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Paige's 'Values' Are America's Values
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Press Release

Paige's 'Values' Are America's Values

As published in The Washington Post, Sunday, April 13, 2003 In an editorial on Thursday titled "Preacher Paige," The Post joined a chorus of voices criticizing recent comments made by Secretary of Education Rod Paige on Christian values in education. Today it's called conflict resolution, anger management and school discipline. Not so long ago it was called loving your enemy, turning the other cheek and respecting your elders.

04/14/2003
Libertarians, Group to Rally Against Taxes
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Libertarians, Group to Rally Against Taxes

BY John Greiner, Carmel Perez Snyder and Jack Money

The Oklahoma Libertarian Party and the state chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy will rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday in opposition to the U.S. income tax. The rally will be at the post office at NW 5 and Harvey in Oklahoma City. The groups say taxes are too high. "The Libertarian Party wouldn't mind a flat tax, so long as the tax rate is zero," said Chris Powell, Libertarian party chairman. "Roughly 30 percent of your income goes to taxes, and the politicians still can't balance their budgets." Teaching children to save Gov. Brad Henry and state Treasurer Robert Butkin urged Oklahomans on Thursday to teach their children to save money during the statewide Teach Children to Save Day, part of a national effort by bankers' associations. "Bankers and educators throughout Oklahoma are focusing efforts on teaching children to save and be responsible with money," Butkin said. Butkin said parents can play a key role in teaching children the value and necessity of saving for the future. Henry said parents also can turn to the Internet for more information. Senate meeting The Oklahoma Senate will not meet Thursday, a practice senators have followed for many years in the week before Easter. Senators were told last week they could be working long hours on the first three days of this week. The Legislature normally is in session Monday through Thursday, except toward the end of the session when legislators sometimes are in session on Fridays as well. The House and Senate staff will be off on Good Friday because they worked on Presidents Day on Feb. 17, a state holiday.

04/13/2003
Current Tax Code isn't Fair, Low or Even Honest
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Current Tax Code isn't Fair, Low or Even Honest

BY Alice Click

Did you do your own taxes this year or did you hire an accountant? If you wanted to calculate your own taxes this year, could you? If not, don't feel so bad. Nearly 56 percent of Americans had to hire a tax professional to do their taxes. In fact, we spent an estimated $86 billion to have someone else figure out exactly what the government wants from us. Taxes and the tax season that never ends have become absurd. At one time - long, long ago - our tax system actually made some sense. Once a year (April 15) you pay a certain specified amount to the government for the benefit of having a national defense and a few other services. Somehow this simple system became twisted and bent, abused and perverted. Consider the following: If you include footnotes and instructions, our tax code currently runs over 50,000 pages. In 2002, individuals, businesses and non-profits spent an estimated 5.8 billion hours complying with the federal income tax code with an estimated compliance cost of over $194 billion. The average family today pays more in taxes than it spends on food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. Sound like a prescription for reform to you? It is incredible that we have allowed our tax code to wrap itself so maliciously into our daily lives. Instead of once a year, people now must consider the effect of taxes on every-day decisions. Want to have a child? What are the tax implications and do you qualify for any credits? Want to get married - can't afford the increased tax burden? Want to die? That is a real taxable event too. There is no way to "fix" the system - no amount of cosmetic surgery will make our tax code a fair and honest system that allows citizens to judge whether the government is taking a proper amount of their earnings and livelihood. The only answer is to eliminate the entire system and start over from scratch. The tax code should be fair, low and honest - our current tax system is none of those. There are plenty of alternative solutions to our current tax code out there. Some potential remedies include a flat tax, a sales tax and a value-added tax, just to name a few. But for now the important thing is that we understand that the great social experiment known as the income tax has failed. Our tax code has failed. We need to enlist an army of citizens to demand change. Citizens for a Sound Economy is providing a toll-free hotline so that you can tell Congress to "Scrap the Tax Code." Call 1-888-564-6273 and you will be transferred to the office of your representative in Congress. We need a grassroots groundswell for fundamental tax reform. That change can begin with your call demanding a change.

04/13/2003
Texas House Bill 1131 Would Reduce Consumer Choices
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Press Release

Texas House Bill 1131 Would Reduce Consumer Choices

Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy is concerned about legislation – though well intended – that would limit consumer choice and likely eliminate jobs in Texas. HB 1131 by Rep. Flores and the companion bill, SB 435 by Sen. Carona, threaten existing Texas jobs by mandating divestiture of Allstate Insurance in a motor vehicle repair facility, Sterling Auto Body Repair. These bills are not free-market, nor are they pro-consumer. This is a pocket book issue, an issue of consumer choice, and an issue that challenges the appropriate role of government.

