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Arkansas House leader still hopes for trucker tax break repeal

Arkansas Trucking Association President Lane Kidd has said the trucking industry deserves and welcomes the sales tax exemption. He said the tax break removes a competitive advantage held by trucking industries in other states.

By ALLEN REED
The Associated Press

2/29/2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas House Speaker Robert Moore said Tuesday he hoped a meeting with Republicans would jump-start the effort to repeal a $4 million tax break on commercial truck sales.

Moore, D-Arkansas City, said Republican senators were holding up a vote to take up the repeal in that chamber. He wouldn't say which Republicans he expected to meet with Tuesday.

Legislators are looking to go home Friday, but Moore said the session could be extended into the weekend if a Senate vote to take up the repeal is cast Wednesday. He said if that happens, he would show up to tackle the tax break issue "in a heartbeat."

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Many legislators had hoped to repeal the tax break after the trucking lobby withdrew support for a diesel tax increase for road repairs. Voters last year reauthorized a $ 575 million highway bond program, making the diesel tax increase unnecessary. But left in place was the Legislature's commitment to cut taxes on the sales of commercial trucks starting July 1.

House members approved a resolution to take up the tax repeal on an 81-15 vote. Moore said the Senate was two votes short of the 24 needed to bring the issue up in that chamber. Without a repeal, the tax break would still take effect in July.

Senate President Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, said he still didn't think there was enough support to allow the repeal to be introduced in the Senate.

"The situation as far as the votes in the Senate is no different than it was yesterday," Bookout said.

Randy Ort, spokesman for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, has said the department will have $4 million less to work with for its 2013 budget if the tax break isn't repealed. It's not clear which transportation projects might be affected by the tax break, Ort said.

Arkansas Trucking Association President Lane Kidd has said the trucking industry deserves and welcomes the sales tax exemption. He said the tax break removes a competitive advantage held by trucking industries in other states.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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