The dreaded weight-distance tax has reared its ugly head in a bill in the Arkansas state Legislature.
The bill would charge 3.5-cents per mile traveled in the state for trucks weighing more than 73,280 pounds. The trucking industry says the proposal is unfair and possibly unconstitutional.
Arkansas had a weight-distance tax from 1983 to 1991. The Legislature replaced it with higher fuel taxes and registration fees after it was challenged in court.
Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Motor Carriers Assn., told the Associated Press that the proposal “is taking one step forward and 10 steps backwards. We’ll strongly oppose this bill, as should every manufacturer and producer in the state that ships commodities.”
Kidd says that not only is the bill unfair, it may be unconstitutional because of exemptions for trucks hauling unfinished farm and forestry products, as well as livestock and poultry feed. He also says it would raise the cost of shipping Arkansas products.
The bill, which would generate about $41 million a year for highway construction, will compete with Gov. Mike Huckabee’s $575 million bond issue and 3-cent diesel tax increase as the Legislature debates how to improve the state’s poor interstate highways. Another proposal that has generated much controversy is charging tolls on the state’s existing interstates under a federal pilot program created last year in the highway bill.