Part-Time Legislature Proposals in Michigan
Three separate ballot initiative proposals currently collecting signatures in Michigan seek to drastically alter the way the state legislature operates. Two would make the state legislature a part-time body and one calls for proportional representation in Senate.
Michigan is one of only 11 states with a full time legislature, and, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, ranks with California, New York, and Pennsylvania for the most active state legislatures in terms of on-the-job time, salary, and staff.
To read more about the proposals in Michigan, check out this post from the National Conference of State Legislatures' blog, The Thicket.
Tax Caps Make Headlines
Georgia moves to restrict property tax assessment
Last week the Georgia House passed a provision to cap growth in property assessments. The move would restrict so-called “back door tax increases” that local governments use to boost revenue without actually raising tax rates. The bill was approved in a Senate committee this week and will go the entire Senate for final approval.
The move has angered local legislators and school districts who are worried that the property assessment cap will leave them with large budget shortfalls.
Click HERE to read the article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Florida considers TABOR-like proposal
The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission is currently considering a Constitutional amendment proposal that would limit the state’s revenue collection.
This plan, which closely resembles a taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR), would restrict revenue increases to the rate of inflation and population growth plus one percentage point. Additionally under the bill, any new taxes or fees imposed by the city, county, or state would need voter approval.
Click HERE to read the full article from the Miami Herald.
Guns in the Workplace
The Florida legislature is currently considering a bill that would prevent business owners from implementing policies that prohibit carrying guns on their property. This bill threatens to undermine private property rights and alter the status of employee-employer relations in the Sunshine State.
This type of legislation is not limited to Florida, other states are also considering similar limitations on business owners.
PolicyClearinghouse.org, the chamber professional's source for objective state and local policy information.
Over the past two weeks, residents in Raleigh, NC have been fired up in a debate over garbage disposals.
A City Council ordinance that went into effect on March 17 bans new homes and businesses in Raleigh that connect to the city sewer system from having disposals. The ordinance also makes it illegal for owners of existing disposals to replace their units or have a plumber repair them.
The ordinance is intended to prevent sewer overflow by reducing the amount of food waste and grease that builds up in the sewer system. Raleigh is the first city in the country to ban garbage disposals.
Opponents of the measure cite a lack of opportunity for public comment on the measure and claim that efforts to educate the public on popper disposal use would be more effective than an outright ban.
The ban leaves plumbers, contractors and hardware retailers unsure about the consequences they might face for repairing, installing or selling a disposal system.
Click HERE for an article from the Raleigh News and Observer.
In Prince William County, VA a law took effect this month that directs officers to check the immigration status of anyone in custody who they have probable cause to believe is an illegal immigrant. The Washington, D.C. suburb has drawn national attention since the county Board of Supervisors passed the law in July 2007.
The law has dealt a blow to the entire Hispanic community, forcing the closure or relocation of a number of popular soccer clubs. Click HERE for the article from the Washington Post.
Over the next two years, an independent team of college professors and criminologists will analyze everything from police records to public sentiment to determine the consequences of the Prince William County immigration law. Click HERE for the article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
This week the Georgia Legislature passed a bill making driving without a license a felony offense. The law requires a prison sentence of two days to 12 months the first offense, and one to five years on the fourth offense.
While never mentioned during debate, the bill targets illegal immigrants who can not legally obtain a driver’s license. Some opponents are concerned about the cost to local governments to incarcerate offenders.
Click HERE for the article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Health Care Headlines
In Washington State, the legislature has passed a bill to bring state oversight to premium increases for individual health insurance premiums. The bill, which would subject all individual premium increases to approval by the state insurance commissioner, is intended to slow rapidly rising premiums. Opponents say it would penalize insurers while ignoring the root causes of high health costs.
Click HERE for the article from the Seattle Times.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist wants to spur competition in the health care industry by deregulating hospitals. He is asking the legislature to get rid of the certificate of need process that currently restricts new hospitals to communities that can prove they need the facility. Opponents fear that new hospitals will be small and focused solely on lucrative market segments, leaving general community hospitals to treat an even higher percentage of uninsured and Medicaid patients.
Click HERE for the article from the Miami Herald.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio’s J-1 visa waiver program for foreign born doctors is not doing enough to help close the supply gap for primary care doctors in rural parts of the state. The problem, they say, is that major hospitals in the largest cities are using the J-1 program to keep specialists, depriving outlying areas of necessary primary care.
Click HERE for the article.