Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Ready Cause Here I Come to a State Near You ~ Taxes, more Taxes and Obamacare

Only two weeks left in the Arkansas 88th General Assembly Session and what a two weeks it will be. Here is the calendar for just next week~ ( )
Tomorrow the Special Language Committee is meeting and according to statements made by Senator Kim Hendren and Rep. Tim Summers and Russ Carnine at a breakfast I attended Saturday morning, this committee needs to be abolished. Evidently there are some shenanigans that go on in that room that would make even Rod Blagojevich blush. 
The Special Language committee is evidently going to be voting on an unpublished amendment by Rep K Ingram, published here now, tomorrow that would take some $3million from the Land Commissioners budget and use it for special ear marks that are lined out on page 6 , thoughts? you decide~
Also Tomorrow in the Senate Transportation Committee the Diesel Tax, HB1902 is on the agenda. Keep in mind, as posted before, this bill increases Arkansas’ diesel tax to 7.7 cents HIGHER than all of our surrounding states (Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi). Diesel taxes are almost entirely passed on to consumers in higher cost of retail goods including food, clothing, office supplies, etc. (according to a Stanford University study conducted in March of 2010.1) For every one cent diesel tax increase per gallon, Arkansas consumers face an increase retail price of 1.09 cents. Because Arkansas has the third highest per capita recipients of social security payments in the United States, just over 20% of our population2, the burden will be felt most significantly by those living on fixed incomes
Another tax to be on the look out for Tuesday is the Hwy Tax HJR1001,  due before the House State Agencies Committee.
If that ain't enough to get your dander up then start looking for the "Head and Shoulders" cause the bill to implement Obamacare in Arkansas I am told is set to run on Wednesday in the House Insurance and Commerce CommitteeHB2138 by Rep Hyde which according to an email was amended late on Friday, copy of Amendment here.
Not sure where the Senate twin (SB880) is to this but it hasn't been amended yet. Arkansans beware that they could ram Obamacare thru here in Arkansas in as little as 3 days…”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bill Adventures~

With more than 2300 bills having been filed this session you can imagine the frenzy with which they are shuttled from the filing stage, through committees,both houses and, if the pass the muster, ultimately to the governors desk .

If you just look at the House Education Committee you will see that they had nearly 100 bills on their agenda for today alone.

The Twitter-verse was filled today with a flurry of activity as it becomes crunch time in the Ole Arkansas Legislature. There is even a bit of a buzz about Saturday Sessions in order to get everything accomplished by April 1st.

Some things to take note of today. Sen. Rapert's SJR4 - the “Taxpayer Protection” Amendment was stopped in the Senate State Agencies Committee. A Tweet directly following this news from Rep. David Meeks was "Msg of the day: Its ok to refer tax increases to the voters but not a taxpayer protection amendment? Really?"

Two other candidates for the 2012 ballot were taken down SJR6 – a bill to limit the total amount of years served to 14 years total by Sen. Bill Pritchard, and SJR7 - the bill to eliminate and consolidate certain constitutional offices by Sen. Robert Thompson.

That committee approved Sen. Hutchinson's SJR2 - the bill that will put the Highway Commission, Game and Fish Commission and the lottery appropriation under the supervision of the state legislature and SJR5 - a bonds bill for cities and counties by Sen Files. 

The Diesel Tax (HB1902) was not heard in the Senate Transportation Committee today. I am not sure what that means or where it stands but will have an update as soon as I know anything~

Charter School Bill (SB346)- a bill that would remove the limitation on the number of open-enrollment Charter Schools, made it out of the Senate today by a vote of 20-10 and is on it's way to the House Education Committee~

Prison Reform (SB750) passed through the House Judiciary Committee and is headed for it's last vote before going to the Governor for his signature into law. (Read more...)
Several appropriation bills failed in the House today, visit the Twitter Feed at the #ARLeg for details.
Some other bills to watch
As I posted earlier today  the Capital Gains Tax Reduction (HB1002) and The Constitutional Offices Transparency Bill (HB1046) will both be heard tomorrow. You still have time to make a difference in helping to cut taxes and promote government transparency. (Read more...)
The Clean Energy Act, SB721 by Sen Sue Madison, was suppose to be heard today but will be heard on Thursday by the Senate Insurance Committee. 

