecutors Association. We’re here. We do have issues with the bill. I think that I haven’t talked with anyone who has a problem with the spirit of the bill, because, Senator, I’m sorry, Representative Flowers worked with us. We sat down and we talked about the issues that we had, talked about, the list of offenses. There are still some concerns that we have. I’m going to try not to just simply reiterate everything that everyone has said. But one of our big concerns, which we have addressed with Representative Flowers is this creates an additional sealing process. So it’s an additional felony that can be sealed because one of the if you look at the definition of conviction, it does not include a felony which has been already sealed under the First Offender act. So that gives individuals the ability to have 2 felonies sealed and have their firearms back. We have no issue with those individuals who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies, who have paid their debt to society, getting their firearms back. We think that those individuals ought to be able to hunt, certainly to defend themselves. We are, we have no issue with that whatsoever. That’s not our problem with the bill.


The problem is it’s not with the spirit of it. It’s what the procedure of it. Under the previous bills, you know, under 1401, the 1690 1401, which is the Comprehensive Sealing Act, it states that when a conviction is discharged, dismissed and sealed, it’s as if it never happened. Same thing in this particular bill. We’re concerned about individuals who have multiple felonies and multiple different instances being able to get their firearms back. This, we’re not concerned about sealing the felonies. We’re concerned about sealing additional felonies. That’s what that’s our big concern here. The other concern is that which has been brought up before, is this takes by our reading of this statute, this takes away virtually all the discretion the judges have in determining whether or not a petition should be granted under 1401 1690 1401, the Comprehensive Sealing Act, a court may grant, if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that granting would further the interests of justice, the petition and it bases it on a number of factors. I think five factors, including the individual’s criminal history, their likelihood to re-offend. And under this particular bill, they can’t consider that. They can’t consider if they have violent misdemeanors, they can’t consider anything other than what’s provided in this petition.


So based on our reading, unless we can determine that the petitioner was untruthful when the petition was filed, then the judge is required to grant the petition and we are not able to object. We can, we can object, but the judge consider can’t consider any objection that we have, any basis for our objection. Can’t talk about violent misdemeanors, that the person has. Can’t get input from any victim of because there are victims of nonviolent offenses that their voices may be important to hear. So under this particular bill, the court, unless it’s presented and finds with clear and convincing evidence that it should not be sealed, dismissed and discharged, the Court shall do it, shall grant the petition. That’s the that’s the main issue. We have a couple of others that I haven’t brought up with Representative Flowers, to be fair, is that I noticed recently is one of the exclusions in the definition of conviction is where it says a person is acquitted for any reason. I think a person acquitted certainly has the right to have a firearm, but it raises issues with 573 ten3, which is the possession of firearms by certain persons. And in that one, the type of individual who is not eligible to possess a firearm is someone who has been adjudicated mentally ill. And if someone is convicted, or someone is acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect, I think that is an issue that conflicts with the 573 10-3.


One other thing that I think, I’m assuming this is just a this was just overlooked because I didn’t notice it myself until last night. And the definition of or in the list of excluded offenses, it does not include section 513 201. It includes the terroristic threats, which is 513 301 but it does not include 513 201 that includes battery first, battery second, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. I’m assuming that was just an omission as opposed to an inadvertent omission because we went through the list, we worked with Representative Flowers on the list. A lot of that list of stuff that we presented to her and that she was she was good with. So I think that’s just inadvertent. But I don’t know if Mr. McMahon has anything else to add.


McMahon PAA No, Madam Chair, I really don’t have anything to add. Again, generally our concerns are with the procedure, and I think I want to echo one thing that I believe the witness Shipley, said. We’re a little concerned. We’re not really clear on what we would and would not be able to present during a hearing because at the moment the bill does specifically say we are limited to what is apparently included in the bill. So that is a little bit of a concern on us what that actually means. But other than that, I think Mr. Durett did a good job explaining our concerns.


Rep Dalby Members, we do have a question. Representative Richardson, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, Madam Chair. So it sounds like you guys did work with Representative Flowers on this bill.


McMahon PAA We did.


Rep J Richardson Okay. And where are the amendments that are in the bill now because of you guys? Have you guys worked on the amendments that are in the bill now?


Durrett APA We did add or we did request a few things that were added to the adding of I can’t recall if it’s a serious felony involving violence or felony involving violence. One of those was left out and Representative Flowers put that in there. I can’t remember the other.


