What is Your Vote-Moving Issue?

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 5:24 PM PERMALINK


The ‘Leave Us Alone’ coalition relies on a number of diverse groups with distinct vote-moving issues. With the goal of pro-liberty policies, every American vying for control of their personal and professional growth may be considered part of this strengthening coalition to fight for freedom from government intervention.

The keys parts of this growing coalition include:

Taxpayers: those who find themselves in this group dictate votes on keeping their taxes low. These voters believe the money they earn is theirs and will vote against any initiative to take further from their paycheck. They maintain that the government’s ability to control their lives comes from the ability to tax.

Businessman and -Women: this group is made up of small business owners, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs who do not want their establishments overtaxed and over regulated. They will vote against intrusion that hampers their productivity and advancements. 

Second Amendment Supporter: these voters have a strong support for all initiatives to protect the constitutional right of gun ownership.

Property Rights Activists and Homeowners: individuals in this groups have the sole vote-moving issue of protecting their property from expropriation for political reasons. They wish to be rightfully left alone on their own land.

Homeschoolers: this group is generally made up of parents who wish to educate their children without monitoring interference from the government. They simply want to transfer family values in the safety of their home and wish to reject the state’s mandated coursework. 

Communities of Faith: those who believe in the free practice of faith and relaying this message to their children are found in this group. The specific religious difference within this group are not important to its members as they are unified in the right to practice and teach freely.

Ownership Society: this is the investor class who own stock, maintain retirement funds, savings accounts, and mutual funds that wish to be left alone from crippling taxation and inflation. They also wish for the strength and prosperity of the companies they own stock in- which means less government involvement in those groups.

Public Servants: most specifically, this group consists of the police and military who wish to properly limit government and their role in protecting the life, liberty, and property of its citizens. As their career has been dedicated to protecting Americans, they vote to keep these citizens safe from overreaching government as well.

While each group has differences, their votes are driven by the desire to be left alone- from the government, from over taxation and regulation, from diminishing rights, and from political agendas. The power of this coalition has come from its committed members to vote true to their cause and its existence continues only with this strength in unity. 

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Grover’s Stance on Internet Access Tax

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Posted by James Morrone on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 5:08 PM PERMALINK


The tax guru, Grover Norquist, recently wrote a piece featured in National Review explaining the need for a permanent ban and how the issue has been passed to following sessions of Congress.  A tax on the Internet has never been an acceptable ideal, and both parties have repeatedly voted to keep a ban on such a tax in place.  Unfortunately, these bans have all been temporary, thus forcing a new vote to occur every so often. 

Take action here to make the Internet Tax Ban permanent! 

Shockingly enough, Minority Leader Harry Reid and his cronies are stirring up a new fight to remove the ban from current legislation.  As Grover states is his own article,

“One of the greatest barriers to Internet access is cost. For example, a tax that increased the price of Internet access by just 1 percent would reduce demand for Internet access.”

Check out the full article on National Review.  

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IRS Fails to Screen 2.2 Million Tax Returns for ID Theft, Blames “oversight”

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 2:02 PM PERMALINK


A report on IRS identity theft protections by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration was publicly released today, revealing that an estimated 2.2 million tax returns were not entered into a key system used in fraud detection.

According to the report, the 2.2 million returns were not uploaded into the Dependent Database, known as DDb, due to “an oversight.” The IRS was not aware of its failure to load the returns into DDb until notified by TIGTA on Feb. 13, 2015. The IRS eventually corrected the issue three weeks later, on March 6, 2015.

The TIGTA report, titled “Continued Refinement of the Return Review Program Identity Theft Detection Models Is Needed to Increase Detection” notes the failure to recognize some legitimate identity theft cases and failure to properly maintain taxpayer data between the DDb system and an additional fraud detection filter, the Return Review Program (RRP), occurred in part because the IRS did not fully implement all capabilities of the selection models such as filters and flagged selection groups.

TIGTA stated:

“Internal IRS guidelines require tax examiners to monitor the taxpayer’s account to determine whether the taxpayer updated their address or provided a reasonable explanation of why the refund was returned undeliverable. If after 30 calendar days the taxpayer has not satisfactorily resolved the issue and the refund has not been reissued, the IRS will treat the refund as being associated with an identity theft tax return and reverse the fraudulent tax return’s data entries from the taxpayer’s account and place an identity theft indicator on the taxpayer’s account. When we brought this to IRS management’s attention on July 10, 2015, the IRS responded that it had not started this process nor has a start date for this process been established.”

