LITTLE ROCK — A bill that proposes to use tax credits to encourage investment in small businesses cleared the House on Monday.
House Bill 1832 by Rep. Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock, and Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, titled the New Market Jobs Act, passed in an 85-0 vote and goes to the Senate.
The bill would authorize the creation of community development entities, or CDEs, and allow them to sell insurance premium tax credits to insurance companies. The CDEs would use the proceeds from those sales to raise capital and invest in businesses located in low-income communities.
The money would have to be invested in the first year, but the tax credits would not go into effect until the third year. They would expire after seven years. For every dollar a CDE receives, it would have to invest $1.50.
No one spoke against the bill on the House floor. When it was in committee, Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, testified that there is some risk involved in the proposal because if a business fails to create promised jobs, the state has no way to recover its money. He said the AEDC was neutral on the bill.
Williams told House members Monday that the bill has been amended to require an economic analysis before any investment is made to determine whether jobs would be created as a result of the investment. He said he believed the bill would be good for Arkansas.
"We’re creating good jobs in economically depressed areas that need work," he said.
The House also voted 90-0 to approve HB 2021 by Rep. Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, which would require financial impact statements on all proposed new rules and rule changes proposed by state agencies. The bill goes to the Senate.
The House voted 92-0 to approve HB 2145 by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, which would make a church immune from civil lawsuits over things that happen at the church while it is being used as a polling place during an election.
The bill goes to the Senate.
In a voice vote, the House approved House Resolution 1053 by Rep. James Ratliff, D-Imboden, expressing support for voluntary prayer in public schools. No "no" votes were heard.
"My grandkids and kids all the time ask me why they don’t get to pray in school," Ratliff said.