During this year's regular session, state Rep. Howard Beaty Jr., R-Crossett, submitted five letters to the House chief clerk to specify how he intended to vote on bills when he was outside the House chamber.
He said he missed some votes because he was attending a news conference and for other reasons.
"I didn't take a walk [to avoid a vote] because I have never done that," Beaty said in an interview last week.
He said he filed the letters with the House chief clerk "to put something on the record," regarding how he would have voted on these bills.
"I was just trying to do what I told folks I would do," Beaty said. "I was sent up to represent my folks."
He said in letter dated March 29 to House Chief Clerk Sherri Stacks that he was away from his desk at the time of the vote on House Bill 1303 on March 29 "but had I been at my desk, I would have voted 'yes' on the bill."
HB1303, sponsored by Rep. Carlton Wing, R-North Little Rock, will allow cities of the first class that had retirement plans for members of governing bodies before July 3, 1989, to re-establish, amend or repeal those plans. The bill is now Act 437.
In a letter dated March 3o to Stacks, Beaty wrote that he was out of the chamber when Senate Bill 341 was voted on and "it was my intention to vote 'yes' on the bill." SB341, sponsored by Sen. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, will change the Commercial Driver Alcohol and Drug Testing Act to comply with federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. The bill is now Act 681.
In a letter dated March 30 to Stacks, he wrote that he was out of the chamber when Senate Bill 309 was voted on and "it was my intention to vote 'yes' on the bill."
SB309, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, will specify that in addition to any other basis provided by law or rule, the Child Welfare Agency Review Board "shall terminate the license of a psychiatric residential treatment licensee that has not been in operation for a consecutive twelve-month period." The bill is now Act 464.
In a letter dated April 5 to Stacks, he wrote that he was away from the chamber at the time of the vote on Senate Bill 479 and "had I been in my seat, I would have voted 'yes.'"
SB479 will shift the sales and the special privilege tax collections on medical marijuana to the state's restricted reserve fund to be used to address food insecurity and health needs. The bill is now Act 657.
In a letter dated April 5 to Stacks, Beaty wrote that he was away from his seat at the time of the vote on House Bill 1737 and "had I been in my seat, I would have voted 'yes.' "
HB1737, sponsored by Rep. Scott Richardson, R-Bentonville, is aimed at protecting a property owner from civil liability if the property owner generally allows nonemployees to carry firearms on the property owner's property. The bill is now 749.
The letters to Stacks don't change the outcomes or alter the vote tallies, but they are designed to correct the record, to respond to criticism, and deflect future political attacks.
Other representatives, who wrote letters to Stacks to state how they would have voted on bills include:
Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, R-Walnut Ridge, who wrote in a letter dated Feb. 6 to Stacks that "it was my intention to vote yes," on Senate Bill 43 by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, which she didn't vote on.
SB43 aims to restrict "adult-oriented performances." The bill is now Act 131.
Cavenaugh said she went into the quiet room adjoining the House chamber to call a Bureau of Legislative Research employee and she expected the House's debate on the bill to last longer than it did and "I didn't make it in time to the chamber to cast a vote from the quiet room."
Rep. Cindy Crawford, R-Fort Smith, who wrote in a letter dated April 7 to Stacks that it was her intention to vote "yes" on Senate Bill 542 and Senate Bill 549 on April 5.
"I am writing this letter in regard to my 'non-vote' on Senate Bill 542 and Senate Bill 549 on April 5," she said.
Senate Bill 542 by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, specifies that a physician must perform an obstetric ultrasound on a pregnant woman before referring a woman for an abortion and provide a simultaneous verbal explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting. The physician also is required to display the ultrasound images so the pregnant woman may view them.The bill is now Act 559.
Senate Bill 549, sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, cut the state's top individual income tax rate from 4.9% to 4.7% and the state's top corporate income tax rate from 5.3% to 5.1%, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023. The bill is now Act. 532.
Rep. Johnny Rye, R-Trumann, who wrote in a letter dated March 15 to Stacks that it "was my intention to vote 'yes,' "on House Bill 1443, "but I hit the button and it did not register."
HB1443, sponsored by Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren, aims to provide rights to victims of a Class A misdemeanor that resulted in physical injury to the victim or involving the use of a deadly weapon, terroristic threatening in the first degree and stalking. The bill is now Act 415.
