Stopping Illegal Cannabis Sales by Suspending Cannabis Sales Taxes

  • December 3, 2021

What’s happening? San Francisco Commissioners unanimously approved the suspension of cannabis taxes through the end of the year to cut down on illegal cannabis purchases.

Why is this important? Legal cannabis retailers are struggling against illegal markets. A Legislative study showed that the illegal market grew as the sales tax rate increased.

How will this be important? The correlation between the tax rate an illegal sales may shape legislation

KPIX5 SF | San Francisco Suspends Cannabis Tax To Combat Illegal Marijuana Sales

Stable TV Film Incentives in OK

  • December 3, 2021

What’s happening? Oklahoma is offering incentives for tv and film production and it’s working.

Why is this important? Sundance film darlings, upcoming Martin Scorsese big-budget “Killer of the Flower Moon, and more had the OK Legislature in July 2021 pass incentives that include:

  • $30 million cash rebate available — set until 2031 —
  • a base rebate rate of 20%
  • with the opportunity to reach 38% in a rebate

How will this be important? “The fact that there is such a direct and easy communication with the governor’s office, which is not obvious in other states, is truly helpful. You know, you have a problem. Let’s figure out a solution and address it,” says Dylan Brodie, associate production on FX hit series “Reservation Dogs” and owner of Eleven Hundred Studios Collective in Tulsa.

Variety | Oklahoma’s Stable Incentives, Studio Space and Crew Boosts Production

COVID Effect. Increasing Tourism

  • December 3, 2021

What’s happening? To offset the decline in tourism from COVID, Thailand is considering allowing tourists to pay with cryptocurrency.

Why is this important? It is the cooperation necessary for this to happen. Thailand’s Tourism Authority is working with regulators and a local crypto exchange to pave the way for the acceptance of digital tokens for travel.

How will this be important? If this model works, will others use it? Think of Miami, FL and Miami Coin. Is that the open door?


Boston Divests from Fossil Fuels

  • December 3, 2021

What’s happening? Boston’s new mayor, Mayor Michelle Wu, signed an ordinance that prohibits the use of city funds in investments in the fossil fuel industry.

Why is this important? Unlike blanket divestments, it applies to any company that derives more than 15% of its revenue from coal, oil, natural gas, and fossil fuel products. 

How will this be important? It is estimated the ordinance will pull $65 M of Boston’s funds from fossil fuel invested companies. In June Maine divested from fossil fuels statewide. In January NYCs 2 main pension funds divested from fossil fuels.


Reducing Cannabis Production Taxes

  • November 19, 2021

What’s happening? San Diego is considering reducing cannabis production taxes from 8% to 2% to increase production of edibles.

Why is this important? The reduction in production tax is seen as a hurdle for small businesses to enter the market & address a gap in the local supply chain.

How will this be important? Ideally the increase in production will allow for more local product to be sold and reduce the trucking of supplies in San Diego.

San Diego Union Tribune | San Diego may lower cannabis taxes on production businesses to encourage more to open

Ballot Prop: Win for Short Term Rental Tax

  • November 19, 2021

What is happening? Voters in Ouray, CO approved a 15% increase in short term rental taxes.

Why is this important? 57% approval rating and a 30 year Sunset provision.

How will this be important? The revenue will be dedicated to  water and wastewater treatment plant projects and future housing programs

9 News | Ouray approves short-term rental tax

City Adopts Child Savings Account Program and a Guaranteed Income Pilot

  • November 19, 2021

What is happening? Atlanta is testing out a new child savings account and guaranteed income program.

Why is this important? Child Savings Account Program offers a one-time deposit of $50 into an educational savings account for Atlanta Public Schools kindergarteners from low-income households. This program will be a partnership with  Operation HOPE, Inc. to establish the program along with a $2 M contribution from the City.

The guaranteed income pilot will be a pilot partnership with the City and a  Urban League of Greater Atlanta along with a $2M contribution from the City.

How will this be important? It is an innovative solution to the pervasive economic insecurity and income inequality.

Fox 5 Atlanta | Atlanta City Council passes child savings account, guaranteed income programs

Opportunity Zones & Transparency

  • November 18, 2021

What is happening? In 2017, we were gifted with Opportunity Zones that made promises of drawing down billions of dollars of investment to struggling communities across the country, providing needed capital for businesses and helping bolster local economies.

Why is this important? The economic benefits aren’t clear and some say Opportunity Zones only benefit is ” outsized tax benefits to the rich.”

How will this be important? “Without those reporting requirements there’s no possible way to have an honest, balanced hearing around the benefits that are really important to the poorest people in this country.” –U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican

Route Fifty | With Scant Data, Questions Hang Over Opportunity Zones

Local Government Revocation of Single Use Plastic Ban

  • November 12, 2021

What’s happening? Sandwich, MA will vote whether to repeal the ban on single use plastic.

Why is this important? 10 of Sandwich’s neighboring towns have also passed the single use plastic ban

How will this be important? Those wanting the ban repealed are relying on these arguments: potential harm to small businesses, health concerns and the continued sale of sports drinks and soda in plastic bottles.

Cape Cod Times | Sandwich to vote on plastic bottles, jet skis and bicycle path at special town meeting

Nov. Ballot. Wealth Tax in Washington State

  • November 11, 2021

What is happening? Washington State voters rejected a proposal that would have created a 7% capital gains tax on more than $250,000.

Why is this important? The carafe outs created in the legislation, Senate Bill 5096, would exempt assets like sales of retirement accounts, real estate, livestock, some agricultural property and timber, sales of sole-proprietor businesses that have a gross revenue up to $6 million, and  some auto dealerships.

How will this be important? Was this a timing issue or a substantive issue?

Seattle Times | Washington voters rejecting new 7% tax on capital gains in nonbinding advisory measure

Ballot Initiative. College Sports Betting

  • November 11, 2021

What’s happening? New Jersey Voters voted down an expansion of sports betting in state college sports.

Why is this important? New Jersey will be the only state with legal sports wagering that does not allow bets on in-state college sports.

How will this be important? It is an interesting question for the other states that do not permit sports betting- is it ok for professional teams but not for colleges? | N.J. Election 2021: Voters reject college sports betting expansion, support more bingo

Nov. Ballot. BLM Effect: New Civilian Review Board for Police

  • November 11, 2021

What’s happening? Cleveland, voters approved a new civilian review board to investigate police misconduct.

Why is this important? Cleveland voters created this panel while Minneapolis voters voted to retain its current policing structure.

How will this be important? The results on policing ballot initiatives were scattered and not indicative of any clear trends.

Governing | Policing, Pot, Housing and the ‘Right to Food’: Which Ballot Measures Passed

Ballot: Cannabis Tax Rate Increase

  • November 5, 2021

What’s happening? Colorado had a ballot initiative to increase the tax on cannabis to fund education. It failed. A local initiative in Denver to increase cannabis taxes to fund pandemic research also appeared headed toward defeat.

Why is this important? Supporters of the initiatives said the cannabis revenue wasn’t doing enough for education or health care research. The argument didn’t win. Opponents said it is a regressive tax on people’s pain. That won.

How will this be important? Colorado was one of the first states to legalize cannabis, how its voters feel about the collection of cannabis revenue and its uses could be telling.