04/11/2003
Towards a Sound Policy on Global Warming
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Press Release

Towards a Sound Policy on Global Warming

April 11, 2003 Chairman Pete Domenici Energy and Natural Resources Committee U.S. Senate SD-364 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-6150 Dear Chairman Domenici:

04/11/2003
U.S. Congress Learns of New Jersey's Auto Insurance Crisis
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U.S. Congress Learns of New Jersey's Auto Insurance Crisis

Federal lawmakers today learned that New Jersey's auto insurance crisis has impacted more than a quarter million people within the past three years alone, forcing drivers to search for auto insurance in a market bereft of auto insurers. Testifying before the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee, Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition Vice Chairman John J. Marchioni explained that excessive regulation of the industry has lead to a shortage of insurance for consumers seeking coverage. The Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition's statewide public education campaign has informed citizens and lawmakers that years of politicizing and over regulating auto insurance has caused the exodus of auto insurers from New Jersey, leaving consumers with too few companies from which to purchase auto insurance. Five of the six largest auto insurers in the nation do not sell auto coverage in the state and more than twenty auto insurers fled New Jersey in the past decade. Nearly 40 auto insurers have withdrawn from New Jersey since 1976 and several more have announced plans to stop doing business in the state. "To solve the current capacity and availability crisis, it is imperative for additional capital to be invested in the New Jersey auto insurance market. But the private sector is unlikely to take that step until the numerous regulatory barriers to competition are dismantled. Reforms must give existing insurers confidence they can effectively serve their customers, generate a competitive rate of return, and attract additional insurers to enter the marketplace," said Marchioni. The Coalition supports New Jersey State Senate Bill No. 63, which passed the State Senate and is expected to be considered by the New Jersey General Assembly in May. The New Jersey Automobile Insurance Competition and Choice Act has the backing of Governor James McGreevey and a bipartisan group of legislators in both houses. "Assuming S-63 is signed into law, the required regulatory changes are swiftly enacted, and the reforms are allowed to take root without political interference, New Jersey could become a more attractive market for insurers, with the state's consumers the ultimate beneficiaries," said Marchioni. The Coalition members include the National Association of Independent Insurers, Insurance Council of New Jersey, American Insurance Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, New Jersey Association of REALTORS(R), Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, NJ SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development) Latino Chamber of Commerce of Mercer County and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

04/10/2003
This Week on Capitol Hill
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Press Release

This Week on Capitol Hill

With two days left until Congress adjourns for the Easter recess, a budget conference report and the supplemental appropriations bill have not been completed. Conferees on the budget have yet to agree on a tax cut figure, but it does seem like the members concur on a discretionary spending total of $784 billion, which is nearly the amount the president outlined.

04/10/2003
Can Common Sense Return to Our Legal System?
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Press Release

Can Common Sense Return to Our Legal System?

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court brought a measure of reason back to the nation’s costly legal system when it rejected a $145 million punitive damages award against State Farm (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, et al). In a 6-3 decision, the Court claimed that the Utah Supreme Court had incorrectly reinstated the award because it failed to follow earlier guidelines on punitive damages established by the Supreme Court. The decision reverberates well beyond the case in Utah, addressing the abuse of punitive damages in general, which the Court describes as “an irrational and arbitrary deprivation of the property of the defendant.”

04/10/2003
Cain Closer to Decision
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Cain Closer to Decision

