Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is the status of the income tax increase?

Perhaps you are wondering what is the status of that big income tax increase we tried to vote on over the last two weeks? Well, the House finally did pass HB5194 with no increase in the tax rate. In order to actually have something to send to the Senate, they amended it to give disabled veterans a break on their taxes. You may remember hearing about the "vehicle" bill that went to the Senate. The Senate passed the bill last week in a slightly different form. When that happens it has to go back to the original House for "concurrence". The House, of course, did not concur, which allowed for the bill to go to the "conference committee". That was the plan, anyway.

Now what happens is the conference committee has to reconcile the differences, or change the bill and then send it back to both houses for concurrence. Neither chamber can make any changes to the final version of the bill. It must be an up or down vote.

So the big question is, what will the final version look like and who is making that decision? The conference committee is made up of three Senators and three House members. The majority party gets two members, the minority gets one. So, here is who ended up being appointed to the conference committee: Senators Jelinek (R), George (R), Prusi (D); and Representatives Tobocman (D), Meisner (D) and Ward (R). Because the bill originated in the House, Tobocman is the chair of the conference committee. They may meet as early as today.

Three of the conferees are staunch supporters of bigger government and protection of the status quo. They will vote for a big income tax increase. You might want to send all six of these members a note expressing your feelings for or against a tax increase. E-mail addresses are away!

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