Marijuana Moment | Colorado Voters Reject Marijuana Tax Increase Ballot Measure Aimed At Funding Education

BLM Effect: Alabama Constitution Reform

  • November 5, 2021

What’s happening?  Joint Interim Committee on the Recompilation of the Constitution  of the Alabama Legislature, made up of people from Alabama, recommended removing racist language from the state Constitution.

Why is this important? The edits will include language related to slavery, the poll tax, segregation and Brown v. Board of Education.

How will this be important? Let’s think of texas where language in the Texas Constitution could be used to provide an exception to Obergefell v. Hodges.

Montgomery Advertiser | Alabama Constitution: Committee approves plan to remove racist language

Legislator Files: Operating & Voting

  • November 4, 2021

What’s happening? A Virginia legislator, who is also a surgeon, was fined by the medical board for operating while participating in 2 virtual committee hearings and voting.

Why is this important? The legislator said the surgery patients consented to her legislating while operating.

How will this be important? “Many state lawmakers across the country balance their legislative duties with full-time jobs. The National Conference of State Legislatures classifies the Maryland General Assembly as a “hybrid” model of government, meaning lawmakers there make more money than their counterparts in other states but “usually not enough to allow them to make a living without having other sources of income.””

Route Fifty | State Lawmaker Accepts $15,000 Fine for Legislating from Operating Room

Cannabis Business Applications Benefitted from COVID

  • November 4, 2021

What’s happening? Lansing Michigan began the process of moving applications for cannabis businesses online because of COVID. As a result, the process of an online application became faster for the applicant and for the city.

Why is this important? Application processing time west from 3 months (all paper applications) to 3 weeks (online applications). City worker application processing time also was reduced by 10 hours per application.

How will this be important? Legacy systems are being replaced in local and state governments largely thanks to the need for online/digital solutions that emerged due to the pandemic.

Government Technology | Online Marijuana Processing Smoother and More Efficient

What does Fantasy Sports Revenue Look like in Arizona?

  • October 28, 2021

What’s happening? Arizona authorized fantasy sports earlier this year. The 1st 4 days of fantasy sports generated  just under $1,600 in tax revenue. The fantasy sports operators pay 5% of their profits as revenue.

Why is this important? State regulators anticipate sports betting will be a much stronger revenue source.

How will this be important? States are still considering fantasy sports and sports betting. States still like revenue sources.

Fox 10 | Arizona collects over $1,500 in fantasy sports tax during first 4 days in August

ARPA For Guaranteed Basic Income in Chicago

  • October 28, 2021

What’s happening? Guaranteed Basic Income programs are moving to states other than California. Chicago is using ARPA funds to give 5,000 low-income households $500 per month.

Why is this important? The pilot has support of aldermen, but received pushback from “the 20-member Black Caucus, which has urged Lightfoot to redirect the money to violence prevention programs”

How will this be important? let’s start counting how many local jurisdictions start a guaranteed basic impact program and whether the programs save the local governmental entities funds in other areas.


Halloween Taxes. Taxing Candy.

  • October 28, 2021

What’s happening? How states tax candy varies greatly by rate and by the definition of candy. For instance Illinois considers Reese’s peanut butter cups, gummy worms and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars to be candy and taxes them at 6.25%. While Twix, Twizzlers and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars are not classified as candy and taxed at 1%. Illinois distinguishing characteristic is whether flour is involved.

Why is this important? Let’s read the above where candy that trick or treaters receive commonly are not considered candy.

How will this be important? People who want to kill joy in the world want to tax sugar and soda and butter and probably dairy and meat until we’re all eating some form of gruel that we saw on the Matrix. So, these killjoys will try to tax the hell out Halloween.

Route Fifty | Tax or Treat! State Laws on Candy Taxation Vary Wildly

TN: Vaccines Can Be Required. Proof CANNOT be Required.

  • October 28, 2021

What’s happening? Tennessee legislature is considering HB 9004 (2021 | TN) that would allow businesses in Tennessee to mandate vaccines but those businesses cannot require proof of vaccination.

Why is this important? The author says this how we treat other vaccines so it should apply to COVID too.

How will this be important? This is one to watch and whether other states follow suit.

Governing | Tennessee Allows COVID Vaccine Requirements but Blocks Proof

Beer is Science. Breweries Use Science. Brewery Super PAC Supports Science.

  • October 28, 2021

What is happening? A Brewery in Wisconsin created a Super PAC to help parents sue School Boards that did not follow CDC Guidelines on COVID, and to unseat anti-school board members.

Why is this important? The super PAC status allows for protection of the funding sources

How will this be important? Super PACs as a political voice version 10.2

ARS Technica | Wisconsinites plan to sue “every school board” that ignores CDC’s COVID advice

TX v. CA: Economic Policy Showdown

  • October 22, 2021

What’s happening? UT Austin and Stanford professors joined forces to see which state, TX or CA, had better economic policies.

Why is this important? Businesses and people are relocating from California to Texas. There’s got to be something to that, right?

How will this be important? The study says it’s not clear. Each side has its good points and runs through these, which are of personal preference:

  • TX low taxes but low social program funding (foster care, mental health, health care network, etc…)
  • CA remains king for venture capital funders
  • TX has higher property taxes per capita
  • CA has higher income taxes per capita (TX has no state income tax)
  • CA spends more on students in public eduction
  • TX graduation rates are higher than California’s
  • TX has seen a population boom
  • CA has surging per capita income and GDP

Stanford | A tale of two states: Contrasting economic policy in California and Texas

School Finance. Did Michigan find a loophole to vouchers?

  • October 22, 2021

What is happening? The Michigan Legislature passed legislation to by creating tax credits  and deductions for businesses and individuals who donate to a scholarship fund, which would be used to give grants to students to use the money for approved educational expenses. SB 687 (2021 | MI)

Why is this important? Opponents say this is just a new way to package vouchers. Supporters say that vouchers concern tax revenue and this bill concerns private donations.

How will this be important? In Michigan the importance is that a Republican Legislature passed it but it faces a veto by a Democrat Governor. Elsewhere- copy, file the bill, repeat.

Detroit Free Press | Gov. Whitmer will veto Michigan GOP’s school voucher proposal

Job Growth in Manufacturing from Energy Policy Changes

  • October 22, 2021

What’s happening?  A U.S. transition away from fossil fuels will lead to creation of jobs for making electric vehicles in the U.S. and Mexico.

Why is this important? The interconnectivity of the countries industrial manufacturing facilities for decades.

How will this be important? By 2030, Mexico plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22%. Climate activists say Mexico is second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in Latin America.

Reuters | U.S. energy transition to create Mexico auto jobs, climate envoy Kerry says

Revenue Estimate Increase = Tax Cut

  • October 21, 2021

What’s happening? Republicans in Iowa are calling for statewide tax cuts for Iowans because state revenues are exceeding estimates.

Why is this important? Republicans say pandemic policies strengthened the state. Democrats say the revenue estimates reflect the use of federal relief funds.

How will this be important? Will other Republican legislatures use revenue estimate increases as automatic calls for tax cuts.

Des Moines Register | Republicans call for more tax cuts as Iowa panel increases revenue estimates for next two years

Let’s look at Sin Taxes

  • October 14, 2021

What’s happening? Sn taxes are popular- taxing the drinkers, smokers, gamblers, soda drinkers- whatever society doesn’t think is ideal in a Victorian minute.