BY Rob Christensen, Amy Gardner

Jim Cain, a Republican lawyer from Raleigh, says he is continuing to explore a gubernatorial bid next year and plans to decide within eight weeks. Cain drew notice this week when he criticized a Department of Commerce trade mission to Europe because it included a stop in France. Cain said he thought it was inappropriate to go to France because of that country's opposition to the war in Iraq. Although he said he has made no decision, Cain said he is closer to declaring his candidacy than he was at the beginning of the year. "I have received lot of encouragement by friends and acquaintances whose opinions I respect and who have a continuing concern about our state leadership," Cain said. Cain, 45, said family considerations will play a major role in his decision. He and his wife have two daughters. Cain is best known as president of the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team, a post he left last year. As a result of the hockey job and his law practice, Cain has made connections with many area business leaders. But he is also politically experienced, having been trained in politics as part of the old National Congressional Club, the political organization of former Sen. Jesse Helms. Cain is the subject of a flattering profile in this month's edition of North Carolina, the magazine of the N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. The group functions as the state's chamber of commerce. Cain is hardly the only Republican interested in challenging Democratic Gov. Mike Easley. Others who have expressed interest include Sen. Patrick Ballantine of Wilmington, former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, insurance agent George Little of Southern Pines, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly Lake Jr. and Winston-Salem lawyer Dan Barrett. U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of Concord is expected to announce shortly that he will not run for governor. Justice Lake to stay? Lake is still not talking about whether he plans to run for governor next year. But the Republican's options remain narrow under a revised Code of Judicial Conduct issued this week. Talk had circulated in Raleigh that justices were considering a revision to the code to allow judges to remain on the bench while running for nonjudicial offices. In the end, they decided to leave the provision alone, Lake said. "Judges have to not just be impartial completely," Lake said. "They have to be perceived as impartial and fair." Political wedding You can tell it's a political wedding when two former U.S. senators and a former congressman show up. The recent wedding of Chuck Fuller and Holly Michelle Coffer in North Raleigh resembled a Republican convention. And no wonder. Fuller managed the 1998 re-election campaign of Sen. Lauch Faircloth and the 1996 gubernatorial campaign of Robin Hayes. Coffer is the daughter of Raleigh physician Bert Coffer, who was campaign treasurer for Sen. Jesse Helms in 1996. Helms, Faircloth and former U.S. Rep. Fred Heineman were among those who attended the ceremony at Bay Leaf Baptist Church. Among the groomsmen were Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and Jonathan Hill, the head of the state chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Democrats were sprinkled in the crowd as well, including former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and Rufus Edmisten, a former secretary of state and former attorney general.

04/09/2003
Budget's First Draft Passes House Panel
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Budget's First Draft Passes House Panel

BY John Moritz

AUSTIN--The House Appropriations Committee passed the first draft of the state's 2004-05 bare-bones budget Monday amid howls from critics that some of the spending cuts go too deep and acknowledgements from supporters that the document will change before it becomes law. The version that emerged from the Republican-dominated appropriations panel on a 19-2 vote and is heading for the full House increases overall spending slightly. But it calls for sharp reductions for higher education programs, criminal justice and public safety initiatives and the funds lawmakers receive to run their offices. "I expect there will be a good deal of debate and discussion on the House floor, and there should be," said state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the panel's chairwoman. The $117.7 billion budget contains 5.5 percent less state revenue than does the 2002-03 spending plan. But it would draw about 6 percent more from the federal government than the state currently receives. Republicans also pointed out that spending for human services programs will rise more than 5 percent over the next two years. The panel recommended reducing spending for public education by $65.8 million, or 0.2 percent, and cutting funds for higher education by $773.5 million, a 4.7 percent drop. Criminal justice and public safety programs would lose $609.4 million, a 7.2 percent cutback. The appropriation to run the Legislature would be cut by $30.6 million, a 10 percent reduction. Programs for health and human services would see a $2.1 billion increase, although some initiatives within the immense agency would be trimmed and some public-assistance rolls would be reduced. The committee's action came after weeks of testimony from recipients of social service programs who said that they depend on state-paid health programs for their survival. Even with the proposed spending increases, the panel's budget would still slash the rolls of the state-paid Children's Health Insurance Program for low-income working families and from the Medicaid program for more needy Texans. Two committee Democrats, Joe Deshotel of Port Arthur and Richard Raymond of Laredo, voted against the budget plan. Budget writers are attempting close a $9.9 billion gap between what the state anticipated receiving from various revenue sources and the cost of keeping services at about the same level for 2002-03. State leaders said early in the legislative session that a tax increase was unacceptable. State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, said the plan falls short. "The areas I'm focusing on are education and health and human services," said Eiland, who was absent for the committee's vote. "If those two areas are not substantially increased, I won't be able to support it on the floor." Peggy Venable, who directs the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, said the budget is a much-needed step toward reducing the size of state government. "We realize that for every state dollar spent, there is a constituency," Venable said. "But it is time to go back and make sure that we only fund those programs that the state should be funding." Scott McCown, who heads the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities, took a much different view. "It's a very, very cruel budget," he said of the proposed cuts to social services. "And what is so frustrating is that we could have been able to afford to mitigate so many of these cuts with a tax on cigarettes. Depending on the level of tax, we could raise $1.5 billion, and that could have restored some of the programs they want to cut."

04/08/2003

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