Programming note: Given the number of bills being filed, the amount of time I actually have to do reviews of such things, and the fact that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, it’s pretty clear that I won’t be able to get through every bill. With that in mind, I’m going to start bouncing around and focusing on bills that jump out at me one way or the other.
See here for previous posts in this series.
Bill Name: AN ACT TO ENCOURAGE DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS BY EXEMPTING DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS SUPPLIES FROM SALES AND USE TAX FOR A LIMITED PERIOD OF TIME
Sponsor: Andrea Lea (R-68), 479-967-4922, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purpose: To exempt certain “disaster-preparedness supplies,” as defined in the statute, from the gross receipts tax (Ark. Code Ann. § 26-52-101, et seq.) and the compensating use tax (Ark. Code Ann. § 26-53-101, et seq.) from 12:01 a.m. on September 10 (subtle!) until 11:59 p.m. on September 23 each year. The supplies include specific items “purchased in preparation or response to a disaster, including any fire, flood, storm, tornado, earthquake, or similar public calamity, whether man-made, resulting from war, or resulting from natural causes.”
Pros for Average Arkansans: Well, considering that “it is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that natural disasters occur in Arkansas throughout the year” — a phrase that I am sure will be featured in all tourism publications henceforth — I guess this bill provides some impetus for people to prepare for those disasters. And, by “people,” I mean “people who would otherwise stock up and prepare ‘if it weren’t for those darn high taxes on batteries and water and whatnot!'” Plus, since this bill includes man-made and war-induced disasters, you can stock up tax-free for both the next tornado AND nuclear armageddon. Sadly, because this bill does not include chainsaws, you are somewhat limited in your ability to prepare for a zombie apocalypse without having to pay taxes.
[Author’s note: I apologize for the snark. I just fail to see much in the way of positives because I don’t think it’s gross receipts taxes and compensating use taxes that have Arkansans underprepared for disasters. I chalk that phenomenon up to (a) people with lower incomes not having a whole lot of extra money to stock up on things like D batteries and satellite phones and (b) most people assuming that the type of natural disaster that would necessitate this type of preparation being unlikely to happen to them. Also, the list of what is and is not include seems arbitrary (for instance, duct tape is covered, but zip ties are not).]
Cons for Average Arkansans: Minimal, I suppose. A loss of state revenue for two weeks on the specific items listed in the bill is about all I can come up with. I mean, you could include “needlessly making people worry about man-made and war-caused natural disasters, especially around the anniversary of 9/11,” but that just seems cynical.
Official BHR Position: Oppose as unnecessary.