Business Group Pleased So Far with Legislative Session

MARCH 5, 2007 - Posted at 7:22 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Educators who will be getting more money from the state aren't the only Arkansans pleased with this year's legislative session. Business and farming groups say they've also fared well at the hands of lawmakers this year.

Lobbyists say legislative leaders have made tax cuts and economic development a priority in a climate favorable for business.

Near the end of last week, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce-Associated Industries of Arkansas was tracking 281 bills, down from 700 at the same time in the 2005 regular session. The chamber backed a sales tax exemption on utilities for manufacturers that has been signed into law. Kenny Hall, the group's executive vice president, says the session has been very efficient.

Among agri-business interests, the Arkansas Farm Bureau supported a change in the way off-road diesel is taxed and a tax exemption for biodiesel. Both of those bills have been signed into law.

Also, the Arkansas Trucking Association is pleased with the introduction of a bill that would forgive tuition expenses for Arkansas residents seeking jobs in the trucking, transportation and logistics fields. And the trucking industry supports a bill that would provide incentives for the production of biofuels.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)