Davis Hendricks

Democratic Socialists Gain Comrades in Office

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Posted by Davis Hendricks on Friday, November 13th, 2020, 5:37 PM PERMALINK

This election cycle, many American voters reacted poorly to socialist groups trapsing around city streets. In a post-election caucus call, Virginia Democrat incumbent congresswoman Abigail Spanberger expressed frustration after narrowly surviving a challenging race, she declared “we do not need to use the word socialist or socialism ever again.”

It will be hard to grant her wish however, as the ranks of Democratic Socialist party-endorsed elected officials just grew again. Here are the Democrats who also were endorsed by the DSA.

2020 Winners

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, New York, U.S. Representative District 14 (Democratic Party, Working Families Party)

Julia Salzar, New York, State Senate district 18 (Democratic Party, Working Families Party)

Rashiba Tlaib, Michigan, U.S. Representative District 13 (Democratic Party)

Jabari Brisport, New York, State Senate District 25 (Democratic Party, Working Families Party)

Marcela Mitaynes, New York, State Assembly District 51 (Democratic Party, Working Families Party)

Phara Souffrant, New York, State Assembly District 57

Zohran Mamdani, New York, State Assembly District 36

Jamaal Bowman, New York, Congressional District 16

Dean Preston, San Francisco, California, Board of Supervisors, District 5

Jovanka Beckles, Alameda County, California, Transit Board Ward 1

Konstantine Anthony, Burbank, California, City Council

Nithya Raman, Los Angeles, California, City Council District 4

Janeese Lewis George, D.C., City Council Ward 4

Jen McEwen, Minnesota, State Senate District 7

Cori Bush, Missouri, Congressional District 1

Danny Tenenbaum, Montana, State Representative District 95

Nikil Saval, Pennsylvania, State Senate District 1

Elizabeth Fiedler, Pennsylvania, State House District 184

Rick Krajewski, Pennsylvania, State House District 188

David Morales, Rhode Island, State House District 7

Greg Casar, Austin City, Texas, City Council District 4

 

2019 Winners

Dean Preston for San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 5

Jackie Goldberg for Los Angeles School Board

Carlos Ramirez–Rosa for Chicago Alderman, 35th Ward

Jeanette B. Taylor for Chicago Alderman, 20th Ward

Byron Sigcho Lopez for Chicago Alderman, 25th Ward

Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez for Chicago Alderman, 33rd Ward

Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler for Cambridge City Council, At-Large

Kendra Brooks for Philadelphia City Council At-Large

Michael Payne for Charlottesville City Council, At-Large

Photo Credit: nrkbeta

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Washington Advisory Vote 32 Will Show Public Opinion on New Bag Tax Law

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Posted by Davis Hendricks on Thursday, October 29th, 2020, 3:39 PM PERMALINK

The people of Washington have the opportunity on November 3rd to tell state lawmakers that they do not support efforts to raise taxes. Advisory Vote 32, which will appear before all Washington voters on the general election ballot, allows them to advise the legislature to either “maintain” or “repeal” a recently enacted bill that will soon impose a new statewide bag tax.

Advisory Votes in Washington are non-binding measures that give taxpayers the chance to share their opinions about recently enacted tax laws. However, they do not guarantee any actions will be taken.

AV 32 will show how the public feels about Senate Bill 5323, a new law that, on January 1, 2021, will force retailers to collect a “pass-through charge” of 8-cents per bag for recycled paper and reusable film plastic carryout bags. On January 1, 2026, that tax will increase to 12 cents per bag for film plastic bags. SB 5323 also bans retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags.

It is unsurprising that only a handful of states have such bag taxes and/or bans in place. A closer analysis of these misguided policies shows that bag taxes and bans result in a number of negative consequences, while failing to accomplish their ostensible goal of helping the environment.

Los Angeles experienced the adverse economic consequences associated with excessive bag regulations. Following the enactment of a bag ban there, Los Angeles retail stores decreased their employment by 10% and saw an average 6% decrease in revenues. A report from the National Center for Policy Analysis, A Survey on the Economic Effects of Los Angeles County’s Plastic Bag Ban, explains: 

“Banning plastic bags reduces employment; provides an unfair advantage to retailers in one geographic area over another; leads to the theft of store shopping carts and shopping baskets; results in customers using more plastic produce bags (thus undercutting the effect of the ban); increases prices for consumers; decreases profit for producers; and decreases economic activity in the area.”

Indeed, the costs of providing more expensive reusable bags are often pushed onto consumers in the form of higher prices or are borne by workers in the form of fewer jobs and lower wages. This is likely already starting to affect the state of Washington.

Taxing the use of reusable paper and film plastic bags, as is currently set to happen in Washington under SB 5323, will only make matters worse. Particularly now, as the people of Washington have already been struggling from months of forced shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus. The last thing they need is to face higher costs at the grocery store due to an 8-cent per bag tax. 

Adding insult to injury, numerous studies have found that efforts such as SB 5323 do not actually help the environment. The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, in a 2018 study, Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags, notes that, “[h]eavier multiple-use carrier bags such as composite and cotton bags obtain the highest environmental impacts across all impact categories.” 

Specifically, the study finds that a polypropylene bag (the most common type of reusable bag) needs to be reused 37 times in order to balance its harmful environmental impact with that of a single-use plastic bag. Further, the study notes that a paper bag would have to be reused 43 times and a cotton bag – which these bans and taxes ultimately hope to force consumers to use – would have to be reused over 7,100 times in order to be considered more environmentally friendly than a single-use plastic bag.

Unfortunately for residents of the Evergreen State, SB 5323 is already taking effect. Single-use plastic bags will be banned at the end of the year, and the tax increases are on schedule to take effect. AV 32 will at least give voters an opportunity to tell lawmakers that they do not like the decision to raise taxes.

Photo Credit: hjl


Ending Sentence Enhancements Is Soft on Taxpayers, Not Soft on Crime

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Posted by Davis Hendricks on Wednesday, October 28th, 2020, 5:13 PM PERMALINK

Next month, Oklahoma voters will decide whether or not to amend the state’s constitution through State Question 805 (SQ 805), which would end sentence enhancements for nonviolent criminals. 

These enhancements are add-ons that can be piled on top of the base sentence, and are often used to terrify defendants into plea deals. They also put people away in Oklahoma for excessive periods of time far beyond the sentencing guidelines for their offense, and most of these are nonviolent drug offenses. Taxpayers pay the price, and public safety does not benefit. 

SQ 805 has come under fire. However, because of what crimes count as violent versus nonviolent. But that is already determined in Oklahoma law, the question simply uses the existing classification list.   

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) recently posted a helpful article available here, that provides a useful reality check:

“In 1984, the legislature, in an effort to fix the problem, passed the Oklahoma Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act. . . It could begin releasing inmates who had served most of their sentence until DOC[capacity] was back below 95%.”

The Act was repealed in 2001 by Gov. Frank Keating after three private prisons were awarded contracts in the state, but the list of violent offenses in the Act is continued in the language of SQ805:

“This is important: the list was originally designed to keep certain offenders from early release. Similarly, SQ 805’s effect on so-called “sentence enhancements” excludes the crimes listed in the statute.” … 

“The naysayers would have you believe that people who commit crimes not on the list will be treated as a first-time offender every time. That is simply untrue. The sentencing range is designed to account for things like criminal history.”

You can read the full article at OCPAthink.org.

Photo Credit: Kevin


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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