A plan by the Arkansas Senate to tax truckers more than the motoring public failed to get the three-fourths majority it needed to pass in the House Friday. However, the 71-22 vote was close enough for supporters to say they will try again to get the needed 75 votes this week.

The bill that originally passed the House would have raised both diesel and gas taxes by 3 cents, phased in over the next several years. The Senate, however, decided that trucks weren’t paying their fair share, and upped the diesel tax to 4 cents, to be implemented all at once.
Trucking interests hope to get the bill sent back to the Senate, where they intend to try to force a House-Senate conference and a possible compromise to phase in the 4-cent diesel tax increase instead of having it imposed immediately.
The fuel tax increases are part of a highway funding package that also includes Gov. Mike Huckabee’s $575 million bond issue. The bond bill has passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature for referral to a special election.
The good news is that the fuel tax increase passing makes it look like a weight-distance tax or putting tolls on existing interstates are no longer likely to be considered as ways to raise money to fix Arkansas’ crumbling highway system.