House approves bill to ban sale of e-cigarettes to minors


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Friday passed legislation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

The House approved House Bill 1398 by 76-8 and sent it to the Senate.

The bill by Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, also would prohibit anyone under 18 from buying e-cigarettes and would authorize police to confiscate the devices from minors found in possession of them.

“If you’ve got to be 18 to buy a regular cigarette, you should have to be 18 to buy an e-cigarette,” Leding told House members.

Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, said he had heard that teenagers can use e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

“I’ve got adult friends that are using e-cigarettes to try and wean themselves off of cigarettes,” Leding said. “But again, if you’re not 18 it’s not legal to have tobacco products. I just believe it should be the same way for e-cigarettes, because they are still a nicotine delivery device and they could be a gateway to smoking.”

The House voted 82-3 to approve HB 2211 by Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison. The bill would prohibit the naming of a public building for a living person who has been an elected official or government employee within the previous 10 years.

The bill includes exceptions for a person who has been a prisoner of war, a person who is at least 75 years old and retired, or a building that is paid for with at least 50 percent private funds.

“You could drive to a couple places in the state and you could find buildings that have been named for legislators that were subsequently convicted of federal crimes and spent time in prison. That is not a good situation,” Burris told House members.

The bill goes to the Senate.

The House rejected HB 1580 by Rep. Chris Talley, D-Hope, which would impose a $2 cap on the fee that the state can charge per head of cattle sold in the state to support a bovine animal disease program. Current law requires sellers to pay a fee of $1 per head to support a program specifically targeting brucellosis.

Talley said the law would not change the current fee, only set a cap on it. The current law has no cap, he said.

Some members said the bill would allow a fee increase that would encourage cattle ranchers to go out of state to sell their cattle. The bill was defeated in a 35-34 vote, failing to receive the 51 votes it needed to pass.

The House also rejected HB 1541 by Rep. Jim Nickels, D-Sherwood, which would require political action committees to report any contribution of $50 or more. Current law requires PACs to report contributions of $500 or more.

The bill needed a two-thirds majority vote, or 67 votes, for approval because it would change a portion of the Arkansas Code that was enacted by initiated act. No one spoke against the bill, which failed in a 52-22 vote.

The House voted to expunge its Thursday vote on House Resolution 1031 by Rep. John Hutchison, R-Harrisburg, which would encourage the federal government to reject Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s proposal to build a transmission line across Arkansas.

The resolution had failed Thursday in a 36-13 vote. It failed again Friday in a 46-10 vote.

The House also voted Friday to approve and send to the Senate:

• HB 1631 by Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, D-Warren, which would allow a person who has been stationed in Arkansas on active military duty for at least 90 days to apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The bill passed 85-0.

• HB 1712 by Rep. Ken Bragg, R-Sheridan, which would prohibit a voter from using an electronic device to take a photo of his or her ballot at a polling place. Bragg said the bill is intended to prevent a person from proving how he or she voted in exchange for favors. The bill passed 83-2.

• HB 2083 by Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, which would allow the attorney general’s office to keep no more than $1 million from a settlement in a consumer-protection lawsuit and would establish rules for distributing funds over that amount. The bill passed 89-0.

• HB 2087 by Rep. Mary Broadaway, D-Paragould, which would allow some cities to pass ordinances granting permits for liquor by the drink without the need for application to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. The bill would only apply to cities where at least 100 liquor-by-the-drink permits are active. The bill passed 55-20.

Talking to reporters after the House adjourned, House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, said he had received from the governor’s office Friday a written proposal for expanding health care coverage in the state under the co-called “private option,” in which people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would receive subsidies to buy private insurance through the state health insurance exchange.

“I look forward to getting down and reviewing that in its entirety,” he said.

Carter also said that no deal has yet been reached between the House, the Senate and the governor’s office on a tax-cut package. Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, had said Wednesday that a deal could be reached in “a day or two.”

The only thing that has been agreed upon, Carter said, is that the total amount of the package will be “$100 million-ish.”

The Senate did not meet Friday.