Emily Leayman

Michigan HB 4344 Amendment Hurts Small Auto Businesses

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, April 29th, 2016, 3:07 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to Michigan legislators Monday:

"On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Michigan, I write today to urge you to reject calls for additional tax increases. After being hit with more than 20 federal tax increases over the last six years, the last thing Michigan taxpayers need is for lawmakers to pile on with further tax increases at the state level.

In addition to rejecting efforts to raise taxes further, it’s also important to avoid protectionist policies that, like tax hikes, reduce your constituents’ available income through increased costs and reduced consumer choice. One example of such protectionism that recently arose in Michigan is an amendment to House Bill 4344 aimed at monopolizing market share for favored companies by limiting competition in the replacement auto parts market.

The amendment at question would effectively prohibit Michigan residents and mechanics from using aftermarket parts on any car newer than six years. This amendment stifles consumer choice, will increase costs, and harm Michigan employers. This amendment is an example of the government picking winners and losers in the private sector. In this case, the winners will be favored corporations with well-heeled lobbyists in Lansing, while the losers will be your constituents who need to replace a part on their car or truck, and small businesses in the aftermarket auto parts industry that are already struggling to cope with the load of costly regulations and higher taxes that have been imposed on them from Washington.

Not only does this protectionist amendment to HB 4344 represent bad policy, it’s also terrible politics. Your constituents have been hit with higher taxes in recent years. I would advise against piling on the recent gas tax increase with legislation that will drive up the cost of vehicle repairs. It’s already bad enough when someone gets in a wreck; do lawmakers really want to add insult to injury by passing legislation that will inflate the cost of vehicle repair at the behest of favored companies? One hopes not.  

Failure to remove this protectionist amendment would result in the establishment of a monopoly in the crash parts market, with negative consequences for consumers and Michigan’s $10.8 billion aftermarket auto parts industry. For these reasons, I urge you to remove this amendment from HB 4344 and if the amendment cannot be removed, I urge you to vote against the bill."

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Meanwhile, in the States...

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Monday, April 11th, 2016, 10:31 AM PERMALINK

Alabama: Gov. Robert Bentley expects Medicaid benefit cuts under legislature’s budget. 

Arkansas: Franklin County likely to ask for sales tax on ballot to build new prison. 

California: Hospital lobbying group collects $8.5 million to extend temporary tax increase. 

Colorado: Legislature passes tax exemptions for aircraft. 

Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislature look to roll back some death fees.

Florida: Business leader’s move from New Jersey to Florida saves hundreds of millions in taxes. 

Idaho: Concerns over transportation funding shortfall raised. 

Indiana: Indiana city considers wheel tax.

Illinois: Legislators to consider gas tax increase for infrastructure.

Iowa:  Proposal to use 2010 sales tax increase for water quality projects gets bipartisan support.

Kansas: New school funding plan could increase property taxes.

Kentucky:  Kentucky legislative leaders to resume budget talks.

Louisiana: No cuts proposed to fix budget deficit.

Maine: Legislators urged to offer tax breaks for natural resource industry. 

Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan avoids confrontation with General Assembly over vetoes.

Minnesota: Legislators discuss tax cuts amidst lower-than-projected surplus.

Mississippi: Mississippi first to reach Tax Freedom Day.

Missouri: Senate approves gas tax hike.

Nebraska: Property tax credit for agriculture advances.

New Jersey: State faces budget shortfall after billionaire leaves. 

New York: General Assembly considers additional tax on carried interest.

North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory recommends 5 percent teach pay raise.

North Dakota: North Dakota ranked one of highest states for Medicare overbilling. 

Ohio: Gov. John Kasich's Medicaid expansion has cost taxpayers $7 billion.

Oklahoma:  Second Oklahoma Internet tax bill makes progress.

Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania capital stock tax is no more.

Rhode Island: Legislature considers tampon sales tax exemption. 

South Dakota: South Dakota and other U.S. states are emerging as a tax haven alongside Switzerland, Caymans.

