TX Gov. Abbott on Prop1: “The Game Is Not Over”

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 4:26 PM PERMALINK

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is prepared to override Austin City Council’s decision to impose FBI fingerprint-based background checks on ridesharing drivers. In an interview with CNBC, Gov. Abbott said:

"The issue's not over…Republicans in the Texas Legislature have already raised proposals coming up in the next session to override the Austin vote."

The Austin City Council decided to shake down Uber and Lyft by imposing a raft of onerous regulations on the platforms and their driver partners. Since then, there has been a shortage of transportation options and Austinites have had to wait in long lines for taxis, not to mention the thousands of Austinites who lost their part time jobs.

 “I'd just say the game is not over. It's halftime, and we'll see what happens in the second half.”

The Texas state legislature and Gov. Abbott can override the Austin City Council by enacting a statewide framework that prevents cities and municipalities from regulating ridesharing.


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The Modest Proposal Blog

You can hardly call 17% turnout representative of the will of the people. The underlying regs are dumb and voters voted as much against Uber/Lyft tactics as they did for the regs. And now that people actually know what the regs mean, most are against them (even those who opposed Prop 1). The Council should fix this, not the state. But stupid begets stupid, and as bad as this would be, I'd say we've earned it with our total stupidity all around on this issue. Shame on

Rick Ford

"Drunk driving is back?" Drunk driving was never gone, sorry to say. The numbers don't even support the claims that these two private companies somehow singlehandedly solved our very serious drunk driving problem.

Chris Hastey

Governor Abbott needs to learn to respect the will of the voters - it was the local residents and citizens of Austin who voted on this, not City Council or the Mayor.
The Citizens of Austin made this decision and the Governor owes it to those citizens to respect the will of their vote instead of selling out to Uber/Lyft lobbyists.

Maryland Stands for Citizens with New Civil Asset Forfeiture Law

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 3:58 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform congratulates Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for passing sweeping provisions to end civil asset forfeiture yesterday. The bill, SB 161, was introduced by Senator Mike Hough (R-Frederick), among others, and marks a major victory for property rights advocates.

Maryland’s effort to end asset forfeiture comes as Congress continues to grapple with the issue. Yesterday, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) introduced the DUE PROCESS Act which adds protections for innocent property owners and ensuring that property owners can contest wrongful seizures. It requires the government to give property back to owners and makes it easier for them to be heard in court. By allowing property owners to an initial hearing, the DUE PROCESS Act gives owners an opportunity to physically retrieve their confiscated property early in the process if it was not lawfully seized. It also places a higher burden of proof on the federal government, further benefiting property owners.

Unfortunately, it does not address equitable sharing, a method by which local law enforcement can avoid state restrictions by using more lenient federal forfeiture rules.

Hogan’s actions highlight a clear problem facing Maryland. According to the Institute for Justice’s Policing for Profit report, Maryland’s civil asset forfeiture laws, “suffer from a troubling lack of transparency: Agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures.” Also, the burden of proof in Maryland it was the duty of the property owner to prove the innocence of his property rather than having the government prove the guilt of the accused.

The Maryland reform joins 9 states who reformed their asset forfeiture laws, noted by the Center for Public Integrity. 11 more bills are currently pending in different 7 states.

It is clear that the concept of civil asset forfeiture is damaging to the property rights of all Americans. Not only does it allow law enforcement to seize property without a warrant, but it does not require that they prove why they took it or if criminal activity occurred. Legislators around the country are beginning to notice.

ATR applauds Maryland lawmakers and Hogan for championing the rights of innocent Marylanders. 

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Norquist: “Reforming the Justice System Actually Makes Us Tougher on Crime”

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Posted by Krista Chavez on Friday, May 20th, 2016, 1:58 PM PERMALINK

On Wednesday, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon released an op-ed in the Washington Examiner discussing the past week’s developments on congressional criminal justice reform.

Several notable tough-on-crime organizations endorsed the Senate’s Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) this past week: The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs' Association, Concerned Veterans of America, and the National District Attorneys Association.

These endorsements come at a time when criminal justice reform is becoming more relevant in the Senate after months of negotiations with policymakers and stakeholders.