I received an email today that had this letter from Larry Thompson, Financial Services Director for City Water & Light Jonesboro:
"This bill includes a 20%/200mW renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for Arkansas (23-18-904(c)(1)(B)). Each utility would be required to purchase renewables under a tariff based on its load ratio share. These higher-cost renewables will increase our retail rates to families, business and industry.

Since many cities purchase power thru full-requirements, long-term agreements, this renewable mandate may be in conflict with these contracts. The cities which own more than 80% of their needs may find some of their generating capacity effectively “stranded”. This could further increase prices to customers."

Also received this update from the Family Council on 7 Pro-life bills to watch~  


An Opportunity to Engage for Transparency and Lower Taxes

Tomorrow will be a big day at the Capitol. This is a wonderful opportunity for you and your friends and family to engage, impacting the future of our state and the economic future of our children.

The Capitol Gains Tax Cut, HB1002  will be heard at 10 am by the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. Rumors flying that key members will not be present- Please call Committee members and respectfully request they attend and vote.

 Uncommitted Votes:  Sen. Paul Bookout (Jonesboro), Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Little Rock), Sen. Jerry Taylor (Pine Bluff), Sen. Larry Teague (Nashville).  Senate Phone 501-682-2902.


It is scheduled for the Senate State Agencies at 10 am as well. 

It is my understanding, that the Attorney General has the majority of discretion currently of where this money is spent, although he told me that the Judges are involved to an extent.

There are millions of dollars that flow in and out of this fund and in the spirit of transparency the tax payers of Arkansas need to know the details of that flow and have more oversight.  

The Arkansas Senate sent a resounding message on transparency yesterday with a unanimous vote for the "online checkbook" This would be an additional step to help bring fiscal responsibility and government transparency to our state. Please call the committee members and ask them to once again stand with Arkansans and support transparency. 

Monday, March 14, 2011


Today was an EPIC day in the Arkansas Legislature!

By a vote of 5-76-7 the House voted down 113 GIF (General Improvement Fund) request, totaling nearly a BILLION dollars. WAY TO GO!

They also reportedly voted down another 8 bills according to Tolbert Report. In his post today Jason explains what GIF's are and list the other 8 bills (read more...)

And that's not all...

A tweet from Rep. David Meeks this afternoon said "I've been assured that HB1992,the severance tax bill, will be pulled.It has been killed for now. Will let u know if that changes."
You will recall that HB1992 was the "shale tax" bill that I spoke of in my post "I Picked the Wrong Week..." and the committee meeting that was so horrible.

But wait there's more...

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, HB2060, the bill that was a mandate for union dues to be taken from paychecks and paid directly to the union is being pulled and will be removed from the calendar~ 

AND.... Drum Roll Please

The Arkansas State Senate UNANIMOUSLY voted to approve SB221 the online checkbook bill!


AND>>> While you have them on the phone encourage them to vote the rest of this session to GROW JOBS~ NOT GOVERNMENT~ Yes on Capital Gains Tax Cut (HB1002), NO on Diesel Tax (HB1092) and Internet Tax(SB738)

A Note From AFP Arkansas on TAX Issues~

Stand with AFP Arkansas
Grow Jobs NOT Government

Capital Gains Investment Tax Reduction: SUPPORT

When it comes to creating new jobs, Arkansas is at a competitive disadvantage. Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana have eliminated or have reduced the job killing capital gains tax.  Arkansas has the opportunity to do the same by passing HB 1002.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “Businesses in high tax states invest less…and this leads to lower productivity and eventually lower average pay for workers.”  Let’s invest in Arkansas future by growing jobs, NOT government!

Uncommitted Votes:  Sen. Paul Bookout (Jonesboro), Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Little Rock), Sen. Jerry Taylor (Pine Bluff), Sen. Larry Teague (Nashville).  Senate Phone 501-682-2902.

Billion Dollar Diesel Tax INCREASE: OPPOSE

HB1902:  A bill that increases Arkansas’ diesel tax to 7.7 cents HIGHER than all of our surrounding states (Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi).  Diesel taxes are almost entirely passed on to consumers in higher cost of retail goods including food, clothing, office supplies, etc. (according to a Stanford University study conducted in March of 2010.1)  For every one cent diesel tax increase per gallon, Arkansas consumers face an increase retail price of 1.09 cents.  Because Arkansas has the third highest per capita recipients of social security payments in the United States, just over 20% of our population2, the burden will be felt most significantly by those living on fixed incomes.

