LITTLE ROCK Senator Bud Canada of Hot Springs was best known as the moral force behind efforts to eliminate the sales tax on groceries.
Canada, who died on Dec. 21, sponsored numerous other bills to lower taxes on middle-income and low-income families. Some were enacted into law and some were not, which is typical of the career of any successful legislator.
Canada sponsored bills to increase credits on homestead property taxes, to remove sales taxes from electric bills, to lower taxes for retirees, to exempt used motor vehicles from the sales tax and to allow forgiveness of student loans taken out by teachers.
A 1987 act sponsored by Canada was one of the first to beef up enforcement of boating safety laws. He later passed legislation to prohibit the operation of a boat while drunk or high on drugs. A 1993 act that he sponsored defined the crime of stalking. Another 1993 act byCanada required school boards to meet after 5 p.m. so parents could attend. His legislation allowed the horse track at Oaklawn to lengthen its racing season.
Fifty years ago, during the 1959 legislative session, Canada was a freshmen member of the House of Representatives. His first piece of legislation was HR 10, a nonbinding resolution urging the Game and Fish Commission to allow people over 65 to fish without a license. It was the only measure he sponsored that session and it was not acted on, which was not unusual for measures sponsored by freshmen legislators at that time. They were expected to bide their time and learn from veteran lawmakers.
In 1961, for the first time one of Canada’s bills became law. It clarified that the Arkansas Teachers Association would be represented on the Board of the state Teacher Retirement System.
Canada left the House after two terms and served for six years as sheriff of Garland County. He returned to the Capitol in 1973 as a state senator, a position he held for 28 years. One of the first bills he sponsored as a senator became Act 468 of 1973, to set the price of hunting and fishing licenses for senior citizens at one dollar.
He became chairman of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation, but even with his influence as chairman he was never able to win passage of a bill to eliminate the sales tax on food. He tried numerous times in numerous sessions.
Opponents argued that the state could not afford the loss of revenue from the food tax. Canada said it was the right thing to do. He pointed out that feed and seed used for crops and livestock were exempt from the tax, and people deserved the same treatment.
Canada was awarded a Bronze Star after serving in the Army during the Korean War. He entered military service as a private and rose to the rank of lieutenant.
He was a Golden Gloves boxer and attended the University of Arkansas on a football and track scholarship. He wore jersey number 84 for the Razorback football team that won the Southwest Conference championship in 1946. In track, he ran on a record-breaking 440 relay team.
Even in his final years as a senator he walked with an athletic bearing. His posture was straight, his clothes were stylish and his manner was easy going. He was soft spoken, civil and unfailingly courteous to everyone whether of high or low station, and a gentleman in the strictest definition of the word. Bud Canada loved life.
If you have any questions or comments about legislative issues, please contact me via e-mail at HendrenK@arkleg.state.ar.us or call me at 479-787-6500, extension 30.
Opinion, Pages 5 on 12/30/2009
Print Headline: Capitol Reports Canada’s Legacy Lives On in Legislation