Margaret Mire

Judge Rules Misleading Tax Measure Cannot Appear on AZ Ballot

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, August 7th, 2020, 3:02 PM PERMALINK

In a big win for Arizona taxpayers, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ruled that a nearly $1 billion income tax hike cannot appear on the November ballot due to its misleading language.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative said it would have imposed “a 3.5% surcharge on taxable income above (a) $250,000 annually for single persons or married persons filing separately, and (b) $500,000 annually for married persons filing jointly or head of household filers.” Three and a half percent sounds like almost nothing, but as the Judge pointed out, that is shockingly and deliberately dishonest.

“Invest in Education circulated an opaque ‘Trojan horse’ of a 100-word description, concealing principal provisions of the initiative,” said Coury in his 20-page ruling. One of his main concerns with the initiative is its use of the word “surcharge” in the description.

“Although the use of the term ‘3.5% surcharge on taxable income’ may be perfectly understood by some Arizona voters to be permanently adding 3.5 percentage points to the taxation rate – an increase 77.7% in the tax rate on taxable income above the threshhold – others reasonable Arizona voters may understand a “surcharge” to mean a temporary tax, or to mean a modest 3.5% increase of the existing tax rate,” explained Coury. “The use of the term ‘surcharge’ creates a substantial likelihood of confusion for a reasonable Arizona voter.”

Coury also noted that the description fails to inform voters that the proposed tax increase would apply to more than just the “wealthy.” It would also apply to a number of small businesses, which are already struggling from the pandemic. Coury explained:

“Under applicable tax law, income generated by businesses – sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, S-corporations, and partnerships – that is not paid at the business level ‘passes-through’ to individuals and is captured as taxable income of the business owners. This ‘pass-through’ business income is taxed at the individual level. The 100-word description does not alert signers that this ‘pass-through’ ‘business’ income would be subject to the ‘surcharge’ if it was part of an individual or married couple’s taxable income…”

Adding insult to injury, a similar Invest in Education initiative was bumped off the ballot in 2018 for similar reasons. The Arizona Supreme Court suggested acceptable initiative language to the backers of Invest in Education, but they deliberately chose not to use it.

“Arizona is not a low tax state. Its top income tax rate is already too high – just a tad below Massachusetts’. And certainly above the nine states that do not tax wage income, such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Wyoming,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Arizonans know this. An effort to phase down the state income tax to zero over time was narrowly defeated in the Arizona Senate just last year.”

Tragically, unclear tax initiatives are not uncommon. For example, in Arkansas, a roughly 9% permanent sales tax hike will be on ballot this November under the title “Continuing a One-Half Percent (0.5%) Sales and Use Tax for State Highways and Bridges; County Roads, Bridges and Other Surface Transportation; and City Streets, Bridges, and Other Surface Transportation After the Retirement of the Bonds Authorized in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 91.”

Coury’s ruling shines a spotlight on a major problem that happens throughout the country. Too many tax hike measures are intentionally vague or unclear in hopes of confusing or tricking voters into supporting them.

Backers of the Invest in Education initiative have filed a notice of appeal, but given the Arizona Supreme Court’s opinion in 2018, Coury’s ruling is unlikely to be overturned.  

Photo Credit: Tuxyso

More from Americans for Tax Reform

States Are Removing Barriers to Earning A Living

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020, 5:22 PM PERMALINK

In all states, onerous occupational licensure laws keep Americans from their right to earn a living.

These barriers to work – which include, but are not limited to, excessive training and expensive fees – are often put in place by the politically connected as a way to protect themselves from competition. 

“Licensing laws now guard entry into hundreds of occupations, including jobs that offer upward mobility to those of modest means,” writes the authors of the second edition of License to Work, an Institute for Justice report that “examines both the scope and the specific burdens of occupational licensing” affecting 102 lower-income occupations. On average, one of these licenses requires $267 in fees, nearly a year of education and experience, and one exam.

To put the consequences of these protectionist policies in perspective, estimates show that occupational licensure laws may result in as many as 2.85 million fewer jobs nationwide and could cost consumers as much as $203 billion a year.

Fortunately, more and more lawmakers are recognizing the serious harm that licensing laws inflict on job seekers and are working to remove these barriers. 

