House approves bill to create electronic database of pawn shop transactions


LITTLE ROCK — The House on Friday approved a bill that would require pawn shops and pawn brokers to electronically upload records of their transactions to a database accessible to law enforcement agencies.

Rep. Homer Lenderman, D-Brookland, the sponsor of House Bill 1369, told House members the measure would aid authorities in investigating crimes.

“If there is a report of a crime or an item that is stolen, they can simply go online and look, and if they see a description of that, then they can help,” he said.

The bill passed 82-2. It goes to the Senate.

In a voice vote, the House approved House Resolution 1020 by Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, commending Leonard Cooper of Little Rock for winning a teen tournament on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!” Cooper was present in the House gallery and received a round of applause from the members.

Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, spoke in support of the resolution and commented on the fact that Cooper is black.

“He is an ordinary teenager. He has an Afro. And for many of you here, he would be a threat. Remember that, and understand this: If we have good education and afford opportunities to our people, people like Leonard would be more readily presented in our public domain,” Walker said.

Walker’s comments apparently offended some in the chamber who were heard grumbling. Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, tweeted, “Rep. Walker needs to be called out for his racial tones and discrimination in the state House.”

The Senate did not meet Friday.

Elsewhere Friday, the House Insurance and Commerce Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to Senate Bill 101 by Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith. The bill would create a uniform cable TV franchise agreement for all municipalities.

Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City, who presented the bill to the committee, said it seeks to minimize the advantages that larger cities have over smaller communities in negotiating franchise agreements with cable television operators.

Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter spoke against the bill, saying it limits the ability of cities to negotiate with cable companies to get the best deals for consumers.

“This is not a bill that the companies came to the cities and said, ‘We’d like to work in this direction. What can we do?’ This is a bill that was popped on us at the last minute with draconian revenue measures,” he said.

Wright said the bill was filed six weeks ago and that it has been modified to address cities’ concerns. He said it is supported by the Arkansas Municipal League.

“We’ve got a couple of people … that said, ‘We’re not happy with everything. We’re going to lose something, so the rest of the state should suffer for that,” Wright said.

The panel endorsed the bill in a voice vote. At least one “no” vote was heard. The bill goes to the House.

The committee also endorsed HB 1267 by Rep. Allen Kerr, R-Little Rock. Under the bill, if a health insurance company denies a patient coverage for a product or medical device that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as experimental or investigational, the company must allow a surgeon to present medical evidence supporting use of the product or device for the patient. The bill goes to the House.

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday approved House Bill 1458 by Rep. Micah Neal, R-Springdale, which would allow a person to use an electronic device to show proof of a permit to carry a concealed handgun, and HB 1459, also by Neal, which would allow a person to use an electronic device to show proof of a hunter education certificate. The bills go to the House.

Other bills the committee endorsed and sent to the House included:

• HB 1216 by Rep. Kelley Linck, R-Yellville, which would make Internet publication the primary means of publishing state agency reports.

• HB 1466 by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, which would require a county clerk to note on a voter’s voter registration record when that person casts an early vote in an election.