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July 19, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

Hello from David Dinwiddie of Pine Bluff

My name is David Dinwiddie. I live in Pine Bluff. I am a pro-bono lobbyist in the 2013 Legislative Session.

In 2012 I ran for Arkansas State Senate on the Libertarian Ticket. I didn’t win but I had fun and met lots of nice people.

My lobbyist goals for 2013 are:
1. Get a Legislative study of the State Tobacco Tax Structure.
2. Complain about the Mandate of Fluoride in drinking water.
3. Watch out for Stupid Bills and go complain about them.

From 1985 to 1999 I served in the US Navy on Submarines. I was Honorably Discharged in 1999 and moved to Pine Bluff.

I signed up as a Lobbyist in 2010 and participated in the 2011 Legislative Session. Unlike famous Washington Lobbyists, I am self-funded so I work for free. Stay Tuned.

April 8, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

A week after the session

Well the Legislative session officially ended last week. They are still sorting out Congressional Districts and State Senate / Representative districts. Now it seems playing with crayons in kindergarten wasn’t a waste of time.

Overall it wasn’t a completely wasted session, it just lacked direction.
It was several weeks into it before the grocery tax bill got introduced but they got it passed. It was even later on the prison reform bill but that issue was much more complicated.

This week I gave a presentation to a local group on “What is a lobbyist”
Everybody has heard of them, but few in the public actually understand what they do or how they fit into the political process.

They asked me if I would like to be a lobbyist again, I told them Yes but hopefully next time I can get paid for it. Some days I turned in Scrap Metal at the Junkyard at 7 am just so I could put gas in the car to drive to Little Rock for a 10 o’clock meeting.

After things settle down (redistricting) I plan to ask for an Interim study of the tobacco tax structure. I have been working on this since 2009.

Despite this was my first year, I don’t feel bad. Lots of other lobbyists didn’t get their stuff passed or even introduced. Arkansas State Employees Association has two or three paid lobbyists on staff, and notice the State Employees didn’t get a pay raise. So I don’t consider the session a failure.

March 26, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

Backseat to Marijuana

On Friday March 25th, an Interim Study Proposal was submitted to study the FEASIBILITY OF CREATING A PROGRAM TO MAKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA AVAILABLE TO ARKANSANS (ISP 2011-011)

I have been trying all session to get a study of the Tobacco Tax Structure and revenue outlays… and I can’t get one. We pay taxes and I can’t get a study. That’s why I’m aggravated.

Once again, the people who pay taxes take a backseat to non-profit organizations who don’t pay taxes.

I’m not opposing medical marijuana. I do think it’s going to cause lots of arguments, mostly from freaknuts who could really use a doobie themselves. Heck, some days I could use one. Unfortunately, I ain’t talked to my dealer since 1985. I’m sure he has a different number by now.

HB1956 – Wednesday’s bill to reduce the tax on cigars was rescheduled for Monday the 28th. This is like the Third time it’s been rescheduled. If it happens again I should send them an invoice for my travel expenses.

HB2119 – Thursday’s bill to choke the Scrap Metal industry was rescheduled for Tuesday the 29th. I would not be surprised if there is a midnight meeting to pass this bill. Remember when Congress passed some bills on Christmas Eve a few years ago?

March 23, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

Scrap Metal Bill HB2119

The scrap metal bill has been moved to Thursday March 24th, that’s everything I know

3/24/2011 10:00:00 AM Room 149 JUDICIARY COMMITTEE- HOUSE

This is a bill that restricts who can turn in scrap metal. I did not start out as a lobbyist to work for the scrap metal industry, but I do have a demolition business in Jefferson County.

Basically somebody stole a manhole cover so the telecommunications industry wants to shut down the scrap metal industry.

The Big Picture: Just like the Oil Reserves, we have metal reserves. The government and the stock market have an idea, within a few thousand tons, of how much steel or aluminum is available. This is in case we need to build tanks for a war or add to our infrastructure.