Iowa Becomes One of Seven States to Pass A Universal License Recognition Law

Last week, the Iowa legislature sent Representative Shannon Lundgren’s (R) House File 2627 to Governor Kim Reynolds (R), making Iowa the seventh state to pass a universal license recognition bill. Once implemented, HF 2627 will allow new Iowans to use the training and skills they already have without additional red tape. 

Iowa’s bill also waives initial licensing fees for any first-time applicants from families that earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level and applies criminal justice reforms to the licensure process, creating a uniform standard of review for those who have their licensed denied based on conviction history. These important provisions will make it easier for low-income households and the formerly incarcerated to get jobs and provide for their families. 

“We all know heavy regulations serve as a red tape tax that impacts Iowa’s working class,” said Chris Ingstad, president of Iowans for Tax Relief. “Occupational licensing laws make it more difficult and more expensive for Iowans to earn a living and fill high-demand jobs. The changes passed by the legislature in House File 2627 put Iowans ahead of the special interests.”

Arizona was the first state to allow for universal license recognition. “Arizona’s universal recognition law may be less than a year old, but early data shows that it is already having a tremendous effect,” explains Heather Curry, Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute. “Since universal recognition went into effect in Arizona in September of 2019, over 1100 individuals have applied for and been granted a license to work in fields ranging from cosmetology to engineering.” 

Montana, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Idaho have also enacted a version of universal license recognition, and earlier this year, the Missouri legislature sent Representative Derek Grier’s (R) House Bill 2046 to Governor Mike Parson (R), who is expected to sign it into law.

Louisiana And Mississippi Pass Licensure Recognition for Military Families

Louisiana and Mississippi recently became one of a handful of states that have passed some form of licensure recognition for military families. 

Earlier this month, Governor John Bel Edwards (D) enacted Representative Chuck Owen’s (R) House Bill 613, which establishes a more simple and efficient process for military spouses and dependents who are licensed in another state to become licensed in Louisiana. 

“For far too long, Louisiana’s government has placed countless unnecessary barriers on those who simply want access to jobs and opportunity to support their families. Now, thanks to Representative Chuck Owen’s leadership and Governor Edwards’ signature, this needless burden has been lifted from our military families, so we can Get Louisiana Working,” said Daniel Erspamer, CEO of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. 

Similarly, last week, the Mississippi legislature sent Senator Chuck Younger’s (R) Senate Bill 2117 to Governor Tate Reeves (R), who is expected to sign it into law. Once implemented, Mississippi will also allow military spouses and dependents to obtain a Mississippi license based on the education and training that they have already completed in other states. 

“State licensing restrictions hit military families hard because they don’t have a choice as to when and where they move,” said Dr. Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “This is a pro-family, pro-woman, pro-military bill, and I am very proud to have worked with ATR and the U.S. Department of Defense to help pass this outstanding reform. I am also very proud of our bill sponsors, Rep. Steve Hopkins and Sen. Chuck Younger. They selflessly dedicated themselves to getting this bill just right for the military families of our state. Our chairmen Rep. Bubba Carpenter and Sen. Mike Seymour also exercised incredible leadership in prioritizing this bill and putting Mississippi on the map for military families.”

These reforms in Louisiana and Mississippi, which are very helpful to military families, who are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of onerous licensing requirements, are also a great step in the direction of granting licensure recognition for all workers.

“The movement building behind universal recognition of occupational licenses highlights the importance of federalism—50 state competing to provide the best government at the lowest cost,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Destructive and stupid old laws are most likely to be repealed when surrounded by examples of better (or no) laws. Good laws drive out bad laws.”

Photo Credit: Tony McCutchan

Proposed Tax in Colorado Would Raise Health Insurance Costs and Likely Violate TABOR

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Tuesday, June 9th, 2020, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

The Democrat-controlled legislature is quickly and quietly advancing a bill that would raise the cost of health care by $450 for the typical Colorado family.

Senate Bill 215, which was introduced last week and is now pending third reading in the senate, would impose a new tax on health plans that are regulated by the state Division of Insurance. 

In a bipartisan deal, Congress recently voted to repeal the federal Health Insurance Tax, a $100 billion tax that hits nearly every health insurance market. The repeal of this tax, which is scheduled to occur in 2021, will be a huge win for Americans across the country. 