Why is this important? Results are varied. Prohibition says it’s not a great idea to flatly prohibit something. Heavy. taxes on tobacco did result in a tobacco use decline.

How will this be important? Accepting that the issue of taxing certain behaviors is it is a moral issue. Imagine if vegans controlled everything, they may want to tax all animal based products.

Governing | A Shot, a Beer and the Ever-Evolving Debate Over Taxing Sin

Increase Property Taxes on Short Term Rentals?

  • October 14, 2021

What’s happening? Colorado is considering imposing a higher property tax on properties that are vacation homes that are used for short term rentals. Bill Draft.

Why is this important? Some say the property taxes would more than triple. Others say it is taxing short term rental vacation homes like hotels and motels.

How could this be important? Eyeing new sources of revenue is not new.

Colorado Sun | Property taxes would more than triple for Colorado short-term rental owners under statehouse proposal

Initiative to Raise Cannabis Tax in Denver

  • October 14, 2021

What is happening? An initiative in Denver, CO backed by billionaires, wants to raise the cannabis tax. The Mayor is opposed.

Why is this important? The increase the initiative is calling for is 13%, and industry does not know why it was identified as the source when proceeds will be used for pandemic research.

How will this be important? There is a swirling wind of whether initiative and referendum have gone too far, like the recall of Governor Newsom. Be on the look out for jurisdiction rolling back initiative and referendum.

Denver Business Journal | Denver Initiated Ordinance 300: Billionaire-backed Denver ordinance would raise retail cannabis tax by 13%

Denver Post | Denver election 2021: Voters asked to tax recreational marijuana sales to fund pandemic research

Local Government Use of Cannabis Tax

  • October 14, 2021

What’s happening? Vista, California is found south of San Diego near the California coast. It has  $5.1 million in revenue from the cannabis sales tax for the last fiscal year.

Why is this important? Her’s a breakdown of how Vista will spend its $5.1 million :

  • $4 M to the general fund
    • Cannabis decoy and enforcement operations: $20,000
    • Youth cannabis prevention and early intervention: $100,000
    • Youth scholarship program: $140,000
    • Increased lighting in neighborhoods: $270,000
    • Park restroom maintenance: $31,000
    • New Sheriff’s deputy: $275,000
    • Park Director Ranges (2): $277,000
  • $1.1 million to spend on youth scholarships

How will this be important? Cannabis revenue is a viable way for the city to add safety elements from sheriff’s deputies to more ambulances.

KPBS | Money from marijuana sales tax will fund special projects in Vista

New Cannabis Rules in New Mexico

  • October 7, 2021

What’s happening? Santa Fe New Mexico has new zoning rules for cannabis shops that require 300 feet from school, daycares and religious institutions. 400 feet from other cannabis shops.

Why is this important? State rules set the 300 feet from schools and daycares. The local Santa Fe rules set the parameters for churches and other cannabis shops.

How will this be important? Add these to your running list of distancing standards.

The Paper | Blunts: State Proposes Cannabis Rules

Opponent Arguments to an EV Tax

  • October 7, 2021

What’s happening? Opponents to a EV tax in Saskatchewan in Canada think the province has a punitive tax against electric cars. In response opponents are calling for a sidewalk tax for walkers.

Why is this important? Grab a creative name for your opposition group like  “Saskatchewanians for Sidewalk Sustenance” (SSS) & put out a statement like ““Every day, thousands of people walk all over our sidewalks, push heavy strollers and shopping carts, even use motorized vehicles and bicycles,” says Lou Acera, president of SSS. “But are they contributing to the extra upkeep? This makes sure they do.”

How will this be important? Represent an opponent to an EV tax in your area- here’s a quiver for your bow.

Electric | Canadian group satirizes Saskatchewan’s dumb EV tax by suggesting a sidewalk tax

+1 Local Pension Divestment

  • October 7, 2021

What’s happening? Baltimore is divesting its 3 local city pension from investments in fossil fuels. The City has also passed an ordinance to be net zero by 2050.

Why is this important? Baltimore isn’t alone, NYC, D.C., Los Angeles, New Orleans and Pittsburgh also have divested local pension funds of fossil fuel investments.

How will this be important? Supporters say it is a global movement to divest from fossil fuels

Maryland Matters | Baltimore Mayor Signs Bill Mandating City Pension Funds Divest From Fossil Fuels

How does a state pass voting reforms when statewide leadership is bipartisan?

  • October 7, 2021

What’s happening? PA Republicans looking for a way to implement voting regulations are opting to skip normal lawmaking and moving to constitutional amendments because the PA Gov. Wolff is a Democrat.

Why is this important? If the Legislature passes a constitutional proposition, the Governor has no authority over it.

How will this be important? Think of the other issues this might work for in your state.

WITF | Republicans aim to make big election changes in state constitution

Meet a Coalition for Improving Local Control

  • September 30, 2021

What’s happening? In Texas the Our Home Our Decision Coalition joined twitterers in January 2021 to support local control.

Why is this important? 17 coalition members can be found here. Partners range from city attorney association to fire chief association to association of school boards.

How will this be important? Their goal is to”emphasize the necessity for local decision making and to ensure the diverse needs of Texas communities can continue to be met by local government”


Ranking State + Local Government Debt Obligations

  • September 30, 2021

What’s happening? The Census Bureau is releasing aggregate local and state government debt data. Here’s a glimpse at the top 13

  1. New York

2. Connecticut


4. Illinois

5. Alaska

6. California

7. North Dakota

8. Hawaii

9. Washington

10. Kentucky

11. Rhode Island

12. Colorado

13. Texas

Why is this important? The data is broken down in total, local, state % of GDP and per capita. Here’s who is on top and on bottom of each these.

  • Total: CA with$ 506.7 Billion & Alaska with $9.5 Billion
  • Local: CA with $361B (TX with $248B) & RI with $2.6B
  • State % of GDP: KY with 24.7% of its GDP & NJ with 14.5%
  • Per Capita state and local government debt: NY $18,411 & PA $9,778

How will this be important? These numbers have been increasing since the pandemic.

Governing | State and Local Governments With the Most Debt Per Capita

Taxpayer Costs for Wildfires

  • September 30, 2021

What’s happening? The taxpayer costs for California wildfires is adding up. The $604.2 million state emergency fund has already spent  $849.1 million. Yes, they’re about $245 million over cost estimates.

Why is this important? California fills its emergency fund with general revenue from its personal income tax, sales tax and corporation tax.

How will this be important? Any legislation that emerges could serve as a model for other states that face wildfire costs such as the 2021 legislation, the $1.5 billion Wildfire and Forest Resilience Package to mitigate future significant wildfires

Sacramento Bee via Governing | How Much Are California’s Wildfire Efforts Costing Taxpayers?

Tracking unspent CARES Funds

  • September 30, 2021

What’s happening? In the name of transparency, we introduce you to that lets you know which jurisdictions are holding onto CARES funds.

Why is this important? Common talk is that CARES funds have to be spent by the end of 2021. In technical terms, CARES funds have to be spent on costs accrued during 2021.

How will this be important? There’s hubbub concerning how the funds can be spent and whether certain types of spending is proper under the terms which makes following the money interesting headline and campaign fodder. 64% of unspent funds is in state hands. Like texas which appears to have $1.2 Billion unappropriated.

