Rep. Sanford Looks to Make Flight-Sharing a Reality

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 1:58 PM PERMALINK

Representative Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) this year has been working to make “flight-sharing” in the U.S. a reality. The concept of flight-sharing would allow pilots to share their travel plans so that passengers looking to fly to the same destination would be able to split the costs of the flight. This free-market, pro-consumer concept would add a new layer of travel accessibility to the already booming sharing-economy marketplace, but is currently stalled by and overreaching FAA.  

The concept of flight-sharing is relatively new, and as mentioned would allow private (as opposed to commercial) pilots to share travel plans online so that passengers traveling to the same destination would be allowed to split the costs of the flight with the pilot. Airline ridesharing startups such as Flytenow have developed technology to allow flight-sharing on an online platform that would pair private pilots with other individuals.  

The potential benefits of flight-sharing to consumers and pilots are huge. There are roughly 28,000 commercial flights daily in the U.S., compared to over 50,000 private flights daily. Commercial airlines currently access 560 U.S. airports while private pilots reach over 19,000 airports throughout the country.  

However, under existing federal regulations, private pilots are prohibited from using the internet to post flight routes and as a result effectively prohibited from splitting the cost in sharing a ride. As characteristic of a slow to adapt federal bureaucracy, pilots are allowed to post shared flights on a “3-by-5 card” pinned to the bulletin board of the pilots lounge, but are barred from posting the same information on a virtual bulletin board.

Thus once again you have federal bureaucrats preemptively grounding a potentially market changing and consumer driven innovation before it has had the chance to take off. Thankfully Rep. Sanford understands the potential benefits that flight-sharing could yield for consumers and the economy.

In response, Rep. Sanford authored an amendment to correct this issue, the language of which was incorporated into the AIRR Act during committee consideration. The language of Sandford’s provision would require the FAA to issue or revise regulations to ensure that holders’ of a private pilot’s license can communicate with the public through any medium, such as the internet. As such, flight-sharing startups like Flytenow would be allowed to operate their internet-based platform pursuant to FAA rules.        

In a recent press release, Rep. Sanford touted the benefits of flight-sharing, stating that, “if private pilots can connect with passengers, the end result is more flights available to more airports – and more choices for me and you as consumers.” 

Lawmakers in Congress are currently facing a July 15 deadline to reauthorize funding for the FAA, with the House and Senate both offering competing plans. Regardless of what route lawmakers take, the legislative vehicle should include the flight-sharing provisions Rep. Sanford has put forth.   

As we’ve seen play out with the hard-fought success of other sharing economy technologies, government is often slow to adapt to the fast paced innovation of the free-market, thus depriving Americans of life changing products and services. Rep. Sanford’s efforts to support flight-sharing would resolve such regulatory quagmires by allowing a new and market changing service to benefit consumers and the economy.


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John Gleason

Good to hear. Mark is always looking out for us consumers.

Financial Services Appropriations Bill Reins in Obama Government Agencies

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie, Justin Sykes, Katie McAuliffe on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 1:10 PM PERMALINK

Later this week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Act, introduced by Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.). This legislation allocates 2017 federal funding for numerous agencies including the Treasury Department, the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FCC.

H.R. 5485 allocates this funding in a responsible, pro-taxpayer way and reins in out-of-control agencies to ensure they do not overstep their bounds and needlessly waste federal resources. ATR supports this legislation and urges all Members of Congress to vote for it when it reaches the floor.

Restrains IRS Overreach
H.R. 5485 contains several important policy riders to rein in the IRS. Under this administration, the agency has targeted non-profit organizations, families, and small businesses again and again in a concerted effort to limit free speech and harass taxpayers.

The legislation prohibits the IRS from implementing a new regulation on non-profit organizations, from giving bonuses or rehiring former employees without proper tax compliance measures, or from targeting individuals based on first amendment rights. In addition, the package implements extensive reporting on IRS spending to ensure the agency is wisely utilizing taxpayer resources.

Reins in SEC Funding and Improves Transparency
FSGG allocates $1.5 billion for the SEC, lowering the agency’s funding by $50 million from previous levels in fiscal year 2016. The legislation also creates new reporting requirements for the SEC, which would improve the transparency and fairness of the agency. One provision requires the SEC to report to Congress the cost associated with the regulatory burdens promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Act. 

