Let’s Legislate!

So, we know that a good many legislators on both sides of the aisle stop by here from time to time. With that in mind, I think we should have a moderated open thread. The subject is restricted to: What legislation do you think the legislature should pursue in the upcoming legislative session.

Here’s my list:

1) Complete overhaul of the Georgia tax system — make the state more attractive to businesses and less onerous to property owners and wage earners. Yep, I like a lower income tax (or none altogether) with a state sales tax in its place and no taxation on investments. But that’s just the libertarian in me.

2) Tighten requirements on the use of absentee ballots. It’s just too easy to vote by absentee ballot. I favor a photo id at the polls to prevent fraud there and I favor tighter controls of absentee ballots too.

3) Community Development Districts. We’ve covered that before.

4) A requirement that the State Ethics Commission make the database of online disclosures searchable by keyword, like it was with the Secretary of State.

5) A tax law prohibiting the collection of taxes from consumers for purchases made over the internet from organizations that have no physical presence inside the state of Georgia.

6) Scrap the local franchise for cable companies, setting up instead a central system for approvals so cable cos and telcos can cut regulator costs incurred by dealing on a locality by locality basis, which in turn impedes growth and technological advances.

I’ve had my say. Now you have yours.

36 comments

  1. Chris says:

    1) Erick’s #1

    2) I’d love to see someone put forth a bill to remove 5% of the pages from the OCGA.

    3) Paper trails on electronic voting machines by 2008. Allocate money for random audits of the electronic and paper count, so that the only time we look at the paper isn’t for a re-count.

    4) Implement Brent Brown’s plan for vocational training in Government schools

    5) a $50,000 earmark to re-pave my driveway. 🙂

  2. Fiddes says:

    Erick, fantastic suggestions! I have two minor additions (don’t laugh):

    1. We are one of only a few states in the nation that do not have a felony DUI law. We need to make a third DUI conviction in a five year period a felony punishable by one year in jail which cannot be suspended. See OCGA 40-6-391.

    2. Whenever the Georgia Army and Air National Guard are involuntarily activated by the Governor for State emergencies, they are guaranteed employment protections so their jobs cannot be taken away from them while deployed. Personnel in the Georgia State Defense Force if involuntarily activated in a similar emergency aren’t given that same benefit per a 2002 amendment to OCGA 38-2-54. That 2002 amendment should be removed!

  3. Create a non-partisan redistricting commission to take the politics out of the reapportionment process.

    Make the Secretary of State’s office non-partisan.

    Public financing for state elections.

    $100,000 ear-mark for the historical restoration of my house.

  4. Jace Walden says:

    (1) I’d like to see Rep. Steve Davis’s GA Fair Tax proposal pass

    (2) I’d like to see the changes in the Department of Education that are being espoused by David Chastain (L) be implemented

    (2) A 75,000 earmark to pay for grad school

  5. shotgunjohn says:

    (1) I would like to see the minimum level of Bodily Injury coverage for Automobile Insurance raised from the current $25,000.00. That number barely covers even light to moderate injuries in a typical collision in metro ATL. $40K to $50K would be more appropriate.

    (2) GA Fair Tax is a real winner.

    (3)$85,000.00earmark for school loans.

  6. Jason says:

    In no particular order…

    – Elimination of the state income tax.
    – Relaxtion of Georgia’s ballot access laws, which are some of the most restrictive in the country.
    – Fusion ticket law.
    – An elected state education board as opposed to an appointed one.
    – TABOR.
    – Verifiable ballots.
    – Legislation barring Georgia from participation in the REAL ID Act.

  7. Chris says:

    Good point Jason:

    We need a good TABOR.

    And I see I didn’t ask for enought to repave my driveway, so I need some funds to build a museum of cool high tech gagets in my office.

  8. Demonbeck says:

    – $1,000,000 to the “Let Demonbeck do whatever the hell he wants” fund
    – Elimination of the State’s Inventory tax. (A complete overhaul would be nice, but if I have to choose one tax to cut, this would be it.)
    – A voluntary retirement paycheck deduction (like privatizing Social Security) – should be reimbursed partially to the individual by the state (I don’t care how) – allowing Georgians to be less dependent on the state in the future.
    – Non-partisan redistricting committee that is tied to an agreement from DoJ excluding Georgia from the federal review process section of the VRA

  9. Cobb County says:

    1. As most people on this sight I would like to see a repeal of the state income tax.

    2. I want to see more competition created between telecommunication companies (this can actually be very difficult because of public franchise agreements and infrastructure costs, however, it has taken about a month to get my cable turned on at my new apartment)

    3. I want the state to reform our education system so that teachers do not have to be educators, mothers, fathers, guidance counselors, and police officers.

