The action on the trucker tax cut repeal happened pretty fast this afternoon, but here is my best shot at breaking it down.
The original resolution HCR1009, which would have authorized the introduction of the bill that would repeal the trucker tax cut was brought up for a vote in the Senate where it had stalled. To bring it up, a motion was needed to suspend the rules and allow the resolution to be brought up after the final date for considering it (Monday) had passed. Gov. Beebe was in the Senate shortly before the session personally lobbying for the measure.
The motion failed with only 21 votes; 24 votes or two-thirds of the Senate body was needed.
But wait – it ain’t over. The House is now attempting a Hail Mary pass late in the fourth quarter with the clock running out.
Rep. Buddy Lovell introduced an amendment on the House floor to HB1114, which is an appropriation bill for the Department of Finance and Administration, which would effectively push the trucker tax exemption back a year to an effective date of July 1, 2013. The thinking here is it delays the enactment by a year and allows the legislature to take action if necessary during the regular session next year.
Minority Leader John Burris spoke in favor of Lovell’s motion.
The amendment only needed a majority for Lovell’s motion for amendment today. It passed on a voice vote, but when a roll call was requested, a little used maneuver called a “vote by division” was used. This allowed members to vote by standing in an unrecorded vote to see if a majority were voting in favor.
My understanding is this bill as amended will now have to head back to the Joint Budget Committee in the morning. If passed out, it will head back to the House where it will require 75 votes (three-fourth) as all appropriation bills do. If it passes that hurdle, then it will head to the Senate where it will also need a three-fourths vote or 27 Senators.
Since the resolution only got 21 votes, that means supporters of the repeal will need to pick up 6 Senators in order to get this passed.
Did you follow all that? Yeah, me neither.
It is just crazy enough that it might work. I do say though that it seems like an end run around the rules set up by Amendment 68, which created fiscal sessions. So much so that it seems it could open the legislation up to a court challenge.