Attention, all returning and newly elected honorable members of the 2011 legislative session. In this session, you have the opportunity to correct an injustice imposed upon the citizens of Arkansas by amending the Advertising and Promotion Act to (1) eliminate the provision that allows the establishment of the “hamburger tax” by a municipal government without submitting it to the voters, and (2) substitute the provision that the people serving on an A&P commission be appointed with a condition for an open election for membership.
Five decades ago, the Legislature took away the inherent right of voters to determine local sales taxes. It also removed from the citizens’ control their right to vote for or against the people who would be spending the tax dollars collected.
There is no option for the public to vote unless a petition requesting a referendum is submitted within 30 days. The hamburger tax is the only sales tax that can be passed by a municipal government that does not mandate submission to the voters.
Another problem concerns the responsibility for determining how the tax is used. The commission of non-elected individuals has independent authority to use the funds, with a few specified restrictions, where it wishes. When a vacancy occurs, the remaining commissioners appoint the replacement. Never are the voters allowed a voice.
Have we forgotten our motto, “Regnat populus,” the people rule?
RUSS SKALLERUP Hot Springs