  10. shotgunjohn says:

    another thought on car insurance – legislation to allow “stacking” of policies; when one isn’t enough, it is sometimes tragic that an otherwise good policy cannot be accessed because of the no stacking rule.

    yeah, I’m a lawyer. whats yer point?

  11. I like you guys. Here is a couple more not mentioned yet:

    1. Revise school capital outlay (construction funding) guidelines to ensure the counties that actually need new schools get the money. That’s a novel idea.
    2. Vouchers? Or at least a credit on their property taxes for private schools and home schoolers!
    3. Revise motor fuel tax guidelines to be more transparent so we can actually tell what we are paying in motor fuel tax! This could be a set amount per gallon or a set percentage, but not both like we are currently doing.
    4. Enact legislation that expedites the legal process for death penalty cases. If we prioritize their appeals and move them to the front of the line maybe we could reduce our inmate population and we wouldn’t need all those prisons the big guy wants to build. FYI – We have not had an execution since July 2005.
    5. And a couple others…..

    What is “fusion ticket law”? Fusion is the blending or mixture of things. This is not one of those Liberatarian drug laws is it?

  12. Bull Moose says:

    I like this thread, I wish I would have thought of it!

    1. Mental health parity in health insurance. Currently, the base line of health insurance covers inpatient mental health treatment, but not outpatient mental health treatment. This is more expensive. It should be reversed.

    2. Repeal the franchise tax.

    3. Constitutional amendment to create a non-partisan commission to draw legislative districts.

    4. Fast growth funding for schools. There are communities that are growing faster than the funds available for school growth. Create a revolving loan fund that they can draw from for the creation of new schools in their communities.

    5. Keep Georgia Moving legislation. Create definable time tables for environmental studies and what not for transportation projects… Also, open up the DOT so that it is more accountable to the public in how it spends it’s money and selects it’s projects.

    6. Reinvest in the HOPE grant. Restore the funds that were cut in HOPE grant funding for the purpose of books and such.

    7. Educational Reforms. Elect the members of the State Board of Education and allow them to select a Superintendent similar to how we select the Chancellor for the University System.

    That’s all I can think of right now…

  13. Demonbeck says:

    Better enforcement statewide of “Keep Right Except To Pass” and “Slower Traffic Keep Right” signs.

  14. John Douglas says:

    Its great to see the GA Fair Tax Steve Davis and I have written about in here getting such a positive push. I had an email today from another Senator wanting to discuss it in more detail, another positive development.

    The GA Fair Tax is a great way for Republicans to leave a lasting imprint on Georgia and for us to flush out those who would keep the Government in your pay voucher. As I have said before in this forum, it also forces illegals to pay their way and would stand as a great advertisement for what John Linder is trying to do in DC. The time is ripe in 2007 with no state level elections to make it happen. Keep pushing it folks, it makes too much sense to let it die on the vine.

  15. As the wise voters of Colorado have shown us, TABOR belongs in the graveyard of history not the idea bin of the future.

    Some ideas:
    1. “HOPE” scholarship for graduate schools. Every year you teach in a Georgia public school = one year of tuition (or some sort of grant) for higher education. Graduate from college, and then teach in a Georgia public school for X years before you get your post graduate degree which will also take X years.

    2. State subsidized malpractice insurance for rural doctors. The state of Georgia will subsidize part or all of rural doctors’ malpractice costs so long as they aren’t found at fault by a state board of malpractice. Rural people tell me that they can’t get a decent neurosurgeon (for example) in their areas, and yet the doctors don’t want to go there and would rather blame trial lawyers and insurance companies. Let’s bypass the trial lawyer/insurance company blame game that has just tied us up in knots and actually do something.

    3. MARTA reorganization. MARTA reorg was literally the only thing I was looking forward to when Republicans finally took over. Why hasn’t it happened? Let’s split up the system into separate categories for rail and bus. Have the state take over all of the rail and integrate it into a larger system (including proposed commuter rail to Macon, Athens, etc) and let the counties and cities fund their own local light rail and bus systems with local money. Right now in DeKalb I pay a lot of tax money for buses that are primarilly used locally but also for a rail system that riders in many counties use. If all of that DeKalb money could just go towards a local transit system it would be accountable, have more options and just be all around better.

    4. Income tax cut for everyone + sales tax increase + Georgian citizen sales tax rebate. Basically, raise the sales tax so that illegal immigrants (who can’t prove Georgia/US residency) and out of state travellers pay more – but give some sort of rebate to Georgia citizens (maybe a Georgia plus card like a Kroger plus card) so that we don’t pay any more than we used to. Sales taxes for Georgia citizens will stay the same, but illegals and visitors will pay more, and use the increased funds to lower income taxes for everyone who files a tax return legally here. The fair taxers want to raise my total taxes just so they can catch a few illegals in the net. That’s not fair, but we should find a way to collect taxes from illegals without penalyzing those that are here legally.