The legislation also ensures First Amendment free speech is protected by prohibiting the agency from requiring the disclosure of political contributions in SEC filings. 

Responsibly Allocates IRS Funding 
The legislation provides $10.9 billion for the IRS, reducing their funding by $236 million compared to fiscal year 2016. In addition, the legislation funds the agency $1.3 billion below President Obama’s budget, which called for more than $1 billion in additional funding for the agency.

FSGG also allocates this funding in an efficient way. Of the $10.9 billion in funding, the legislation allocates $2.1 billion to taxpayer services and provides $290 million for the IRS to improve customer service, fight fraud, and improve cybersecurity.

Given the IRS's record of ineptitude and incompetence, the last thing the agency needs is more money. The agency’s woes are due to its management problems, not because of insufficient resources and this legislation will force the agency to spend its resources in a more responsible way.

Blocks Implementation of Obamacare
FSGG also contains important provisions that restrict the ability of the federal government to implement Obamacare. Specifically, this legislation stops transfer of funds between the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS to fund Obamacare. Since passage of the law, the Obama Administration has funneled funds across agencies to hide the true costs of the law and pay out special interests at the expense of the American people.

Most importantly, the legislation restricts the use of funds to implement the individual mandate. Under current law, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services -- must pay an income surtax to the IRS. This year a family in the middle class will be forced to pay 2.5 percent of Adjusted Gross income or $1,390 if they do not have insurance. The Obama administration uses the Orwellian phrase “shared responsibility payment” to describe this tax.  

Increases CFPB Oversight and Accountability 
This legislation provides increased oversight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, by subjecting the agency to annual congressional appropriations process, something that has not occurred since the CFPB was created in 2010. By bringing funding for the CFPB under the congressional appropriations process, this legislation increases the accountability of the CFPB to congress and taxpayers. 

Further, H.R. 5485 temporarily halts the CFPB’s costly and overreaching arbitration rule by requiring the agency to study the use of pre-dispute arbitration before issuing such regulations. The CFPB has not adequately justified the need for rule, and enactment would increase the costs of products and reduce access for the very consumers it would supposedly protect.  

Restrains FCC
The FCC’s snowballing regulatory binge continues to tighten its grasp on basic functions of the Internet and the free market.  The FCC's dubious interpretations of "ambiguous" legal language, even at the protest of Congress, leave no other options but for Congress to restrain and direct FCC spending as Congress is statutorily required to do.

To enhance transparency and public participation, funds must be used for the agency to make all proposed regulations public three weeks before the final legally binding vote.  It constrains some of the agency’s overreaches on policy, by preventing the agency from using any appropriated funding for “Net Neutrality” regulations until court proceedings conclude. 

The dollars in the public pot are limited. While the agency does receive less money for operations than it asked for, and the is an overall decrease in funding of $25 million, the FCC maintains an ample budget of $315 million to aptly pursue its core functions and target waste fraud and abuse within its programs. 


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Senate Legislation Would Destroy Contact Lens Consumer Choice and Restrict Free Market

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 12:11 PM PERMALINK

Legislation before the United States Senate, S.2777 the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA) needlessly reduces choice, increases costs, and may even threaten eye health for the 41 million Americans that rely on contact lens.

CLCHPA, introduced by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would turn back to clock and reinstitute anti-competitive practices under the flimsy guise of public safety. Specifically, this legislation requires any contact lens prescription to be given under “direct verification,” meaning that an optometrist needs to prescribe a product over the phone or in person. Current law allows for the far more commonsense “passive verification,” which gives consumers the flexibility of a written prescription. 

Optometrists are one of the few medical professions that are allowed to sell the products they prescribe. While there should be no restriction on professionals selling these products, this has led to a conflict of interest where patients are sometimes not given the option to choose between similar products. This conflict of interest was addressed in 2003, when lawmakers passed the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Act (FCLCA) legislation allowing passive verification and allowing patients a written prescription to shop where they wanted.

Prior to FCLCA, bad actors could hold their patients hostage by blocking or implicitly denying their patients the right to choose who to buy from. This concern is not hypothetical – there have been several well documented cases of bad actors conspiring to limit consumer choice and access to contact lens for personal enrichment. 

While this legislation clearly undermines free market competition, supporters claim it is necessary for safety reasons. This line of reasoning is completely without merit.

