Several weeks ago we had a discussion here about an offensive hidden tax in Georgia; the Insurance Premium Tax. At the time I had proposed to look for others.


  1. dorian says:

    Rep. Ehrhart, with all due respect, this is getting rather silly. People don’t like the GREAT tax. As it has turned out, precious few outside of high property-tax paying legislatures actually support it. Going around pointing out the alleged hypocrisy of this tax or that tax, threatening city and county governments, and insulting educators is not, let me repeat, IS NOT a way to win friends and influence people.

    I have no doubt that you know considerably more about the legislative process, politics, etc. than I do. Sometimes, though, I question the common sense, not of you in particular, but of politicians in general. The question I would be asking myself about now is “why don’t the people trust us to do this?” Surely, you do understand that is the point? The question I would be asking myself is “how can I restore the public trust in this office and the legislature in general?”

    Pointing out that other people are hypocrites too isn’t going to do that. What it does do is solidify and mobilize your opposition (which it has done, coincidentally).

    Don’t get me wrong, on some levels, this is about philosophical differences in how government works and control, and I certainly would count myself in the camp of those that would be extremely difficult to persuade. However, I am not the type of person you really need to convince anyway. It is the people on the fence and not on the margins, and so far, your tactics and the speaker’s tactics haven’t really worked all that well.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. eehrhart says:


    I did not post about the GREAT plan.

    So I assume you like paying hidden taxes and that is just fine.

    This issue has nothing to do with the GREAT plan. I have a 20 year history of being anti big government and anti tax.

    Why not try and defend the franchise tax if you like it so much?

    I think we have had plenty of debate on here about the Speakers plan. Lets debate this issue.

  3. dorian says:

    That was actually a very disappointing response. I suppose when you a carpenter whose only tool is a hammer, everything seems like a nail.

  4. eehrhart says:

    When one cannot defend their position and they resort to silliness like calling me a “carpenter with only one tool” that is disappointing.

    When you want to debate the issue I will be glad to respond.

    I am not interested in a rehash of our disagreement on the Speakers plan.

    Why no tell me why you support hidden franchise taxes?

  5. Jace Walden says:

    They take your money and you get nothing in return and you certainly have no say at any level in the election of those who appropriate your funds.

    This has been the practice of elected officials for the better part of the last 200 years.

    Before I go on, Earl, I’d like to apologize to you as well for calling you names in a post a little while back. As I was telling Maurice Atkinson, a lot of stuff I say is just for shock value, and I realize that I can come off as very abrasive…so if I’ve offended you, I am sorry.

    Now, if you guys are going to cut this tax, I would fully support it ONLY if you cut spending as well. As you know from your “20 year history of being anti big government and anti tax”, tax cuts that aren’t coupled with spending cuts only serve to other taxes to fund the spending that wasn’t cut.

    What programs and pork projects do you see the legislature actually being able to cut in order to make the tax cut effective?

    As you also know, spending has increased every year that Republicans have been in power…so, I’m just curious.

  6. eehrhart says:

    No apology needed Jace. I agree with you on spending cuts and I would submit that the zero based budget process we are implementing is going to identify many areas to be cut when they do not stand up to todays priorities.

    With respect to tax cuts though; I have to argue that if you cut the taxes then the government does not have the money to spend thereby decreasing spending.

    If you cut off the faucet then even those Republicans who might want to spend your money cant spend it.

  7. JawJaJim says:

    I apologize for the slightly off topic post, but it reminded me of one of my pet peeves.

    Two years ago, the GAGA passed the Joshua bill – named after a teen killed in an automobile accident. The bill adds a five-percent uplift to all traffic citations in the state. Rumor has it that the commission charged with administering the money is enjoying great meetings and lunches but has done little of nothing with the estimated millions accrued thus far. The goal was to fund high school driver’s education programs and the amount collected would fund this program as it stands now.

    I have tried to get some information from the commission but my requests have fallen on deaf ears.

    Perhaps we should turn up the heat a little bit – especially as Representative Glen Richardson is proposing yet another add-on to traffic fines to fund more meetings and lunches for some other elite group of commissioners.

