LITTLE ROCK — The House gave final passage Tuesday to a bill to allow a person to use a cell phone to display proof of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage for proof of insurance and registration purposes.
Senate Bill 243 by Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, passed 91-0 and goes to the governor.
Presenting the bill in the House, Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, a co-sponsor of the bill, said she was contacted last summer by a constituent who had been pulled over and had not been allowed to use a cell phone to show proof of insurance.
Lea said she then requested an attorney general’s opinion on whether a cell phone could legally be used to show proof of insurance, and the attorney general’s opinion was that it could not under current law. She said the attorney general’s office and the state Bureau of Legislative Research worked together to craft SB 243.
Also Tuesday, the House approved House Resolution 1014 by Rep. James Word, D-Pine Bluff, to honor the memory of Willie Kavanaugh Hocker, designer of the Arkansas state flag, on the 100th anniversary of the flag’s creation.
The resolution also expresses support for the establishment of a memorial in Wabbaseka in Jefferson County. Hocker, who died in 1944, taught school in Wabbaseka and Pine Bluff for 34 years. She also was a poet and short story writer.
The Senate on Tuesday passed SB 239 by Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, which would require companies that place foreign exchange students in Arkansas to register with the Secretary of State’s Office. The bill passed 35-0 and goes to the House.
The measure would provide sanctions for the companies if there are reports of abuse in the homes where the exchange students are placed — a warning for a first offense, a $5,000 fine for a second offense, and a $10,000 fine and loss of the right to place students in Arkansas for a third offense.
The Senate also passed, 35-0, House Bill 1217 by Rep. Kelley Linck, R-Yellville, which would make watercraft outfitters not liable for deaths or injuries resulting from any inherent risk of a paddlesport activity such as canoeing, rafting, kayaking or tubing. The bill goes to the governor.
Elsewhere Tuesday, the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee rejected HB 1312 by Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, which would give any private or public entity that owns a water system authority to control fluoride levels in the water. The bill failed in a 9-9 straight party-line vote, with Republicans casting all the votes for the bill and Democrats casting all the votes against it. Westerman said he did not know whether he would try again with the bill.
Also Tuesday, House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, announced that the General Assembly has hired two consultants to analyze a proposal by the governor that the Legislature issue $125 million in bonds to secure a $1.1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County. The Legislature has authority to issue the bonds under Amendment 82 of the state constitution, the so-called superproject amendment.
Regional Economic Models Inc. of Washington D.C. has been hired at a cost of $29,000. It will conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the project and study its potential economic, fiscal and demographic impacts on employment, taxes and revenues, gross domestic product, population, wages, income and bond issues. Its report is due March 11.
Lexington, Mass.-based Global Insight Inc. has been hired at a cost of $48,750. It will analyze the same issues as the other consultant but also will analyze the project’s capital costs, financing and economic incentives as well as providing an analysis of the steel market. Its report is due March 12.