In the decade since FCLCA passed, alternative contact lens retailers have been closely monitored by the Federal Trade Commission, yet there is no evidence of adverse health effects caused by purchasing contact lenses from other sources. If anything, consumers would be more likely to wear clean lens if they have more avenues to access the product.

FCLCA eliminated barriers to competition and empowered the free market. The law is a success and it allows consumers to purchase contact lenses where they choose. Unfortunately, Sen. Cassidy’s misleadingly named Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act seeks to undo this free market law by restoring a barrier to competition that in-turn will reduce consumer choice and lead to higher prices.

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Medical Innovation Leads to Long-Term Healthcare Savings

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 11:20 AM PERMALINK

The cost of purchasing new medicines is often subject to harsh media coverage, even as the long term health benefits receive far less recognition. While the price of new drugs appears high in isolation, medical innovation leads to substantial savings elsewhere, as noted in a new study released by Frank R. Lichtenberg of the Montreal Economic Institute.

As the study notes, the health benefits have been demonstrated in Canada, America, and the rest of the world using countless health indicators including longevity, overall health, use of other health services, and rate of hospitalization.

For instance, long-term investment developing cancer medicines has resulted in significant savings for the Canadian healthcare system decades after this investment. As the report notes, current savings to the healthcare system totaled almost a billion dollars more than overall spending on new medicines today, close to three decades since the period of medical innovation analyzed. As the report notes:

“If no new drugs had been registered during the 1980-1997 period, there would have been 1.72 million additional cancer patient hospital days in 2012, at a cost of C$4.7 billion in hospital expenditure, whereas total spending on cancer drugs (old and new) in 2012 was an estimated C$3.8 billion.”

This is not unique to the Canadian healthcare system. As the report notes, the correlation between medical innovation and long-term reductions in illness or injury has been proven in the U.S. system:

“Work days lost and school days missed per year because of illness or injury in the U.S. declined more rapidly from 1997 to 2010 for medical conditions with larger increases in the mean number of newer prescription drugs consumed.”

Despite this evidence, presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have called for price controls in some form or another this election cycle. While the proposals put forward may decrease the costs of drugs in the short term, it would do so in an artificial way that would increase healthcare costs in the long run. Medical innovation would decline because the profits made from medicines in the U.S. are utilized to finance the next generation of life-saving and life-improving prescription medicines. In turn, this results in higher long term healthcare costs due to a lack of cures for a variety of illnesses.

This is more than theoretical, as the Lichtenberg study notes. If the market was suddenly flooded with price-distorted drugs from all around the world, it would cause a decline in medical innovation. As the Lichtenberg study notes, a 10 percent reduction in drug prices through re-importation would cause a 5-6 percent decline in medical innovation in the U.S. using conservative estimates.

Undoubtedly, the costs of new medicines are offset through the savings they cause downstream in the healthcare sector. Before rushing to propose ill thought out price controls, candidates should consider the long-term health benefits that medical innovation causes.  

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Like-Kind Exchanges are a Model for All Capital Gains

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie, Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 10:54 AM PERMALINK

Like-kind exchanges, a provision existing under section 1031 of the tax code allows an investor to defer paying capital gains taxes on certain assets when they use those earnings to invest in another, similar asset. This can be done again and again until the investor ultimately cashes out and protects against a needless lock out effect that would discourage investment.

In the perfect world, income from capital gains would not be taxed at all.  The 23.8 percent tax hits income that has already been subjected to income taxes and is then reinvested to help create jobs, grow wages, and increase economic growth. This double taxation makes no sense from the perspective of encouraging investment and stronger growth.

The importance of like-kind exchanges led to 19 Members of Congress writing to urge the preservation of section 1031 like-kind exchanges in a letter to ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). 

In the absence of full repeal of the capital gains tax, Section 1031 is both vital and commonsense from an economic perspective. Because there is a continuity of investment from any 1031 eligible transaction, there is no reason to arbitrarily punish reallocation of resources. If anything, this provision should be expanded so all capital gains are treated the same as like-kind exchanges.

In fact, repealing this provision would have a damaging impact on our economy, resulting in lower investment and less incomes as proven by a study by Ernst and Young. If used to finance more government spending, repeal of section 1031 would cost the U.S. economy $13.1 billion in lost GDP year after year. Using like-kind exchanges as an offset for tax reform would be only marginally better, reducing annual GDP loss over the long term by $8.1 billion. This GDP loss would also result in investment falling by $7 billion every year and reduce labor income by an estimated $1.4 billion.