McMahon PAA I think one of the biggest concerns we had Representative Richardson has been taken care of, but it was the piece of legislation that talked about a continuing course of conduct inadvertently, I believe it would allow an individual that would have had one of the offenses not listed to circumvent the law and pick up offenses that were exempted. And I think that’s been taken care of in the amendment. So that was one of our concerns that were certainly addressed. Again, there are still some other concerns. As far as the last Amendment, I think that you all talked about earlier today. I mean, we didn’t see that. I still haven’t seen it. So we weren’t involved in that, in that decision there. But we were involved in some of the earlier or the earlier amendment provisions.


Rep J Richardson Okay.


Rep Dalby Thank you. Representative Scott, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Scott Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m not exactly sure who this question is for, but I keep hearing a lot about the circuit judges. And so I was wondering if there’s someone here to speak and actually give their position on this bill. Is there anyone here from the circuit judges.


Rep Dalby I see no one from the circuit judges.


Rep Scott Okay. Thank you.


Rep Dalby Any other questions? Members, seeing no further questions, thank you. Oh, I’m sorry. Representative Hudson, you’re recognized for a question.


Rep Hudson Thank you, Madam Chair. I wanted to go back just because, as you all pointed out, you’d be the prosecutors working through these issues. And I keep hearing that that the prosecutors are limited in the types of evidence that they can present. And I wondered if you could show me where in the bill you’re so limited because I’m looking at let’s see I’m on, I believe, the eighth page under procedure at line, it’s the ninth page. Oh, yeah. Sorry. Ninth page. Line four beginning at sub 2A says the prosecuting attorney may file a notice opposing the uniform petition with the court setting forth reasons for the opposition to the uniform petition. And then it goes on to require that the court have a hearing prior to granting the uniform petition. So but I don’t see where what the prosecuting attorney may include in their petition is limited, because it seems to me, in reading all of the language together as we have to, that the response is where the prosecuting attorney would include the information that they felt is relevant to not granting, that not granting that the relief sought and given the fact that in the same section there’s a requirement to notify the victims that the prosecutor could also include that information. So where’s the limitation on what you can present in either your response or in in the hearing?


Durrett APA There’s no limitation on what we can present. There is a specific limitation on what the court could consider, and that’s under 169ten4 a2c, which is on page eight, beginning with line 17 upon reinvestment of jurisdiction, a circuit court may not consider any other matters concerning the person filing the uniform petition not otherwise covered under this subject.


Rep Hudson And that’s where we are not otherwise covered in the subchapter. So on the next page, what is covered in the subchapter is the prosecutor’s ability to file a response and to notify the victims. So it is covered in the subchapter right?


Durrett APA Well, the ability to file, but it’s unclear if the judge can consider what we are, what we’re presenting. Unlike the under 1401 where it’s clear what a judge is to consider, a judge is to consider, a person’s likelihood to re-offend. Their previous criminal history and the input of the victim. Under that, it’s clear what a judge is to consider.


Rep Hudson Sorry. You’re done talking now.


Durrett APA Under the Comprehensive Sealing Act. It’s clear what a judge may and is to consider under this one. I think it’s conflicting and I think it can be read, I mean, you read it one way, I read it another way. And so it’s conflicting. So that how I read it is a judge isn’t to consider anything about the person other than.


Rep Hudson One more. So, were that to become clearer, would that be of assistance to the prosecutors?


Durrett APA It would. I mean, that would eliminate that one concern of ours, I think. Yes, I agree.


Rep Dalby Seeing no other questions. Thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony today. We have no one else who has signed up to speak for or against the bill. Representative Flowers, you’re recognized to close for your bill.


Rep V Flowers Thank you, Madam Chair. Sure.


Rep Dalby Alright. Representative Flowers, you’re recognized to close for your bill.


Rep V Flowers You all heard a lot of information today. I would remind you that I began working on this bill with Senators Stubblefield and Caldwell. And in my process this year, in pre filing the bill, reaching out to members on this committee and off, including someone I know we all respect very deeply. And that’s Representative Tosh, as well as Representative Nicks. And I didn’t say him first just because of the partisan implications of this. I mean, people have sort of talked around it or whatever, but this is truly a bipartisan bill. It is truly a bill that has been extensively vetted. It has been amended so much so that I’ve had several members approach me and compliment me on, you know, how easy I was to work with or, you know, thanking me for bringing the bill and amending it. And I just would say I’m, we all do that. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know what anyone would expect. And we’re all here to work for our constituents, to work for the people you’ve heard from today. And there are many, many more like them.