But unfortunately, it is now looking like many Coloradans are going to be robbed of this much-needed federal tax relief. SB 215, if implemented, would impose a new 1% “fee” on premiums that are collected by non-profit health insurers and a new 2.5% “fee” on premiums that are collected by for profit insurers. 

This $100 million a year tax hike could raise the cost of a typical family health insurance plan in Colorado by a whopping $450 a year.

In addition to making it harder for small business owners and employers to continue offering coverage to their employees – particularly now, after weeks for being shut down to stop the spread of the virus – it could also make them slower to rehire after the pandemic and/or leave them with fewer resources available to invest in their business operations.

Adding insult to injury, SB 215 is also likely to result in taxpayers footing the bill for costly legal challenges. Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which was approved by voters in 1992, requires voter approval to raise taxes.

Just because SB 215 cleverly calls the proposed health insurances taxes “fees” does not mean it is true. SB 215 seems to be a clear violation of TABOR.

The people of Colorado are already struggling enough from the forced shut down to stop the spread of the virus. The last thing they need right now is a new tax on their health insurance premiums.

Photo Credit: J. Stephen Conn

Video Panel: We Need to Remove Government Barriers to Health Care

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, May 29th, 2020, 10:19 AM PERMALINK

Antiquated state laws have shut out competition and blocked the use of innovative technology in health care for far too long. 

Incumbent providers claim these government barriers are necessary to ensure safety, but in reality, these protectionist policies hurt patients by driving up the costs of and reducing access to care. The pandemic has made these realities painfully obvious, so many Governors have made temporary changes to help fight the virus. 

Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist was joined by Tay Kopanos of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Latoya Thomas of Doctor on Demand, and Nick Schilligo of 1-800 Contacts in a recent virtual panel discussion about the importance of states building upon these deregulatory efforts and making them permanent.

“At Americans for Tax Reform, at our website, we’ve come up with 500 different regulations, rules, and laws that have been either repealed or suspended because they got in the way of trying to get health care to people, trying to get hospitals and respirators to people, trying to get doctors and nurses to people or people to them as rapidly as possible,” said Norquist.

One of the deregulatory actions that Governors have taken to avoid provider shortages during the virus is expanding the scope of practice for certain health care providers.

Nurse Practitioners, for example, are highly trained, thoroughly educated medical professionals who can examine, diagnose, and treat injuries and illnesses. They can also prescribe medication and, in many cases, are primary care providers. Despite this, only 22 states and the District of Columbia grant Nurse Practitioners full practice authority, meaning their license to practice is not contingent on oversight by the state medical board or a contract with a physician.  

“In the remaining 28 states and two other territories, NPs are required by law to have a contract with a physician – a permission slip, if you will – getting additional permission from a physician to be able to provide those services to patients,” explained Kopanos. “Those really create delays. If you don’t have a permission slip, even though your education qualifies you to provide those [types of] care, you can’t provide it.”

Five Governors, including Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, have issued executive orders completely waiving such requirements in their states. Others have taken baby steps in that direction by removing smaller barriers. 

Governors in both red and blue states have also issued orders suspending some of the rules and regulations that restrict the use of telemedicine. The expanded use of telemedicine during the pandemic has allowed people to avoid getting sick or spreading the virus in a doctor’s office or hospital, and has made it easier for the elderly, who may have a harder time traveling, and people in remote areas to communicate with a doctor.

“[F]ar too many states have outdated and unnecessary laws and regulations that really prevent the full and widespread adoption of telemedicine,” explained Schilligo. “What some states require is a two-way interaction…some states require audio-visual, like we are doing now. Some states require a two-way audio. Some states even require that you have an in-person visit first to establish that patient-provider relationship, and then you could use telemedicine.” These pointless requirements make it more difficult for patients to use telemedicine. 

State licensure laws are another barrier to telemedicine, and health care in general, for that matter. The pandemic has highlighted the way licensing requirements can prevent doctors and nurses from helping out – both in person and via telemedicine – in states with a higher number of cases.

“Then you also saw states that really did respond to it and were really immediate in waiving those out of state licensure requirements,” explained Thomas. “As long as they [providers] were duly licensed in another state, many of those states were able to just kind of acknowledge and recognize and allow them to see patients during the COVID period.”

To avoid provider shortages during the pandemic, Governors in many states, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, issued orders granting some type of licensing reciprocity for medical providers. 