Governing | State and Local Governments Still Have Unused COVID Funds

Whose Who in the MA Gig Worker Ballot Initiative

  • September 24, 2021

What’s happening? Massachusetts is following in California’s footsteps and will be voting on a ballot initiative concerning the classification of gig workers.

Why is this important? Let’s look at who is where on what for this vote:

How will this be important? Watch to see the impact of Elizabeth Warren’s support and the estimated $100 Million + that the Coalition for Independent Work is expected to spend

Boston Magazine | What You Need to Know about the Gig Worker Ballot Question

Change in the Fantasy Sports Hierarchy

  • September 23, 2021

What’s happening? DraftKings are no longer grabbing the King’s share of fantasy sports. This summer FanDuel nabbed the lions share of the market with 42%.

Why is this important? FanDuel was acquired by a Cambridge-educated engineer who bought a majority stake for $158 million in cash plus the contribution of Irish sports betting company, Flutter’s U.S. assets

How will this be important? Change in market leaders, change in regulatory frameworks


What Usurps a$15/hr Minimum Wage mandate? The Market.

  • September 23, 2021

What’s happening? In lieu of $15/hr minimum wage mandates, market forces are increasing minimum wages.

Why is this important? Data from job postings from 2019-2021, show that COVID saw many service-sector industries raise wages above a $15 starting wage during the period, often by significant margins

How will this be important? Wages are continuing to rise and are gaining steam during the COVID recovery. Economists say it is a sign that corporations are treating employees more fairly.


Other State Revenue Legislation to Counter Texas SB 8.

  • September 23, 2021

What’s happening? New York will establish the New York State Abortion Access Fund, a state-run account comprised of voluntary donations from taxpayers to fund access and travel for abortions for New York residents and nonresidents.

Why is this important? New York’s action follows more than 50 large corporations who will financially support women in need of an abortion outside of Texas.

How will this be important? New York Governor Hochul said, “”Abortion access is safe in New York – the rights of those who are seeking abortion services will always be protected here. This plan will affirm that in our state, and leaders like Senator Gillibrand will fight on a national level. To the women of Texas, I want to say I am with you. Lady Liberty is here to welcome you with open arms.”

Route Fifty | State Lawmakers Push to Allow Residents to Contribute to Abortion Access Fund


  • September 17, 2021

What’s happening? States are trying a variety of measures to address tax revenue deficiencies including:

  • MA wants to tax income earned while working from home in another state for its workers
  • VT wants to expand its tax base by paying people to move there
  • LA and NE both tried to tax services during the spring legislative sessions, both failed
  • MD succeeded in passing a bill to tax digital ads (there’s now a court case)
  • KS & WY are trying tot tax streaming services
  • CO GA & MD applied their sales tax to some digital content

Why is this important? It’s not just the U.S. The UK expanded its VAT to more items.

How will this be important? Its looking like passive actions like broadening tax bases seem to have the most longevity

CPA Practice Advisor | Top Trends in State Sales Taxes and Policies

Cannabis Revenue in a Red State

  • September 17, 2021

What’s happening? Arizona has legalized cannabis. The tax revenue for August 2021 is  $20 million in medical and adult-use marijuana.

Why is this important? This follows trends in other states like Maine where tax revenue from recreational cannabis is breaking records.

How will this be important? The revenue seems to fair well during the pandemic as California’s 2020-2021 tax revenue from cannabis totaled $817 million.

Marijuna Moment | Arizona Marijuana Tax Revenue Exceeds $20 Million In August, State Reports

What makes Recall Elections Easier now than 20 years ago?

  • September 16, 2021

What’s happening? The arm chair quarterbacks are out in full force post the California recall election this week. They say the reason recall, or referendum and initiative, works now better than before is technology. It’s a combination of social media, spread sheets, data, and cell phones.

Why is this important? Information is what makes these elections. Access to information. The movement of information. It’s easier to move information and make it look prettier now.

How will this be important? Whether the short term high of a recall election be enough to satiate those calling for a recall…

Governing | What’s the Future of Recalls Following Gavin Newsom’s Win?

The Cost of a Recall Election

  • September 16, 2021

What’s happening? This week was Election Day in California to vote on whether to recall its Governor. The recall failed and cost the state more than $276 million. Cost estimates for the election were more than $60Million under anticipated costs.

Why is this important? In recent weeks, other states have considered walking back their initiative and referendum process.

How will this be important? Keep an eye on states that don’t have initiative and referendum, and watch those moves.

SF Gate | Here’s how much the failed Gavin Newsom recall election cost California

Record Sports Betting Numbers

  • September 10, 2021

What’s happening? Estimates for sports betting in 2021 are coming and here’s where we are:

  • 45.2 million Americans will place a bet
    • Up 36.2% from 2020
  • $27 billion have been wagered on sports over the first 7 months of 2021
  • Fans in 26 states and DC have access to legal sports betting

Why is this important? The number of people betting and the bets placed are increasing over 2020 by as much as 70%

How will this be important? 18 of the 26 states that have legalized sports betting are home to NFL teams

S&P Global | As more states approve sports betting, record 45M will bet on NFL games in 2021

Bills to Clarify what that Recycle Triangle Means

  • September 10, 2021

What’s happening? The California Legislature is moving a bill that would ban companies from using the arrows symbol unless they can prove the material is in fact recycled in most California communities, and is used to make new products. SB 343 (2021 | CA)

Why is this important? The recycling triangle can be printed on items that as a whole are not recyclable. That means companies that process waste operate at 80% efficiency at best because more than 1/5 of the materials in their possession are not recyclable

How will this legislation be important? California would be the first in the nation to pass this legislation

New York Times | California Aims to Ban Recycling Symbols on Things That Aren’t Recyclable

Local Revenue Trend: Multiple Law Enforcement Agencies

  • September 9, 2021

What’s happening? The City of Austin is considering created a law enforcement agency solely for its transit agency

Why is this important? Transit agency says it is growing rapidly and is preparing for that growth with its own law enforcement agency

How will this be important? Dat shows that the number of calls for law enforcement to the transit agency did not decrease during the pandemic

Austin American Statesman via Governing | Austin Considers Separating Transit Security from Police

New Caucus: Progressive Caucus

  • August 26, 2021

What is happening? The Texas Legislature is now home to the Progressive Caucus

Why is this important? Founders state the caucus formed in response to “radical, right wing laws that hurt Texans”

How will this be important? First Republicans splintered off and formed Tea Party Caucus and Freedom Caucuses, and now a similar effect on the other side of the political spectrum


City Sues State Over Unconstitutional Budget

  • August 26, 2021

What’s happening? Phoenix sued the State of Arizona claiming the state’s approved budget violates the State Constitution by exceeding the one subject rule and changing substantive law.

Why is this important? One subject laws are common. First we had 1 Governor veto Legislative Funding, now we have several. Same with this- first we have 1 city suing its State…

How is this important? Local Control, preemption & the mandates on cities are moving to the courts, folks

KTAR News | Phoenix sues Arizona, claims budget bill violates state constitution | City Files Lawsuit Against State for Violation of Constitution

Gig Economy. Worker Classification Round 3.

  • August 26, 2021

What is happening? A California Court ruled the very pricey initiative that declared gig economy workers were independent contractors is unconstitutional.

Why is this important? The court said that the initiative violates the right of the state legislature to pass future laws around worker safety and status

How will this be important? Other states, including Massachusetts, are trying to statutorily classify gig economy workers.