How does it affect us locally? If your local water company wants to replace some pipes, that were installed in the 1970’s, the price of metal affects the project. Likewise if we want to build factory’s or automobiles, the supply and demand of metal affects the cost of the project.

I understand how it would affect poor boys. More than once I have gathered scrap to put gas in my car or food on the table. So anyway, I have been doing my best to keep the scrap dealers in Jefferson County informed of the bill.

Not everyone knows how the Legislature works. I have learned a lot in my two months of being a lobbyist. It ain’t like your city council meeting where they give the public an opportunity to speak on any topic at the beginning of the meeting. It is very restricted and hard to access our representatives.

The cigar tax bill is Wednesday at 10 am. Wish me luck.

March 22, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

Arkansas Legislature losing steam

Monday March 21, 2011
I believe the Legislature is losing steam. They filed so many bills they can’t cover them in their schedule. When a Senator files a bill, he has to show up at the appropriate committee to explain it for the record.
The problem develops that they have trouble showing up for their regular committee because they are all out at other committees. If a committee has 8 people, they need over 4 people to have a quorum. One meeting I went to was almost canceled because of this problem.

Today I went to talk on HB1956 which reduces the tax on cigars under the guise of funding breast cancer programs.
The sponsor of that bill couldn’t make it so I wasted my gas driving up there.

I did see the Governor coming into the building and got to shake his hand. He is a super nice guy.

Tuesday March 22 is HB2119 regarding sales of scrap metal.
I don’t have the gas to drive up there but several of the owners of big scrap dealers in Little Rock will be at the Judiciary committee meeting. One scrap metal CEO is also an attorney, so if they can’t stop this bill I don’t know if my help will be any help.

My next meeting is next week with HB1956. I hope to convince the Senators that we need to do a study of the Tobacco Tax structure.

March 21, 2011 / arkansasdinwiddie

AGAINST HB1956 to reduce tax on Cigars

My name is David Dinwiddie and I am a registered lobbyist for Tobacco Consumers.

I am AGAINST HB1956 – to reduce excise tax on cigars
This bill claims it will help the Breast Cancer program by encouraging people to buy cigars locally instead of buying them online.

The reason health programs are not being adequetly funded is because the tobacco tax structure is screwed up.
According to DFA, only two percent of tobacco revenue is special revenue. Regarding Ark Code 26-57-1103, less than two percent of the whole breast cancer tax actually go to breast cancer programs.

In 2001, after Huckabee bought a few thousand automobiles, the state had a budget shortage. So the Legislature moved some money around to cover it. They borrowed the money from breast cancer and maybe the tobacco settlement.

It gets borrowed every year but I can’t tell if it ever gets paid back.

In Arkansas, the tax on tobacco is collected at the Wholesale level, so a $10 cigar to the wholesaler costs $25 or $30 retail. HB1956 reduces the excise tax on a $10 cigar from 6.80 to 70 cents. For a $1 cigar the tax is reduced from 68 cents to 52 cents. People who smoke expensive cigars will make out like a bandit.

Lack of tobacco funding to health care?
It ain’t because the taxes aren’t high enough, the tax rate is 68 percent. On the IRS 1040 the tax rate on a million dollars is 36 percent. The state property tax averages 4 percent, sales tax is 6 percent and the state income max is 7 percent.

It ain’t because there aren’t enough taxes on tobacco.
The state Excise tax is applied five times on cigars and six times on cigarettes. This ain’t double-taxation… it’s quintuple taxation.

In conclusion HB1956 won’t fix the breast cancer funding because…

1. Tax Structure is screwed up
2. Only benefits people who smoke expensive cigars
3. If they get a break on cigars, I want a break on chewing tobacco

Yes, I am a Registered Lobbyist for Tobacco Consumers but I ain’t on nobody’s bankroll. I wrote all the tobacco company’s and none of them sent me any money.

Most people who use tobacco have less education and make less money, so it’s kind of like the poll tax… They’re poor and uneducated, so we’re gonna tax them and they’re gonna shut up and take it.

PS: I hope to get an Interim Study on the Tobacco Tax Structure.