While these temporary changes are a step in the right direction, Governors and legislatures should not stop there. Expanding upon these orders and making them permanent will increase the number of options for patients, improve quality, and naturally reduce the costs associated with health care.

“When you cut that bureaucratic red tape, those permission slips, and some of those hoops that come with it, costs of care go down,” explained Kopanos. “When we look at states that require those types of relationships against states that don’t, those head to head studies show [not only] that patient outcomes are high, but we’re [also] saving money in costs, were having decreased readmission, and there is also a bureaucratic cost savings to the states.”

“It’s great to have these temporary allowances for companies to come in and provide that care, but legislatures are still going to need to act in order to allow that in the long term,” explained Schilligo. 

“I mentioned before that there are states, like Illinois, that have lifted that barrier, but with a condition. That you can practice here, only if you already have a relationship with a patient here. You also have states like California and Maryland, unfortunately, who’ve lifted that barrier, but have said ‘but you have to be employed by one of our hospitals or health systems,’ and that’s not fair market,” explained Thomas. “[T]hose are all conditional things that don’t allow for practices like ours, who have relationships with a number of patients and who want to support those larger systems and allow them to focus on some of the harder hit needs there.” 

“The idea that medicine can work on computers and on phone lines and that people who have been trained to be Nurse Practitioners can actually do all the things that have been trained to do, and that people can cross state lines both on phones and on foot to provide the same services in New Hampshire that they’re capable of doing in Massachusetts seem kind of like obvious steps forward,” said Norquist. He added, “but Uber probably seemed obvious after somebody started doing it.”

To view to the entire panel discussion on YouTube, click here. To view on Facebook, click here.

Certificate of Need Laws Have Led to ICU Bed Shortages

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, May 15th, 2020, 12:03 PM PERMALINK

Governors across the country are suspending regulations that slow down America’s response to the pandemic. Many of these laws, such as Certificate of Need laws, have been harmful for decades and the pandemic has made this fact painfully obvious.  

CON laws require existing and potential health care providers to get the government’s permission to establish or expand certain health equipment, facilities, or services. CON applicants spend several years and up to hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to prove there is “need” in the community for what they are hoping to offer. Imagine trying to open a new grocery store, only to be told by the authorities there is no “need” for the store.  

The coronavirus has shown the negative impact CON laws – which protect incumbent providers from competition – have had on the health care system. A recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Raising the Bar: ICU Beds and Certificates of Need, found “states that require a CON for hospital beds are statistically significantly more likely to experience a shortage of ICU beds over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The study explains:

“To be precise, there is a 13 percent chance that the average non-CON state will experience a shortage of ICU beds, while there is a 30 percent chance that the average CON state will experience such a shortage. The average non-CON state is expected to experience a shortage of 114 ICU beds (a little more than 0.5 beds per 10,000 residents) over the course of the pandemic, while the average CON state is expected to experience a shortage of over 8,000 beds (about 9 beds per 10,000 residents) over the course of the pandemic.”

Further, the study highlights that in “careful studies that control for possibly confounding effects,” researchers have found that CON laws are also associated with fewer hospitals and fewer rural hospitals per capita, fewer ambulatory surgical centers and fewer rural ambulatory surgical centers per capita, fewer dialysis clinics, and fewer hospitals offering CT, MRI, and PET scans, among other things.

CON laws are nothing more than protectionist policies that prevent patients from accessing vital medical care. To date, 35 states and the District of Columbia have CON laws, and at least 22 of these states have suspended at least part of them in response to the coronavirus.

“Governors and legislators should expand upon these ideas to further eliminate the red tape and protectionist policies that drive up costs and reduce access to health care,” explained Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, in a recent OpEd about the ways states are responding to the coronavirus by suspending CON laws and other government barriers to health care. “And they should make these deregulatory reforms permanent.”

Photo Credit: Wellcome Images

Coalition Urges Support for Phase Out of AZ Income Tax

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020, 2:20 PM PERMALINK

In a letter to the Arizona House of Representatives, Americans for Tax Reform and several other organizations representing thousands of Arizona taxpayers voiced our strong support for legislation that would phase out the state income tax.