    5. Publicly funded elections for incumbents. Here’s a twist. Incumbents are forbidden from raising money – they will be publicly funded. But only at the level their opponent raises. So if Glenn Richardson’s opponent raises $5,000, they will both duke it out for $5K. Obviously this idea needs some work but it is interesting to think about.

    6. Eliminate all contribution limits, but require full and immediate disclosure. I know this is kind of the exact opposite of #5, but so what! Contribution limits are easy to skirt and therefore transparency is harder to enforce. We should eliminate the concept of a “disclosure period” and just have a permanent 48 hour system on disclosures. The more sunlight the better.

  16. John Douglas says:

    “The fair taxers want to raise my total taxes just so they can catch a few illegals in the net. That’s not fair, but we should find a way to collect taxes from illegals without penalyzing those that are here legally.”

    No one wants to raise your total taxes. I am sick and tired of those working honestly and paying their way having to pay the way of those here dishonestly and not paying their way. The GA Fair Tax would simply change the way taxes are collected and force everyone into the tax equation.

    And if you think there are only a “few illegals” here, think again.

  17. John the “fair” tax is a huge tax cut for people that make millions of dollars (especially on investment income). In order to stay revenue neutral it will have to increase collection on someone, and studies have shown that there just aren’t enough illegal immigrants to make up much of the difference. Since I am not an investment income millionaire, I’m very skeptical, especially considering that many studies have pegged the rate closer to 50%.

    However, your studies have also shown that Bill Clinton only visited the Pentagon once as President, so keep preaching the gospel.

  18. John Douglas says:

    Being the first to admit a mistake Chris, I will admit one here. I tried to have an intelligent debate with you on important issues but that is impossible and so it wont happen again.

  19. Chris says:

    How about a simple sticket at the pump that says 35% (or whatever the figure is) of the price of a gallon of gas goes to the federal and state government in taxes.

  20. Decaturguy says:

    Sounds like to me that Chris called Senator Douglas out on distorting the truth as to what the real sales tax rate would be under the “fair tax” and Senator Douglas decided to call time out and go home. What a wimp!

    Even if the fair tax made economic sense, I think that it would be very unpopular with most voters because consumers would have to pay that tax on every single item they purchased rather than not really noticing it being taken out of their paycheck once every two week or every month.

  21. UGA Wins 2006 says:

    You tax loving left wingers hate the thoughts of everyone paying taxes equally. You know that your base of support is the underclass who as we saw during and since Katrina, wont even take personal initiative even in the face of a major hurricane without the government to hold their hands. So long as you keep them totally dependent on government (liberal) hand outs, you will continue to get their votes and support.

    A state or national fair tax would destroy the power base which allows you to pay for the votes you get. But so long as you can keep personal initiative supressed and your huddled masses returning to their mailboxes and the welfare office each month, you are in good shape.

  22. kspencer says:

    UGA,

    According to HR25, the poor pay as much as they presently pay, corporations pay zero, and the rich pay less. This means either the middle pays more or the government collects less. According to HR25 the government gets the same – it’s content neutral.

    That means the middle class pays more in taxes under FairTax.

    The frequent claim – John Douglas implied it again – is that there are enough people NOT presently paying taxes who would actually make up the difference. A simple review of numbers demonstrates this to be false.

    I will not pay more tax so Paris Hilton or Sonny Perdue or John Kerry can pay less. I will not pay more tax so Alltel and Bell South don’t have to pay any.

  23. Decaturguy says:

    UGA, as kspencer explains, you’re totally offbase

    You say that “so long as you can keep personal initiative supressed and your huddled masses returning to their mailboxes and the welfare office each month, you are in good shape.”

    However, every Fair Tax proposal I’ve ever seen has a large rebate for what you call the “underclass,” whereby they would receive a rebate check from the government every month in order to compensate for the increased taxes (the 23% national sales tax) that they would pay under this system.

    Sounds like to me, then, that the Fair Tax would actually increase the very poor’s reliance on government handouts by getting them accustomed to receiving thier “Fair Tax” check in the mail every month. So how exactly, UGA, would the Fair Tax reduce the poor’s reliance on the government for help?

    It is not myself or the very poor who I’m concerned about under the Fair Tax. I’d come out pretty good under it. It is the working middle class who I’m somewhat concerned about. People who are not rich, but who make more than what is considered “poverty level” and don’t get the benefit of the rebate check.

