The first term for Third District State Representative Danny Watson has been an active one, and apparently, it is about to get a bit more interesting in the near term as a special session is likely in the works.
The first term for Third District State Representative Danny Watson has been an active one, and apparently, it is about to get a better more active in the near term as a special session is likely in the works.
“Gov. Hutchinson has told the legislature that we may be called back in a couple of months to address possibly the Internet sales tax, revenue funding for infrastructure improvements and the latest directives in healthcare,” Watson said prior to the July 4 holiday.
“Additionally, we can never rule out some last minute concerns that may arise between now and then,” he said.
During the session back in February, a bill mandating online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases in Arkansas failed to clear a House committee, ironically days after national online retail giant Amazon said it would voluntarily begin collecting sales taxes in the state.
Senate Bill 140 had received six votes, but it fell short of the 11 votes needed to advance out of the 20-member House Revenue and Taxation Committee, of which Watson himself is a member of. The bill had previously passed in the Senate in a 23-9 vote.
In recent weeks, the Internet sales tax has emerged again; this time as a possible dedicated revenue for infrastructure repairs. Along those lines, Rep. Dan Douglas had presented an amendment during the session to direct the now-active legislative task force on tax reform to make a recommendation on using Internet sales tax revenue to fund state programs, such a rebuilding roads.
Prior to the July 4 holiday, Watson said “We’ve got to do something about these roads and highways around the state and that will have to include looking at funding for these repairs.”
Watson did not express an opinion at that time, however, on whether the Internet sales tax would be that funding mechanism.
In his mind, Watson believes infrastructure repair is vital to economic development and attracting industry to southwestern Arkansas, particularly Hempstead and Nevada counties.
The other hot topic in the state, as it is throughout the country, is healthcare. Hutchinson held a special press conference last week on the subject, and Watson said he would not be surprised it emerged again in the proposed special session.
“I think there will likely be a discussion, but I think we are all waiting to see what happens with the Senate’s healthcare bill,” he said.
Editor's Note: State voting and amendment information included in this report attributed the Arkansas News Bureau.