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Severance tax 

The biggest problem some people have in understanding the severance tax debate is in its name: severance tax. Folks see the word “tax” and automatically think someone is reaching for their wallet.

If the backers of the severance tax increase are smart, they need to start calling it what it truly is: “royalty payment to the people of Arkansas.”

“Royalty payment” conveys what is truly going on. The gas companies are taking the resources of Arkansas for their use and we, as state residents, have a right to a royalty payment for this extraction of state resources.

True, our natural gas may rise in price to cover the gas company's cost of doing business (royalties), but at least this measure will put us on par with other nearby states who demand fair market prices for their resources.

You'd get mad about this if gas from your land paid you only pennies when your neighbors were getting dollars. Guess what? That's what's happening now.

Since most of our natural gas comes from out of state, most of this “cost of doing business” is already in your current gas bill. The rise will be hardly noticeable. Why am I so sure? Look to Alaska.

Remember how over the past few years Alaskans have been getting a sizable check for the oil being taken from Alaska? Gasoline and oil prices did not suffer when Alaskans asked for and got a fair payment for their resource.

It's time we, the citizens of Arkansas, ask for fair market value for our resources and not be a patsy to a small cabal who control the wealth.

Though we will not get personal checks for our natural gas stores, the state will receive royalties that will be in the millions and dedicated to improving basic programs that help us all.

Find the petition and sign it. Then vote for the measure this November to give the people of Arkansas their fair share for selling this resource to the gas companies.

Remember it's not a severance tax, it's a royalty payment.

Steve Heye

Little Rock

Alien drivers

Your smug assertion in The Week That Was Jan. 24 that aliens are not allowed to get driver's licenses is wrong. My late wife, a legal alien for 20 years before becoming a citizen, always had a valid Arkansas driver's license, and was always insured by a major insurance carrier in the state. Later, my girlfriend, while visiting on a tourist visa, drove legally, using her homeland driver's license. My insurance covered her while she was driving my car.

What you should have said was that aliens here illegally, or without documentation, are not allowed to get an Arkansas driver's license. There is a big difference between someone who broke our laws to get here and someone who followed our rules and is here legally. A person who will break one law to get here will seldom worry too much about breaking other laws while they are here.

Herb Hawn

Little Rock

Politics and religion

It is offensive to think that you have to be a Christian in order to be qualified for any position in government or business. Millions of people that are the best at their profession do not necessarily practice religion of any kind.

Being a nice, normal human being in public, earning a living and loving the people around you is something that many do without religion.

Picking an elected representative should be based on talent, not faith in any one religion. There are three hot-button issues: Gays, abortion and immigration. Gay people have been on earth since the beginning of time and are born every day. Abortions, if outlawed, will go underground — what a business for the Mafia. The Mexicans are here and will continue to come as long as Americans are above doing certain jobs. There is not one large business in this country that wants them to stop coming.

No one is saying that having a religion you practice is wrong. It just should not be how you choose a candidate for any office.

Karl Rove knew the vehicle to get Bush into office and the Religious Right kept his car gassed up for the trip. Look at what people claim to be and what they really are. I believe it's called hypocrisy.

Danny Deislinger

Little Rock

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