  8. Jace Walden says:

    I have to argue that if you cut the taxes then the government does not have the money to spend thereby decreasing spending.

    I really, really wish this were the case. In theory, it should be the case. But in real life, spending hasn’t decreased in over a century, despite the numerous tax cuts, or tax rebates…government always seems to find a way to spend more, be it adding at $10 “fee” on license plate renewals to fund trauma care, or adding an additional “duty” on tobacco purchases.

    As much as I would love to see taxes cut, It is hard for me to take a politician at his/her word when he says “we’re gonna cut taxes”. Because, the truth is, they don’t. I need to see spending decrease before I’ll even consider trusting a politician about “low taxes”.

    I’ll just throw this out there: Instituting Zero-based budgeting will be the most significant step the legislature has taken in a long time in the way of restoring a sense of fiscal sanity to the government. I think you’ll find Zero-based budgeting a much easier sell than the GREAT Plan.

  9. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Earl, Please repeal the State income tax first and all the silly tax exemptions that the legislature passes every year.

  10. cheapseats says:

    When the state has reduced spending, it has been primarily in 2 areas – education and healthcare. Guess who ends up funding both the tax cuts and the spending reductions – you do!

    Local school boards have not been able to reduce property taxes a single dime because they have to make up for the failure of the state to properly fund public schools.

    Then, these guys in the Dome want to crow about how they are so “fiscally conservative” and then, to add insult to injury, want to point fingers at local governments for their growth in spending!

    Now, Rep. E wants to tell us about “hypocrisy”? Well, I suppose he does have the credentials to qualify as an expert in that area…

  11. Jmac says:

    Hasn’t the PSC already addressed this issue?

    Didn’t they pass some sort of compromise that requires the utilities to list this fees as line items and enacted a compromise that reduced the four percent franchise fee down to two percent (in 2009) that is responsible for by city residents?

    Also … how is this not the fault of the utilities? They’re passing on the legitimate cost of usage of the existing lines onto the customers … or, in essence, charging us for their rentals. It seems misplaced to criticize the government for hidden taxes when this is something done by the utility companies.

  12. jillchambers says:

    The original purpose of a franchise fee was to collect funds to maintain the right of way the utility companies use to deliver utility services within a city. Now these additional fees (taxes) are usually used as a revenue source for cities.

    Since the franchise fees are embedded in the utility base rate, they are also subject to sales tax. Isn

  13. Jmac says:

    But, again, it’s a cost being passed on to the customer via the utility companies. Shouldn’t it be the fault of the utility companies and not the government since all the latter is doing is taxing a service that features this fee built into it?

  14. Garrett says:

    Actually, the franchise fee compensates the city residents for the use of their public property by a profit making utility company. They are typically negotiated with utility companies by cities across the country because allowing utilities to utilize city rights of way benefits all the utility’s customers. Without them, utilities would have to exercise eminent domain or purchase easements over expensive city property. Acquiring expensive city easements would end up costing all rate payers more than franchise fees do.

  15. eehrhart says:

    jmac it is a tax that the utilities are forced to pay under the statute. They would not have them in the cost structure if not forced to. I have talked to all the affected utilities and they have all told me they would never charge this without the statute and that the PSC would certainly not give it to them in their rate negotiations without the statute. With respect to the PSC dealing with it, there was a judicial negotiation, but the cities asked the PSC to take all 4% from unicorporated residents what they settled on was 2% from unincorporated and 2 from the city residents, which is still outrageous as they receive nothing for their tax.
    Interesting argument Garrett, but right of way costs are similar in counties too and they do not collect this tax. I also doubt the cities could extort more than fair market value in a disagreement on existing right of way. They do provide no service and they charge the utility for anything. This is of course passed along to the taxpayer also and as Rep Chambers says they have even found a way to add sales tax to the tax.

    By the way, I never mentioned hypocrisy. It is interesting though that proponents on here for local control previously, now have such a guilty conscience when they find a central state government tax that they like. Too funny really.

