Category: State Issues
January 28, 2019
This article originally appeared in the Des Moines Register on January 25, 2019.
Access to high-speed internet service is the focus of much governmental attention in today’s world. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds affirmed her priority of expanding access to high-speed internet service throughout Iowa in her 2019 Condition of the State address, requesting $20 million in state funding for broadband infrastructure for a program that will also facilitate an additional $120 million in private investment.
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November 1, 2018
State governments often have little understanding of the fiscal or behavioral repercussions of the policy changes they’re trying to make when taxing and regulating products they don’t like. This is never more evident than in South Dakota where a tax increase initiative known as Measure 25 is on the November ballot. Should the initiative be approved, South Dakota would see an increase in the state cigarette excise tax by $1.00 per pack (to $2.53 per pack), and an increase in the state tax on other tobacco products from 35 percent of the wholesale purchase price to 55 percent of the wholesale purchase price. But in examining the impact of higher taxation on cigarette usage and prices, the South Dakota Legislative Research Council (SDLRC) misses the mark entirely. » Read More
October 26, 2018
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Special-interest groups (and allied politicians) have yet to learn that even the best-sounding initiatives can be unraveled by naïve assumptions and flawed incentives. In November, Montana voters will encounter a deeply flawed referendum sponsored by “public health” groups to hike tobacco taxes (from $1.70 to $3.70 per pack), with revenues slated toward making Medicaid expansion permanent. But proponents ignore illicit tobacco trade at their own peril. Tobacco tax increases have the nasty habit of fueling illegal enterprise while undermining revenue. And even if the funding were there, there are far more worthy public health ventures than the deeply flawed Medicaid program. Voters need to take a long-hard look at the unintended consequences and bogus claims propping up Initiative 185.
October 2, 2018
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As the Atlanta Braves prepare for the playoffs, for the first time since 2013, they’ll host playoff games in the house that taxpayers built. SunTrust Park, which opened last year – just 20 years after the Braves got a new stadium in Turner Field after that facility hosted much of the 1996 Summer Olympics – cost $622 million to build. The biggest losers are taxpayers, who are footing $400 million, the lion’s share of the new stadium’s cost.
September 28, 2018
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This article originally appeared on Watchdog.org on September 26, 2018.
A possible vote to greatly expand a municipal broadband network in Hudson, Ohio, has been delayed, but city residents may still be asked to tax themselves to pay for the proposal next year. The Hudson City Council originally considered asking voters to say "yea" or "nay" on a 2.7-mill, 10-year property tax on the November ballot, but council members decided to delay the action of establishing that referendum in a recent meeting. Instead, they won’t vote whether to put the tax increase on the ballot until the council’s Nov. 13 meeting, pushing the possible referendum back to next year.
July 31, 2018
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According to Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) campaign website, she’s just a small-town Missourian who “understands what matters most” to the people of the Show-Me state. She’s a “fighter Missourians can count on” and lists “cutting waste, fraud, and abuse” as one of her priorities. Recent news reports, however, tell a different story. Since she’s been a U.S. Senator, businesses affiliated with McCaskill’s developer husband, Joseph Shepard, have received more than $131 million in federal subsidies.
June 28, 2018
Big Labor is in all-out Armageddon mode, following a June 27 Supreme Court ruling (Janus v. AFSCME) allowing non-union public workers to opt out of union “fair-share” fees. In a 5-4 decision, the Court overturned the status quo, preventing “unconstitutional exactions [that result in] billions of dollars…taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment” in the words of Justice Alito. Proponents of “fair share” fees, however, worry that the ruling will open up a Pandora’s Box of freeriding and union-busting across the country. These fears fail to consider the wider impact of transitioning unions to a more robust “members-only” model instead of the current one-size-fits-all representation. Making public sector unions smaller and more responsive to the needs of members will lead to better representation for employees and lower costs for taxpayers.» Read More
June 21, 2018
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This article originally appeared in the American Spectator on June 19, 2018.
