Today is the last chance for any non-budget issues to be taken up during the legislative session. This is because today is the deadline for filing a bill so therefore the resolution authorizing the filing and consideration of non-budget bills must pass today for that to happen.
The two bills to watch are the parole fix resolution and the trucker sales tax repeal resolution. Both have passed one chamber and await action by the other chamber.
The trucker sales tax repeal resolution ties back to the proposed nickel increase in the diesel tax. To get the trucking industry on board with this tax increase that would hit them directly, the legislature passed a sales tax exemption on the sale of trucks within Arkansas, thereby easing the burden on in-state truckers.
The repeal resolution passed the House with 81 votes; however, it has stalled in the Senate where sources tell me it is short by about four votes.
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a resolution with 33 votes to introduce a bill to correct a very specific problem with the parole system. The fix would allow the parole board to deny parole for felony sex offenders. The problem with the system was discovered in a specific situation.
The fate of this resolution – sponsored by Sen. Percy Malone (D-Arkadelphia) – is now in the hands of House Speaker Robert Moore. The resolution is assigned to the House Rules Committee, which is made up of members appointed by the Speaker. The resolution would likely pass if it made it to the House floor, but as of this morning, the Rules Committee has not scheduled a meeting.
It could be an interesting day as each chamber tries to the get the other chamber to move on the resolution they have passed, or both resolutions could meet a quiet death.
UPDATE – The news is no news. The House Rules Committee did not meet and the Senate did not take up the trucker tax repeal resolution. Barring suspending the rules to take up either issue at a later date, both issues are likely finished.