By a 81-15 margin, members of the Arkansas House of Representatives approved a resolution that will allow a non-budget bill to be introduced in the fiscal session.
HCR 1009, by Rep. Larry Cowling (D-Foreman), would give lawmakers permission to file a bill to repeal a law giving the trucking industry a tax break. The resolution must still pass the State Senate in order for the bill to be filed.
In the 2011 regular session, truckers received a sales tax exemption on Class Six and Seven trucks that are engaged in interstate commerce. Arkansas finance officials estimated the exemption would cost the state about $4 million annually in general revenue.
The state’s trucking industry pushed for the measure — which would not go into effect until July 1, 2012 — on the condition they would support a five-cent diesel fuel tax increase for roads. Public polling showed the diesel tax increase would fail and truckers pulled their support. As a result, the industry agreed to the repeal of the yet-to-be-enacted tax cut.
House Minority Leader Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison) spoke in favor of the resolution. “It is proper today to have a vote to allow a vote,” he said. In a post-session interview, Burris said he would be supporting the bill for the tax repeal if the Senate approves adding it to the agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Thompson (D-Paragould) said he thought the resolution would get a fair hearing in his chamber. “I can see how this is a fiscal-related matter,” Thompson said in regards to the trucking tax issue and the potential revenue reduction it would have on the state coffers.