Saturday, October 9, 2010

Issues of Importance - Response to Reader

I recently received an email from Joyce Wilson:

Jeremy - back to the real issue of worthwhile legislation.  I am sure you probably have researched this, so to save my time, do you have examples of the types of proposals Mr. Hansen has tried to bring to the committees or legislature?  On rare occasion we will read items in the Standard-Examiner of some of his proposals but as I wrote, it is rare.

Scenario - you are now the Leg 9 representative - what are some bills you would craft to bring to committee (or however the process works)?  
Joyce Wilson

Thank for the email Joyce.  Before diving into Mr. Hansen's proposals, let me first highlight several issues that need to be addressed:

1.  Illegal Immigration

I have written extensively on this.  Please click here to see my proposed solutions.

2.  Eliminating the Tax on Food

This is an issue that I have not had the opportunity to write about.  Yet, I feel that it is important, especially for our district, to have the sales tax on food eliminated.  The tax on food is a regressive tax (meaning those who make less pay more as a percentage of their income) and that fact impacts our district more so than most other districts in Utah.  We were working to eliminate the tax on food up until 2008 when the economic crunch forced the legislature to reinstate the full tax.  It is my belief that with the revenue projections stabilizing, we should begin down that road to eliminate the food tax once again.  It is something that should be done gradually, say over a period of 6 years, but nevertheless it is something that should be done.  My thoughts on this subject are heavily influenced by Adam Smith's opinion on the topic:
"The middling and superior ranks of the people, if they understood their own interest ought always to oppose all taxes upon the necessities of life, as well as all direct taxes upon the wages of labor." - The Wealth of Nations
I won't address the tax on wages issue but the logic behind his statement is that the cost of everything we buy is driven by the cost of labor to produce those items.  In turn, the cost of labor is driven by the cost of the necessities of life that are required to sustain those laborers.  Therefore, when taxes on food are eliminated and the cost of food decreases, the working class is able to better support themselves at a lesser cost. A portion of that savings translates into wage savings for producers and therefore cheaper goods for the populace at large.  Everyone gets more for less under his theory.  Intuitively, I agree with this.

The question regarding this issue that I often get asked is: Where will the money come from to pay for this tax break?  Keep in mind that I do not have the benefit of a legislative research staff at my disposal.  But, my hunch based on my own observations is that there is a lot of waste and fraud in our state welfare system.  This would be the first place I would look to balance the equation.  Also, economically speaking, we may be able to grow our way into the tax break over a 6 year period as well.  I am open to ideas that work and make sense. 

3.  Economic Growth

Obviously, the issue that affects us all in Ogden is jobs and the job market.  We need more jobs.  More importantly, Ogden needs an advocate at the state level that can present Ogden in the best possible light and accurately represent all the opportunity that Ogden possesses for businesses who want to grow.  I do not have any legislative ideas to do this.  However, as the sole breadwinner in my home and being self employed for the past 11 years, I understand businesses and what it takes to profitably operate one.  Earning my marketing degree from Weber State University has been a blessing to my business and I know that those same skills can benefit District 9 when I apply those as Ogden's representative.    

Now on to Mr. Hansen's proposals.
Note: According to the state site, none of these bills sponsored by Representative Hansen have become law.


2010 - Click to see list of bills and link to actual text and last action.

HB0156    Regulation of Laser Centers 
HB0245    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0297    Compact Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote 
HB0322    Property Tax Valuation Amendments 
HB0358    Voting by Mail   
HB0436    State Officers' Salary Amendments   
HJR008    Joint Rules Resolution on the Selection of Ethics Committee Members

The State Officers Salary bill was interesting because it called for a reduction in executive branch salaries.  Yet, Mr. Hansen voted against several bills calling for Legislative pay reductions.  Quite interesting.

2009 - Click to see list of bills and link to actual text and last action.

HB0049    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0049S01    Voter Challenge Amendments 
HB0158    Motorcycle Helmet Law Amendments 
HB0166    Election Law Reforms 
HB0175    Professional Licensing Amendments 
HB0196    Provisional Ballot Amendments for Unregistered Voters
HB0200    Designation of Certain State Buildings 
HB0217    Utah Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments 
HB0227    Prohibition on Citation Quotas   
HB0282    Task Force on Legislative Reform   
HB0311    Utah State Railroad Museum Authority   
HB0311S01    Utah State Railroad Museum Authority 
HB0363    Property Tax - Determining Value for Tax Assessment 
HB0367    Legislative Compensation Amendments 
HB0406    Compact Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote   
HJR026    Joint Rules Resolution on the Selection of Ethics Committee Members

I am grateful the property tax valuation bill did not pass.  It would have allowed for a value assessment every time the property sold.  On the surface, this seems like a fairly benign proposition but unfortunately it is this type of legislation that has opened the door to transfer taxes that have stymied affordable housing in other states.

There is quite a bit to digest here.  Thanks for reading and taking time to learn about the issues.  If you have any questions for me, send me an email or post a comment.

Enjoy your weekend!

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