House Bill 2752, sponsored by Representative Bret Roberts (R), would reduce the income tax over time through the use of revenue triggers until it eventually hits zero. This pro-growth bill would be a huge win for individual taxpayers and families, who will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money, and small business that file their taxes under the individual code, as they will be able to invest more in jobs and wages.

The senate companion to this bill – Senate Bill 1489, sponsored by Senator J.D. Mesnard (R) – was unfortunately defeated on the senate floor by a vote of 15-15, with Senators Heather Carter (R) and Kate Brophy McGee (R) voting against it. Now, it is up to the Arizona House of Representatives to advance this responsible, pro-growth concept.

To read the full letter, click here.

March 10, 2020

To: Members of the Arizona House of Representatives
Arizona State Capitol Complex
1700 W Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Re: Support House Bill 2752, Income Tax Phase Out

Dear Representative,

We, the undersigned organizations dedicated to low taxes and limited government, urge you to support House Bill 2752, pro-growth legislation that would phase out the state income tax over time through the use of revenue triggers. If implemented, this bill would be a huge win for hardworking individual taxpayers, families, and small business across the Grand Canyon State.

While Arizona’s income tax may seem competitive when compared to liberal California, lawmakers should not forget that it is competing with the rest of the country as well. Currently, nine states do not impose income taxes on wages. 

Putting Arizona’s income tax on the path to zero would be a smart move. The Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Climate Index consistently ranks states without individual income taxes as having friendlier business tax climates. In the 2020 edition, five – Wyoming (1st), South Dakota (2nd), Alaska (3rd), Florida (4th), Nevada (7th) – of the top 10 best tax climates are no income tax states. The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Rich States, Poor States continues to find that “states with lower taxes, especially those that avoid personal income taxes, have seen significantly better rates of in-migration than states with high income tax rates.”

In addition to making Arizona a more attractive place to live, invest, and do business, HB 2752 would also allow individual taxpayers and families to keep more of their hard-earned money, and would let small businesses who file their taxes under the individual code invest more in jobs and wages. 

HB 2752 would responsibly phase out the state income tax over time, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the Grand Canyon State. This is sound policy, smart politics, and would make Arizona the model for other states to copy. For these reasons, we support HB 2752 and urge you to vote YES.


Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Phil Kerpen
American Commitment

Scot Mussi
Arizona Free Enterprise Club

Lisa B. Nelson
ALEC Action

Stephen Shadegg
State Director
Americans for Prosperity Arizona

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs

Jenna Bentley
Director of Government Affairs
Goldwater Institute 

Carlos Alfaro
Director of Coalitions
The Libre Initiative Arizona

Tim Andrews
Executive Director
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

HB 2752 Would Put Arizona on the Path to Becoming a No Income Tax State

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, March 6th, 2020, 12:25 PM PERMALINK

Governor Doug Ducey (R) has a great opportunity to fulfill his 2014 campaign promise of getting the state income tax “as close to zero as possible.”

House Bill 2752, sponsored by Representative Bret Roberts (R) and co-sponsored Senator J.D. Mesnard (R), would responsibly phase out the income tax over time through the use of revenue triggers. This bill, by returning half of the recurring amount of future surpluses back to taxpayer in the form of across the board rate cuts, would be a huge win for individuals, families, and small business across the Grand Canyon State.

Currently, Arizona has a top marginal individual income tax rate of 4.50%. While this may seem competitive when compared to liberal California, it is a lot less impressive when compared to the rest of the country:

  • Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming – and soon Tennessee, as it is in the process of phasing out its Hall Tax on investment income – do not collect income taxes at all.
  • New Hampshire, though it does impose a 5.00% tax on interest and dividends income, does not tax wages or salaries.
  • North Dakota has a top rate of 2.90%
  • Indiana has a flat rate of 3.23%
  • Pennsylvania has a flat rate of 3.07%
  • Michigan has a flat rate of 4.25%


Lower and lower income tax rates would allow individual taxpayers and families to keep more of their hard earned money, and would allow small businesses who file their taxes under the individual code to invest more in jobs and wages. In addition, putting Arizona’s income tax on the path to zero would make it an even more attractive place to live, invest, and do business. This would bring new jobs and opportunities to the Grand Canyon State.

