Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nine Republicans Who Will Decide if Arkansas Taxes Will Increase (UPDATED - more video)

All signs point to the fact that HB1204, the bill to more than double the state tax on tobacco, will go before the house on Thursday afternoon. The vote will come down to a handful of Republican Representatives who could vote either way. Here is a run down of the current yes or undecided Republicans. You may want email to call them from the information below.

Rep. Rick Green (Van Buren)
As a co-sponsor of the bill there is little doubt that he will vote to raise your taxes
(Final Result - Voted For the bill)
Phone - 479-471-9911
greenr@arkleg.state.ar.us

Rep. Tim Summers (Bentonville)
According to Speaker Wills blog, Announced support for the bill
(Final Result - Voted For the bill)
Phone - 479-464-1060
summerst@arkleg.state.ar.us
According to Speaker Wills blog, Announced support for the bill
(Final Result - Voted For the bill)
Phone - 479-498-2467
redale70@yahoo.com

Rep. Roy Ragland (Marshall)
According to Speaker Wills blog, Announced support for the bill (confirmed his yes vote to me on Wednesday.)
(Final Result - Voted For the bill)
Phone - 870-448-6640
raglandr@arkleg.state.ar.us

Rep. Bill Sample (Hot Springs)
According to Speaker Wills blog, Announced support for the bill
(Final Result - Voted For the bill)
Phone - 501-321-0040
sampleb@arkleg.state.ar.us

Rep. Les “Skip” Carnine (Rogers)
Told me on Tuesday that he is still undecided but reports from fellow legislators say he is leaning no
(Final Result - Voted Against the bill)
Phone - 479-636-2619
.
Undecided (reportly is under considerable pressure as she could be the deciding vote)
(Final Result - Voted Against the bill)
Phone - 479-616-2010
slinkardm@arkleg.state.ar.us

Rep. Jonathan Barnett (Siloam Springs)
Leaning no
(Final Result - Voted Against the bill)
Phone - 479-524-6254
jonb@msbarnett.com

Rep. Jon Woods (Springdale)
Has said he will vote no but Speaker Wills has him as a maybe
(Final Result - Voted Against the bill)
Phone - 479-200-3100
(Somehow missed by the Tolbert Report, Republican Rep. Beverly Pyle also voted for the bill.)
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UPDATE - This is still developing, but several lawmakers are researching what impact the Freedom of Choice Act may have on the federal matching dollars tied to the bill. Specifically, could the FCA force the funds from the tobacco tax increase to pay for abortions?
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UPDATE II – Arkansas News columnist David Sanders devotes his column today to examining in the detail why these Republicans are waffling on this issue. I suggest you read the whole column but let me touch on one name that I know a little bit about.

Sanders writes, “(Rep. Roy) Ragland is planning to run for lieutenant governor in 2010. Three other Republicans have expressed interest in the state’s No. 2 spot. If Ragland votes for the tax, he would encounter a hostile Republican electorate.”

Ragland is one of the other two names, beside Mark Darr, that I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago rumored to be considering a run for Lieutenant Governor. I spoke to him about this before posting and he told me that this was only talk at this point. He said he would not be seriously looking at this until after the legislative session as he did not want to paint a target on his back (which is why I did not mention his name until after it has already been made public.) He told me that he had developed a good relationship with Speaker Wills who had made him Chairman of the Agriculture Committee (one of the very few Republican chairman.) Perhaps it is this friendship with Wills that help persuade him to vote for the tax hike.


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UPDATE III - Video from the Rules Committee's unanimous vote on the HB1204.



Arkansas House Rules Committee unanimously passes the bill to increase the tax on tobacco in Arkansas - HB1204.



Speaker Robbie Wills talks to the press following the unanimous vote from the Rules Committee on the Arkansas tobacco tax increase. He says he is "feeling really good" and is "confident" they will be able to get 75 votes.
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UPDATE IV - The abortion question...



Rep. Gregg Reep responds to a question during the Arkansas House Rules Committee meeting as to whether the bill to increase taxes on tobacco would fund abortions or health care for illegal immigrants. Reep says, "Absolutely no!"

In addition, Gov. Beebe’s spokesman Matt DeCample responded directly to me on this subject as well saying, “Per the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, state funds cannot be used to fund abortions. Period, end of sentence. No further discussion to be had.”

I hope they are correct, but the question that I have been told is still not resolved is if President Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act as he has promised, would this will trump our state constitutional amendment and require the federal matching funds to be used for abortions? I have been told there are several legislators worried about this and it could affect their vote.

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Update VI - More video...

Robert Green, owner of a wholesale business that distributes tobacco, speaks against the bill in the House Rules Committee saying it could put him out of business.

3 comments:

Brett said...

It is a scary time when raising taxes is the "right thing to do" as Speaker Wills stated.

I think you need to get a logo for the Tolbert Report camera, kind of like they have for the news cameras. That would be snazzy.

Anonymous said...

from the rumor mill

It seems that various factions(different sides of the tent) within the Republican community are talking to each other about making sure there are well funded and organized primary opponents to any Republican who votes yes to the tobacco tax bill.

Cameron Bluff said...

Perhaps it is this friendship with Wills that help persuade him to vote for the tax hike.


Re-write to reflect the truth:

Perhaps it is this friendship with Wills that bought his vote for the tax hike.