When questioned, IRS officials “did not have an explanation as to why procedures were only changed for checks returned undeliverable”.

The Office of Audit commented on this problem:

“Review of the 70 accounts found that 61 did not have the required undeliverable tax refund check process identity theft indicator. For the remaining nine, the indicators were added subsequent to the completion of our analysis”-- meaning these taxpayers did not get their refund and accounts were flagged as fraudulent.  

Failure to protect taxpayer data is not an isolated case when it comes to the IRS. Last year, the agency’s ineptitude resulted in the taxpayer data of 330,000 filers being stolen, despite countless watchdog warnings.

Since 2007, the IRS was warned at least seven times by watchdog groups that it needed to strengthen its protections of taxpayer information. Most recently:

  • In a 2014 report, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) warned that if stronger protections are not implemented, “taxpayers could be exposed to the loss of privacy and to financial loss and damages resulting from identity theft or other financial crimes.”  
  • 2013 report found that the IRS had failed to fully implement eight recommendations that would increase security over taxpayer data despite telling TIGTA they had been implemented.
  • 2011 report found that taxpayer data was vulnerable to hackers and stronger security measures were needed.
  • In 2010, TIGTA found that the agency had inadequate safeguards to protect taxpayer information from contract workers.

 

See Also:

 

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Alabama Senate Candidate, Jonathan McConnell Makes Written Commitment to Oppose Higher Taxes

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Posted by Michael Eyerman on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 11:55 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) congratulates businessman Jonathan McConnell for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written commitment to the people of Alabama to oppose higher taxes. McConnell is running in a primary race against incumbent Senator Richard Shelby. Senator Shelby has been a signatory of the Pledge since taking office in 1987.   The primary is set to take place on March 1, 2016. 

McConnell serves as President of Meridian Global Consulting LLC, a company that provides security and intelligence work to clients around the world. McConnell started the company after serving in the United States Marine Corps, leaving with the rank of Captain and was awarded the Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Service. 

“I want to congratulate Jonathan McConnell for taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Until you take tax increases firmly off the table, true and lasting spending restraint is impossible,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and get the economy going again. Signing the Pledge is the first step in that process.” 

Candidates running for office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge requires these candidates to put their rhetoric in writing. It is offered to every candidate for state and federal office and to all incumbents. Nearly 1,400 elected officials, from state representatives to governors to US Senators and Presidential candidates, have signed the Pledge. 

“We are very excited about his commitment to the taxpayers of Alabama,” continued Norquist. 

ATR will continue to follow this race closely and will provide additional updates as more candidates sign the Pledge.

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Rhode Island ‘Waste-O-Meter’ Reveals $6.9 Mil in Wasteful Spending

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 11:20 AM PERMALINK


For Rhode Island being the smallest state, it packs on the unnecessary spending. Cue Rhode Island’s new “Waste-O-Meter.”

Republican legislators uncovered a whopping $6,967,000 in alleged wasteful government spending in just 10 instances, with help from Providence Journal investigations.

"They report findings and citizens fume about the waste,” state. Rep. Patricia Morgan (R) said about the revelations. “After a few days, the frustration dies down and the people of Rhode Island continue with their busy lives, forgetting about the latest assault to their wallets. Those in charge are not held responsible for the waste and so it continues, without corrective action, no one is held accountable."

One of the bigger culprits in wasteful spending is the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

The atrocities include:

-$3.1 million in reimbursements to the Federal Highway Administration for DOT for not meeting quality standards for Route 195 construction.

-$750,000 that the state paid to a Wickford Junction shopping center to settle a breach of contract lawsuit. The Providence Journal called it “a few more dollars to the cost of Rhode Island's underutilized Wickford Junction train station.”

-$195,000 in salaries for three DOT employees paid during a five-and-a-half month leave.

$383,000 “and counting” in salaries DOT paid to staff transferred to other agencies

-$381,000 in uncollected overpayments to the Cardi Corporation and D’Ambra Contruction that DOT recently reimbursed the Federal Highway Administration for.

-$154,000 for consultants to discuss alternatives to barriers on the I-Way bridge in 2013. The bridge used temporary barriers after a crash revealed the railings were not properly installed and could potentially allow large vehicles to break through and fall into the river.

-$1.3 million in “unnecessary overtime”

-$360,000 in “newly invested positions”

There’s a good chance more wasteful spending is lurking in the shadows. For that purpose the lawmakers have created a hotline and email address for the public to contact.

But the story of taxpayers’ woes does not end there.