Tennessee: Bike Walk Tennessee remains opposed to revamp of bill banning gas tax use for bike lanes.

Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert signs education bill to increase early education funding.

West Virginia: Budget talks weigh cuts and taxes.

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Oklahoma Retail Protection Act Is a Burden on Small Businesses

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

Yesterday, Americans for Tax Reform urged Oklahoma legislators to protect small businesses and vote against HB 2531, the Oklahoma Retail Protection Act, in a letter.

The bill, which allows retailers to collect sales tax with online purchases, is one of the measures Oklahoma is considering to fill a $1.3 billion budget shortfall and tax out-of-state retailers. But although larger retailers may be able to comply with the law, it will put a strain on smaller businesses.

The bill cleared an Oklahoma House Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation Monday.

The letter to Oklahoma legislators can be read below:

“HB 2531 is a tax hike on Oklahoma’s small businesses.  It is too burdensome for small businesses to comply, and wrongly includes digital advertising as a part of the “market provider” definition.

This legislation will not protect retailers.  Even if larger companies are able to comply, it will harm small businesses, many of which are run by stay-at-home moms.  Moms who blog or have other webpages typically sell advertising space. When doing business in a state becomes more difficult, advertisers have often decided to cancel ad buys.

Many stay-at-home moms contribute to family income by running a store online.  This legislation not only makes it harder for moms to work from home and comply with an even more complicated tax code, it has other consequences.  As advertisers pull their dollars from the state, Oklahoma’s small business owners and stay-at-home moms will lose advertising revenue, which is often the only income factor for bloggers.

A similar bill in Utah went down in flames because “mommy bloggers” let politicians know how the bill would affect them.  In order encourage economic growth and flexible work environments for families, Oklahoma should table this legislation indefinitely. 

I ask that you vote no on HB 2531, the Oklahoma Retail Protection Act, to protect Oklahoma families.”

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California Regulations Force Taxpayers to Support Ineffective Solar Plant

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, 12:15 PM PERMALINK

Research claims that renewable energy is more cost effective than fossil fuels at producing electricity. But at the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in California, taxpayers are actually losing out on their money.

Ivanpah, the 377-megawatt, world’s largest solar thermal plant located in the Mojave Desert, fell short of production in 2014 and 2015. Managers attributed the shortfall to less sunny weather than expected, but the plant’s problems extend far past weather forecasts.

Despite being owned by three private companies – Google, BrightSource Energy Inc. and NRG Energy – the plant received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy. It is paid four to five times more per-megawatt hour than natural gas plants.

Ironically, the plant burns natural gas for four and a half hours to start each day. This amount of natural gas could generate one quarter of what the solar panels produce all day. The plant also creates a risk to wildlife; within five months, nearly 300 birds were killed from the intense radiation in the plant mirrors.  

Unfortunately, energy regulations prevent taxpayers from funding a more energy efficient plant. Taxpayers are shelling out money for the inefficient plant so utility companies can follow the state mandate on renewable energy.

Established in 2002, California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard required that 20 percent of electricity sales be made by renewable energy. By 2020, the standard will become 33 percent. A 2015 bill mandates that half of retailer sellers and publicly-owned utilities’ energy must be renewable by 2030.

Americans for Tax Reform has supported states that worked to eliminate renewable portfolio standards, like Ohio did in 2014 and North Carolina almost did in 2013. Removing this burdensome regulation ensures taxpayers are only funding the most efficient energy options. 

But when the Ivanpah solar panels are producing 32 percent less than expected, there is much room for taxpayer frustration. The plant defaulted on a contract with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. NRG Energy, which operates the plant, said increased output from February shows the plant is on track to fulfill its obligations to utility companies. California regulators recently approved a deal that the plant meets its obligations to Pacific Gas and Electric Co and pay for past shortfalls by Aug. 1.

The plant’s insistence that it will improve production comes as one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies could go bankrupt. SunEdison has collected $11 billion in debt from developing or acquiring renewable energy products, despite depending heavily on government subsidies. This goes to show even government support cannot help ineffective methods of energy production.