Having failed to get much traction on a federal prohibition of online gaming, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his coalition have pointed to targeted online ads promoting online gambling as proof that Congress should take action. But the measure is a desperate ploy, given that the ads aren’t intentionally placed on certain sites by the online casinos. Business Insider recently ran a story about the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling’s opposition to the ads. The coalition says it has found such ads on websites about gambling addiction or featuring children’s games.
May 21, 2018
This article originally appeared in the American Spectator on May 17, 2018 and was written by Johnny Kampis, TPAF Investigative Reporter.
The Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) ruling this week that paves the way for states other than Nevada to legalize sports betting is a victory for states’ rights and should put another nail in the coffin for those attempting to ban all forms of online gaming. SCOTUS voted 6-3 in favor of New Jersey and nearly 20 other states to strike down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which made it illegal for a state other than Nevada, which was exempted, to sponsor sports wagering.
January 16, 2018
This article originally appeared in The Federalist on January 8, 2018
To listen to a growing, ever-more-vocal crowd, driverless cars are in America’s very near future. Commentators have taken the media to task for giving short shrift to the new technology, with some going as far as to declare 2017 “the year of the driverless car” (Or was that 2016? 2015?). Ars Technica senior reporter Timothy Lee is confident that “driverless car adoption will only accelerate in 2018,” pointing to tests in Phoenix thanks to “permissive” regulations.» Read More
September 21, 2017
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This article appeared in Inside Sources on September 19, 2017.
In a September 12 opinion piece supporting the bailout of nuclear power plants, John Hangar and Marc Spitzer argued that “federal courts in New York and Illinois ruled that states have the authority to place an economic value on the zero-emission production of electricity. More important, these rulings establish a precedent for other states to achieve their own goals to use clean energy credits for sources of electricity that don’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” In fact, these two nuclear bailouts will cost taxpayers and ratepayers billions of dollars and establish an expensive and misguided precedent.
September 19, 2017
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This article appeared on the Competitive Enterprise Institute's blog on September 14, 2017.
Lawyers and allied interest groups have long enriched themselves at taxpayers’ expense. But usually, it has been by bringing lawsuits, not defending them. The Ohio Drug Price Standards Initiative might change that. If passed by voters, it would give its sponsors taxpayer money to hire unnecessary lawyers, if the initiative is later challenged as unconstitutional or preempted by federal law.
September 5, 2017
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This piece was published in the Spectator on August 30, 2017.
It’s a nondescript location on this 114-degree June day, but in mere months construction should begin on the new home for the National Football League’s (NFL) Raiders. This will be the world’s most costly stadium, built heavily on the backs of taxpayers. As with many taxes for stadium support, tourists will largely pay the costs for the Las Vegas Stadium. The Nevada Legislature passed a lodging tax increase quickly in a 2016 special session to raise the revenue for the public subsidy when the NFL came calling.
