Conduit for Action Legislative Session Weekly Scorecard:
Week 3 – January 30 – February 3, 2017
New Internet Sales Tax
Sponsor: Sen. Jake Files (R-S8)
This bill would levy the state’s full 6.5% sales tax on internet purchases. This bill could raise taxes on Arkansans by $100 million per the bill’s sponsor. First, we should consider the purpose and necessity of a “sales tax” being levied. A sales tax is levied against persons in a locale to make sure persons benefitting from local government services are paying towards those benefits. With online purchases, however, the seller is not in the locale and is therefore not benefitting from any local government benefits. The box stores in a locale benefit from the roads, sidewalks, emergency and police services, and other local government benefits that an internet company in another state does not benefit from. Amazon and others remit sales tax in places where they have distribution centers and pay heavy taxes in their home states. People argue they use the roads for shipping, but in fact they are paying for shipping costs to local companies who pay taxes and not to mention the excise taxes on fuel, tires, etc. is being paid throughout that process.
As part of the intent section of this bill, the drafters appear to admit this bill may in fact be unconstitutional as it would tax out of state businesses who do not have a “nexus”, or presence, in the state. This is usually a fundamental requirement for a state to levy a sales tax on a purchase. That is why online purchases through places like Walmart or Target have a sales tax – they have a physical presence in the state. Regarding the constitutional aspect, the bill states “. . . [T]he General Assembly recognizes that the enactment of this law places remote sellers in a complicated position, precisely because existing constitutional doctrine calls this act into question.” It appears, as written, that this proposed law may serve as a “test case” to test the constitutional limits of taxing a person from outside the state who does not have a nexus with the state. The bills seem to indicate a declatory judgment suit would be filed if this bill is passed. It is interesting that the sponsor and/or drafters of this bill do not fully know whether their legislation is constitutional.
Do we really want our government to come in and get their tentacles attached to our internet usage and purchases? It would seem to be a slippery slope to not only tax purchases but internet usage in general. Does the state really need 100 million more dollars from Arkansas taxpayers?
Authorizing advanced practice registered nurse recognized as a primary care provider under Medicaid
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-H53)
Allows an advanced practice registered nurse to practice as a primary care provider under Medicaid in Arkansas. Currently, this is allowed under federal Medicaid practices, veterans affairs, and in 26 states but not under current Arkansas law. This will allow more access to care and will also save the taxpayer money by having a lower reimbursement rate acting as a cost-saver for Medicaid. This would allow the reimbursement rate to be 90% of the physician reimbursement rate for services performed within the scope and licensure of the advanced practice registered nurses.
Prohibits game warden from entering private property without a warrant
Sponsor: Sen. Terry Rice (R-S9)
This bill would require a game warden to first get a search warrant before entering your land to investigate any potential violations of law or game and fish regulation. This will provide more freedom for individuals.
Disclosure of benefits received by government officials from Medicaid providers
Sponsor: Sen. Bryan King (R-S5)
Requires a disclosure of transactions of more than $2,000 entered between a Medicaid provider and government official. This bill would provide transparency regarding the Medicaid program and any potential benefits a government official is receiving from a Medicaid provider. This would highlight any potential conflicts of interest to show where legislators may have a benefit in seeing Obamacare Medicaid Expansion being further implemented in Arkansas. This will increase transparency in government.
A constitutional amendment to move from elected Supreme Court justices to appointment process
Sponsor: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-S33)
This proposed constitutional amendment would take away the people’s current right to elect their Supreme Court Justices in favor of a government-appointment process. This would also increase the terms of supreme court justices from currently set for eight years to fourteen year terms. It would create a “Judicial Nominating Commission” with five members. Three of the five members would be chosen by the Governor, one by the Speaker of the House, and one by the President Pro Temp of the Senate. For new supreme court justices, the Governor would have full control on selecting five names to put forward to the commission. The commission would then rank those five persons and send this ranking back to the Governor and may strike two names when sending the ranking. This would present a situation where only three names the Governor has already chosen would be considered as worthy to be a supreme court justice. After all this, the Governor would still have the final say in selecting a supreme court justice.
Conduit for Action is against SJR4 and supports the people keeping their right to elect their supreme court justices. More information about this proposed amendment will be forthcoming from CFA in future articles.
Conduit for Action, Inc. (CFA) promotes the reduction in the size and scope of Arkansas state government with the belief such reduction would proportionately increase individual freedom and liberties and economic prosperity for all Arkansans. During the Arkansas 91st General Assembly regular legislative session, CFA will issue weekly tracking and of relevant bills filed by the legislature. CFA will take a position on those bills and either support or oppose them using the CFA Economic Freedom Filter. This filter looks at whether a piece of legislation promotes more freedom or less freedom by considering: (1) If it grows or shrinks government, (2) Increases/Decreases dependency on government, and/or (3) Spends money the state does not have.
CFA will be highlighting the bills (by topic) recently filed and which may be considered for either a committee or full chamber vote. CFA will additionally be tracking and may score those bills mentioned. These scores will assist in rankings for the annual Calvin Coolidge Heroes of Freedom awards, highlighting those state legislators promoting legislation reducing the scope and size of government.
*This scorecard, its contents, and positions on legislation is policy only and does not indicate any personal support for or against a specific legislator-sponsor.