If Ivanpah’s production failures are any indication of how renewable energy performs, California will have trouble meeting its regulation requirements. Unfortunately, taxpayers will pick up the tab. 

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Tax Cuts, Minimum Wage Hike, and Overspending All Part of New York Budget

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016, 2:32 PM PERMALINK

New York’s recent budget deal is one step forward for middle class taxpayers but two steps back for small businesses.

The Empire State is notorious for its high taxes, but in a few years, it will give its middle class a break in the form of a small income tax cut. Small business owners, however, may not see as many savings, as lawmakers agreed to phase in a $15 minimum wage.

Under the proposed budget plan, couples filing jointly and earing $40,000 to $300,000 will see tax rates drop – from the current 6.45 percent to 6.65 percent – to 5.5 percent. The tax cut will begin to be phased in during 2018 and will take more than seven years to be fully implemented.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) said taxpayers would save almost $6.6 billion in four years. At the start, it will benefit 4.4 million taxpayers, reaching 6 million after the full phase-in.

Although Assembly Democrats were in favor of a middle class tax cut, they also wanted a tax hike for higher income taxpayers. Despite pleas from a few wealthy New York millionaires, a permanent “1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness,” which would raise the top income tax rate to nearly 10 percent, is unlikely to pass.

The middle class income tax cuts will come at other costs. Cuomo, who did not include the tax cuts in his January budget proposal, threw support behind the cuts as a bargaining chip for Republican legislators to approve a $15 statewide minimum wage. The legislature seemed to agree Thursday with negotiations.

Making the $15 minimum wage uniform across the whole state remains a sticky issue, as upstate New York does not perform at the same economic level as New York City. As part of the deal, the Big Apple will phase in the increase over three years and Long Island and Westchester County will over six years, beginning Dec. 31. Other counties will implement a $12.50 rate over five years. This may increase to $15 after state review.

In a piece for Forbes, Tim Worstall recently refuted claims that this minimum wage hike would result in new jobs and higher wages and estimates that job losses due to higher prices will actually result in job loses totaling 65,000. It should also be noted that the minimum wage deal has no exceptions for small businesses.

New York is ranked the second-worst state for business tax climate by the Tax Foundation. This proposal will do little to alleviate this near-bottom of the list ranking.

New York’s $156 billion budget is a record high, growing by $10 billion from last year. Instead of reigning in out-of-control spending, Cuomo has boasted that New York’s budgets have grown by 2 percent or less in the last five years. The state’s irresponsible spending will hit taxpayers, as state debt continues to spiral out of control. Last month, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced the state debt has reached $63 billion, with only $3 billion being approved by voters.

The tax cuts may, however, help reverse the trend of New Yorkers leaving for lower-tax states. Despite Cuomo’s rejection of ATR’s analysis last year that the state’s uncompetitive business and tax environment was largely the cause of the mass migration of taxpayers to states like Florida, his most recent tax proposal seems to indicate he’s coming around to understanding that the status quo isn’t working for New York.

New York is the second state to seek to raise the minimum wage to $15 after California approved it Monday. It is crucial to remember that New York and California have some of the highest costs of living in the U.S., so this should not set a precedent for other states or the federal government to consider the $15 minimum wage. 

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Meanwhile, in the States...

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, April 1st, 2016, 2:47 PM PERMALINK

Alabama: House committee advances bill to raise fuel tax rates.

Arkansas: Gov. Asa Hutchinson to focus on Medicaid expansion reform in special session.

California: California raises minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Colorado: State spends $450,000 in legal costs over Amazon tax it cannot implement.

Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy strikes down proposal to tax Yale endowments.

Delaware: Senate Republicans propose less regulations, more tax credits to combat poverty

Florida: Legislature sends $129.1 million tax-cut package to Gov. Rick Scott's desk-- much less than what the governor requested.

Idaho: Gov. Butch Otter says he will not call a special session, despite legislature failing to pass Medicaid expansion.