Furthermore, Norquist and Brandon stated,

“The problem with our current excessive sentences for lower-level offenders is simple: Rather than deter crime, they create more crime, according to the best research we have.

America is not opening the cell doors. More like giving judges and prosecutors a carrot to get the cooperation of lower-level offenders and be better prepared to go after the Pablo Escobars of the world…

The Senate's bill would implement recidivism-reduction programming similar to that established in numerous red states to make sure the people leaving prison stay out of prison. Prisoners are encouraged to participate by allowing them to earn time credits that they can use to spend a specific portion of their sentence in either home confinement or community supervision.

That means that after successfully reducing their likelihood of committing more crimes, inmates are then transferred to other forms of supervision where they will take up fewer public resources and have an easier time reintegrating as productive members of society.

These reforms put inmates to work. That isn't being soft on crime. America is getting ready to get even tougher on it.

Little wonder that the conservatives that first came up with these reforms in the states won election after election. So much so that they didn't stop at one round of reforms: Texas is still passing reforms after starting nearly 10 years ago, only now it's doing so with the lowest crime rates since 1968.

There are important conservative priorities being pursued in Congress, and justice reform is one of them. The naysayers are becoming ever fewer and more isolated.”

To read the entire editorial, click here

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Time for the Fourth Amendment to Join the 21st Century

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Posted by Daniel Savickas on Thursday, May 19th, 2016, 4:56 PM PERMALINK

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendment Act (S 356), authored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was brought before the Judiciary Committee by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley’s decision is an incredibly important one in defending the Constitution in a world with almost unlimited technological capacities that can undermine the privacy and freedoms of American citizens, and should be commended.


In the age of increasingly capable technology, it is important to make sure that our laws, and our constitutional rights, keep up with the evolving nature of the digital world. The Senate, as well as the House, with their Email Privacy Act (HR 699) have helped introduce effective pieces of legislation to ensure that the 4th Amendment Rights of American citizens are protected and national security interests are conserved.


The bill is an expansion of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which extended 4th Amendment protections to emails. In the 30 years, since ECPA was passed, many advances have been made that render it obsolete. Governmental authorities have used the language of the previous law to violate the privacy of today’s Americans, claiming that new, improved technology is technically not protected.


This naked example of overreach threatens the United States economy, and the ability of US companies to compete. In a world where much data is stored in “The Cloud,” the government is hoping to use the aforementioned loopholes in ECPA to access that information without confronting the owner of the data. This violates that citizen’s or business’s due process rights. It also has the effect of harming small businesses who do not have the financial resources to comply with the legal complexities that entails. It also deters investment in the United States by signaling that company data will not be protected, and risks losing US business and jobs to foreign competitors.


Cloud computing is growing into a huge industry and is projected to be worth about $241 billion by the year 2020. US businesses can save both time and money moving to the Cloud. Not only will continuously violating the rights of its citizens prompt European companies to exploit our weak record on privacy to draw business away from the US, it will decrease competition within the US, as many companies will fade away in the face of these regulations. Supporting ECPA reform in the Senate will send a strong message that the US supports its growing industries to the rest of the world.


Concerns about security interests can also be assuaged. Neither S 356, nor its House companion, amends any of the parameters of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA deals with issues of national security and terrorism investigations. The government’s ability to bring justice to these cases will not be altered in any way. Additionally, many domestic law enforcement officials have testified that these new reforms in S 356 will not hinder the abilities of local law enforcement at all.


Greater technological advances make it far easier for the government to infringe on our rights. The protection of our rights is not a partisan issue and the House displayed that in its rare, unanimous decision to pass this much-needed reform. In order to ensure that as technology advances, the Constitution does not fall by the wayside. It is time for the Senate to expand on Senator Grassley’s important measure to bring this before the Committee, and pass this legislation for all Americans.


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The Concerned Conservative

Our privacy laws predate the establishment of the Internet; no wonder we Americans are getting skrewed by unethical data mining.

Passage of PROMESA Will Prevent Taxpayer Bailout of Puerto Rico

Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Thursday, May 19th, 2016, 2:00 PM PERMALINK

Puerto Rico recently defaulted on $400 million in debt and will soon default on another $2 billion. The island is $72 billion in the red, and has no realistic way to pay this back following a decade long recession and years of mismanagement.