Because repeal would subject many business to higher taxes, it would reduce capital stock, labor productivity, and output. These factors would consequently result in longer holding periods and slow or restrict the transfer of capital within our economy because businesses would become arbitrarily discouraged from making investment decisions due to the tax consequences.

Until we abolish the capital gains tax within businesses, lawmakers should keep section 1031 because it reminds us of how moving in the right direction creates jobs, increases national income and wealth. It also serves as a good example. We should expand and enlarge, not repeal this provision. 

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ATR Urges Support for Rep. Steve King’s Cap Gains & Death Tax Amendments

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 10:33 AM PERMALINK

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, introduced by Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.). This legislation allocates 2017 federal funding for numerous agencies including the Treasury Department, the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FCC.

Two amendments, proposed by Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) would block the IRS from collecting the capital gains tax and the Death Tax. Both taxes are a double tax on Americans – one on after tax income that is reinvested in the economy, and the other on all your assets when you die.

ATR has long supported full repeal of these taxes. In lieu of that, these amendments provide an avenue to stop the needless double taxation on Americans by prohibiting the federal government from using funds to collect both taxes. ATR supports both amendments, urges they be made in order by the House Rules Committee, and strongly encourages all members to vote and support both amendments.

Below is more information on ATR’s position on both the Death Tax and the capital gains tax:

Death Tax

One of the most intrusive and unfair taxes is the Death Tax, which requires your loved ones to tell the IRS about everything you own at the moment of death – your bank accounts, investments, the value of your home and business, and more.

Right now, the tax sits at 40 percent with an exemption threshold of $5.43 million, meaning the tax burden for families is significant. Those who are hit hardest generally are first and second generation families with a small business, because the truly wealthy can avoid the tax through an army of accountants, attorneys, and charitable planners.

The Death Tax is counterproductive to growth – it is a tax you pay on savings you have already paid taxes on at least once. As a result, the Tax Foundation predicts repeal would add 150,000 jobs and raise $8 billion in annual revenue over the long term.

Capital Gains Tax

A key policy goal should be incremental progress toward a consumption base of taxation and therefore cutting the tax rate on capital gains (and dividends, distributed after-tax corporate earnings) to zero. The capital gains tax hits income that has already been subjected to income taxes and has been reinvested to help create jobs, grow wages, and increase economic growth. This double taxation makes no sense from the perspective of encouraging investment and stronger growth.

At present, the code taxes a dividend or capital gain (a profit derived from the sale of a stock, bond or other asset) at a lower rate, with a top rate of 23.8 percent for assets held longer than a year. Ideally, the tax code should be based on consumption and income derived from investments (as well as income saved) would be not be taxed at all. 

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Bob Zimmerman

Steve King is the worst example of a politician. I live in his district. He's done nothing for it, He's a real sleaze ball because he loves to rant and rave about illegal immigrants (knowing that nothing he supports will pass) but his district employs thousands of them in meat packing plants. If he was true to his word, he would shut down those plants, right? But of course, he won't, He's a sleaze ball.

He helped shut down the federal govt in 2013 with his goofball colleague, Ted Cruz. Think about this: if you are an elected official and can pick the day to shut down and then re-start the federal govt, is that not the same as "inside information" for trading? Can you pick the days you go short and long on the markets and make a killing? And Ted Cruz's wife works for Goldman Sachs.

Just try to find ONE significant legislative accomplishment for this bozo. Nothing.

Thab Lynch

Steve King believes in farm subsidies. Farm subsidies are a Marxian, socialist redistribution of wealth from America's hard working east and west coasts to America's heartland.


Steve King is one of a handful of politicians I trust. He has integrity and looks out for the citizens of the U.S., unlike the majority of our elected.

On Justice Reform “We opened up a new frontier… against overreaching government”

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, 10:04 AM PERMALINK

On Thursday, Americans for Tax Reform’s Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Jorge Marin spoke with InsideSources about the growing momentum on the right for criminal justice Reform.

When asked why he thought criminal justice reform was gaining traction, Marin stated that “Whether you’re a fiscal conservative, whether you care about public safety, whether you care about civil liberties, there’s something there for you,” recognizing the spate of new legislation being considered in the state and federal governments. “In a sense, we opened up a new frontier in the fight against an overreaching government,” he added.