Tech Crunch | A California judge just struck down Prop 22: Now what?

East Bay Times | Gig worker advocacy groups react to court ruling that Prop. 22 is ‘unconstitutional’ 

Initiative & Referendum. Constitutionality.

  • August 26, 2021

What’s happening? Idaho Legislature passed a ban on initiative and the Idaho Supreme Court declared the ban unconstitutional. SB 1110 (2021 | ID)

Why is this important? Recalling elected officials whether the passed around petition in Austin, TX or the recall vote on Governor Newsom are increasing as partisan divides grow deeper.

How will this be important? It was a group of attorneys in Idaho that has been successful in initiatives in Idaho. Watch for gatherings of attorneys.

Governing | Idaho Law on Citizen-Led Initiatives Ruled Unconstitutional

+1 City to the Guaranteed Income Bandwagon

  • August 18, 2021

What’s happening? Austin TX dips its toe into guarantees income pilot program by committing $1+ million to study the creation of a guaranteed income program for most vulnerable populations

Why is this important? Other cities are finding the programs save them revenue. In Austin, the study will be with an ongoing pilot program conducted by the Family Independence Initiative, Up Together and other philanthropic groups

How will this be important? Austin is using part of COVID recovery funding

Austin Monitor | Council funds guaranteed income pilot program

Interstate Compact to End Economic Development Funding

  • August 17, 2021

What’s happening? A fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University says 15 states have introduced legislation supporting an interstate compact to cease funding economic development.

Why is this important? Supporters say it frees up billions in funding

How will this be important? Supporters also say that it would shore up the economy after COVID

Governing | The Billions Being Wasted in the Economic Development Subsidy Wars

Innovation Zone: Private Company Becomes a Local Government

  • August 17, 2021

What’s happening? Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed emerging technologies be given the freedom to develop autonomous districts to diversify Nevada’s tourism-driven economy.

Why is this important? Draft legislation would permit a company to qualify for an innovation zone if it owned at least 50,000 acres of land and invested at least $1.25 billion over 10 years.

How will this be important? Local governments are concerned about granting companies governance authority.

Route Fifty | Cryptocurrency Company Makes Case for Running its Own Local Government

Local Revenue: Library of Things

  • August 17, 2021

What is happening? Libraries across the country are diversifying to include things like radon detectors, telescopes, museum passes, decorative art, taxidermies animals, puzzles, board games, tools, sewing machines, air fryers,

Why is this important? The old is new again, Newark NJ library in 1904 had art in its collection that could be loaned out like a book.

How will this be important? Library of Things programs are grant funded and continue the ethos of libraries to encourage learning.

Route Fifty | Now Available at the Local Library: Basketballs, Air Fryers and Taxidermied Animals

Do COVID vaccine incentives work?

  • August 12, 2021

What’s happening? OH had a vaccine lottery that awarded prizes and scholarships for people got vaccinated. The result: 114,553+ people got vaccines that probably wouldn’t have otherwise

Why is this important? Does your state or business need a way to motivated people to get vaccinated.

How will this be important? OH remains below 50% vaccination rate

Route Fifty | One State’s Covid-19 Vaccine Lottery Prompted More Than 100,000 People To Get Vaccinated

CARES ACT Funds for Hazard Pay

  • August 12, 2021

What is happening? Local governments are utilizing CARES Act fund to provide hazard pay for service during the pandemic for government employees and “gratitude grants” for grocery workers.

  • in Cairo, Georgia is giving $1,500 to public safety employees and $1,000 to municipal workers for a total of $178,000
  • Thomas County GA is setting aside $6 million and calculating bonuses based on the formula
  • Hagerstown, Maryland, is awarding $5,000 bonuses to full-time city employees
  • in Alabama, Birmingham and Mobile each plan on giving $5,000 to full-time and $2,500 to part-time staff
  • Oxnard, CA is using ARPA funding to give $1,000 bonuses to eligible grocery workers
  •  Florida and Minnesota have approved premium pay for workers statewide

Why is this important? Journal of the American Medical Association says workers like sanitation workers, farm workers and grocery store employees are 25% low income and 13% high risk households.

How will this be important? Treasury Department guidance says that premium pay includes “government employees and private sector workers such as nursing home staff and home care workers, and workers at farms, food production facilities, grocery stores and restaurants.”

Route Fifty | Governments Doling Out Bonuses for Public Employees, ‘Gratitude Grants’ for Grocery Workers

State Considering Universal Basic Income

  • August 12, 2021

What’s happening? In the 1960s President Richard Nixon is said to have supported universal basic income. We’ve seen cities like Stockton, CA find benefits from their universal basic income pilot project. Now New Mexico is considering adopting it statewide.

Why is this important? Las Cruces and Santa Fe are moving toward universal basic income. Santa Fe will pilot a program that they’ll call a “stability stipend” to provide 100 people under age 30 who have children and are attending Santa Fe Community College with monthly payments of at least $400.

How will this be important? it’s not as red/blue as you think. “Alaska has long offered its full-time residents an annual dividend based on the investment earnings on mineral royalties” Add to that Nixon backed the idea before Milton Friedman became the go-to.

Albuquerque Journal via Governing | New Mexico Considers Statewide Universal Basic Income

+1 Super Small City for Franchise Fees for Internet

  • August 12, 2021

What’s happening? Fort Scott, KS and its 8000 population have seen a decline in cable taxes so to make up for it, they want to implement a franchise fee for internet services like Netflix.

Why is this important? Local governments in  Missouri, Texas and Ohio are also pursuing a tax on streaming services.

How will this be important? If trends that show cable subscribers era decreasing that loss of revenue to local governments will have to be offset somehow.

Topeka Capital Journal via Governing | Why Is a Small Town in Kansas Suing Netflix and Hulu?

New Legislative Caucus TRENDING. Post COVID. Post BLM.

  • August 6, 2021

What’s happening? Meet the BIPOC Caucus that brings together what is often a coalition of caucuses.

Why is this important? The BIPOC caucus will have greater membership numbers than individual caucuses. The power of numbers.

How will this be important? Oregon isn’t the first state to create a BIPOC Caucus.

OPB | Oregon Legislature’s BIPOC caucus calls out Newberg School Board for effort to reverse anti-racist policies

COVID Delta + Republican Gov. + No Mask Mandate = Special Session to Except Schools

  • August 6, 2021

What’s happening? Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson wants to walk back the statewide no mask mandate bill that passed this spring.

Why is this important? Arkansas is experiencing high COVID Delta rates and public support favors mask mandates in schools.

How will this be important? A litmus test for other No Mask Requirement Legislation.

Route Fifty | “I Wish It Had Not Become Law,” Says Governor Of Mask-Banning Order He Signed Into Law

Local Gov. Options. Condo Collapse Ordinances 2.0

  • August 5, 2021

What’s happening? If cities determined that oversight for condo buildings needs to move from condo associations to local governments the options include special assessment districts.

Why is this important? What can a special assessment district do?

  •  levy a special charge on properties
  • the special charge can be for a designated district or a single building
  • it can cover a wide variety of public improvements
  • the district bills either by owner or based on ad valorem property values
  • The city can take out bank loans or sell bonds, at lower tax-exempt interest rates, to finance the improvements that are secured by the liens on the properties, thereby lowering costs

How will this be important? Aging infrastructure is real.

