Senate's on your side | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Senate's on your side

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 3:43 PM

The upper chamber today approved the primary seatbelt bill 29-6 and the bill with new restrictions on teen driving 30-2.

Not so swift was the Senate's passage, 20-2, with 13 not voting, of Sen. Denny Altes' bill to keep trial lawyers and others with commercial interests from seeing accident reports for 90 days after they are filed. I'm no lawyer, but this sounds unconstitutional to me. Sen. Joyce Elliott asked how the state could bar certain people from seeing accident reports. Altes claimed all could see it as long as they signed a statement promising not to use the material for commercial purposes. But that's not what the law says. It creates an exclusive list of people who may see the reports. It also is apparently written, inadvertently or not, to disqualify tabloid-format newspapers from being among those allowed to see the report.

If senatorial courtesy extends to passing garbage like this, it has gone too far. Two lawyers, David Johnson and Robert Thompson, voted against Altes' bill. Most of the rest of the IQ in the Senate was represented by the 13 in the not voting column. 

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