Budget and Tax
Research & Commentary: Louisiana Tobacco Tax Hike
Louisiana legislators are now considering several proposals to increase the state’s tobacco tax. One proposal offered by state Representative Harold Ritchie (D-Bogalusa) would increase the state’s cigarette tax from 36 cents per pack to 68 cents. The second proposal, suggested by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), would increase the tax to the Southern regional average of 83 cents. Louisiana currently has the third-lowest tobacco excise tax rate in the country, behind only Missouri and Virginia.
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues targeted sin taxes on products such as tobacco disproportionately harm low-income taxpayers while punishing local businesses. “The proposed tax would only further contract the market over time and create budget deficits taxpayers will eventually have to fill with additional tax increases. Instead of using taxes to try to change people’s behavior, Louisiana should focus on keeping taxes low by controlling government spending.” Read more
Energy and Environment
Research & Commentary: North Dakota Federal Environmental Law Impact Review Fund
The North Dakota House of Representatives recently passed a new law to form a committee that will review federal legislation and agency regulations that detrimentally impact, or have the potential to detrimentally impact, the state’s agricultural, coal, and oil production sectors. The committee would conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the regulation would impede the state’s agricultural, coal, and oil production sectors.
In this Research and Commentary, Heartland Research Fellow Bette Grande argues federal regulations can be a significant barrier to economic growth. Grande writes, “The North Dakota bill represents an important first step at the state level, which can serve as a model for other states in protecting state sovereignty.” Read more
Montana Creates Tax Credit Scholarship Program Without Governor’s Signature
The Montana State Legislature passed Senate Bill 410, which provides income tax credits for donations of up to $150 that parents can use as scholarships to enroll their children into public or private schools. This bill was passed with the overwhelming support of the Montana Rural Education Association (MREA). Author Ashley Bateman says MREA Executive Director Dave Puyear is very confident that many donations will be made to the program because of the community’s passionate support of Montana schools. Read more
GOP’s New Criticism of Obamacare: Patients Getting ‘Insurance,’ But No Medical Care
Gene Koprowski writes in Somewhat Reasonable about the Obama administration’s assertion the number of Americans with health insurance is increasing. The claims are being challenged by House and Senate Republicans who note that many of those patients with new policies are still not getting access to health care providers.
Koprowski points to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found Medicaid patients had more difficulty finding a doctor than privately insured people, as the lower payment rates for doctors under Medicaid are a financial disincentive for those physicians to take on new patients with that threadbare kind of “insurance.” Read more
Right to Work
Research & Commentary: Should Missouri Become the 26th Right-to-Work State?
The Missouri General Assembly recently passed a proposal that would make it the nation’s 26th right-to-work state. Missouri’s proposed right-to-work law would prohibit employers from requiring an employee to join or refuse to join a union, pay fees or other charges to a union, or pay any third party or charity instead of paying a union.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans and State Government Relations Manager Logan Pike discuss right-to-work laws and how they can have positive effects on a state’s economy, creating new jobs and increasing population growth. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) desk. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Free Speech in South Carolina
Public officials in South Carolina are considering laws that would regulate political speech by nonpartisan and nonpolitical organizations. In response, the South Carolina Policy Council will host a public debate at the University of South Carolina on Tuesday, May 19 at 6:00pm. The debate will feature participants from among South Carolina’s leading voices on government policy. Register for the event here.