Uncommitted Votes:  Sen. Paul Bookout (Jonesboro), Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Little Rock), Sen. Jerry Taylor (Pine Bluff), Sen. Larry Teague (Nashville).  Senator Jake Files (Fort Smith), Senator Bill Sample (Hot Springs) Call Senate Phone 501-682-2902

2.Social Security Administration Master Beneficiary Record

Remember, states with more economic freedom grow faster, have better wages and better quality of life.  Let’s get government out of the way and work together to grow jobs, not government!
For Freedom & Liberty,

Teresa Crossland-Oelke
Arkansas State Director
Americans for Prosperity
“Man is not free unless government is limited.” - Ronald Reagan

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Update on Internet-TAX

Thought Arkansans would be interested to know what impact the "Internet Tax" our legislators passed through the Senate last week is having in other states such as Illinois. 
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed the tax into law on Thursday.  Amazon and other online retailers wasted no time pulling out.
Call your Representatives and let them know you do not want to follow Illinois~
Here are a few stories with the details~ Pay attention Arkansas! 

From Townhall Finance~ Amazon cuts Ill. ties over sales tax collection

 " has made good on its threat to cut ties with Illinois affiliates because of a new law requiring the online store to collect sales taxes.
Amazon notified its Illinois partners Friday that it will stop doing business with them April 15. It calls the tax law "unconstitutional and counterproductive.
Online retailer said later that it also will cut ties with Illinois-based partners beginning May 1.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Thursday that requires online companies to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases if they have any affiliates based in Illinois. Affiliates are businesses that refer customers to Amazon and Overstock and receive commissions on purchases.
The sales tax always applied to Internet sales. But individuals _ not online businesses _ were responsible for paying it. Few people did.

 From Illinois' Illogical Internet Tax

Fiscal Policy: Illinois becomes the latest state to enact a law imposing a sales tax on Internet retailers. Advertised as saving "main street" jobs, it's yet another creative way to drive them off.
Ignoring the truism that when you tax something you get less of it, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday signed legislation making the Land of Lincoln the latest state to enact what's dubbed the Amazon Tax. It's designed to collect state sales taxes from online companies if in-state businesses do business through websites such as Seattle-based
In the past, online companies such as Amazon avoided collecting and paying state sales taxes, arguing they have no physical presence in a given state. A 1992 Supreme Court decision found that businesses had to collect sales taxes only in states in which they had a substantial physical nexus there.
Amazon has no physical presence in Illinois, but its affiliates — companies that market through Amazon — do.
Illinois now joins Hawaii, North Carolina and Rhode Island in getting around this impediment by considering affiliates as the required nexus. Amazon's in court with New York over a similar law.
According to the Tax Foundation, such taxes do not produce huge revenue streams. "Rhode Island," it says, "has seen no additional sales tax revenue from its Amazon tax, and because Amazon reacted by discontinuing its affiliate program, Rhode Islanders are earning less income and paying less income tax."
Illinois has about 9,000 such affiliates, and Rebecca Madigan, director of the Performance Marketing Association, an affiliate trade group, estimates the state will lose 25% to 30% of tax revenues collected from the affiliates themselves as they lose business, cut jobs or move out of Illinois.
"We had opposed this new law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive," Amazon said in a letter announcing it was severing ties with its Illinois affiliates. Businesses targeted by the new tax are already packing their bags to move to friendlier tax climes.
Until Quinn's action in signing what is called the Main Street Fairness Act, those Amazon or affiliates didn't have to collect the state sales tax as a local store selling the same product must.
Quinn says this law "will put Illinois-based businesses on a level-playing field," putting online retailers under the same tax burden as brick-and-mortar stores.
Likelier, it will simply force businesses to flee the state and leave their brick-and-mortar offices and buildings empty.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Picked the Wrong Week...

I felt like Lloyd Bridges in Airplane, "I picked the wrong week to stop drinking"... Red Bull...

My youngest daughter, Hannah, and I spent this past week pacing the halls of the state Capitol trying to keep a pulse on what is going on with all the tax increases, tax cuts and new government regulations. 

