Conduit for Action recently highlighted Rep. Joe Jett’s series of about twenty bills he filed on behalf of DFA, a department within the executive branch of state government. One of the bills was HB1030. This bill was opposed by CFA because it would use a formula that ensured increased gas tax revenue, even if gas prices fall.
After releasing the article many conservative activists took action and mobilized to contact Rep. Jett asking that he not run the bill. This included one of his constituents. The constituent reminded Jett that he was a Republican and should not be supporting legislation increasing taxes. Below is Rep. Jett’s response. We will go through in detail how Rep. Jett’s response misled his constituent.
Joe Jett’s “Duty” Claim
Joe Jett first tries to distance himself from the bad legislation by explaining that he was simply filing this bill as required as part of his “duty” for being the chair of the House Revenue and Tax committee. No duty or requirement exists for the chair of the House Revenue and Tax committee to file and run bills for the executive branch of government, here the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). That would be like a member of Congress saying they had a duty to the IRS to file legislation for them. And even if this “duty” was self-imposed on Jett, why did he not have this duty last session when he also served as Chairman? What about when Jett was still a Democrat before changing his party affiliation to keep his Chairmanship? Last session Rep. Michelle Gray ran a series of “DFA” bills in exactly the same fashion that Rep. Jett is filing and running them this session.
So, no, Rep. Jett is not an agent of the executive branch of government and bestowed with a duty to make sure DFA’s bills are filed. His duty is to protect and defend the Arkansas Constitution and has a duty to his constituents.
Joe Jett’s Claim That the Bill is “DEAD”
Jett also claims that the bill was killed five weeks ago. However, the bill is still sitting on the deferred bills list on the agenda for the House Revenue and Tax committee. He has yet to withdraw the bill. Bills that remain on the deferred list can be recalled and heard with proper motions; so the bill is not “dead” and could still be reheard. Rep. Jett did acknowledge the concern that constituents had by claiming he was being “lit up” on social media and emails for filing the bill. He said he would not be running the bill. However, if he wants to signal to the public the bill is truly dead and officially withdraw it, he can do so very easily.
Recently, Rep. DeAnn Vaught withdrew one of her bills that CFA had opposed. This example shows the proper way to “kill” a bill. CFA requests that Rep. Jett withdraw this bill and the other bad bills that are opposed by CFA in the DFA package, namely HB1034, HB1038, and HB1045.
Joe Jett Questions Conduit’s Integrity
Jett also felt the need to question the integrity of those who put the story out there informing Arkansans on the legislation that Jett filed. He insinuated that they didn’t care about the truth about the bill or the fact that he had filed other legislation that would reduce taxes. Again, this assertion misleads Rep. Jett’s constituent. Conduit did in fact put out a support position the very first week of the session for Rep. Jett’s HB1011 that would exempt income tax for those individuals making less than $22,000 per year. At least Conduit used integrity in being fair and balanced in calling out Jett’s bad bill and highlighting his good bill equally.
Conduit for Action will continue to inform the public about good and bad bills and with facts sufficient for the public to make up their own minds. Please continue to engage your legislators regarding good and bad legislation and give us your feedback as well. Freedom is not free and must be continually minded by the people.