Todays' agenda: Highway taxes; civil rights | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Todays' agenda: Highway taxes; civil rights

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Channel surfing the legislature this morning:

* The House Transportation Committee discussed and then recommended the 5-cent diesel tax increase to pay for $1 billion in highway construction.

A Twitter report from Stephens Media quoted Highway Department director Dan Flowers as saying there's a rule of thumb that 27,000 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on highways. A $1 billion payout on roads would create 27,000,000 jobs? Must be a typo. Even if it's 27,000 for each $1 BILLION, I'm still skeptical.

* Rep. John Walker carried the load of pointed questioning as House Judiciary heard a bill to exempt individuals from liability under the state civil rights law. As Walker noted, this effectively prevents winning anything against a state agency, because the state is immune from lawsuit. If individuals are exempt, there's no place to recover for the worst sort of discrimination. Trey Kitchens, president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers, said the bill "takes the person who is the bad actor" and immunizes them from suit. If the law goes forward, companies will just claim they had no knowledge of bad actors and fixed it and will say they should owe no damages.

Debate is nearing an end, but I have to make an appointment. Hope to update.

UPDATE: It was close, but the bill failed to make it out of committee.

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