Governing | A Municipal Finance Tool to Avert Another Deadly Condo Collapse

+1 City Pension Obligation Bonds

  • August 5, 2021

What’s happening? Add Santa Rosa, California to the list of cities that may offer pension obligation bonds to shore up its pension liabilities. It can result in a win for the city if returns exceed the interest paid to bond holders.

Why is this important? Texas cities have talked about it.

How will this be important? Pension types say that the 2008 financial crisis will be felt in the pension world over the coming decade. Pension systems will be looking for ways to cover the disparities created during the 2008 event.

Santa Rose Press Democrat via Governing | Santa Rosa May Sell Bonds to Reduce Pension Liabilities

Those State Fund Divestment Bills in the Real World

  • July 30, 2021

What’s happening? Texas and Florida are trying to determine if legislation that the states enacted to divest state funds from businesses that boycott Israel. The “boycott” at issue: Ben and Jerry’s made a business decision to not sell ice cream in Israel.

Why is this important? Let’s tie this to the post this week about Texas decline in best state to do business, does imposing political views on businesses sounds like the kind of state that makes you feel good?

How will this be important? If one of the pension systems, that invest in Unilever, which supports Israel and is Ben and Jerry’s parent company, divest from Ben and Jerry’s, then it seems reasonable to ask- what issue will be added to the code of behavior for Texas state funds.

Texas Public Radio | Texas Investigates Ben And Jerry’s For Potentially Boycotting Israel

Why did TX Drop in Top State For Business?

  • July 30, 2021

What’s happening? CNBC listing for Best States to Do Business for years has had TX at the top. But, it fell. To #4.

Why is this important? CNBC added to it’s rankings ” life, health and inclusion” which this year included inclusiveness initiatives, health care resources, progress in ending the pandemic and other more traditional quality-of-life measures.

How will this be important? “This ranking is a compelling early warning signal that short-sighted, counterproductive policies risk eroding the progress over the past 30 plus years in building Texas to be the most competitive economy in the country,” said Perryman, president and chief executive officer of The Perryman Group. 

Dallas Morning News | Economist calls Texas’ slip from top three U.S. states for business ‘eerily disturbing’

COVID Vaccine Incentive in the Show Me State

  • July 29, 2021

What’s happening? Missouri has a new COVID vaccine incentive program that partners the Department of Health and Senior Services  with the Missouri Lottery to draw 180 winners who will win either $10,000 cash or $10,000 towards an education savings account. In total there will be 900 winners for the life of the incentive program.

Why is this important? Vaccine incentive programs are an interesting perspective at what motivates certain populations in certain states, especially effective incentive programs.

How will this be important? There is no limit to the potential partnerships with the state lottery.

Neosho Daily News | Missouri’s Vaccine Incentive Program promotes MO ABLE as an option for Missourians with disabilities

Social Equity Council + Cannabis Licenses

  • July 29, 2021

What’s happening? MA legalized cannabis creatively as we know and part of that was by creating a Social Equity Council that will play apart in determining licensure and distribution of revenue to impacted communities.

Why is this important? Times are changing, keep up or get left behind. The impact to communities now factors into decision making. Communities that have been disproportionately and negatively impacted by disproportionately higher incarceration rates, under MA Social Equity Council will see revenue returned to the community to build up the community.

How will this be important? Social Impact data tells us Gen Z and Millenials that outnumber Gen X and Boomers are concerned ab0ut impact. I’d wager a lot of Xers are too, it’s just our style to let the young ones talk about it.

Governing | Ned Lamont Appoints First Five Members to Marijuana Council

$454 Million in Film Incentives in CA

  • July 22, 2021

What’s happening? CA has added an additional $124 Million in film incentives to its $330 Million film incentive program and will include construction incentives like building sound stages

Why is this important? CA says the data shows the incentives work to keep films in CA

How will this be important? It is a test to see if GA and other states with film incentives will be competitive

Sacramento Bee | California filmmakers to get more tax breaks in new law. Do incentives keep shows here?

What are economists saying about states spending Federal COVID Funds

  • July 22, 2021

What’s happening? Economists watching MA are applauding its slow pacing to spending federal COVID funds.

Why is this important? States have until 2026 to spend the federal funding, while it must be allocated for spending by 2024. Economists say that studying state trends and needs helps maximize the impact of the COVID funding.

How will this be important? Many government projects take years of planning before building can occur which means the impact of the funds in communities may be years in the future.

Boston Herald | Economic experts back Massachusetts Legislature’s slow approach to spending federal coronavirus relief dollars

The Low Down on Taxing Streaming Services in 2021

  • July 22, 2021

What’s happening? As people stop paying for cable, the fees/taxes associated with cable are a revenue loss for local governmental entities. To make up for this revenue loss, the proposal that gains ground is taxing streaming services.

Why is this important?

  • Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida have passed a dedicated streaming service tax.
  • Chicago applies its 9% amusement tax on streaming services
  • OH is trying to apply the Fair Competition in Cable Operation Act to tax streaming
  • Some Texas cities are trying to apply the Texas Video Service Providers Act to tax streaming services
  • MO argues streaming should be taxed as  video service providers
  • Courts are grappling with the above and lawsuits in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, and Tennessee.

How will this be important? Some states tax right-of-way fees for internet access, taxing streaming services could be seen as a double taxation.

Tax Foundation | Cutting the Cord from Cable Has States Courting New Revenue Streams

COVID Fund Use: Diversity & Development

  • July 22, 2021

What’s happening? A permitted use of federal COVID Relief funding is downtown development. Treasury Department Guidance for this use includes broad flexibility to build up disproportionately impacted communities.

Why is this important? COVID impacted real estate in downtown areas and also impacted BIOPIC communities disproportionately.

How will this be important? Legislative bodies have not finalized how they intend to utilize federal COVID relief funding.

Recast City via Governing | A Unique Opportunity for Racial Equity in Downtown Development

COVID. Minnesota Legislature Approves Cash to Essential Workers.

  • July 16, 2021

What’s happening? Minnesota chose 1 of 4 specific uses for COVID federal relief funds to provide payments to essential workers during the pandemic.

Why is this important? The legislation’s only requirement for essential worker is that long-term care workers be included. The final decision for who is included will be approved by a group of appointees created by the amendment.

How will this be important? Other states are grappling with how to appropriate federal relief funds.

MinnPost | Minnesota lawmakers approved cash bonuses for essential workers. Now they just need to figure out who’s going to get the money.

California’s Comeback Plan

  • July 16, 2021

What’s happening? Governor Newsom signed SB 129 (2021 | CA) that is a $100 billion California Comeback Plan that includes:

  •  immediate cash relief to middle class families and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic
  •  biggest state tax rebate in American history
  • largest small business relief package in the nation
  • Confronts homelessness and the housing affordability crisis
  • Transforms public schools into gateways of opportunity
  • Bolsters wildfire resilience and tackling climate change
  • Builds the infrastructure of the next century

Why is this important? California is providing the biggest tax breaks in the country.

How will this be important? The impact may be felt by other states if Californians stay in California.

Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom | California Roars Back: Governor Newsom Signs $100 Billion California Comeback Plan to Accelerate State’s Recovery and Tackle Persistent Challenges

+1 State Limits Disaster Powers to 28 Days

  • July 15, 2021

What’s happening? Michigan Legislature voted to limit healthcare disaster declarations to 28 days unless the Legislature approves a longer timeline. The nifty tagline for the bill- Unlock Michigan.

