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In Action

Do They Mean What They Say?
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Press Release

Do They Mean What They Say?

Sometime before the July 4 congressional recess, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will allow a vote on the full and permanent repeal of the Death Tax. Senator Daschle does not support permanent repeal, but due to election year politics he agreed to hold a vote. Senator Daschle has no intention of saying exactly when the vote will take place. He will bring the bill to the floor the very moment he thinks he is most likely to have the votes to kill it.

05/21/2002
Ex - Md. Rep. Bentley to Run Again
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Press Release

Ex - Md. Rep. Bentley to Run Again

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Former Rep. Helen Bentley, once the highest-ranking woman in the Nixon administration, announced Tuesday she will run for the seat she held for 10 years. Bentley said she offers experience in national and international affairs that the Democratic candidates in the Second District, which includes part of Baltimore, cannot match. The 78-year-old Republican made her announcement to about 200 people on a pier across the Baltimore harbor from Fort McHenry.

05/21/2002
In Quest to Update, State Puts Social Studies Texts to the Test
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In Quest to Update, State Puts Social Studies Texts to the Test

BY Joshua Benton

"History repeats itself," Karl Marx famously wrote. "First as tragedy, second as farce." He might as well have added: Third as a high school textbook. Once a decade, Texas adopts new social studies texts for its schools. The politically charged process is upon us again, and the books up for approval are now available for public scrutiny. In the coming months, they're certain to receive it.

05/21/2002
Budget to Have Sales Tax "Option"
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Budget to Have Sales Tax "Option"

BY David Rice

As Gov. Mike Easley prepares to release his budget proposal for 2002-03 today, aides say he will eliminate $333 million a year in reimbursements to cities and counties and instead back an optional half-cent increase in sales taxes that could raise $400 million a year for local governments. "There are no state tax increases," said Cari Boyce, a spokeswoman for Easley. For local governments, "It's an option.... It puts the decision-making in their hands."

05/21/2002
Textbook Review May Be Particularly Controversial This Year
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Textbook Review May Be Particularly Controversial This Year

- Just about any time that textbooks come up for review, controversy is just around the corner -- but that especially holds true this year, educators say. Once a decade, Texas adopts new social studies texts for its schools, and it 's that time again. "Every time we adopt textbooks it's controversial, but we think this year will be particularly so," said Cheryl Wright, director of social studies at the Texas Education Agency.

05/21/2002
Once Bitten – Twice Shy – Use That Veto!!
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Press Release

Once Bitten – Twice Shy – Use That Veto!!

Week in Summary: It is a fight to the finish this week as both the House and Senate prepare for a weeklong Memorial recess. The House has the supplemental bill at the top of its calendar. The House bill may be paired with other initiatives such as a measure to raise the debt ceiling limit or language ‘deeming’ the House-passed budget resolution. The ‘deeming’ language would create a blueprint for the fiscal 2003 appropriations bills since the Senate does not appear inclined to pass its own budge resolution, leaving the spending accounts without any guidance.

05/20/2002
Easley Against Alcohol Tax Rise
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Easley Against Alcohol Tax Rise

BY Amy Gardner, Wade Rawlins

Gov. Mike Easley ruled out new state taxes in the coming year only after he considered raising taxes on alcohol, according to new budget documents released Friday by the Governor's Office. Easley looked at raising $ 65.6 million with an alcohol beverage tax, according to one budget worksheet. But the option is crossed out, and an emphatic "NO!" is scrawled next to it -- in the governor's own writing, an Easley aide said. "The governor's budget is not going to include any new state tax increases," spokeswoman Cari Boyce said Friday.