This fiscal crisis will only get worse, and while this may seem like Puerto Rico’s problem alone, the island is a territory of the United States. That means that Congress has an obligation under Article IV, Section 3 of the constitution to act. Even absent this constitutional duty, the island’s 3.5 million residents are all U.S. citizens who can (and will) move to other parts of the country if the island's economy is left to collapse.

The way to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is by passing the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). Yesterday, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced H.R. 5278, an updated version of the bill that ensures obligations under the Puerto Rican constitution are respected and makes certain that the oversight board has the authority necessary to enact comprehensive fiscal plans to address the years of mismanagement. Importantly, PROMESA addresses the fiscal crisis in a way that prevents a taxpayer bailout and does not retroactively grant the island super chapter 9 bankruptcy.

PROMESA creates an Oversight Board modeled off the success of the fiscal control board created for the District of Columbia in 1995. This independent board, of which a majority is appointed by Republican leaders in Congress, will make sure financial statements are produced, fiscal reforms are implemented, and budgets balanced to ensure Puerto Rico regains access to capital markets, and the island’s economy is stabilized for decades to come. 

PROMESA does not provide for a taxpayer-funded bailout. The legislation has ZERO budgetary impact. Even expenses associated with setting up and operating the Oversight Board are paid by Puerto Rico, not the federal government. If Congress fails to pass PROMESA they will be forced into a taxpayer funded bailout because the situation will become so unmanageable.

PROMESA does not grant Puerto Rico chapter 9 bankruptcy or “super-chapter 9.” The legislation does not amend federal bankruptcy law, and under this bill, it would not be possible for any state to claim this creates a precedent allowing a state to declare bankruptcy on their obligations.

Instead, PROMESA borrows several restructuring concepts from more than 100 years of bankruptcy precedent and law including an explicit “best interest of creditors” test that ensures private property rights are protected.

While this legislation addresses Puerto Rico’s immediate fiscal crisis in a responsible way, some have called for the need for pro-growth provisions to ensure strong, long-term economic growth. PROMESA contains some pro-growth provisions like minor minimum wage relief, more reforms in the future would be welcome to help encourage economic growth.

One impediment to economic growth is that Puerto Rico is treated as a foreign country for federal tax purposes. As a result, American companies face double taxation in Puerto Rico, yet foreign competitors operating in Puerto Rico do not. Allowing free flow of capital between Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. would spur investment, create more jobs, and increase wages for the territory. While the legislation does not directly address this, PROMESA does establish a Congressional growth task force that will recommend long-term, fiscal reforms.

The bottom line is that PROMESA addresses the Puerto Rico debt crisis in a responsible, pro-taxpayer way by avoiding a federal bailout, ensuring property rights are protected, and forcing San Juan to get its fiscal house back in order. Members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting this important legislation. 

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Let Puerto Rico file for bankruptcy and let Puerto Ricans live with the consequences of the decisions of the politicians that they elected over and over again.


TKList ---- THAT is Exactly how it works in MY WORLD... You ( they ) don't get to fcku it up & then turn to someone else, hand them the paperwork, and tell THEM ( us ) to "fix" it...

ATR Congratulates Kentucky Primary Winners

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Posted by Alec DiFruscia on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 2:36 PM PERMALINK

On behalf of Americans of Tax Reform, we would like to congratulate the following incumbents and candidates on their success in the Kentucky primary. Each has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to oppose higher taxes.


  •   Sen. Rand Paul
  •   Sen. Mitch McConnell*
  •   Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02)
  •   Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04)
  •   Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05)
  •   Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06)


  • James Comer (KY-01)

*Sen. McConnell was not up for reelection last night but has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge 

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Norquist Urges Tax Equity for Cannabis Dispensary Employers

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, 12:47 PM PERMALINK

It's a basic principle of taxation that the code should not pick winners and losers or discriminate unfairly against certain classes of taxpayers. 

That principle is being violated today for a newly legalized industry--cannabis dispensaries.  Unlike any other business type in the country, these firms and these firms alone are not free to deduct "ordinary and necessary" business expenses like wages, equipment, and rent.

In an attempt to deny tax deductions connected to the illegal drug income of street dealers, Congress accidentally imposed a gross receipts tax on legal cannabis dispensaries a generation later.