June 12, 2017
This article appeared on Pennlive.com on May 31, 2017.Lawmakers are forcing taxpayers to go nuclear. Now that nuclear energy is becoming less and less competitive nationwide, lawmakers are responding by using Americans' hard-earned dollars to bail out floundering nuclear plants. Their reasoning is that if nuclear companies close, folks will lose jobs and a valuable energy source. But government handouts are no way to protect consumers. Rather than favor certain energy sources over others, lawmakers should let consumers benefit from a competitive, level energy playing field.» Read More
May 31, 2017
This article appeared on JuneauEmpire.com on May 24, 2017
Alaska is in a budget crisis. The “gravest fiscal crisis in state history,” according to Gov. Bill Walker. But the crisis wasn’t caused by a lack of revenue; it was created by spending so irresponsible it would make drunken sailors blush. After years of acting like teenage girls on a shopping spree with daddy’s credit card, some state lawmakers still refuse to get their spending under control. Instead, they are hoping to fill Alaska’s cavernous $4 billion budget gap by pillaging the energy industry. While treating oil and natural gas companies like magical ATMs that dispenses money to make up for legislators’ budgetary sins might seem like a swell idea, it’s not. Legislation aimed at increasing tax revenues from the energy industry might be the single most short-sighted and damaging scheme ever to come out of the capitol.» Read More
May 23, 2017
After a dizzying array of state energy policy efforts over the past year, Indiana has shown that sensible reform is possible. New legislation, signed into law by Governor Holcomb two weeks ago, retools the state’s “net-metering” rules to minimize favoritism and better protect ratepayers. Indiana’s new law, SB 309, gradually changes the pricing system for energy produced via residential solar installations, giving solar panel owners a less generous deal for the “net energy” they produce. While current laws allow rooftop solar owners to sell excess energy back into the grid at the retail rate of electricity, SB309 would begin to phase out these privileges.» Read More
May 17, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) launched a new call campaign urging New York lawmakers to stand up and protect taxpayers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nuclear bailout. TPA is encouraging its members and supporters to call State Senators Joe Griffo, Kemp Hannon, John Flanagan and Tom Croci to urge them to back a consensus plan to delay new taxes that would hit New Yorkers as a result of Cuomo’s nuclear bailout. The expensive and unnecessary plan to shift half of the Empire State’s energy consumption to renewables in the next 13 years will cost taxpayers and ratepayers billions of dollars. While electricity costs are increasing, the Governor is sending subsidies to select nuclear plants all owned by the same firm.» Read More
May 16, 2017
Washington continues to push on major issues like healthcare and tax reform, but there are other areas that could use attention too. One such issue is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan program that was expanded under President Obama. PACE loans provide financing to homeowners for solar panels through a lien that is paid back with property tax payments. TPA has been sounding the alarm about the PACE program and it is getting attention from some in Congress. Continuing to call attention to the dangers of the PACE loan program, TPA signed onto this letter from Americans for Prosperity to state legislators warning them about PACE.
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May 12, 2017
This article appeared in The Daily Caller on May 9, 2017
In a meeting last week, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave his state alone when it comes to regulating online gaming. We don’t know the entire contents of that meeting, but Gov. Sandoval likely pointed out that Nevada and several other states are already effectively regulating online gaming. They are doing so on issues ranging from prevention of play by minors to geolocation to ID verification. To use that old chestnut, this is a problem that ain’t broke, but the federal government is looking to fix it. Politicians, encouraged by deep-pocketed patrons such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson who don’t appreciate the online competition, are pushing a deeply flawed, dishonest piece of legislation called the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The legislation is flawed because it would lead to a crackdown of online gambling by Sessions and other law enforcement for no good reason. Americans by and large are OK with legal gambling as long as it is reasonably regulated. Online gambling hosted in states that allow it is hardly the Wild West.» Read More
Technological Innovation Is Making Your Eye Care Cheaper - But Big Medical Lobbyists Are Fighting ItDavid Williams on
April 20, 2017
This article originally appeared in IJ Review on April 13, 2017
Technology that slashes costs for healthcare is good for consumers and taxpayers alike. There are those who don’t want to see these new technologies flourish, but, thankfully, these forces of negativity are losing the battle of bringing new technologies into the market. Just like with the disruptive technologies that have helped Uber and Airbnb become household names, tele-health and tele-medicine are disrupting the cartel that forces consumers to pay inflated prices and suffer the inconvenience of travel and time at the optometrist's office to get a prescription for eyeglasses and contact lenses. With the click of a few keys on a computer or smartphone, consumers can receive their prescriptions (signed off by an eye doctor) from the comfort of their own homes. Thanks to this technology, healthy adults only have to go to the eye doctor’s office once every two years for an eye health exam as opposed to once every time a new prescription is needed - unless the medical lobby’s intense influence campaign is successful.» Read More