    There is no question that they would pay more under the Fair Tax.

  24. Jason says:

    I will not pay more tax so Alltel and Bell South don’t have to pay any.
    Do you actually believe that corporations pay income tax?

  25. Chris says:

    Decatur said:
    “Even if the fair tax made economic sense, I think that it would be very unpopular with most voters because consumers would have to pay that tax on every single item they purchased rather than not really noticing it being taken out of their paycheck once every two week or every month.”

    That is exactly why I support a RST at the point of purchase. As long as tax outrage occurs one a year in April there will never be meaningful spending reform.

  26. kspencer says:

    Yeah, Jason, I hear that argument a lot. It’s simple, and it’s wrong. For a change, I’m not going to write reams. Instead, two simple points:

    1) When taxes are raised on businesses, they don’t usually pass the entirety off to the customer. Over and over again, they eat part of their profits. There are exceptions, but they’re EXCEPTIONS.

    2) The “pass along” argument falls when examined throughout the chain of money flow. An extended version of winds up saying that in reality government pays itself, and so taxes are a waste of time.

    The core of this for the corporate income tax is the fact that income taxes are paid on profits, not on gross income. And profits go two places: back into the company, and to the owners/shareholders. Yes, the money originally comes from the customer – but it’s not the customer’s money that’s taxed. It’s the corporate profits – the money of the corporation and it’s owners.

  27. Chris says:

    And the owners are individuals.

    ergo, you raise taxes on a corporation and it either comes out of the pockets of the customer via higher prices or out of the pockets of owners in the form of lower profits.

  28. Demonbeck says:

    Kspencer,

    How much taxes do non-Georgians pay to the state?

    How much more will non-Georgians pay in sales tax after this bill is passed?

  29. kspencer says:

    Chris Farris, Inevitably — every time I’ve done the calculations — the owners pay less as a whole than the corporation does. Remember that profits go two places: the owners and return to the corporation. Because of the latter, even if there were a sole owner (stupidly taking post-profit income instead of pre-profit salary plus bonuses) the tax paid by the individual is less. This also ignores the fact that the rates for a given amount are less for the individual than they are for the corporation.

    But again, we’re getting into pass-through accounting. There are significant problems with that, and they begin with the fact that a person (in the eyes of the law this includes corporations, thanks to Santa Clara v Southern Pacific, among other decisions) is accountable and responsible. Arguing otherwise has nasty unintended consequences, at the forefront is the argument that since (a) pays the salary of (b), (a) can control what (b) purchases. This is the “company store” argument, and still resonates when government employee salaries get discussed.

    No, each stop in the money flow is a discrete step, and while it may impact steps downstream it cannot be blithely said that the subsequent steps are ‘really’ the ones responsible for or accountable for or the ultimate providers of the incident.

    Of course the problem with this argument is that it’s hard, and it’s oh so easy to say that “of course” all the expenses to include taxes are borne by the individuals. Like all simple explanations and solutions regarding human behaviors, it’s mistaken. But that won’t stop people from making their decisions based on it – because we like the easy way far too often regardless of right or wrong.

    Kirk

  30. kspencer says:

    Demonbeck, which bill – the Davis (state only) “fair tax”, or the nationwide FairTax Douglas is behind?

    If the former, the answer to your second question is less than the doubling of sales taxes would seem to imply. All else being equal, lower taxes in neighboring and competing tourist states would draw a measurable proportion of non-Georgians who currently come here. Add in the fact – as I’ve mentioned before – that sales taxes provide about 40% of what income taxes provide to the state, and the end result is that the state gets a significant cut in revenue – significant being double-digit, and potentially 25%. (assuming a 5% decline in tourist visitors due to the increased cost effect.)

    If the latter, well, if it’s nationwide this is the least of the worries. I’ve given multiple reasons why FairTax is bad, to include the one earlier in this thread, and have seen no reason to change my mind. Let me make it plain: If FairTax is passed, at the earliest opportunity I will move all my investments based on the assumption that we will see well over 20% inflation within a year. Since I would also expect a simultaneous significant devaluation of the dollar on the global market, those investments would be non-US based.

  31. Chris says:

    Remember that profits go two places: the owners and return to the corporation.

    And when the profits stay in the corporation it makes the value of the corporation go up and increases the value of the stock the individual owns.

  32. kspencer says:

    Chris Farris,
    You’re stretching to make it work. The ‘pass-through’ argument is sustained only if the pass-through is functionally 100%. It’s not, and it’s especially not so when you get into stock ownership.

    Corporations pay income taxes.

    Kirk

Comments are closed.