02/20/17  Arkansas Legislative Week 7


Voter ID, Internet sales tax collection and constitutional amendments are among the items expected to receive debate in week 7 of Arkansas' legislative session.  A bill to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls is on tomorrow's agenda of the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. House Bill 1047 by Representative Mark Lowery of Maumelle would allow a voter who does not show photo ID to cast a provisional ballot. The bill would allow the provisional ballot to be counted if the voter shows photo ID to the  county clerk or county elections board by noon on the Monday after the election.

An amendment to the bill filed by Senator Jason Rapert of Bigelow would give the voter who casts a provisional ballot the option of signing a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that the voter is who he or she claims to be. Lowery said the same procedure would be available for absentee voters.

Opponents of the bill say it would disenfranchise some eligible voters and address a nonexistent problem.

According to the Arkansas News Bureau, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee's agenda for tomorrow includes consideration of a bill on Internet sales tax collection that the panel previously rejected. Senate Bill 140 by Senator Jake Files of Ft. Smith would require large out-of-state sellers with no physical presence in Arkansas to collect sales taxes on purchases in the state. The largest on-line seller, Amazon, said February 10,  it would begin collecting sales taxes on purchases in Arkansas.

Files has said his bill is still needed because other online sellers are not collecting taxes in the state. The bill has cleared the Senate, but it was blocked in the House tax panel last week by the Democratic members, who make up half of the committee.

The vote came after Democrats unsuccessfully proposed amending the bill to  direct Internet sales tax revenue to needs such as early childhood education and rural police and fire departments. Files said Friday he believes a compromise is possible. Files says he opposes amending his bill because that would “muddy the waters” if the measure were to be challenged in court and because it would hurt the bill's chances of passing on the Republican controlled House Floor.

No proposed amendment by a House member has been sent to the House floor

yet, but the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee could

do so this week..

Among the proposals House members have filed are ones that would bar courts

from ruling that public schools are not adequately funded; require the

Legislature to meet only in odd-numbered years and do away with fiscal sessions

in even-numbered years; require the Legislature to hold a regular session every

year; and make the state Highway Commission a state agency unde the

executive branch of government.

Other proposals would end elections for Supreme Court justices and replace them

with a selection process; require a vote of the people to raise sales taxes; bar

a constitutional amendment from bestowing provileges to a specific person or

company identified by name; require voters to show photo ID at the polls;

write victims' rights into the constitution; and require a petition signed by

200 thousand registered voters to place a monument or statue on the Capitol