HB 2752 – which is similar to reforms that have been implemented in North Carolina in the past decade – is sound policy, smart politics, and would make Arizona the model for other states to copy. Unfortunately, the companion to HB 2752 – Senate Bill 1489, sponsored by Mesnard and co-sponsored by Roberts – failed on the senate floor by a vote of 15-15, with Senators Heather Carter (R) and Kate Brophy McGee (R) voting against it.

Now, it is up to the Arizona House of Representatives to advance this responsible, pro-growth concept.

More from Americans for Tax Reform

Arizona Supreme Court Could Find New Phoenix Uber/Lyft Airport Tax Unconstitutional

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, January 17th, 2020, 4:38 PM PERMALINK

Phoenix’s onerous airport ride-sharing fee increase could soon be overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court.

State Representative Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) to see if it violates a provision of the state Constitution – which was put in place by voters in 2018 – that prohibits both new and increased taxes on service. "It [the new airport ride-sharing fee increase] is such a blatant disregard of the will of Arizona voters who passed Prop. 126 in 2018," said Barto.

General Brnovich wants the court to issue a decision on the constitutionality of this Uber and Lyft fee increase. “Our office will promptly file a special action with the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down Phoenix’s unconstitutional rideshare fee and prevent the ordinance from taking effect,” tweeted General Brnovich.

“This is going to be a long-running fight with greedy politicians who want to tax transportation and take advantage of a monopoly – in this case access to an airport – to raise taxes. The attorney general did the right thing in noting this was unconstitutional. Every state should have constitutional protections against these abuses, but until then we are going to have to be vigilant and fight these tax hikes one after the other. They are coming to an airport near you,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The airport ride-sharing fee increase to $4 – a rate that is among the highest in the country – for both pickups and drop-offs at Sky Harbor International Airport is set to take place on February 1 of this year. Adding insult to injury, the fee will increase by 25 cents per year until it reaches $5 in 2024. Under previous law, the airport ride-sharing fee was $2.66 and charged only on pick-ups.

The fee increase was imposed last month by a 7-2 vote of the Phoenix City Council, despite Uber and Lyft saying it would cause them to end their airport services. Councilman Jim Warring and Councilman Sal DiCiccio were the two no votes.

Grover Norquist on Ringside Politics: John Bel Edwards is a Liar

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Friday, November 8th, 2019, 11:09 AM PERMALINK

Grover Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, joined Jeff Crouere on his radio show, Ringside Politics, to discuss the tax implications of Louisiana’s upcoming gubernatorial election.

On November 16th, Businessman Eddie Rispone (R) will be challenging incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards (D), who enacted the largest tax increase in Pelican State history. Rispone has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, Congressmen Ralph Abraham, Steve Scalise, and Mike Johnson, and Duck Dynasty CEO Willie Robertson. 

Despite his promise not to raises taxes as Governor, John Bel Edwards has raised billions of dollars in tax increases on hardworking Louisianans. “You have a governor, John Bel Edwards, who ran [in 2015] promising not to raise taxes. That was a lie,” explained Norquist. 

Norquist went on, “[H]e raised taxes and said ‘oh it’s only going be temporary.’ That was a lie.” Edwards enacted a 25 percent sales tax increase – which took the state sales tax rate from 4 to 5 cents on the dollar and resulted in Louisiana having the highest combined state and local sales tax rate in the country that year – on the promise that it would be temporary.

To put the magnitude of that tax hike in perspective, the 2016 edition of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) State Tax Actions report found “[c]ollective actions taken by the 50 states resulted in a net tax increase of $2.3 billion.” Louisiana’s penny sales tax hike made up $1.5 billion of that amount.The report also notes that just 6 states “reported a net tax increase of more than 1 percent” that year.

Adding insult to injury, that “temporary” sales tax increase has turned out to be less temporary than originally advertised. Rather than letting the entire penny expire, Edwards called three special sessions – each costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a day – until the legislature finally caved into renewing 0.45 cents of the expiring penny. Norquist explained, “[Edwards] continued what was supposed to be a temporary tax – part of it – and called that a tax cut. That was a lie.”

The 2018 edition of NCSL’s State Tax Actions report concluded that “[c]ollective actions taken by the 50 states and the District of Columbia resulted in a net tax increase of about $1.3 billion.” Further, the report also found that the sales and use tax had the largest net tax change, increasing $847.1 million. Due to John Bel Edward’s 0.45-cent sales tax renewal, which he claims was a “tax cut,” Louisiana contributed $466 million – more than half – to that amount.