Rhode Islanders pay a 7 percent sales tax, more than 1 percent over the national average (5.95 percent) and the third highest cigarette tax at $3.50.

Worst of all, they fork out the 11th highest money at the pump, paying a 33-cent gas tax. Now taxpayers know a good chunk of that money is being sent into oblivion by their friends at the Rhode Island DOT.

If the state was more transparent on how it spends the budget, more officials could be held accountable for these instances of government waste.

But surely the tiny state with not-so-tiny taxes could break the record of $6.9 mil in wasteful spending. That total could just be the beginning of wasteful spending, the Republican lawmakers hint. 

 

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ATR Joins Opposition to the Online Sales Tax Proposal in Utah

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Posted by Cecelia Mitchell on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 11:10 AM PERMALINK


On Wednesday January 27, 2016 a coalition of 22 organizations, including Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to the Utah State Legislature in opposition to an online sales tax proposal being considered.

The letter described the online sales tax proposal as a “misguided plan (SB 65) sponsored by Senator Harper and championed by Senator Bramble” that “is a nuisance reporting requirement in order to give Utah tax collectors information that they'd then use to collect use tax, and would create host of economic, logistic, and Constitutional problems.” The letter also mentions that the proposal would go against Supreme Court precedent of businesses needing a physical presence in a state in order to collect taxes. Ultimately, an online sales tax would create higher costs for both small businesses and individual sellers.

The coalition letter concludes by reiterating the groups’ opposition to “efforts to impose tax collection and reporting requirements on businesses without a physical presence in the state, including measures like SB 65 and others like it.” To download the letter, click here. The full text of the letter can also be found below. 

Dear Utah State legislator:

On behalf of our organizations and the millions of citizens we represent, we write in strong opposition to the online sales tax proposal currently being considered in the Utah state legislature. This misguided plan (SB 65) is a nuisance reporting requirement in order to give Utah tax collectors information that they’d then use to collect use tax, and would create host of economic, logistic, and Constitutional problems.

Allowing states to assert tax authority on businesses outside their borders is also constitutionally suspect and practically unwise. It’s constitutionally suspect because the interstate commerce clause exists precisely to empower Congress to prevent such activities and because Supreme Court precedent underscores the importance of physical presence. It’s practically unwise because it would subject Utah businesses to the tax collectors of states that don’t share its generally solid conservative governance, like California, New York, and Illinois.

Despite proponents’ claim to the contrary, online sales tax would impose high costs of compliance on businesses, especially small businesses and individual sellers. Keeping constantly-changing rates, bases, and collection methodologies, would be very challenging for remote sellers, and may even prevent some from selling to Utah consumers. This is a much higher collection standard than bricks-andmortar sellers, which are only required to collect at the rate of their physical location.

We oppose efforts to impose tax collection and reporting requirements on businesses without a physical presence in the state, including measures like SB 65 and others like it.

Sincerely,

Evelyn Everton, Utah State Director
Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform

Wayne Brough, PhD, Chief Economist and VP for Research
FreedomWorks

Lisa Nelson, CEO
The Jeffersonian Project, an affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council

Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

Andrew Moylan, Executive Director and Senior Fellow
R Street Institute

George David Banks, Executive Vice President
American Council for Capital Formation

Sean Noble, President
American Encore

Peter J. Thomas, Chairman
Americans for Constitutional Liberty

Norm Singleton, President
Campaign For Liberty

Timothy H. Lee, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs
Center for Individual Freedom

Tom Brinkman Jr., Chairman
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST)

Jessica Melugin, Adjunct Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Jonathan Haines, Director Federalism
In Action

George Landrith, President
Frontiers of Freedom

Andrew Clark, President
Generation Opportunity

Mario H. Lopez, President
Hispanic Leadership Fund

Seton Motley, President
Less Government

Daniel Garza, Executive Director
The LIBRE Initiative

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Judson Phillips, Founder
Tea Party Nation

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WASTE ALERT: Pentagon Loses $800 Million in Failed Afghanistan Program

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 11:10 AM PERMALINK


The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported last week that the Department of Defense could not explain the failure of its $800 million taxpayer-funded budget implemented by the Pentagon with the goal of producing economic growth and stabilization in Afghanistan.

“Over the past two years, SIGAR has received more complaints of waste, fraud, and abuse relating to TFBSO activities than for any other organization operating in Afghanistan,” Alexander Bronstein, a SIGAR representative, noted during a brief to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.  

The report stated that the project did not produce the necessary goals of the project due to several unnecessary problems and repeated mistakes.