I believe that my constituent who has been calling me nonstop for over 2 years and was supposed to be here today, probably didn’t come because he was intimidated. You heard both witnesses talk about how nervous they were. Mr. West told me he slept about a half an hour last night. And I think it takes a lot of courage to stand before a public elected body and share your record and come to us and say how important this is to them and why it matters. And so you’ve heard a lot today from several law enforcement agencies representatives talk about either say generally that they disagreed because more guns shouldn’t be on the street. And to some extent, I believe that, too. But, I mean, we’re one of the most permissive, have some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. And the guns that are out there and manufactured are out there.


What we’re talking about is restoration of rights. For many years I didn’t own a weapon. But I have the right. I could sell my guns tomorrow and I would have the right to do it. And I think that’s what we’re talking about with people who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies that did not use a firearm or a weapon in the course of the crime they committed have completed their disposition with this state. We cannot continue to say that we believe in second chances and reentry, not invest in it, because that’s what happens. We cannot continue to say that we believe in second chances. And when we get an opportunity like this, everyone says they agree with the idea, they agree with the spirit, they work on the bill and the day before we present I get a call, several calls. Yeah, that’s political. And we are better than that. We are a legislative body, elected all of us, by people who sent us here to pass legislation in their best interests.


I’m not a lawyer and I can’t speak to all of the jargon you heard, but it was jargon. I filed this bill last year. I filed it last year. And some of the very people who helped me with the language 2 years ago, last year sat at the end of this table and expressed concerns that I have not heard about yet until I sat right there with you. We know that that is not how we do things around here. I don’t care what party you’re with. We work for them. With all due respect, we do not work for the governor. We do not work for the attorney general. We do not work for employees of the state in other agencies. No one who sat here and told you that they had problems with this bill expressed, I think it’s a good idea. I appreciate the spirit of it and this is what it would take. If Representative Flowers would be amenable to my amendment, we could, we could be okay with it. The NRA is okay with it. That’s the word. The last language I got. At first it was supportive. Then it was okay. But they’re okay with it. The Sheriffs Association was neutral. I don’t know what happened in a few hours or a couple of days, I’m sorry. So I want to bring us back to this. We are already doing this.


There is, there’s nothing in this bill that talks about pardon powers. It talks about three processes that have to take place and in order that the federal government will not be able to rearrest someone even if we gave them cover by state law. I said that at the very beginning. That is why there is a dismiss discharge and seal. This process is not new. It would take, and you didn’t hear from ACIC, I was hoping someone would ask to hear from them. It would take the creation of a new form. That’s it, it would take creating a new form. And extend expanding the process that already exists. Before I close and I talked about the process we heard about clear and convincing that is used in language across the law. And it’s a high bar because we need a uniform and fair process. Not for someone. Not for Tammy to be able to go before a judge. And because that judge doesn’t know her or like her or like how she’s dressed. They dismiss the petition. If there are very clear and consistent standards by which people can come to apply for this petition. Victims notified, prosecutors notified. And there’s nothing that limits what the prosecutor, it’s open ended for a reason. If you start listing everything that they can present, it leaves stuff out. It’s open ended so they can share whatever they need to share with the judge to consider. The judge can then consider. And then the judge makes a very clear, gives a very clear reason if the petition is denied. And that, again, is for uniformity and for fairness. And I firmly believe that the judges that are elected in this state under this law would apply it fairly. The point about having more than one conviction, I don’t think that applies. But again, that or the clarity about what the judge can consider is something we can work on. We pass bills not only out of committee but on the House floor all the time saying we can fix that in an amendment on the other side. Many of you, if you are new, you may not have seen it. We do it all the time. There are no Constitutional or separation of powers issues here. We dismiss and discharge and seal records already. And unless you believe that that is a set, that violates the separation of powers, then someone should repeal that law. There are no Constitutional issues. I shared with you that almost half the states in this country provide a pathway, some without a process. With an automatic timeframe. Some never even take away the rights for nonviolent felons. This is a life sentence because effectively the process, which is the pardon, is not accessible and available to everyone. It just isn’t. You can say it is just because they can fill out the paperwork. It is not. I know you all have gotten calls from people in your districts because I’ve gotten calls from people in your districts and mine. I will close with 2 points. Number one. Again, with all due respect, and I heard this from someone who has run and passed guns dealing with firearms and the word firearms and weapons is all throughout this bill. So you can say it’s not a gun bill or weapons bill, it is because I’ve had to defend myself with people who don’t want me to run it. It’s a gun bill, but it is also a human rights bill. If you believe in the Second Amendment and really other amendments. This person told me that in the last 10 years, the people you heard from today have sat at the end of this table and spoken against other measures dealing with the expansion of firearms. So while I believe that you should take all information to consideration, I believe you should understand that that opposition to legislations dealing with firearms is not new and past legislation passed. And finally, I will say that we’ve talked a lot about felons, this, nonviolent felons that. And granted, that is the status of people who have committed and been convicted of crimes. And in this case, we’re talking about for which they have paid their debt to society. But I want you to remember that we’re also talking about people. We’re talking about Arkansans. We’re talking about our constituents and their families who should not be given a blanket lifetime ban. Lifetime punishment from being able to protect themselves in their homes, protect themselves on the road. Protect themselves and their businesses and go hunting with their families and friends. So I would ask you to remember that as you cast this vote and know that whatever the issues are that need to be changed, we have several lawyers on this panel, can be addressed in an amendment that I would be very happy to include in this legislation so it can move forward. And our people can be assisted. And with that, I’m closed. Thank you, Madam Chair.


