Rep. Nate Bell battles Bail Bond board director | Arkansas Blog

Rep. Nate Bell battles Bail Bond board director

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BUTTING HEADS: Nate Bell (left) and L.E. Peters.
  • BUTTING HEADS: Nate Bell (left) and L.E. Peters.
Have 30 minutes or so? A reader recommends two 16-minute video clips of last Thursday's House Judiciary Committee at which Rep. Nate Bell encountered opposition on bail bond legislation from  L.E. Peters, director of the state Bail Bond Licensing Board.

Bell, who has been a bail bondsman, has a bill that assures  explicit law enforcement powers - search and seizure, use of firearms — for bail bondsmen who complete a new training course. Bell contends court rulings already support bail bondsmen in use of these powers and training would be a matter of good standards.

Peters said there were some unanswered questions about the training (the Law Enforcement Training Academy, which would certify the training course, hadn't been consulted yet) and noted the bill had just been amended. He also said many bondsmen don't support the legislation.

One question is who would provide the training if the bill was approved. Critics suggest here is a plan in place for a specific organization to provide the new training. Bell said the "free market" would determine who'd offer such training.

After running into questions and Peters' objections, Bell said Peters was opposing him because he was opposing a "self-serving" bill by Peters that requires the chair of the Bail Bond board to be a certified law officer, a requirement that narrows significantly, to people such as Peters, who could serve. Bell pulled the bill for the day. Witnesses say he and Peters exchanged words as they left the room. 

Peters  hit one flash point of the bill when he pointed out a training area that concerned him: Carrying firearms.

Said Peters: "Why are you going to give firearm training to a bail bondsman when we do everything we can to tell them not to carry a gun? That's the last thing in the world we want them to do."

He acknowledged that there are some legal opinions that support bondsmen in carrying a weapon. But, Peters said that to  "any respectable bail bond company owner or anybody in the industry that's trying to make the business better you get caught with a gun and you're going to get frowned at. That is  not their job to carry a gun. It's their job to apprehend people. You do not have to have a gun to do that."

Peters said of the bill, generally, "I don't think this thing has been vetted good." He said there would be unintended consequences.

Here's the opening discussion by Rep. Bell.

Here's the video of the second part of the meeting

A state agency head testifying directly against a state legislator with a reputation for hard work and the occasional injudicious outburst? Bring some popcorn for the next Judiciary Committee meeting that has this bill on the agenda.


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