Illinois: Without budget, state owes $2.8 billion for worker health care.

Indiana: Gov. Mike Pence signs 216 proposals including the road funding bill, a restriction on local taxes, and bans on plastic bags.

Iowa: House approves renewable chemical tax credit.

Kansas: Legislator proposes business income tax to address falling revenues.

Kentucky: House and Senate continue to negotiate differences in budget.

Louisiana: Louisiana now dons highest sales tax in the nation, as tax hikes hit taxpayers today

Maine: Maine solar power bill fails to win support.

Maryland: House and Senate negotiators strike budget deal.

Mississippi: Gas tax increase may still be a possibility this session.

Missouri: Senate considers an even higher gas tax increase.

Nebraska: State rejects Medicaid expansion again.

New Jersey: Boat dealers see sales boost after tax cut.

New York: Tax cuts for those earning $300,000 and less is under discussion.

North Carolina: State will work with a bigger surplus than expected.

North Dakota: Ballot proposal would raise taxes on electronic cigarettes in North Dakota.

Oklahoma: Schools sue state over unfair distribution of tax dollars.

Ohio: Lawsuit and legislation target tampon tax.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia mayor believes consumers would not pick up tab for most of proposed soda tax.

South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard approves tax vouchers for school choice.

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslam announces three-year transportation plan.  

Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert vetoes $275,000 for reality television show.

West Virginia: Legislature approves $120 million in health plan cuts.

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Optional Reporting Protocols Create Billions in Medicaid Waste

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016, 10:27 AM PERMALINK

Taxpayers have a right to be concerned when the state and federal government continue to spend more on Medicaid, and it is one of the largest sources of fraud.

Since 2003, Medicaid has appeared on the Government Accountability Office’s list of high-risk programs. Ranking second among federal programs with high improper payment rates, it has accounted for $161 billion, or 17 percent of the federal government’s improper payments since 2008.

Improper payments occur in the Medicaid for a number of inexcusable reasons:

-Laws and regulations require much effort on Medicaid’s part to verify every piece of information.

-Patients provide false information regarding their eligibility for Medicaid.

-Patients file false claims.

-Patients see multiple providers for the same condition.

-Patients may alter prescriptions, allowing them to aid an addiction or illegally resell the drugs.

-False providers excluded from the program may give false information and may bill Medicaid for false or duplicate services.

-States use taxes on providers or local government taxes to foot the 40 percent state share of Medicaid funding.

-New Affordable Care Act regulations do not require reporting on improper payments, although contracts with the states do.

The broken program barely attempts to curb its problem. Reporting protocols to prevent fraud and improper payments are optional. The states are mainly responsible for the protocols, but they have little incentive to use them. In addition to having limited resources, they have to return more than half of recovered improper payments to the federal government.

The Affordable Care Act created a new reporting requirement, but it leaves an alarming hole open for more fraud to escape through. States must report information on terminated providers on a web portal, but they are not required to check the portal when screening the providers. As a result, 12 percent of providers terminated in a state in 2011 were found to be practicing in another state in 2012.

Technological advances are helping to detect and prevent fraud, but they need federal approval to do so. Yet only seven states had their applications approved to use data mining since 2013.

In light of the many optional reporting protocols, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) introduced H.R. 3716, which would require providers to register with the state and report any terminated providers to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a database. The bill would inflict a repayment penalty to states that do not return improper payments to the federal government after a provider’s termination has been in the database for two months. H.R. 3716 unanimously passed the House and was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

The federal government needs to carry more of the load for combating waste, since it funds about 60 percent of Medicaid expenses, while the state funds 40 percent. At the same time, the states should not brush off the importance of monitoring Medicaid waste. They should not fund Medicaid with burdensome local taxes and provider fees, solely for the reason of receiving more federal funds.

As many states opt to increase Medicaid funding while cutting other state services, they struggle to balance their budgets. For example, New Mexico recently passed the 2017 budget without raising taxes but expanding Medicaid. Now with higher-than-expected enrollment, the state faces a $417 million deficit.