Rye said in a letter dated March 8 to Stacks that he stepped away from his desk during the vote on Senate Bill 264 on March 8, "but my intention was to vote yes."
SB264, sponsored by Irvin, repealed a requirement for the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board to have "no fewer than two African-American members" among its nine members. The bill is now Act 254.
Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs, who wrote in a letter dated Feb. 1 to Stacks stating that he had stepped outside the House chamber at the time of the vote on House Bill 1026, "but it was my intention to vote 'yes' on the bill."
HB1026, sponsored by Rep. David Ray, R-Maumelle, will bar local governments from levying income taxes. The bill is now Act 96.
Cozart said in an interview that he asked Rep. Ron McNair, R-Harrison, to push Cozart's button to vote for the bill, but McNair "got busy and forgot about it."
McNair said Friday in a text message to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that "that is what happened. I don't think I even voted my machine." McNair voted for the bill, according to the General Assembly's website.
McNair could not be reached for comment by telephone Friday.
Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris, who wrote in a letter dated April 5 to Stacks that at the time of the vote on House Bill 1045 "I was away from my desk," and "had I been in my seat, I would have voted 'yes.'"
HB1045, sponsored by Beaty, will gradually phase out the "throwback rule" on business income of multistate corporations. The bill is now Act 485.
Wing, who wrote in a letter dated Jan. 26 to Stacks that "I am writing this letter in regard to not voting on House Bill No 1165," and it "was my intention to vote 'yes' on the bill."
HB1165, sponsored by Rep. Milton Nicks, D-Marion, will reduce the number of district courts in Crittenden County from seven to six by eliminating a district court in Jennette, which he said hasn't held court in more than 20 years. The bill is now Act 40.
Wing said in an interview that his voting machine was inadvertently turned off by a colleague.
Rep. Joy Springer, D-Little Rock, who wrote in a letter dated March 31 to Stacks that at the time of the vote on House Bill 1649 she was away from the House chamber and had "I been in my seat, I would have voted 'yes.' "
HB1649, sponsored by House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, will allow high school athletes who have been accepted to a college or have signed a national letter of intent to profit off their name, image and likeness. The bill is now Act 589.
Springer said in an interview that she co-sponsored the bill, and "I am pretty sure I voted for the bill" and the House had some problems recording votes.
Rep. Joey Carr, R-Blytheville, who wrote a letter dated March 30 to Stacks that it "was my intention to vote 'no,' [on House Bill 1610] but I pushed the button too late."
HB1610, sponsored by Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, would allow one-third of the members of a governing body to meet privately without it being considered a public meeting. The bill failed to clear the Senate State Agencies and Government Affairs Committee.
Carr said in an interview "I was a half-second late on the draw" to cast his vote.
Rep. Matthew Brown, R-Conway, who wrote in a letter dated Feb. 23 to Stacks that he was away from the House chamber at the time of the vote on House Bill 1349 and "had I been in my seat, I would have voted 'yes.' "
HB1349, sponsored by Ray, aims to find that a paid esports tournament conducted in compliance with this bill does not constitute gambling for any purpose. The bill is now Act 439.
Brown said in an interview he asked his seatmate to hit a button to cast Brown's vote for the bill and his seatmate forgot about his request.
He said he made a personal pledge not to miss a vote and "I don't think I missed anything else."
Rep. Wade Andrews, R-Camden, who wrote in a letter dated Feb. 16 to Stacks that he was out of the House chamber when House Bill 1307 was voted on, and "it was my intention to vote 'yes' on the bill."
HB1307, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage, will require the state treasurer and public entities to divest certain investments with financial services providers on a list maintained by the state treasurer due to the use of environmental, social justice or governance-related metrics. The bill is now Act 411.
Andrews said in an interview he was a co-sponsor of the bill and "I forgot to tell my seatmate to hit the button.
"It was just one of those days," he said.
Rep. Rebecca Burkes, R-Springdale, who wrote in a letter dated Feb. 2 to Stacks that at the time of the vote on House Bill 1258 "I was presenting the bill and was unable to vote my machine in time instead of voting a 'yes' vote as I had intended."
HB 1258, sponsored by Rep. Robin Lundstrom, R-Elm Springs, would allow cities to issue permits for the use of sky lanterns. The small hot air balloons are sometimes released during events, including weddings or funerals.
The bill is now Act 112.