“A lack of strategic direction and inconsistent management resulted in a scattershot approach to economic development,” Bronstein stated, “the program’s director Paul Brinkley told SIGAR that he approved programs without knowing what they would cost.”

Since 2009, Congress appropriated nearly $823 million to the program until funding ceased in September 2015. All program operations ended on March 30, 2015.

Another task force displayed further Pentagon corruption. This project examined by SIGAR originally intended to build a $3 million gas station in Afghanistan ended up actually spending $43 million in construction and “overhead” costs from 2011-2014. SIGAR released this information in a 2015 congressional hearing.

"At a time of growing threats and constrained defense budgets, this kind of mismanagement is simply unacceptable, and I look forward to hearing from the Pentagon on what specific steps it will take to prevent such an egregious waste of tax dollars in the future," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) stated.

This is yet again a ridiculous example of unchecked waste in Pentagon spending. Failure to correctly distribute a multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded budget displays the necessity of auditing the such an organization. Without thoroughly examining the allocations of the Department of Defense, there will continue to be massive corruption in spending, and the American taxpayer will remain abused.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist advocated for a Pentagon audit, stating that “All departments of the United States Government are audited--except the Pentagon.  This is not acceptable.  If the management of the Pentagon cannot pass an audit--get new management.” 

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Judicial Watch: Obamacare Website Launched Despite Security Official’s Warnings

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Posted by Sarah Feldpausch on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, 9:38 AM PERMALINK


 The federal Obamacare website launched in 2013 without authorization to operate and against the judgment of security agency officials.  This left millions of Americans that enrolled on Heathcare.gov vulnerable to possible fraudulent activity – risks that continue to this day for the more than 6.5 million federal enrollees. Although the Obama administration knew about the security risks, the site was launched anyway. 

To determine the safety of Healthcare.gov, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), against the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain all records related to security. This came after HHS officials failed to comply with requests in 2013 for these documents. 

The FOIA request found countless problems in the initial months of exchange which verify the administration’s knowledge of risks:

September 21, 2013- The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Information Security officer, Tom Schankweiler, expressed concern to the Healthcare.gov project manager Henry Choa stating there was 17 initial “moderate” security issues and two “high” security issues within the Obamacare website. These concerns included issues with contractors, staff shortages, and software malfunctions. This resulted in CMS Security Officer, Teresa Fryer, denying Healthcare.gov the authorization to operate.

September 30, 2013- Just one day before the site’s launch, a private contractor testing the security of Healthcare.gov found that the site did not have the proper ability to handle “specially crafted messages – warning that this would likely cause the site to crash and furthered the lack of security.

October 1, 2013- Healthcare.gov launched even though it was not authorized to operate by government IT security officers. As a result, the website crashed on day one as millions of Americans tried in vain to sign up for healthcare.

November 6, 2013- The chief of technology officer of CMS was reminded that Healthcare.gov was in service without the authorization to operate – This posed a serious issue that “represents a high risk to the agency”.

November 6, 2013- An email correspondence between a CMS security testing officer and a federal programmer for the site, there detailed a warning: “it is possible for anyone to run a brute force attack against Healthcare.gov to obtain the results of their eligibility.” This meant that personal information of enrollees such as household income, social security numbers, wage and tax statements, home and mailing addresses, was at risk.

In the months following, the Obama Administration contracted various groups in an attempt to remedy the quality assurance issues of Healthcare.gov. Despite spending a further $2.14 billion in taxpayer dollars, they failed to fix some of the most serious security concerns. 

Two years later, and after persistent and detailed warnings were directed to administration officials, Healthcare.gov was hacked by an outside source.

This latest news comes after multiple alarms were raised regarding the site’s safety measures including the ability of Healthcare.gov to safeguard personal documents and legitimacy of citizenship. Today, the site continues its service without “authorization to operate” from agency information security. Anyone currently enrolled on the Obamacare website may be subject to these risks. 

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Tax Foundation: Hillary Tax Hikes to Cost More Than 300,000 Jobs

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, 4:41 PM PERMALINK


Hillary Clinton’s tax proposals will lead to lower wages, less jobs, and will reduce GDP, according to a recently released analysis by the Tax Foundation. In addition, her plan to date will likely fall hundreds of billions short of raising the revenue she hopes. The study was authored by Kyle Pomerleau and Michael Schuyler.

According to the analysis, Clinton’s proposals will increase federal revenue by $191 billion over the next decade, far below the more than $1 trillion her campaign claims. The lower than advertised revenue is due to the drastically reduced economic output that her tax hikes will cause.