At a press conference last week, ATR President Grover Norquist called for action to address this discrepancy. Norquist was joined by members of Congress including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.)

This problem can be addressed by passing H.R. 1855 and S.987, the “Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2015,” sponsored by Congressman Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). ATR supports this legislation – it is good tax policy and should be cosponsored by all Members of Congress.

There is no reason why the tax code should deny business expenses to legitimate businesses established under state law. The result is an arbitrary and punitive situation where legal employers face very high average effective tax rates that Congress never sought to impose on businesses.


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Prohibition has finally run its course; the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, users and non-users worldwide, have been destroyed or severely disrupted; many countries that were once shining beacons of liberty and prosperity have, through scientific ignorance and blind political fanaticism, become repressive smoldering heaps of toxic hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency. It is now the duty of every last one of us to insure that the people who are responsible for this shameful situation are not simply left in peace to enjoy the wealth and status that their despicable actions have, until now, afforded them. Former and present Prohibitionists should not be allowed to remain untainted or untouched by the unconscionable acts that they have viciously committed on their fellow human beings. They have provided us with neither safe communities nor safe streets. We should provide them with neither a safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains nor the liberty to repeat such a similar atrocity.


Well said!

ATR Supports Separation of Powers Restoration Act

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist today expressed support for H.R. 4768 and S. 2724, The Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), legislation introduced by Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). 

This important legislation ends the needless deference to unelected bureaucrats established by the Supreme Court under the Chevron ruling and reasserts basic constitutional rights to separated powers and judicial review.

The full letter can be found below or by clicking here.

Dear Congressman Ratcliffe and Senator Hatch,

I write in support of H.R. 4768 and S. 2724, The Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), legislation to rein in federal agencies and unelected bureaucrats.

As you know, when Congress writes vague or ambiguous laws, courts are required to defer to an executive branch’s interpretation of such law. This was established by the Supreme Court’s 1984 ruling in Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council.

Over time, this has allowed federal bureaucrats to interpret statutes with broad leeway. Because the courts generally defer to their interpretation, it essentially gives regulatory agencies legislative, executive, and judicial authority over laws at the expense of the American people and democratically elected members of Congress.

SOPRA addresses this issue by requiring courts to conduct a “de novo” review of all relevant questions of law, instead of leaving this interpretation up to federal bureaucrats.

For the past seven years, the Obama administration has run riot, ignoring Congress and the will of the people again and again. Bureaucrats have continually made up the rules as they go along when it comes to implementing and interpreting laws, with little or no consequence.

SOPRA will end this needless deference to federal regulators, reassert Congressional responsibility over federal law, and ensure Americans maintain their basic constitutional rights to separated powers and judicial review.

As such, all members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this important legislation.


Grover G. Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Congress Should Block Obama's Last Minute Regulatory Flurry

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, 8:00 AM PERMALINK

For the past seven years, the Obama administration has run riot, implementing countless regulations that cost taxpayers billions of dollars and created burdens for families, small business, and corporations alike. 

According to the American Action Forum, in the first half of this year the administration has proposed or finalized regulations totaling more than $85 billion in total costs, in addition to 44 million paperwork burden hours.

Given this flurry of regulatory activity, Congress should pass H.R. 4956, the End Executive Overreach Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.). to halt the implementation of countless regulations that the administration is trying to complete before leaving office. ATR President Grover Norquist recently sent a letter in support of Rep. Price's legislation.

Immediately after passage, the End Executive Overreach Act would defund new regulations by eliminating access to any federal funds, fees, or other resources used for implementation. The legislation would also prohibit the administration from proposing any new executive orders or agency rules until President Obama is out of office on January 21, 2017. As a result, passage of this legislation would stop many damaging regulations from being implemented including:

DoL Fiduciary Rule: In April, the Department of Labor released the final fiduciary rule, a regulation spanning more than a thousand pages that will curtail the ability of financial advisors to give advice to IRA and 401(k) holders. It is estimated that the rule will result in 7 million IRA holders being priced out of investment advice and between 300,000 and 400,000 fewer IRAs will be opened every year as a result of the rule. All told, this regulation could mean more than $80 billion in lost savings.

