by Max Brantley
The entry of the city and county lobbies into the fray over the moribund legislation to repeal a $4 million sales tax break for truckers has changed dynamics of the debate.
UPDATE: They called the roll. Needing 24 votes for considering, the motion drew 21. All the Democrats and Bill Sample voted aye. The Republicans were nays or not voting, same thing. Remember this when you drive through an interstate pothold. Republicans wanted to give the people who caused $4 million more in tax breaks for nothing.
It now looks like the state Senate will vote today on a resolution that would allow the repealing legislation to be considered. That would require a two-thirds vote of the 35-member Senate. There's little doubt the repeal could be approved by a simple majority vote if it could be introduced.
The cities and counties would lose $1.2 million if the repealer isn't passed because the new sales tax break, to take effect July 1, will come out of the Highway Department budget in a transfer to general revenues. The tax break was supposed to be a compensation for a diesel tax increase, but the truck lobby decided it didn't want to push for that. And though truckers said, officially, that they supported a repeal of the sales tax break, they've made no effort to push the repeal. Double-cross, in other words.
A Senate vote could mean another day of the legislature to comply with minimum time rules on passage of legislation.
I understand Sen. Percy Malone will bring the issue to a vote. That may or may not mean other deals are tied up in this, such as House agreement to hear his bill that would give the state Parole Board more leeway to deny parole to certain sex offenders.
Sen. Michael Lamoureux, periodically a member of the GOP Sanity Caucus, has gone to prevaricating about this legislation in a quote repeated by AP. He says the $4 million is a tax increase. It is not. The repeal prevents a tax break of that amount, it keeps money flowing at its present, unchanged rate. That is not an increase.