by Max Brantley
I hear from Sheffield Nelson's side that they've received word that they'll shortly be getting official notice that the attorney general's office has signed off on a revision of the proposed ballot initiative to raise the severance tax on natural gas to 7 percent of market value, with most of the proceeds to go to highways and local roads.
Here's the opinion, which includes text of the revised proposal.
The question now: Will Gov. Mike Beebe bring the gas industry to an acceptable compromise that he can get the legislature to approve in a special session. Or will the ballot drive go forward? Both the governor and Nelson, the former Arkla Gas executive who's taken this on as a personal cause, seem dead serious. It pretty much has to be done legislatively by March, if it is to be done that way. Petitions will be circulated at the May primary election to meet a July deadline and legislators won't want to interrupt their own campaigning close to the primary.