by Max Brantley
Just got a note from Fayetteville, where Rep. Robbie Wills, slated to be House speaker in 2009, spoke to the Political Animals Club.
When Archie Schaffer asked him about severance tax proposals, he said he opposed Sheffield's initiated act, mouthed around sounding like he might go for the 2.5 percent legislative bill. Pitiful, but about what I expected with [gas lobbyist] Bob Lamb sitting nearby.
The smell of rat that I mentioned yesterday is growing.
UPDATE: I have been remiss in not seeking gubernatorial comment on this issue. It is important, then, to note that, whatever might be going around at the legislature, they cannot meet in special session without a call by Gov. Mike Beebe. And the governor has made it clear, just a moment ago through a spokesman, that a 2.5 percent tax rate is unacceptably low to him. So, perhaps the talk of a majority vote resolution of this issue can be put to rest.
UPDATE II: In response to a question, I'm told the attorney general's opinions division is working as fast as it can on studying Sheffield Nelson's revised gas tax proposal and that it is not, as was suggested here, sitting on it in any way. And there was no pretext or agenda in General McDaniel's mention yesterday that there was a legal theory by which the legislature could increase the severance tax by a simple majority vote so long as it didn't go any higher than 2.6 percent of value, the rate that prevailed in 1934 when the Constitution was amended to require a three-fourths vote for new taxes.