05/18/2002
Coalition For Auto Insurance Competition Launches N.J. Campaign
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Coalition For Auto Insurance Competition Launches N.J. Campaign

BY Marie Suszynski

NEWARK, N.J. (BestWire) - The New Jersey Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition has launched a media campaign to get its message out that the state 's automobile insurance industry needs to be overhauled. In a radio advertisement, an insurance finder tells a potential customer that the insurance companies he'd like to buy from--Geico, John Hancock, Nationwide--have all left New Jersey because of excessive regulations. "More have announced their intention to leave," the ad says, "forcing over 1 million New Jersey drivers to scramble for coverage." A print ad says "New Jersey's auto insurance system is a wreck" and shows a picture of an overturned tractor-trailer blocking traffic on a highway. "What's driving auto insurers away?" another print ad asks, showing an illustration of auto insurers driving out of New Jersey. "In the past decade, 20 auto insurers have left the state. And four out of the six largest auto insurers in America don't do business here," the ad says. "New Jersey drivers now have one-third the choices available to drivers in Pennsylvania and New York." The ads started running May 15 and will run for two weeks in eight newspapers and on eight radio stations across New Jersey and in New York and Pennsylvania, said Ernie Landante, a spokesman for the coalition. The Star Ledger, Trenton Times and Philadelphia Inquirer are among the newspapers running the ads. Radio stations in Middlesex and Somerset Counties, Atlantic City, Trenton, Millville, New York City and Philadelphia are broadcasting the ads. They're a continuing effort to educate people in New Jersey and the state's policymakers that New Jersey regulations need to be changed, Landante said. "We need sensible, workable regulations that promote choice and competition. That's our goal," he said. The coalition is working on legislation to change the state 's current regulations. Four regulations--the take-all-comers law, the excess-profits law, prior rate approval and withdrawal restrictions--"strangle competition," statements from the coalition said. The take-all-comers law, which requires insurers to accept any eligible driver, restricts a company's ability to manage its growth, the coalition said. Insurers could be forced to take more customers than they could handle. While a few other states have an excess-profits law, none are as stringent as New Jersey's, which requires that companies make no more than 6% of premium as profit, the coalition said. New Jersey's prior rate-approval systems keep rate increases "artificially low," the coalition said, noting that 90% of rate increases requested are denied. And with New Jersey's withdrawal restrictions, insurers that enter the state face the possibility that if business goes bad, they have to stay in the state until they 're "near financial disaster" or pay another insurer to take the business, the coalition said. The coalition was formed this year by auto insurance industry trade associations, including the American Insurance Association, the Insurance Council of New Jersey and the National Association of Independent Insurers. Earlier this month, the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey joined the coalition. The coalition's primary funders are direct writers, specifically State Farm Indemnity Co. and Allstate, said Steven A. Reichman, president of the Professional Insurance Agents (BestWire, May 10, 2002). State Farm, which has about 780,000 policyholders in New Jersey, is planning to withdraw from the state because the company said regulations make it too hard to do business, although Holly Bakke, the state's banking and insurance commissioner, said she would try to persuade the company to stay (BestWire, April 18, 2002). Other members of the coalition include Citizens for a Sound Economy, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the New Jersey Food Council, the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, the NJ Society for Environmental, Economic Development, the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

05/17/2002
21% Tax Increase Proposed
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Press Release

21% Tax Increase Proposed

Webster’s Dictionary defines a tax as a compulsory payment for the support of a government. Then, why are city officials claiming Raleigh’s tax rate will remain flat when residents would be paying an increase of $80 per year for new “garbage collection and storm-water fees”? Raleigh City Manager, Russell Allen, and his budget staff are proposing several tax increases -- cleverly disguised as fees -- on the citizens of Raleigh.

05/16/2002
Loan Money For Rural TV
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Loan Money For Rural TV

BY McGregor McCance

The federal farm bill signed into law this week plants seeds that may produce local television signals for rural satellite television subscribers. Included in the massive bill is $80 million in loan guarantees designed to encourage companies to launch satellites that could bring local channels to more subscribers. Most satellite TV subscribers cannot get local channels over a dish. They must rely on regular TV antennas, which often can't clearly pick up local TV stations in rural areas.

05/16/2002

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