It started very late Monday night when news spread fast about Governor Beebe hoping to make Arkansas the Flagship for socialized healthcare by being the first state to fully implement Obamacare. (Read more...)

Which, among other reasons, is why Rep Ed Garner chose to not run HB1002, Captial Gains Tax Cut on Wednesday (will run next Wednesday), to allow the focus to be on Sen. Missy Irvin's bill SB 709, a bill that would have required  state agencies to document the expenses they incur to implement the federal health law. That committee meeting (IMHO) was a embarrassment to the system and to our state. (Read why...)

Thursday brought the "Internet Tax" bill that flew threw the Senate 26-7, meaning many thought-to-be conservatives voted YES to this tax increase. (Read more...)

But Friday was the clincher. I was truly feeling the depths of Mr. Bridges' sentiments as I scoured the Capitol for the nearest Red Bull vendor.

Yesterday morning bright and early the "Shale Tax" bill was heard in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee. (scratching my head) One might think that it would be heard by the House Revenue and Tax Committee. Oh wait the House Revenue and Tax Committee is majority Republican....

This meeting was the Coup de grace' of  back room politics. 

(this is a true parenthetical moment ...My brain just did a flash to Tony Soprano saying "I'm in the waste management business. Everybody immediately assumes you're mobbed up. It's a stereotype. And it's offensive... There is no Mafia.")  I'm not sure why that scene just popped into my head, let's continue.

The "Shale Tax" meeting was packed. The media reported 250 but I can tell you if there was one, there were 400. The word was spreading fast that Speaker Moore was considering not running the bill because he felt he did not have the votes, even in this stacked committee, to get a do pass; plus the size of the turn out (and I am not speaking of the number of people).

But he ultimately did and  it was quite the show. Don't take my word for it, watch it for your self here

I was slinging the Red Bull back one after the other around the time the House convened at 10 am, anxiously awaiting the floor vote on HB1902, another bill Speaker Moore supports, the "Diesel Tax" bill, that would raise the price of diesel fuel on Arkansans an additional .05/gal over the rest of the nation. (Read more...)

In case you haven't heard the diesel tax passed through the Arkansas house 67-24. Once again legislators Arkansans thought they could trust to protect us from additional taxation and government regulations voted to increase the cost of diesel fuel on us by .05/gal. 

Don't be fooled by any rhetoric you hear them justifying it about putting it to a vote of the people, Horse Feathers!, we sent them there with a CLEAR message in November, NO MORE TAXES.

Not only that but with that vote the said yes to spending millions of tax payer dollars to do it. See the powers that be recognize you can't let a good crisis go to waste, when thousands of Arkansans are dying everyday because of lack of good roads and safe bridges. We must implement this tax NOW by holding a SPECIAL ELECTION, which will cost more than 1million tax payer dollars (some estimates I have gotten over the last 24 hours say $2million) EACH time.

I say each time because unbeknownst, evidently, to several who voted for this tax increase, the language in the bill provides that the Governor can run "subsequent" elections if the proposition fails as many times as it takes to pass and as often as every six months (page 10 staring line 7

We also know that there will be an "education" campaign from our illustrious protectors, to ensure that every Arkansan knows the urgency that is before us with regards to our roads.

Watch the House vote here~

Friends, I know you are busy, tired and perhaps feel unable to make a difference. But that is simply not true. If not for the people who have engaged in the past two years all of this stuff would have already been implemented with not a single hiccup. We have been able to shine the light on what has been going on now for decades right under our noses, and we ARE MAKING a difference.

Regardless of what you have been told the government is still run of, by and for the people. The people just need assert their power by the means afforded us in our system, IT WORKS! We just need to work it.

What you can do~

  1. Spread this information FAR AND WIDE, make sure those in your spheres of influence    know what is going on, it affects their families too.
  2. Find out who your elected officials are and COMMUNICATE with them. Let them know you willing to do the work it takes to come alongside them so they CAN represent YOU according to your beliefs and values
  3. Read and investigate. What episode of Glee is more important than the future of your children and the families in our communities.
  4. Ask questions. Tons of questions
If you need help and want a little more direction, call me 501-258-6353, the more people we have seriously involved the faster we get our state on the right track and the more we secure the futures of the next generation.