Bill to allow suits over employees’ secret filming advances


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced a bill that would allow an employer to sue an employee who records images or sound on the employer’s premises and uses the material in a way that breaches the employees’ duty of loyalty to the employer.


Under Senate Bill 751 by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, a person who knowingly gains access to a nonpublic area on another person’s premises and engages in an unauthorized act would be liable for any damages sustained by the owner of the property.


That would include an employee who records images or sound and uses the material in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, captures or removes data or documents and uses them in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, conspires in the organized theft of items from the employer, or participates in an act that substantially interferes with the employer’s ownership or possession of property, the bill states.


A person who knowingly directs, assists, compensates or induces another person to engage in such acts would be jointly liable under the bill.


The Humane Society of the United States opposes the bill. The group did not testify against the bill Monday, but it issued a statement calling the measure an attack on freedom of the press and whistle blowers.


Stubblefield told the committee the bill is intended to target corporate espionage. He said it would not prohibit making recordings of illegal acts.


The bill goes to the Senate.


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Senate approves bill to ban mass picketing


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 22-6 Monday to approve a bill to make “unlawful mass picketing” a misdemeanor offense.


Under Senate Bill 550 by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, people would be guilty of the offense if they engage in mass picketing that hinders people from pursuing lawful work or employment; blocks roadways, railroads or airports; or blocks entrance to or egress from a place of employment or a private residence.


The bill also would create civil liability for people who commit the offense.


The bill goes to the House.


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Bill to ban cities, counties from raising minimum wage fails


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate on Monday rejected a bill to prohibit cities and counties from setting a minimum wage or requiring employers to provide employees with any other benefit that exceeds state or federal requirements.


Senate Bill 668 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, received 14 votes in support and 10 against, falling short of the 18 votes needed for passage in the 35-member Senate.


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House rejects bill to ban some class-action suits


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Monday rejected a bill to ban class-action lawsuits that allege deceptive trade practices and limit damages in such suits filed by individuals.


House Bill 1742 by Rep. Laurie Rushing, R-Hot Springs, received 38 votes in support and 41 against.


The bill would allow individuals, but not groups, to file suits alleging deceptive trade practices and would limit damages in such cases to “actual financial loss” resulting from the practices.


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Senate OKs bill to allow lottery purchases with debit cards


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 23-6 Monday to approve a bill to let retailers decide whether to let customers use debit cards to buy lottery tickets.


Currently, lottery tickets must be purchased with cash. Senate Bill 617 by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, would let retailers choose to begin accepting debit cards for lottery ticket purchases but would not let them accept credit cards or checks.


The bill goes to the House.


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Senate OKs bill to raise penalties for texting while driving


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 21-4 Monday to approve a bill to raise the penalties for texting while driving.


Senate Bill 374 by Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, would raise the fines to $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Currently, a motorist is given a warning for a first offense and fined $100 for a second or subsequent offense.


The fines would be doubled if a motorist is in a crash while texting and driving.


The bill goes to the House.


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Bill to let workers leave guns in cars at work advances


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced a bill to require employers to allow their employees who have concealed-carry permits to leave handguns in their locked vehicles while the vehicles are parked on the employers’ property.


Senate Bill 37 by Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, goes to the Senate.


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Lawmakers OK banning release of recordings of officers’ deaths


LITTLE ROCK — Lawmakers on Monday sent to the governor’s desk a bill to make video or audio depicting the death of a police officer in the line of duty exempt from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.


House Bill 1236 by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway R-Paragould, passed 31-0 in the Senate on Monday. It passed in the House 94-0 last week.


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Senate OKs bill to let cities, counties issue private club licenses


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 31-1 Monday to approve a bill to let the governing body of a city or county approve or disapprove an application for a private club license.


Currently, the applications must be submitted to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.


Senate Bill 623 by Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, goes to the House.


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Senate approves bill to boycott boycotters of Israel


LITTLE ROCK — The Senate voted 29-0 Monday to approve a bill to prohibit state entities from contracting with or investing in any company that boycotts Israel.


Senate Bill 513 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, goes to the House.