Why is this important? Many legislatures looked to curtail the power of the Governor or their health care officials and require Legislative approval. In Michigan the Supreme Court has already ruled that the Governor exceeded her authority.

How will this be important? More states will consider reigning in declarations.

AP | “Unlock Michigan” goes to Legislature, 2nd drive will seek more restrictions on powers

Tax Situs. Why it Matters.

  • July 15, 2021

What’s happening? Texas Comptroller is said to have changed the tax rules to “source sales tax revenue from online purchases to the buyer’s location instead of the seller’s place of business.”

Why is this important? Well, if the county is Williamson County and relied on the sales tax generated by the seller, Dell Computers, that’s a hit to your county sales tax revenues.

How will this be important? It’s one of the many examples that details matter when you write laws and rules, the words have an impact. In this case, the impact is Williamson County is suing the State Comptroller of the change in tax rules.

Community Impact | City of Round Rock files suit against Texas Comptroller over changes to sales tax rules

COVID Response. State Apprentice Programs.

  • July 15, 2021

What’s happening? Some say there is a shortage of workers in certain fields. Some say workers are looking for living wages. In the Great Depression states created Apprentice Programs to fill this gap. Apprentices are paid from day one, and employers cover any costs of education required. At the end of the apprenticeship the employee gains licensure and the employer finds that the newly licensed employee stays longer than a new college graduate.

Why is this important? The process benefits the employee who doesn’t incur higher education debt, and benefits the employer who gains a loyal employee.

How will this be important? These programs are working successfully in 27 states. That leaves 23 states.

Governing | States Expand Apprenticeship Programs as Worker Shortages Grow

What is Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday?

  • July 9, 2021

What’s happening? Florida has a Freedom Week which means no sales tax one athletic tickets, recreational purchases, live music, in-theater movies, cultural events and entrance to museums and state parks, outdoor equipment as tents, grills, bicycles, kayaks and fishing gear

Why is this important? Sales tax holiday expansions are popular. Massachusetts is contemplating a months long sales tax holiday.

How will this be important? Looking for some populist goodwill for your state, here you go.

CBS 4 Miami | Just Hours Left Of Florida’s ‘Freedom Week’ Sales Tax Holiday

Arizona Gaming Commission Rules Released

  • July 9, 2021

What’s happening? Arizona Gaming Commission set fees for tribes and operators at $750,00o initial license and $150,000 renewal. Arizona legislature legalized sports betting earlier this year and anticipate betting by September 9th.

Why is this important? Some states put license fees in statute, some delegate the fee amounts to the state agency incharge.

How will this be important? Anyone working in this field worth their mettle, are keeping tabs on licensing fees around the country. Add this one to the list.

AZ Central | Arizona reveals costs for professional teams, tribes to get licenses for sports betting

Does online registration for sports betting increase or decrease revenue?

  • July 9, 2021

What’s happening? Illinois stopped its online sports betting registration that it began during COVID. When the state removed online registration, immediately a $30 million cut to the monthly sports betting handle

Why is this important? The revenue decreases did not occur in other states that have online registration.

How will this be important? As more data is known, it will impact how states that have yet to legalize sports betting handle things like online registration.

The Lineup | As Illinois Removes Online Registration Sports Betting Revenue Trends Down

State Taxes & Sports Betting

  • July 9, 2021

What’s happening? All states tax sports gaming revenue based on taxes on gross gaming revenue. Most states do not allow operators to take deductions.

Why is this important?  Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia allow specific deductions for promotions, losses, and/or federal excise taxes paid, aligning their tax more with a gross receipts tax.

How will this be important? Sports betting is going to expand, and successful tax systems will be replicated and tweaked. So treat this as your roadmap.

Tax Foundation | Large Spread in Tax Treatment of Sports Betting Operators

Confidential Non Profit Contribution Disclosure Reversed

  • June 25, 2021

What’s happening? NY regulators had determined that donors to non-profits should be disclosed, and then the Legislature reversed that decision.

Why is this important? The disclosure came about with a budget amendment that required political advocacy nonprofits, filed as 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, to submit financial disclosure reports if they’ve spent more than $10,000 in communications endorsing or opposing legislation

How will this be important? Dark Money. should it be fixed? should there be disclosures? Is the reversal in NY telling?

NYN Media | State legislature passes bill undoing NY’s new donor disclosure requirement

Wisconsin’s Method to Deal with Unruly Legislators

  • June 25, 2021

What’s happening? Wisconsin approved creating a stand alone HR department for the Legislature that will handle complaints about lawmakers, including the resolution of any investigation, while keeping all information confidential.

Why is this important? WI is reacting to years long complaints about sexual harassment by elected officials.

How will this be important? Legislatures across the country are trying to figure out how to tackle this issue

AP | Legislature’s plans for new HR office raises concerns

Extended Sales Tax Holiday to Jump Start Pandemic Economy

  • June 25, 2021

What’s happening? The Massachusetts Governor has proposed that the 2 day sales tax holiday to be extended to a 2 month sales tax holiday.

Why is this important? The extended sales tax holiday is aimed at jumpstarting the economy and providing help to small businesses and consumers.

How will this be important? The states revenue projections are 15% ahead, giving the state revenue reserves to afford the extended sales tax holiday.

Ap | Baker files legislation proposing 2-month sales tax holiday

What % of GDP is spent on Infrastructure? By The Numbers.

  • June 24, 2021

What’s happening? Let’s play keeping up with the Jones, but it’s keeping up the governments. The US spends 2.4% of its GDP on Infrastructure.

Why is this important? The EU spends 5%. China spends 9%.

How will this be important? It is harder for smaller cities to maintain aging infrastructure, and revenue sources like property taxes are not keeping up with maintenance costs.

Governing | Small Cities Can’t Manage the High Cost of Old Infrastructure

Decades Ago New Hires Removed from Pension. They’re Back

  • June 18, 2021

What’s happening? Decades ago New Jersey removed new hires and some local governmental entities from he state pension system. Now the state is considering adding them back.

Why is this important? Itis a compounding of scenarios. (1) The Governor has promised that the state will make its first full funding payment to the pension in 25 years. (2) A fiscal note on one of the bills says it will save money based on pension accounting and administrative costs (3) Federal COVID dollars may mean more contributions

How will this be important? If successful, will other states take note

Politico | State may allow some workers back into pension system, a decade after they were removed

Drafting Lessons. PTA Donations & PTA Funded School Positions

  • June 17, 2021

What’s happening? Schools in TX were getting PTA funds donated to pay for positions in the schools. Then the pandemic hit and well, things changed. So, in 2021, Texas Legislature approved an amendment on HB 1525 (2021 | TX) that sought to say- if a school got PTA donations for funding specific positions, those funds had to be spent for that purpose within the time period specified. Then Austin ISD said the budget will be approved before the bill I approved, so it won’t apply to this upcoming school year.

Why is this important? An Attorney General opinion has been requested to clarify this.

How will this be important? The Attorney General Opinion will determine not only how and when PTA donated funds can be used but also sets the tone for how to interpret similarly drafted laws in the future.

TX Attorney General Opinion Request RQ-0411 (2021)

Fintech Sandboxes. The Numbers.

  • June 17, 2021

What’s happening? 4 states, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Wyoming, have sandbox programs that allow companies to test prototypes without getting a state license.