Marin echoed Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), noting the merits of Texas’s efforts to reduce recidivism and crime. In 2007, Texas spent $240 million to reform its system. Since then, it closed 3 prisons and saved an estimated $3 billion with reforms to lower the prison population and increase public safety. Texas crime fell to the lowest since 1968, and it reduced its prison population more than 20 percent.

Cornyn spoke today at the American Enterprise Institute about the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) which seeks to overhaul the current federal justice reform system that causes mass incarceration and harmful recidivism rates. SRCA implements programs focused on reducing recidivism rates and helping people find the proper treatment needed to rehabilitate and reform themselves to be successful members of society. It also reduces mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

“I respect Tom Cotton on a lot of his policies,” Marin stated in the interview, “I respect him on a lot of his tax policies. But I think, on this issue, we do differ… He’s following the same failed policies of the past.”

Last month, Cotton took an aggressive stance against current criminal justice reform legislation passing through the Senate that ATR supports. He declared that the United States has an “under-incarceration” problem rather than over-incarceration.

Despite Cotton’s opposition, criminal justice reform coalitions remain strong. ATR partners with seven other groups on the issue under leadership of the U.S. Justice Action Network. The bi-partisan, extremely diverse group of coalition partners include Freedom Works, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for American Progress, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Right on Crime, and the NAACP.

Serious reform needs to be passed through Congress to improve our federal prisons and corrections processes. The data proves that too many people are being harmed, and the U.S. does not have the federal funding necessary to sustain these high levels of incarceration over time. Therefore, reducing unnecessary punishments for nonviolent offenders and increasing programs to help prisoners improve themselves is proven to reduce costs and enhance communities over time.

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Philly Mayor Signs Hillary's Soda Tax

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Posted by Toni-Anne Barry on Monday, June 20th, 2016, 4:53 PM PERMALINK

A steep soda tax endorsed by Hillary Clinton was signed into law today by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. Residents will now face a soda tax of 1.5 cents per ounce. The tax will increase the price of a 12-pack of soda pop by $2.16, directly affecting low and middle-income families.

Despite her pledge to oppose tax increases on people making less than $250,000 Clinton said she was “very supportive” of the tax.

Clinton was speaking in Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 20 when she said the following:

“I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids. I mean, we need universal preschool, and if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.”

Clinton endorsed the tax despite making a pledge to the American people that she will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000.

Bernie Sanders called out Clinton’s violation of her middle-class tax pledge. As reported by NBC News, Sanders said:

"Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge," he said.

Sanders also said:

“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low-income and working people.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said: “Hillary said she would cheerfully support tax hikes on low and middle-income American who drink soft drinks. What taxes on low-income Americans would she really oppose? Any?”


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"Tax" is the wrong word. Like tobacco, soda has real costs in health care. Who should pay to treat lung cancer caused by smoking and type 2 diabetes caused by soda? Businesses taxes and higher insurance premiums? Income taxes? Or should the users of these products pay?

By not charging users, we are all subsidizing these products. Since when do we want the government subsidizing companies--especially for products that kill people?

This isn't a tax. It's a clawback.

ATR Launches Campaign to Defeat Vapor Products Tax Hike in Pennsylvania

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, June 20th, 2016, 4:35 PM PERMALINK

On the heels of a July 1 deadline for the FY 2016-2016 budget, legislative leaders and Governor Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) are in the final stretch on deciding the size of the annual budget and whether tax hikes will be an element of the deal. Unlike last year, broad based tax increases including the sales and income tax seem to be off the table. Unfortunately, the target of money-hungry lawmakers seems to be smokers, vapers, and gamblers.

In response to these targets for tax hikes, ATR has again launched a campaign to defeat any and all efforts to raise taxes, with a specific focus on the proposal to impose a massive and new 40% wholesale tax on tobacco-free vapor products.

The first set of lawmakers’ constituents who will receive phone calls urging them contact their lawmaker to tell them to reject taxes hikes on products that are helping smokers quit includes:

  • House Speaker Mike Turzai (HD-28)
  • House Majority Leader Dave Reed (HD62)
  • Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (SD34)


A sample script can be read here:

Hi, this is Linda Adams with an important message about a pending tax increase in Pennsylvania. This call was paid for by Americans for Tax Reform at 202-785-0266. Republicans are on the verge of passing a massive new tax hike on small businesses that are helping smokers quit. This will hurt public health and kill jobs. Press 1 on your phone now to connect to your state Senator Jake Corman to tell him to reject tax hikes. Press 1 now.

