Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ways to Help Vilonia: Thanks!

Thanks to the many folks who stepped up to help with the Vilonia Recovery. You gave of your time, money, and materials to help those people in need. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

E-Fairness is killing Arkansas Business...

Recently the legislature passed SB738, the "E-fairness" bill. This bill would require "Internet retailers to collect sales tax if they accept referrals from affiliate web sites and do more than $10,000 a year in sales in Arkansas."

To get an idea of what an affiliate program is here is a link to Overstocks Affiliate program:

Basically what the affiliate program does is allow everyday hard-working Arkansans to make a few extra dollars or in some cases a living by putting a link or a banner on their website. Every time someone clicks on that link/banner and then buys a product, the person gets a commission from it.

Here is a letter I received from one of my constituents:

To: Meeks, David
Subject: Act 1001 has already negatively affected my business

Dear Mr. Meeks,

First, I want to thank you for voting against SB738 regarding the sales tax
and online merchants.
I am an affiliate marketer and I made my concerns known when the bill was
still in the House committee (taxation).

The bill passed and I was immediately terminated by the online merchants who
follow this silly tax nexus bill around the country.

Every few hours I get another termination letter regretfully informing me
that I can no longer be a part of their advertising program because I live
in Arkansas. Each letter says that if I can demonstrate that I have moved
my business out of the state of Arkansas before the effective date of the
bill, I can reapply.

Here's a partial list - I say partial because I figure there are a few more
in my mailbox by now.

Overstock - I made most of my income last year from this merchant
Scrubs and Beyond - this relationship was the mainstay of 3 of my web sites.
CSN stores - more than 200 stores networked together - I just lost all of
Nurses Station - another important one to my business
Dr. Leonard's / Carol Wright mail order catalogs.

There are dozens of others I expect because they have terminated ther web
site link affiliates in every other state that passed these laws.

Is there any chance of repeal when your fellow representatives see that it
isn't going to add to the tax revenues and is hurting Arkansas businesses?

I am already trying to figure out where I should relocate.

So the effect this law is having is actually taking money out of the pockets of hard-working Arkansans and as is the case of the person above, it is causing them to move their business out of Arkansas.

And here is the kicker...From the way I understand the law to be written, if the person above moves out of the state and I as an Arkansan order from that person's site, I pay no state sales tax on the item.

I say let's repeal this bad law, and take a different approach. Let's give those that have a physical store here a break via the corporate income tax or find some way to do away with them having to charge state sales tax on items they ship directly to the customer on items purchased via the internet.

Here is a good talking points bulletin from Overstock about the effects of this law: http://www.performancemarketingassociation.com/overstock/

Have a similar story? Please feel free to send me an email at david.meeks@arkansashouse.org

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week in Review at the Capitol- April 1st

The legislative session is like a roller coaster, lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and just when you think you’d rather be gliding along on a merry-go-round, you hop on for another ride.

The final week of the 88th General Assembly took House members on a fast and furious flight through a thunderstorm of debate on the federal healthcare law, state-owned vehicles, congressional redistricting and even monkeys.

To get the coaster rolling, a bill requiring out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax from Arkansas buyers passed the House and will soon be signed into law. I opposed this measure because it amounts to taking more money out of the pockets of hard-working Arkansans.

The Legislature is not your ordinary rodeo. Midweek, House members wrangled over a $72.6 million state Insurance Department appropriation bill which included $1 million in funding for the federal healthcare overhaul. Concerned about tying the federal healthcare law to a bill that funds an essential state agency, House Republicans made several attempts to remove the $1 million from the budget bill.

Meanwhile, legislation to establish federally mandated insurance exchanges necessary to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was en route to the House floor. As a result, a deadlock on passing the Insurance Department appropriation surfaced, with a majority refusing to strip the budget bill of $1 million in federal healthcare funding. Fortunately, House members lassoed a compromise on Thursday, agreeing to pull down the bill to implement the insurance exchanges and send the legislation to interim study. Consequently, the Insurance Department appropriation garnered the 75 votes needed to pass the House.

I believe the compromise helps ensure a slow and deliberate process for examining a federal law that will drastically alter our healthcare system. We now have a year to study the impact of the federal healthcare law, giving legislators sufficient time to act responsibly in the upcoming fiscal or general session. Until the Supreme Court rules on the law’s constitutionality or Congress acts, our state should not spend money implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A congressional redistricting gerrymander slithered its way out of the Arkansas House, despite overwhelming opposition from concerned citizens, Democrats and Republicans alike. The “Pig Trail Gerrymander” or “Fayetteville Finger,” does not respect our state’s regional communities of interest and will devastate the continuity of Northwest and Southern Arkansas. I opposed this partisan power grab by the State Democratic Party and hope our colleagues in the Senate will take a principled stand for the people of Arkansas, reject this unfair and illogical proposal and look at reasonable alternatives.

Members took up some monkey business on Thursday when a bill to restrict Arkansans from owning primates failed in the House Public Health Committee. Proponents say citizens have a right to own a monkey, and noted that some individuals use primates as service animals. As a result, the bill was pulled from consideration and sent to interim study.

The personal use of state-owned vehicles by elected officials and state employees dominated newspaper headlines and coffee shop talk last year. In an effort to assure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, the House passed a bill to allow state agencies to furnish state vehicles with GPS devices to collect data for tracking purposes.

A $4.6 billion balanced budget for the 2012 fiscal year cleared the full House this week. The budget bill, known as the Revenue Stabilization Act, deals specifically with general revenue and prioritizes spending for public schools and prisons. I voted against this budget because it increases state spending too much.

We also approved a General Improvement Fund bill that sets aside surplus funds for special projects. The Governor controls $40 million, while the House and Senate each control $5 million. If you can recall, last month House members voted to use their share of the surplus for statewide projects, rather than funding lawmakers’ pet projects.

Over the course of the session and under the shining dome of Capitol Hill, we worked vigorously to cut your taxes, increase government transparency, hold the line on spending and move our state forward economically. As of Thursday, 903 out of 2,234 House and Senate bills had been signed into law.

The 88th General Assembly held the shortest session in two decades. However, because congressional redistricting is not complete, the House and Senate will reconvene on Monday to complete the process. Members will still return for a “sine die” on April 27, which is the final adjournment of the legislative session.

While we have recessed until next year’s fiscal session, I will continue my work to serve as your voice in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Please contact me with any issues, questions or concerns you may have. My email is david.meeks@arkansashouse.org