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For Immediate Release: SB2972 and HB1604

Two bills in favor of nature tourism are now alive in the Mississippi Legislature: SB2972 and HB1604. Mississippi voters, please ask your Senators and Reps to vote “Yea!” for these bills and petition the Governor to sign them into law. March 18th deadline. See below for links to petition. Outside of Mississippi? You can still sign petition. Be sure to comment on your reason for doing so and your connection to us or the river. Thanks! We’re aiming for 3,000 signers (Petition found at: https://www.change.org/petitions/for-the-future-of-nature-tourism-along-mississippi-s-rivers)

SB2972 and HB1604 would add language to the tax code describing our river guiding services as tax exempt, in accordance with Federal Law. These are not retroactive. We'll still have to appeal the DOR for what's already been assessed $41K and pay accumulating lawyer's & accountant's fees of $25K. But it will pave the way for our future survival and success, and anyone else pursuing this type of business. And that's the most important thing.

Friday Feb 28, 2014

Dear Friends of Quapaw Canoe Company:

We’ve made a positve legislative breakthrough this week. If passed into law we (and any businesses like ours) will be exempt from taxes on river guiding and outfitting services in the future (but of course still liable for any sales or rentals). SB2972 passed the Senate. Another bill HB 1604 passed the House. They have to cross rotunda to opposite chambers, and get voted upon, probably next week. If the vote goes well, it goes to Mississippi Gov Bryant. Last step: Governor signs into law. These are both considered revenue bills. The Revenue deadline is March 18th.

This is good news for the future of nature tourism along the Lower Mississippi River. Please contact any Mississippi Senators and Representatives you know, especially in the Finance (Senate) and Ways & Means (House) Committees, to support and vote for HB1604 and SB2972. These are not retroactive. They will not rectify our 2009-2012 situation with the DOR, nor take care of any legal/accountant fees. But it will pave the path for future fair treatment on the river for us and any others involved in this type of nature tourism.

The river angels must be watching over us. Thanks to all of you for your prayers, petitions, and acts of kindness and generosity. Thank you all for believing in us, sharing your feelings about the river and our services, and for standing beside us in this fight!

You can Track the Bills:

http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2014/pdf/history/SB/SB2972.xml

http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2014/pdf/history/HB/HB1604.xml

Please Sign the Online Petition:

https://www.change.org/petitions/for-the-future-of-nature-tourism-along-mississippi-s-rivers

Mississippi Business Journal Story:

http://msbusiness.com/blog/2014/02/21/quapaw-canoe-runs-turbulent-waters-bills-state-tax-department/

Lower Mississippi River generates $152 billion, 585,000 jobs

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2014/feb/22/no-headline---river_study/

Outpouring of Comments, Stories, and Passion for the River:

http://www.island63.com/documents/QCC-River-Testimonies.pdf

Quapaw Canoe Company Legal Defense Fund:

You can help us survive this unfair tax fight at:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-quapaw-canoe-company/x/6475385

Or send a check made out to:

Quapaw Canoe Company

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, Mississippi, 38614

$25,000 goal to help with legal and accounting fees

Fundraising Report as of this Morning (Feb 28th):

$5,260 raised at Indiegogo.com

$2,875 received in checks

= $8,135 total donations to legal fund

We’re now 32% towards our $25K goal

We have 55 days left in this 60-day campaign

(ends April 23, 2014)

Special Thanks: Thanks to everyone who has joined us Mighty Quapaws in the big canoe and grabbed a paddle to help in this difficult upstream journey! We're now about 30% towards our goal in the first week! This is an amazing testament to your good spirit and faith in our work. We have been receiving checks in the mail. I will deposit all checks we receive to the Indiegogo platform so everyone sees where we're at. And then whatever we end with in 60 days will go completely to the cause. And with good people like yourself on our side I am certain we will make our goal.

Win-Win Situation: thanks to a very generous offer this week from one of our benefactors we're in a win-win situation. An anonymous benefactor has committed to donate whatever fee Indiegogo charges us at the end of 60 days so that we will receive 100% of the donated funds.

Our story is hitting regional networks:

Mississippi Business Journal:

http://msbusiness.com/blog/2014/02/21/quapaw-canoe-runs-turbulent-waters-bills-state-tax-department/

Gulfwaves: Keep Quapaw Canoe Afloat:

The Mississippi State Tax Commission is threatening one of the state’s best eco-tourism successes of recent years. The Quapaw Canoe Company of Clarksdale, which has benefitted from a federal exemption for businesses operating on U.S. navigable waters, was recently hit with a $41,000 Mississippi tax bill. Quapaw is no ordinary canoe company – its guides are African-American teenagers trained as river guides through a mentoring and work study program with the Clarksdale/Sunflower County public schools. Take action here to help the Quapaw Canoe Company stay afloat.” (Andrew Whitehurst, Gulfwaves: Gulf Restoration Network)

Mississippi River Network Policy Update:
“I want to give a shout out to John Ruskey, Mark ‘River’ Peoples, Braxtn Barden, and all the folks at Quapaw Canoe Company for their good work on a tax issue that most of us are unlikely aware even exists. This week, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed HB 1604 and the Senate passed SB 2972; it exempts nature-based tourism from state sales taxes. MRN member group Quapaw is a river-based company that provides up close and personal experiences on the Mississippi River--a leader in nature-based tourism. They have been in business for 20 years in Clarksdale, MS. For the past two years, they have been fighting the state of Mississippi Department of Revenue because Quapaw has been assessed taxes on the services they provide on the river. This violates the federal Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, which ensures no taxes are collected on businesses operating on navigable waters.

“Through perseverance, and I suspect some sleepless nights, their hard work seems to be paying off! John started a petition (click
here) that has gathered more than 1,200 signatures, so I am sure that helped elevate the issue to the Mississippi legislature. Congratulations to John, Mark and all who worked hard to make this happen. This is a first victory on the issue, as there are more steps to go through before it is signed into law, but it definitely shows that one person can make a difference!" (Claudia Emken, Mississippi River Policy Manager, February 2014)

Parting Prayer:

Many blessings to all. May the Good Spirit of the River be with You. John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company.

For more information about the QCC tax fight please go to:

http://www.island63.com/looking-for-home.cfm