Most notably, Clinton’s proposal to raise capital gains taxes will decrease revenue by as much as $409 billion, when dynamically scored.

In addition, the Tax Foundation estimates Clinton’s proposals will reduce GDP growth by one percent (equivalent to $178 billion based on 2015 GDP), reduce wages by one percent, and cost 311,000 full time jobs.

The Clinton campaign has failed to release specific details for many of her proposals, so it is likely her full list of tax hikes will have an even more drastic effect on the economy.

Because of this, the Tax Foundation’s analysis did not analyze the costs of Clinton’s proposed “Exit tax” on corporate inversions, her undefined business tax reform that her campaign claims will raise $275 billion, and her tax on stock trading.  

The Tax Foundation’s estimates of Clinton’s tax hike proposals can be found below:

Tax

Cost (over ten years)

Enact "Buffett Rule" 30 Percent Minimum Tax on Millionaires

$209 Billion

4 Percent Surtax on Taxpayers with Incomes over $5 Million

$95 Billion

Restore Estate Tax to 2009 Parameters

$76 Billion

Eliminate Deduction for Reinsurance Premiums Paid by Businesses

$2 Billion

Cap the Tax Value of Itemized Deductions at 28 Percent

$218 Billion

Adjusts the Schedule for
Long-Term Capital Gains

-$409 Billion

Total

$191 Billion

 

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R Street Institute Grades 50 US Cities on Transportation Regulations

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, 10:01 AM PERMALINK


In R Street Institute’s new study “Ridescore 2015: Hired Driver Rules in U.S. Cities” researchers Andrew Moylan and Zach Graves evaluate the regulatory environments for vehicle-for-hire services in 50 of the largest U.S. cities. The study is the first to compare different policies following the emergence of transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft.  

Despite some cities originally adopting a “ban first, ask questions later strategy”, the findings in Ridescore 2015 point towards “consistent, albeit modest, improvement. Of the 50 cities in our analysis, 29 improved their scores this year, while only one earned a significant double digit drop.”

A city earns a score between 0-100 based on how it regulates TNCs, taxis and limo services:

“When all three subgrades are combined, it yields an overall ‘Ridescore’ for each city that approximates the friendliness of its transportation regulation. Forty percent of this score is derived from a city’s treatment of TNCs, 40 percent from its approach to taxi regulation, and 20 percent from its limo rules”

TNC regulations are judged based on answers to the following three questions:

           1) Can TNCs operate legally within the city?

           2) How hostile is the city’s regulatory framework for TNCs?

           3) Are the city’s insurance requirements disproportionately high?

30 out of 50 cities improved their TNC score “owing to the proliferation of largely reasonable ridesharing bills across the country” leading the researchers to say “it’s not unreasonable to project that every state will have a statute on the books by the end of 2016.”

Seattle is the only city to decrease its TNC score by double digits:

“The city that saw the biggest drop in its TNC-friendliness score was Seattle, which fell 17 points from 100.0 to 83.0. The Emerald City was a success story last year… Unfortunately, that success was undermined this year with the city’s subsequent imposition of a questionable “knowledge test” for TNC drivers, new fees on all TNC rides, and a nascent effort to unionize drivers for the first time. Combined with the city’s previous efforts (later vacated) to cap the total number of TNC drivers to just 150 (in a city with a population of more than 650,000) Seattle received a 15-point deduction for hostility… Seattle’s final score put them 38th nationwide in TNC friendliness, after placing first last year.”

In contrast, regulations for taxis remained almost completely unchanged:

“Unfortunately, successful efforts to craft and implement appropriate TNC regulations across the country have not, to date, generally been accompanied by commensurate efforts to liberalize the often-onerous rules governing taxi markets. Cities’ median score for taxi friendliness in this year’s report was 75.0, nearly unchanged from the 74.7 we recorded last year.”

The same is true for limos:

“Much as in the taxi-friendliness category, the picture of limo friendliness is little changed from last year. In 22 cities, there was no change in score, while six others saw changes of less than one full point. Another 19 cities saw modest movements of less than 10 points, generally reflecting small changes on two components that measure insurance requirements. As a result, both the average score and standard deviation are essentially unchanged from 2014.”

The study is an invaluable resource for tracking nationwide responses to the emergence of ridesharing platforms.  The researchers hope the analysis can “provide state, county and city lawmakers with a road map to a system of simple, fair and modest regulation that will allow transportation services of all types, including those not yet envisioned, to flourish.”

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