“It was a lie that he wouldn’t raise taxes. It was a lie that it was going to be temporary. It was a lie that he cut taxes when he raised them again, just not as much the second time,” Norquist summarized. 

In addition to the sales tax hikes, without legislative approval, Edwards alsoimposed an income tax hike on Louisianans. Louisiana is a one of a few states that allows taxpayers to subtract their federal taxes when calculating their income for state tax purposes. Since the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – which reduced income tax rates across the board, doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit, among other things – has resulted in most Americans having a lower federal tax burden, Louisianans experienced an inadvertent income tax hike at the state level. 

Edwards could have easily prevented that tax hike, however, by following the lead of Governors in other states, such as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who used the excess revenue their states would have otherwise collected due to the way they conform to the federal tax code by enacting rate reducing tax reform. Instead, Edwards kept the cash.

“This is a time when Louisiana is surrounded by states that are reducing taxes. Louisiana is the high tax state,” noted Norquist. Louisiana has the highest corporate tax in the region, the second highest individual income tax in the region, and the second highest combined state and local sales tax in the nation.


Top Marginal Corporate Tax Rate

Top Marginal Individual Income Tax Rate

Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate























2% on interest and dividend income*






*Tennessee does not impose taxes on wage income.

While Arkansas’s top individual income tax rate is higher than Louisiana’s, they are interested in reducing it. Tennessee’s combined state and local sales tax rate is higher than Louisiana’s, but it does not tax wage income and has a lower corporate tax. 

“Cutting taxes and telling the trial lawyers that they can’t have these imaginary lawsuits that steal money from business and kill jobs. Those are the two things Louisiana needs to do to attract jobs and opportunity and growth, and those are the two things, because of his corrupt associations, that Edwards cannot do,” explained Norquist.

The upcoming election will determine if Louisiana continues the liberal tax and spend agenda of Governor Edwards, which has resulted in Louisiana having the second highest poverty rate in the nation and being the only state in the country to lose jobs last year. “[If Edwards is reelected] there is going to be a big “don’t invest here” sign on Louisiana for the next couple of years,” said Norquist.

Or, will Louisiana voters decide they want to change courses and adopt more pro-growth policies, including rate reducing tax reform, that will make their state a more attractive place to live, invest, and do business.

Listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

So-called Internet Privacy Law Would Harm Mainers

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

Maine lawmakers are considering a bill some claim would improve internet privacy for their constituents.

Lawmakers should reject this misguided piece of legislation – LD 1610 – as it would not accomplish its ostensible goal. Instead, it would inflict a great deal of harm on Maine taxpayers and consumers.

Under the status quo, there is plenty of incentive for internet service providers (ISPs) to actively protect consumers’ private information. There is a natural market incentive, as violating one’s privacy would deter customers, and a legal incentive, as existing laws requiring all actors in the communications space to guard personal information are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state Attorneys General.

The current method to privacy enforcement allows bad actors to be punished without discouraging innovation and competition in the industry. Piling on state laws such as LD 1610 would not promote any of those outcomes.

LD 1610’s misguided approach to privacy would zero in on who holds consumer data rather than the data type. It would apply onerous and costly regulations to ISPs only, which is pretty bizarre if protecting one’s privacy is the goal. For example, compared to individual websites, ISPs see far less of what you do online because over 70% of websites use https encryption. An ISP can only see which website you visit, not what you do on the websites.

In addition to being unnecessary and ineffective, LD 1610 would be a huge mistake. The costs and consequences of complying with a patchwork of many state privacy laws throughout the country would make it much more difficult for ISPs to maintain and expand their services, and invest in the next generation of broadband. As such, LD 1610 would leave Mainers with fewer choices, outmoded technology, and an overall lower quality of internet.

Making matters worse, if implemented, LD 1610 would also likely result Maine taxpayers footing costly legal challenges. That is because state legislation or executive orders that attempt to regulate privacy through procurement or contracts violate federal law preempting state interference with interstate commerce.

Americans for Tax Reform and The Maine Heritage Policy Center sent a letter to lawmakers in Maine, warning them of the consequences of LD 1610 and urging them to reject it. To view the full letter, click here.


Photo Credit: Miguelgamer YT