by Max Brantley
Saturday night line here. Final words:
* HAS RAPERT HEARD ABOUT THIS NULLIFICATION THING? Hell, who knows, maybe Bro. Rapert has already introduced an Arkansas version and I missed it. Why not? If it's good enough for Republican legislative leaders in Georgia, why not Arkansas — legislation to nullify federal statutes the state doesn't like. U.S. Constitution? Piffle to these jokers. Nate Bell and the rest of the ALEC crowd surely would like legislation that says:
In the event the General Assembly votes by a constitutional majority to nullify any federal statute, mandate, or executive order on the grounds of constitutionality, neither the state nor its citizens shall recognize or be obligated to live under such statute, mandate, or executive order.
* TRUCK TAX BREAK: Time is running out for the Arkansas legislature to vote to repeal an unearned sales tax break on trucks and trailers for the trucking industry. They were supposed to get it July 1 in return for a diesel tax increase to pay for road improvement. The highway department is doing its damnedest to rebuild roads by borrowing against future federal dollars without a new diesel increase. It wasn't put to a vote because truckers said it couldn't pass. For what it's worth — and given that it is from the truck lobby, not much — here's the letter from their lobbyist to legislative leaders explaining that they really, really do support a diesel tax increase some day. And that they really, really do want a sales tax exemption on their rigs. But, on the second page of the two-page letter, Lane Kidd finally gets around to saying truckers still favor the spirit of the original deal so the sales tax exemption should be repealed for now. It isn't exactly a call to arms. Is it good enough for weak-kneed legislators to vote to repeal the tax? It won't be for some Republicans. They favor cutting any and all taxes no matter how undeserving the beneficiaries or how damaging the consequences of the loss of, in this case another $4 million a year. And, in this case, they favor it even though the beneficiaries so they don't want it. Wink, wink.
Remember that this NEVER amounted to a tax increase for truckers. The tax break wiped out the impact of a new diesel tax. Truckers are already way undertaxed for the damage they cause to interstates, which are breaking down faster than rebuilding projects can be paid for thanks to the awful toll of the heavy rigs. And now some legislators are ready to cut their taxes some more. Unbelievable.