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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. Content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dick Armey May Help Fight Increased Arkansas Cigarette tax

The Tobert Report identified that based on talk around the capital, former U.S. Congressman from Texas and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Chairman of Freedom Works, will be coming into town in February to lend a hand in fighting the Governor's proposed Cigarette tax. Evidently details are still being hammered out but he should be at the state capital on Tuesday morning of February 3 immediately followed by a lunch to raise funds for the Republican Party of Arkansas.

The latest report by Talk Business is that:
[T] he battle lines are being drawn in the fight over a proposed 56-cents a pack increase in the state cigarette tax to fund a statewide trauma system and other health-related programs, according to the bureau.

William R. Phelps, spokesman for Philip Morris USA owner Altria Group Inc., hit town today and began making the rounds with reporters in opposition to the increase. A rally in support of the tax hike proposal is scheduled for 11:30 am Monday at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The 56-cent tax hike, plus an as yet unknown increase in the tax on smokeless tobacco, would generate about $87 million a year. Gov. Mike Beebe wants the new revenue stream to pay for a statewide trauma system, community health programs and a Fayetteville satellite campus of the state’s Little Rock-based medical school. Look for the bill outlining the Governor’s proposal to be filed as early as Monday of next week. Rep. Gregg Reep will be a primary sponsor of the bill . . . The bill is expected to originate in the House and work its way down to the Senate.

The bill will be sent to the House Rules Committee, a committee that Speaker Robbie Wills controlled appointments to. With his avid support, the votes on that committee are likely sown up – at least that’s the consensus from tobacco lobbyists to whom we’ve spoken - but there is still a shortage of votes on the House floor. . . . the tax proposal likely had around 50 votes as of Thursday, but a supermajority of 75 votes will be required for passage in the House. Tax supporters say they feel good about the progress they’ve made on gaining commitments, but objections still exist. There are some Republican opponents of the tax increase; others question singling out smokers and expanding government.

One of the biggest sticking points revolves around rural legislators who see the approximately $28 million budget for a trauma center network being consumed by Little Rock area hospitals who will offer trauma center services. UAMS, Baptist Health and St. Vincent’s could all offer trauma services under potential guidelines for the program, according to one uncommitted but persuadable Delta legislator.

While the tax funding measure will originate in the House, the Senate will be the starting point for enabling legislation related to the trauma network. That bill should be filed in conjunction with the cigarette tax bill early next week. It will be carried by Sen. Tracy Steele and steered through the Senate Public Health Committee. . . . if approved by the House, would then have to be approved by a five-member majority of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. Presently, supporters say there are four “yes” votes for the tax on the panel. Three Senators remain as potential swing votes. Sen. Denny Altes is a firm “no” vote, according to supporters. Its fate on the Senate floor is unknown at this time, but it will need a supermajority vote of 27 of the 35 Senators for approval. Governor Mike Beebe has political capital as they say. He'll have to spend a chunk of it on the House and Senate floor votes.
See also: Impact of Increased Smoking Taxes on Arkansas
Tags: Arkansas, cigarette tax, Dick Armey, tobacco tax To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 7:00 PM - Post Link

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