  16. dorian says:

    . . .and that is why you will never win. You started this post under the pretext of it having nothing to do with the GLENNTax. It had everything to do with the GLENNTax. You can’t honestly say the inference everyone drew was a surprise? And it is hardly a secret that the legislature is going to do everything they can to hose local funding and at the same time say “see they’re bad stweards”. You know, when I was a kid playing kickball if the kid with the ball was losing too badly he would proverbaly “take his ball and go home.” That would be a pretty apt analogy, exept you guys aren’t content to take you ball, you want everyone elses too.

    The point being Rep. Ehrhart in-so-far as your point goes in your original post of this thread, I think you are right, but instead of saying to myself “self, this a problem that needs to be fixed”, your just a bully whose losing a kickball game and wants to make it so no one else can ever play.

  17. eehrhart says:

    Laughable Dorian

    I see you still refuse to debate the issue. I guess that is your way of not having to deal with the facts raised.

    Are you a city attorney? Does that explain why you are so against having the hidden taxes exposed?

    This issue has nothing to do with the GREAT plan.

    I am sorry but you are not the arbiter of my motives for doing anything. You are free to speculate, but you are wrong.

    It is not my fault that governments such as the ones you want to protect are spending and growing out of control. I just think they should have to do it on their own, and not with the states help. Then they can be responsible to their own taxpayers.

    And if your definition of “so no one else can ever play” is my crusade to slow down the growth of all government, THEN GUILTY AS CHARGED!

    Defend your issue and don’t change the subject if you cannot argue your case.

  18. dorian says:

    Look, I said I “thought you were right”. In my neck of the woods that means “agree”. I think your execution stinks, so if we are going to debate anything, it ought to be that.

    You’ve been in office how long? I’m not being sarcastic. I’m asking, because I don’t know and don’t want to go look it up, but I’m guessing it is more than a couple of terms. Now, out of the clear blue sky you are champeening this crusade against the liberal spending of evil city and county goverm’nts. Heck, you’d even rather fund millions of dollars into deputy AG’s to defend a lawsuit than use that money to fund the schools that are suing you in the first place.

    Color me unimpressed. Despite the fact that this conversation has taken a turn for the worst, it wasn’t my original intent. I was trying to help you out, so instead I think I’ll just spend ten bucks or so and buy you a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book .

    Debating is all well and good, but actions always trump words. Always. And, generally, a persons’ true feelings on something are demonstrated by the first thing they did, not the last. Soooo, I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t have to guess.

    Government has been growing a long time, and I’m glad you’ve finally seen the light. Just sorry that the light was the gleam in the speaker’s eye.

  19. ChuckEaton says:

    As a side note, when the power bills roll out next year with the franchise fee as a separate line item I expect there will be many complaints made to GA Power, the PSC, and other elected officials complaining about the new additional charge. The fee was always there, but it was built into the rate before and now it will be more transparent.

  20. ChuckEaton says:

    Of course the cities would argue the franchise fee is a regular operating expense and shouldn’t be broken out on the residential power bill anymore than paper clips or pencils.

  21. dorian says:

    Chuck how dare you insert facts into a political debate. For the record, the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Nyeh!

  22. eehrhart says:

    A good synopsis Chuck and thanks.

    Can you tell me what claims the cities make with respect to the rights of way of the state and county roads which make up the majority of the streets which traverse the municipalities? In other words do they claim they maintain these?

    Also are the funds designated for any purpose such as right of way or is it spent on the cities general appropriation?

    I like the transparency and I think what I am suggesting about a referenda and that only city taxpayers pay the bill because they are the only beneficiaries, will be well recieved this next session.

  23. BubbaRich says:


    Yes, I imagine that telling the people of Georgia that they can stick a bigger bill to the people of Atlanta would be well-received. The view also doesn’t pay any attention to the realities of generating and transmitting electricity, so you get to bring ignorance into the mix, too, which plays well at the capitol.

    I need to re-read Chuck’s synopsis, because I’m still missing why county land is not included in the right-of-way fee, which would seem more reasonable and balanced.

  24. Bill Simon says:

    Make a note to self: Regularly hit the “All comments read” link to avoid having to read all the way down threads like this to find out that the actual “last post” was dated 5 days ago.

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