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Senator: Session picks up speed

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By John R. Schirmer
News-Leader staff

The pace is picking up for the Arkansas Legislature, according to Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville. “We’re getting more done,” Teague said Friday after another week at the 91st General Assembly in Little Rock.

Senators passed SB 140, the so-called “Amazon tax,” which requires the collection of state sales tax on purchases from out-of-state businesses without locations in Arkansas.

The measure passed 23-9, with Teague voting in favor of the bill. “For me, it’s between local businesses and out-of-state businesses. I favor local businesses,” Teague said.

A similar proposal, HB 1338, was passed in the House.

Late last week after the votes, Amazon announced that it will begin collecting Arkansas sales tax March 1. (See related story, page 5A.)

Teague is co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee and is chair of Revenue and Taxation.

Work on the state’s budget “is picking up,” Teague said. “Most of higher education is out. We’ve passed appropriations for a few agencies.”

According to Teague, “Lots of bills” related to education have been introduced. “We’ll watch the debate. There’s a retirement bill or two that are getting people excited.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office “has been slow to send what we call governor’s letters to get funding requests into legislation. We usually have 25-30. So far, there are only a couple.”

Teague said the state “may do health care like we’ve been doing, then see what the feds will do” under the new administration in Washington.
The walking contest among the Senate, House and governor’s staff continues. Teague said the Senate is ahead, with the House second and governor and staff third.

Teague said he is “sometimes number one, sometimes number two” in the competition, which is based on the number of steps taken daily by participants. Teague was seen walking along South Fourth Street Saturday morning.

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