Rep Dalby Representative Flowers is closed for her bill. Do we have a motion? Representative Scott. you’re recognized.


Rep Scott I make a motion for do pass as amended.


Rep Dalby Members we have a motion to do pass as amended on the floor. Is there any discussion of the motion? Representative Crawford, you’re recognized for discussion.


Rep Crawford Thank you, Madam Chair. I am for the people all the way around. I am for the Second Amendment. Sometimes I vote on this in ways that I’m sure you guys cringe at because it’s Second Amendment. I’d stake my life on that. Thank you for bringing this bill. I would ask with all the opposition, if you would be amenable to pulling it down, fix it, and then I will go with you to the different organizations and people and ask them to work with us to get this perfected so that we can pass a good law, so that we can pass something where the felons who have been 60 years out get their gun rights back and can go hunting, and where the people who are fearful who have never committed a crime would be comfortable with what we’re doing.


Rep V Flowers Rep–Madam Chair.


Rep Dalby No, you cannot. I’m sorry, this is discussion among the committee members.


Rep V Flowers Thank you.


Rep Dalby Members, any other discussion? Representative Richardson, you’re recognized for discussion.


Rep J Richardson Thank you, Madam Chair. I think one thing we’ve got to remember is this bill has been up for a while, a year, roughly. And my experience with Representative Flowers, she’s been very open to having dialog with people who brought issues to her and is always sought after those types of responses. She just stated in her closing that she would be amenable to changing or making the corrections that were brought forth even today. So with that being said, I don’t know why we can’t move forward with passing this legislation out of this committee and allow those changes to happen as it goes forward to the other side.


Rep Dalby Members, any other discussion? Seeing no further discussion. All in favor of the motion to do pass as amended say aye. All opposed say no. The no’s have it. The bill has failed. I have 2 hands for a roll call. Barbara, if you’ll call the roll. Oh members, there are new members on the committee. Let me explain the roll call. In this committee, it takes 11 votes in the affirmative to pass the bill out. You have three options on a roll call. You can vote yes, no or you can be silent. Those are your three options in a roll call. With that, Barbara, if you’ll call the roll.


BLR Staff Representative Nicks? Representative Nicks, yes. Representative Richmond? Representative Richmond, yes. Representative Gazaway. Representative Gazaway. Representative Watson? Representative Watson, no. Representative Crawford. Representative Crawford. Representative Scott. Representative Scott, yes. Representative Clowney? Representative Clowney, no. Representative Cooper? Representative Cooper, yes. Representative Richardson? Representative Richardson, yes. Representative Collins? Representative Collins, no. Representative McCollum? Representing McCollum, yes. Representative Hudson? Representative Hudson, yes. Representative Milligan? Representative a Milligan, yes. Representative Underwood? Representative Underwood, no. Representative Moore? Representative Moore. Representative Duffield?. Representative Duffield, yes. Representative Unger? Representative Unger, no. Representative Pearce? Representative Pearce, no. Representative Berry? Representative Berry, no.


With nine votes aye, seven nay, and three not voting, the bill has failed. Members, let me give you what we need for Thursday. So write these down. Thursday we will hear House Bill 1236. House Bill 1236. House Bill 1352, House Bill 1327 and Senate Bill 100. So we got 1236, 1352, 1327 and Senate Bill 100. I think that concludes our business. Thank you for your attention today and we will see you Thursday. Meeting adjourned.