Davis Hendricks

Massive Clean Slate Victory in Michigan

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Posted by Davis Hendricks on Friday, September 25th, 2020, 12:55 PM PERMALINK

Thousands of Michiganders will have a chance at a well-deserved fresh start after “clean slate” legislation passed the legislature this week.

The full package of bills will automatically set aside and seal records of many nonviolent, lower-level convictions for former offenders who have proven they can stay on the straight and narrow for five years or more for some offenses. Studies show recidivism is extremely rare after five or more years of good behavior. Nobody with pending charges is eligible.

HB 4980-85 focuses on automatic record-sealing on prior convictions, HB 5120 expunges particular marijuana offenses, and HB 5846-53 concerns suspension of a driver’s license.

The current process for clearing a prior conviction is a tedious and time-consuming task that too few people pursue. The practice of automatically sealing records will reduce costs and boost the number of people who will get their records sealed, and it will increase the likelihood they can find employment, housing, and other necessities.

In addition, the state’s economy can expect to benefit from an increase in income and employment.

Of particular interest, HB 5846-53, introduced in House, ends driver license suspensions on conduct that is not related to driving practices and lowers some traffic penalties from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. License suspension puts people in an awful position of having to choose between risking breaking the law by going to work so they can afford their fines, or losing their job. If their initial offense has nothing to do with safe driving, it does not make sense to suspend their license and potentially send them down a path of escalating offenses.

ATR President Grover Norquist testified in support of Michigan’s “Clean Slate” legislation earlier this summer.

Having a criminal record carries significant collateral consequences that end up making it tougher for people to build a life, and sometimes that leads to them committing more crimes. Michigan has taken big steps to reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and provide a path toward a second chance for people who have proven they deserve it.

Photo Credit: Brian Charles Watson

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NJ Dems Agree on “Millionaire’s Tax”, Biz Surcharge, Continue Digging State’s Grave

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Posted by Davis Hendricks on Friday, September 18th, 2020, 7:59 PM PERMALINK

After stumping on the trail for increased taxes on the wealthy, and pitching a tax hike on upper income brackets multiple times, the Garden State Governor finally gets his way. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin was crucial in securing the deal.

The agreed-upon deal will mean a 20% tax hike for New Jersey residents who earn between $1 million and $5 million. The budget deal will also keep the corporate business tax surcharge around at an even higher rate than before.

These massive tax hikes are bad for many reasons, not the least of which is the clear message they send to these taxpayers and businesses: You’re not welcome in New Jersey.

While there has been a lot of talk from Murphy and others about the pandemic creating the need for tax hikes, the money from the millionaire’s tax hike won’t go to cover any pandemic related gap. The state already got authority to borrow $10 billion and impose a property tax surcharge to cover it – AND revenues are returning faster and higher than Murphy claimed in his revised budget remarks.

(UPDATE) On the positive side, the deal reportedly does NOT include tax hikes on guns, cigarettes, boats, and car services. Given the tax hikes that will take place, however, there won't be a celebration from Garden State taxpayers.

The state has the refusal of political leaders to show any semblance of spending discipline to blame. New Jersey has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and another $100 billion unfunded health benefits, despite being one of the most taxes states in the nation.

With a new, higher millionaire’s tax, New Jersey will see even more people leaving. The state has lost over $41 billion in adjusted gross income over the past two decades, with the number one destination state being Florida (which has no income tax). The Garden State is one of the leading outmigration states year after year.

More high earners leaving means a dwindling tax base, and fewer jobs, all so Governor Murphy can make a short term money grab to put off needed tough decisions.

ATR has been closely monitoring, and opposing the variety of tax hikes Governor Murphy currently favors, including tax and fee hikes on firearms owners, and a financial transactions tax that could lead to the potential departure of various stock exchanges from the state.

Photo Credit: Phil Murphy for Governor - Flickr

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