Treasury Debt-Equity Regulations: Proposed under section 385 of the tax code, the debt-equity regulation grants the administration the authority to reclassify debt as equity for federal tax purposes. This regulation will likely affect every American business operating overseas and may have a chilling effect on investment.  Implementing such a broadly encompassing regulation will cut off commonly used business management practices and make it even more difficult for American businesses to compete in the global economy.

EPA Ozone Rule: Last year the EPA lowered the compliant level of ozone under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) from 75 to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The EPA’s own estimates show the tightened regulation would cost $1.4 billion annually with little projected environmental benefits. The lowered standard comes as states are still working to implement the EPA’s 2008 ozone standard of 75 ppb, which was just released in 2015, a delay of almost seven years. Once fully implemented, this new ozone standard will result in a significant economic burden to states and local communities and will see increased compliance issues and costs under the existing ozone regulation.  

It is time Congress reasserts its power as a co-equal branch of government. Passing the End Executive Overreach Act will block the implementation of many damaging Obama regulations and should be supported by all members of Congress. ​


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Tax Reform Should Promote Competition, Fairness, Equity, and Growth

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, 7:00 AM PERMALINK

While there is consensus that the existing tax code is unacceptable, there remains disagreement about what the new product should look like. 

ATR today released its views on tax reform. Broadly, tax reform should promote three principles:

  • Make America Competitive Again
  • Promote fairness and simplicity
  • Promote economic growth


First, tax reform must ensure that businesses of all sizes can compete. As the rest of the world aggressively updates their tax codes to compete in the global economy, the U.S. code remains unchanged, forcing American businesses to invert or be acquired by foreign competitors. Tax reform must fix this competitiveness problem and stop needlessly punishing American business to the benefit of our foreign competitors.

Second, tax reform ought to create a code that is equitable and simple. In its current form, the tax code is too complex for families and small businesses and unfairly places burdensome compliance costs on those least equipped to deal with it.

Third, tax reform must promote economic growth and encourage innovation. The status quo of stagnant growth is unacceptable, and tax reform should ensure that anti-growth provisions are swept away and replaced with a system that drives job creation and higher wages.

Beyond these three principles, there are specific provisions in the code that tax reform should change or remove, and others that must not be added. Priorities should include:

  • Reduce business tax rates
  • Move to a territorial system of taxation
  • Tax all businesses equitably
  • No carbon tax
  • Full business expensing
  • Repeal or reduce the capital gains tax
  • Encourage tax-preferred savings accounts
  • Repeal the Death Tax
  • No government run tax preparation
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • No VAT
  • Repeal Obamacare Tax Hikes


To read more, click here. 

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Steve Godenich

Edgar Feige's Automatic Payment Transaction (APT) tax accomplishes the above and more. See 2012 FRBNY Intraday Liquidity Flows and usgovernmentspending.com for more recent data to verify that even lower tax rates are possible in 2016 from increased flows since 1996. Combine it with a wealth tax of 1% to discourage hording by the idle and further reduce the APT tax rate,... say .000625/counterparty on 2015 flows of $4300tn and 1% on 2009 assets of $188tn to meet 2016 government expenditures of $7.3tn. Adjust according to liquidity flows and asset valuations. I would add the stipulation of keeping debt/gdp < 50% unless Congress declared a full-fledged, all out war which nobody would like.

Sensible Centrist

Most of these recommendations for tax reform make good sense, but two are divorced from reality. First, a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be far more efficient at reducing emissions than regulation, thus saving consumers dollars. Second, if it is revenue neutral, it offers the revenue source to pay for tax reform. Third. it won't hurt the poor, as claimed, if a portion of it is redirected as a lump sum rebate. Indeed, the poor end up better off. And it would end up being pro-growth, because if designed to encourage and incentivize global adoption with a border adjustment, the US ends up winning as we have the lowest carbon energy sources. Plus, it removes the indirect subsidy on fossil fuels which currently don't pay for their external costs. As to the second, a VAT would make excellent sense if also revenue neutral or used to reduce taxes on income. It incentivizes exports as they are exempted. Without it our exporters are at a competitive disadvantage. And, contrary to what is stated, it typically does appear on consumer invoices, so consumers do know what they are paying. It has to because tourists get most of it refunded when they leave the country with goods purchased. Have you never been to Europe and gone shopping?