Complying with reporting protocols could help both the states and the federal government alleviate deficits. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that eliminating the fraud and abuse in Medicaid alone would reduce the federal deficit by about 11.4 percent. State and federal governments have no right to impose a higher Medicaid burden on the taxpayers if they do not work to eliminate the billions of waste and fraud slipping through the cracks. 

 

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Meanwhile, in the States...

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, March 18th, 2016, 1:08 PM PERMALINK

Alabama: Alabama lawmakers consider raising gas tax.

Arkansas: Garland County Quorum Court in favor of putting proposed sales tax on special election ballot.

Arizona: State attorney argues Arizona's Medicaid expansion levy is not a tax.

California: New California tax credit for low-wage workers available this tax season.

Connecticut: Committee keeps ban on issuing motor vehicle registrations to those who have not paid property taxes.

Delaware: Delaware County votes to raise taxes on hotels to fund infrastructure improvements at Delaware fairgrounds. 

Florida: Solar power tax exemption will be on the state primary election ballot.

Georgia: Super Bowl ticket tax exemption heads to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Idaho: Rep. Pete Nielsen introduces bills for medical tax deductions

Illinois: Sales tax increase fails on ballot in Jefferson County.

Indiana: Farm tax break could shift burden to rural governments.

Iowa: Iowa Legislature OKs major tax policy bill.

Kansas: Bill debated to end business tax exemption.

Louisiana: Louisiana budget gap growing as tax hikes fall short; more cuts to come.

Maryland: Maryland Senate's revised budget bill would bar use of aircraft for tax assessments.

Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder signs law extending health insurance tax.

Minnesota: Gov. Mark Dayton outlines plan for spending $698M of Minnesota’s surplus.

Mississippi: Only one gas tax bill remains alive in Mississippi Legislature after Wednesday’s deadline for revenue-related measures.

Missouri: Missouri Highway Commissioner says fuel tax increase is unlikely this year.

New Jersey: More New Jersey towns fail to stay within 2 percent cap on property tax increases.

New York: Assembly lawmakers pass legislation to ban tampon tax.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma revenue projections miss mark by 18 percent. 

Oregon:  Oregon expands tax credits for filming.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers introduce bill to change Philly's real estate tax rates.

Rhode Island: Providence senator proposes statewide car tax rate. 

South Carolina: Lawmakers approve legislation to increase state income tax exemptions for military retirees.

South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard approves moving alcohol funds to counties. 

Tennessee: Proposal to end sales tax exemption for newspapers in Tennessee stalls.

Utah: Lawmaker withdraws online sales tax bill. 

Wisconsin: Bipartisan push for higher taxes on carried interest

West Virginia: West Virginia revenue worsening, lawmakers leave without budget. 

 

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Taxpayers Claim Victory in Indiana Tax Hike Fight

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, March 11th, 2016, 10:57 AM PERMALINK

A bill to raise gas and cigarette taxes to fund road repairs has reached its deathbed as the Indiana legislature ended its session.

Yesterday, the legislature approved an $800 million road funding plan without raising gas and cigarette taxes. The plan taps into the state’s $2 billion budget reserve and diverts more of the current gas tax revenue toward infrastructure. Approximately $232 million will be for state highway improvements, and about $585 million will go to local governments for their own projects. The funding package now heads to Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

The Indiana House had previously passed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax hikes in House Bill 1001, but opposition from Pence and the state Senate resulted in a halting of efforts by Speaker Brian Bosma to raise taxes on low-income consumers and commuters.

This is a big victory for Hoosier taxpayers, since a small majority of House members were pushing for the tax hikes just last week. With the state sitting on a $2 billion surplus, a compromise without raising taxes is the best deal for taxpayers. A temporary fix also buys time for the legislature to find a long-term plan without requiring new revenue, in the 2017 budget year.

