On Monday, the House passed legislation creating an income tax exemption for retired military members and legislation aimed at changing the way we fund higher education.
HB1162 creates a state income tax exemption for retirement benefits received by a member of the uniformed services or benefits paid to their survivors. This bill also taxes unemployment benefits and specified digital products such as books and music. It ensures candy and soft drinks are subject to the full state sales tax rate, where currently they are charged the same reduced rate as groceries. These increases are to offset the exemption for military retirement benefits.
HB1162 also includes a provision to reduce the a special excise tax on soft-drink syrup.
The House in favor of the measure with a vote of 75-14 and 8 members voting present.
In a vote of 87-10, with 3 members voting present the House approved HB1209. This funds colleges and universities based on a productivity model rather than enrollment.
The model itself is not included in the bill, rather it directs the Higher Education Coordinating Board to implement a model based on several priorities for the state.
And the House approved HB1035, the Arkansas Healthy Food Improvement Act. This bill would limit spending from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to only food and beverages with sufficient nutritional value. This bill passed with a vote of 55-39.
The House reconvenes Tuesday at 1:30pm.