Click here to listen.

The increasing body of scientific evidence suggests that vapor products are between 95 and 99 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes and are being used by smokers as smoking cessation products. To target with tax hikes a product that helps smokers quit works at cross purposes with decades of efforts to curb the use of cigarettes and makes for horrible tax and public health policy. 

ATR will be closely monitoring this debate and urges lawmakers to rein in out-of-control spending instead of soaking consumers and businesses with unaffordable tax hikes. Additional legislative districts may be added to this campaign in the coming days. 

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While Neighboring States are Cutting Taxes, Louisiana Set to Pass 2nd Round of Tax Hikes this Year

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Posted by Miriam Roff on Saturday, June 18th, 2016, 1:00 PM PERMALINK

The Louisiana legislature is in the midst of a special session called by Governor John Bel Edwards (D- La.)  to address a projected $600 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins at the end of the month. Just three months after he signed into law a $1.2 billion tax hike, Gov. Edwards is looking for more hard-earned income from Pelican State taxpayers and plans to hold funding for education programs and health care programs hostage unless his demands for further tax hikes are met.

As lawmakers in Louisiana are laying on the tax increases, lawmakers in neighboring states—Texas, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Arkansas—have moved in the opposite direction by enacting major tax reform packages over the last few years.

The question is not whether the Louisiana legislature will pass a second round of tax hikes this year, but by how much and which taxes they will raise. Senate President John Alario thinks the state needs an additional $450 in revenue, whereas the house so far has only agreed to raise taxes by $222 million.

Yet, one thing is clear this special session: Louisiana lawmakers are going to expand the scope and size of government and make it even harder for Louisiana to compete with neighboring states for employers and new residents. The following bills approved by the senate yesterdayHouse Bill 38, House Bill 35, Senate Bill 6, and Senate Bill 10— have set this stage.

Tennessee and Mississippi are the latest of the southern states to jump on the rate reducing income tax cut bandwagon. This legislative session Tennessee became a true no-income tax state by fully phasing out its Hall Tax and Mississippi set the stage for fully phasing out its Franchise-Tax over the next decade.  According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, by eliminating the Hall Tax, Tennessee propelled itself forward from being 15th best in the nation for business tax climate to 11th best.

North Carolina lawmakers also understand the importance of good, efficient tax policy. Legislators reduced income taxes in 2013 and 2015, which improved their business tax climate ranking from 44th worst in the nation to 16th best and are not going to stop. This session they plan to pass further tax relief.

Even Arkansas recognizes the importance of smart tax policy, as last year they enacted income tax relief.

And lastly, it should come as no surprise that Texas and Florida vie for being number one in job creation, as Gov. Rick Scott (R- Fla.) has publicly stated that he wants to beat the Lone Star State in job growth. Who could blame him? Both states house some of the best business tax climates in the nation.  According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, in 2016 Texas had the 10th best business tax climate in the nation and Florida had the 4th best. Furthermore both states do not rest on their laurels and continue to look for ways to improve their tax code. Just last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) enacted further rate reducing tax reform by passing $4 billion in tax cuts on businesses and property owners. Last year Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) also passed $428.9 million in tax cuts and this year he passed a tax relief package totaling close to a half billion dollars for this session.

All of these states are ready to welcome Pelican State businesses and jobs with open arms for example, take Gov. Rick Scott.  

“As Governor Edwards continues to rally behind tax increases and bad business policies, we stand ready to help Louisiana companies grow and create jobs in Florida,” Scott said in announcing his trade mission. “Florida has added over one million new jobs and our job growth rate is growing almost 60 percent faster than the national average. Many Louisianans already vacation in Florida, and they will save more of their money by moving their businesses to our state.”

Louisiana lawmakers are just digging the state into a deeper hole by enacting bad tax policy. While these ill thought out policies will be a boon for states like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Arkansas, they will be disastrous for Louisianans who will see an exodus of jobs and businesses. 

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Smokey Geo

Hang on... this piece also says Louisiana has a $600 million deficit and the governor is "holding education and healthcare funding hostage" unless there's a tax increase that can pay the bills. Why is this "bad policy?" Nothing here suggests the state is expanding government beyond some unacceptable scope... how is paying the state's bills and refusing to fund certain important programs unless there's money to pay for them anything but rational?