The legislature acted on the final day of the fiscal session Wednesday to override a veto meant to halt a $5 million tax break for the natural gas and oil industries.
The sales tax exemption for sands used in fracking was inserted in a bill by a subcommittee but Governor Mike Beebe and others say that was not constitutional under the rules of the fiscal session. Republican Stephens Meeks represents some of the areas drilled for natural gas and said the move was in keeping with rules and will benefit the industry.
“I think that whenever we have the opportunity to provide clarity on an issue it is our responsibility to provide that clarity and that’s what this special language is designed to do,” said Meeks.
Meeks said the inclusion of sands in the tax exemption helps to better define an earlier tax break for equipment used in manufacturing. Speaking after the vote Democratic Minority Leader Greg Leding said he disagrees with Meeks.
“I think it was probably overstepping the parameters of the fiscal session. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the exemption but I do have an issue with the way we went about it this fiscal session. That’s why I voted to sustain the governor’s veto,” said Leding.
Overriding the veto only required a simple majority. The Senate also voted to overturn the veto.