If HB 1001 had passed with the tax hikes, Hoosiers would have seen:

An immediate 4-cent increase on the gas tax. With all fees included, Indiana’s gas tax is nearly $0.30. Adding on four cents would put it higher than all of its neighboring states. The gas tax would rake in $116.7 million in 2017. The revenue would gradually decrease following years; by 2020, the tax would earn $113.8 million.

A $1 increase on the cigarette tax. Indiana’s current 99-cent per pack tax is regionally competitive, lower than all neighboring states except Kentucky’s 66-cent tax. Indiana’s proposed $1.99 tax would be nearly in line with Michigan’s $2 and higher than the taxes in Illinois and Ohio. The tax hike would generate $254.2 million annually, ignoring the impact of cross-border sales and the tobacco black market.

The compromise for taxpayers in the bill was a gradual drop in income tax rates beginning in 2019. Reducing the income tax from the 2017 rate of 3.23 percent to 3.19 percent in 2019 saves taxpayers $33.6 million. It would take seven years to completely phase in the income tax cut, and savings would reach $367.3 million if fully phased in.

But while the cigarette and gas taxes would have both been in effect in 2017, taxpayers would not have seen any income tax cuts until 2019. When the $33.6 million income tax cut factors in with $369.2 million in gas and cigarette tax hikes in 2019, this still results in taxpayers pitching in $335.6 million more. The tax burden also shifts more to low-income earners, since income taxes would go down and cigarette taxes would go up.

Americans for Tax Reform urged Indiana House legislators to reject HB 1001, a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to Indiana taxpayers in a January letter.

The Senate had dismissed Pence’s alternative to HB 1001, which would have used bonds for a quarter of road funding.

Legislators were also considering adding toll booths to interstate roads, but both sides agree this solution needs further study. 

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Meanwhile, in the States...

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Friday, March 4th, 2016, 12:19 PM PERMALINK

Alabama: Lawmakers propose 5 percent alcohol tax to fund Mobile DA’s office.

Arkansas: Puluski County voters defeat sales tax increase for public transit.

Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and legislature undecided on how to use surplus.

California: Lawmakers approves $1.27 billion replacement healthcare tax.

Connecticut: Car tax bill hits a roadblock. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) considers truck tolls to solve transportation budget woes.

Delaware: Senate considers tax relief for disabled veterans.

Florida: Senate committee scales back sales tax holiday.

Idaho: House committee approves 3.5 percent tax on solar production.

Illinois: Democrats fail to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto on education spending. Senator proposes one-cent-per-ounce tax on soda.

Indiana: House and Senate continue to look for compromise on transportation funding.

Iowa: After one year of 10-cent gas tax hike, same number of Iowans are still driving.

Kansas: Lawmakers consider tax incentive for donations to schools.

Louisiana: Stalemate continues over budget cuts and tax hikes.

Maryland: Senate and House leaders support tax cuts but cannot agree on corporate income tax cuts.

Massachusetts: Legislators clash over charter school expansion, may result in measure going on the November ballot. 

Mississippi: Senate votes to consolidate nine school districts. Voters reject gas tax increase at the polls.

Missouri: Senate begins to debate increasing the gas tax.

Minnesota: Republicans will push for $2 billion in tax relief at start of session next week. State will work with less than the $1.2 billion surplus projected months ago.

Nebraska: Revenue Committee advances $250 tax break for emergency responders.

New Jersey: Senate committee approves bill to cut retirement and estate taxes, but gas tax hike could follow.

Ohio: Delaware County bed tax is on the ballot for March 15.

Oklahoma: Legislators consider bonds for transportation funding.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia mayor suggests 3-cent-per-ounce sugary drink tax to fund pre-K.

Rhode Island: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) proposes $1.5 transit ticketing app to attract business opportunities from Massachusetts.

South Carolina: Deal reached on road funding without gas tax increase.

South Dakota: Senate passes half-cent sales tax increase for teacher pay raises.

Tennessee: Senate subcommittee considers various options to reforming Hall Income Tax.

Utah: Senate unanimously passes mandate to collect online sales tax.

West Virginia: Senate passes cuts on coal and natural gas severance taxes.

 

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