Why is this important? In none of these 4 states ,is there an active business in the sandbox.

How will this be important? The hurdle to explain how sandboxes help innovation is higher. Lousiana wouldn’t let sandbox bill out of committee.

Route Fifty | Relaxed Rules Attract Entrepreneurs to State ‘Sandboxes’

City Workers Get COVID Bonuses

  • June 17, 2021

What’s happening? Mobile, Alabama is proposing bosses for its workers that worked through the COVID pandemic. $5000 for full time employees and $2500 for part time employees.

Why is this important? Mobile is following in the foot steps of Birmingham, Alabama and will be funded with federal relief for COVID-19

How will this be important? Premium pay for essential (city) workers is a permitted use of COVID relief funds.

Governing | Mobile Wants to Give City Employees COVID Bonuses

55 Parishes to get sports betting

  • June 11, 2021

What’s happening? Louisiana first asked its voters to decide whether each parish would allow sports betting 55 said yes. This year, the Legislature passed rules for sports betting. There will be 20 licenses, regulation will be by the Louisiana Lottery Corporation, and mobile betting is a go. SB 247 (2021 | LA)

Why is this important? Preemptive voter approval, approval through Indian gaming compacts, or approval by adding sports betting to the state budget. States are passing sports betting in creative ways.

How will this be important? Louisiana staggered tax rates, so let’s take notes. 10% tax collected on wagering at onsite locations and a 15% tax on wagering through mobile apps. It also dedicates 25% of tax revenues to early learning programs for children

AP | Louisiana lawmakers OK sports betting rules, send to Edwards

Why are internet ad taxes gaining momentum?

  • June 11, 2021

What’s happening? A guy left his east coast home to visit his Mom in a flyover state. His phone then got a lot of ads for a toothpaste his Mom uses, but they never discussed and he never googled. He tweeted. It got retweeted over 160,000 times. The tweet explains how tech companies can latch onto other devices on the same network- and viola’ random toothpaste ads. Or, like if my parents ever visited me, they’d be bombarded with organic gardening ads.

Why is this important? The proliferation of unwanted Internet ads and Big Tech’s staggering pandemic profits have fueled bipartisan efforts to tax digital ads

How will this be importation? There’s an appetite for these ads to stop, so there’s an appetite for these ads to be taxed.

Government Technology | Lawmakers on Right and Left Unite in Desire to Tax Online Ads

Colorado Taxes Streaming Services

  • June 11, 2021

What’s happening? Colorado passed HB21- 1312 ( 2021 | CO) that among other taxes added a tax on streaming services by making streaming services subject to the state’s sales and use tax.

Why is this important? The number of jurisdictions taxing streaming services keeps increasing.

How will this be important? Taxation of streaming services is new and shiny and ripe for tax writers.

Colorado Sun | 5 big tax bills Colorado lawmakers passed this year that will affect your wallet

COVID Tax Trend: Internet Ad Tax

  • June 11, 2021

What’s happening? Arkansas SB 558 (2021 | AR) taxes internet ads to fund cyber crimes, specifically cyber crimes against children.Maryland was the first state to tax internet ads. 9 other states are now considering it.

Why is this important? Some say it is a way for politicians to air their frustration at tech companies.

How will this be important? This year its 9 new states entering these waters, expect those numbers to increase.

Stateline via Route Fifty | Internet Ads Are a Popular Tax Target for Both Parties

2020 Effect. Cannabis Revenue Up.

  • June 4, 2021

What’s happening? Looking at Oregon’s cannabis revenue, the pandemic strengthened cannabis revenue. The state had predicted the revenue to decrease as more entertainment venues open, and the revenues have stayed strong even as the state re-opens. Totals for the 2019-2021 biennium are expected to be$304 million. Revenues are expected to reach $462 million in 2027-2029

Why is this important? The same effect is reflected in Illinois cannabis revenue.

How will this be important? Continued data can support long term stability of the revenue.

Green Entrepreuer | Oregon’s Cannabis Market Has Become Stronger During The Pandemic

Roadmap: Florida didn’t pass a Fantasy Sports bill. Fantasy Sports Legally Operates.

  • June 4, 2021

What’s happening? Florida handed sports betting to the Seminole Tribe. At the same time, the Legislature failed to pass any fantasy sports rules. But, the Seminole Compact now explicitly defines fantasy sports as a game of skill.

Why is this important? Hello unregulated, legal fantasy sports thanks to the Seminole Compact.

How will this be important? Is unregulated better than an available revenue source?

Florida Politics | Future looks good for fantasy sports games in Florida

ESG Requirements for Pensions

  • June 4, 2021

What’s happening? Sustainable Investment Policies Act and the Retirees Sustainable Investment Opportunities Act

Why is this important? Together the bills would ” give workers a bigger say in where they invest their retirement savings by requiring large asset managers and plan investors and fiduciaries to take into account and explain to beneficiaries how they consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions”

How will this be important? The ESG pushing pension plans is happening from the pensions themselves (see California), by investors (see Blackrock) and now a push to include it in ERISA.

Ballotopedia | Economy and Society: Proposed legislation would further integrate ESG into retirement plans

Taxing Remote Workers

  • June 3, 2021

What’s happening? Ohio is considering HB 157 (2021 | OH) which would prepaid a tax credit for local taxes imposed by the city in which a worker works but does not live. This largely applies to income taxes in OH. But this also applies when a worker lives in one state and works in another.

Why is this important? In the northeast there is a brewing lawsuit when Massachusetts passed a “convenience of the employer” rules, meaning they impose taxes on employees based solely on the employer’s location. New Hampshire, which has no income tax called it a tax grab for their residents incomes. 14 states are involved in the litigation.

How will this be important? The taxation impact of COVID isn’t dwindling this year or next.

Route Fifty | Ohio Lawmakers Approve Bill to Allow Teleworkers to Seek Commuter Tax Refunds

Sports Betting Numbers from Colorado

  • May 28, 2021

What’s happening? CO collected $1.08m in taxes from sports betting in April. One year of sports betting tax revenue amounted to $6.6m.

Why is this important? Colorado has had sports betting for one full year offering a look into long term revenue

How will this be important? Even with a dip in play, the revenue numbers stayed fairly level.

Play Colorado Revenue

CA Voters + Sports Betting

  • May 28, 2021

What’s happening? CA will have its voters decide on sports betting in 2022. Under the initiative, sports betting would be permitted at at tribal casinos and horse-racing tracks. It is estimated to bring California some $1 billion in gross annual revenue without online betting. 

Why is this important? The initiative was written by California’s tribes who succeeded in a gaming expansion in 2008, in a $115 Million ballot initiative.

How will this be important? Meet the  Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering & The California Gaming Association says it does nothing to “advance sports wagering”.

L A Times | California voters will decide in 2022 whether to allow sports betting

How a state limited fantasy sports in a gaming agreement

  • May 28, 2021

What’s happening? CT has permitted fantasy sports since 2017. A 2021 state tribal gaming compact will limit the number of operators of fantasy sports, excluding regional and local operators.

Why is this important? When drafting you could have current operators, which CT either knowingly or unknowingly excluded, and other legitimate fantasy sports operators who operate in other states.

How will this be important? Unintended consequences in new trending legislation is common practice, keep your eyes open and think creatively

News & Observer | Fantasy sports industry says bill will put games on hold