Georgia
National
Committeeman
to RNC
    From the Atlanta Business Chronicle

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2013/03/29/next-step-eliminate-georgias-income.html

SUBSCRIBER CONTENT: Mar 29, 2013, 6:00am EDT

The Evans Report

Next step: Eliminate Georgia’s income tax
Randy Evans

With Georgia’s 2013 General Assembly winding up, Georgians can be thankful that the legislature has again guided Georgia through some tough economic times. Balancing budgets (as Georgia must do under its Constitution) during tough economic times is no easy task. This is especially true as unfunded federal mandates take full effect, including no less than the Affordable Care Act.

Notably, Georgia’s General Assembly and Gov. Nathan Deal have balanced Georgia’s budget (again) without raising Georgia’s income taxes or the state’s sales tax. Instead, Georgia’s elected officials accomplished this feat by cutting expenses and managing effectively Georgia’s revenues.

If indeed “necessity is the mother of invention,” then it might just be that the federal government could also benefit from some real necessity as Georgia has under the constraint of its Constitution. Of course, the self-imposed sequestration might just be that necessity. Yet, by all accounts, rising deficits and federal debt remain on the fiscal horizon with no end in sight. These deficits and debt bring with them a myriad of economic challenges for the U.S. economy and for states.

The result is that states like Georgia are left to find their own way in breaking out of the economic debt harness that throttles the engine of America’s economy. The challenges have been so great that just making ends meet is a critical step to averting fiscal collapse. Georgia has done better. Georgia’s bond rating and fiscal stature have remained strong even amidst the challenges from the economic slowdown and steady addition of unfunded federal mandates.

Indeed, in contrast to the growing crises in states like California and Illinois that have been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Georgia has done well. Compared to governments that have lost the battle and filed for bankruptcy, staying afloat has undoubtedly been a win for Georgians.

But, there does come a point when aiming for mere financial survival from year to year is not enough. Instead, the time has come for long-term solutions aimed at giving Georgia a sustainable competitive edge. Bold solutions do exist.

Seven states have taken such a step by completely eliminating the state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two states have eliminated all income taxes except taxes on dividends and interest: Tennessee and New Hampshire.

Currently, governors in two other states have proposals to eliminate their state income taxes: Kansas (Gov. Sam Brownback) and Nebraska (Gov. Dave Heineman). In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has proposed eliminating personal and corporate income taxes.

Other governors have proposals that take big steps toward reducing their income taxes. These include Gov. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) with an income tax cut; Gov. Mary Fallin (Oklahoma) cutting the top bracket of the income tax; Gov. Pat McCrory (North Carolina) cutting the income tax; Gov. Nikki Haley (South Carolina) eliminating the 6 percent tax bracket; Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) reducing the income tax; and Gov. Mike Pence (Indiana) cutting personal income taxes by 10 percent.

All of these states and governors recognize that managing crisis is not a long-term solution. This is especially true when states directly to the north (Tennessee) and south (Florida) have already eliminated their income taxes and other southern states (like South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana and Texas) have already eliminated their income taxes or are moving in that direction.

Fortunately, while the economic uncertainties of the last few years have precluded immediate steps toward eliminating Georgia’s income tax, Georgia too has started the process. Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer, R-Duluth, has sponsored two constitutional amendments that move Georgia one step closer to eliminating Georgia’s income tax. In his words, “this is to start the shift from an income tax to a consumption tax.”

Senate Resolution 415 prevents the state from raising the state income tax. Senate Resolution 412 requires that any increase in the state sales tax be offset by a reduction in the income tax. Both resolutions can be passed in the 2014 General Assembly Session and still make the 2014 ballot.

Georgia has two possible futures. It can follow the pack that rests on deteriorating laurels with their future largely dependent on the ebbs and flows of economies beyond their control. Or, Georgia can follow the lead of forward-looking states focused on laying the foundation for their own futures. Texas, a state with no income tax, proved that no one state has to suffer the fate of every other state. As confirmed by the Dallas Federal Reserve, Texas entered the recession late and exited it early. Indeed, of the 496,000 jobs added to the national economy between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2011, more than half came from Texas. When the national mortgage delinquency rate was 8.78 percent, Texas’ rate was 5.78 percent. The list goes on and on.

Look for Georgia to follow. It may take some time, but the sooner started, the sooner done.

Evans is an attorney and columnist.

 

 

     
     
   


THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING

 

The Evans Report

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle 

PREMIUM CONTENT: Feb 15, 2013, 6:00am EST 

 

In his Second Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama said this:

 

"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms."

In the days that followed, the Obama administration confirmed that climate change is "among his top priorities." In responding to the president's next hard push, politicians might be well-served to avoid these four common mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: Climate change does not exist. Both creationists and scientists agree the climate has changed over the entire history of planet Earth. The Bible describes a time when it rained 40 days and 40 nights leading to a flood. Scientists describe times when the planet was completely frozen, at one time being "Snowball Earth." Although it is hard to believe now, deserts were once oceans; tundra once green; and so on.

Mistake No. 2: Climate change is not happening now. The climate is always changing - even now. The climate changes by the hour, day, week, year, decade, century, millennium, and more. Ice ages have frozen the planet and cooling periods have chilled it.

The last cooling period is called the Little Ice Age. (NASA says this period extended from roughly 1550 A.D. until about 1850 A.D. - basically ending around 160 years ago.) Leading up to and during the Little Ice Age, glaciers grew, rains came (with the Great Famine), and summers stopped being predictable.

On the other hand, there have been warming periods, like the Medieval Warm Period (from about 950 to 1250). There have been others. Of course, it is no secret that most scientists believe the planet is currently in a warming period.

Yet, while the temperature changes, the Earth itself is cooling as the radioactivity that produces its heat declines and its molten mass core cools. Fortunately, if scientists are correct, this cooling process will take millions of years.

Mistake No. 3: Man can control the climate. Climate change happens for many reasons. For creationists, it is the province of God. For scientists, there are a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is the movement of the continents. (Basically, North America moves away from Europe about as fast as a person's fingernail grows - about an inch per year or about six feet every generation). Other factors range from volcanic activity, to the Earth's orbit, to meteorites to the simple aging of the planet.

For a period, many scientists focused on the risk of global cooling and looked for ways to stop or slow it. More recently, the shift has been to focus on global warming, with strategies for controlling the emission of various greenhouse gases.

No one suggests (credibly) that man can actually control any of these mega-factors. Of course, this has not dampened the enthusiasm to try; certainly, President Obama has committed his administration to the next big attempt.

(Interestingly, according to many reports, cows are actually one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases - hence, the push for dietary changes as part of any "comprehensive" global climate change effort - good news for Chick-fil-A.)

Mistake No. 4: Man should try to control the climate. Putting aside the idea that man could control the climate, everyone should worry if man does try to control the climate. Here, the rule of unintended consequences has serious implications. Just when scientists figure out one thing, they inevitably discover that there are several other things that they never understood. Questions of advancing or postponing the next ice age in the context of drifting continents, and completely unpredictable volcanic activity, is definitely a few levels above any mortal's pay grade. And, the risks of getting it wrong - well, they are bone-chilling. Throughout history, climate change has really always been about mitigation and adaptation. From the religious perspective, Noah adapted to the flood by building an ark. When local climates became inhospitable, entire civilizations moved to more hospitable environs, such as from Africa to Europe and Asia to the Americas.

There are good reasons to address greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. But, the bottom line is that the planet (and its climate) changes, and no one can stop that. Mitigation and adaptation are the keys to success.

 

     
     
January 31, 2013
   

GOP Path Forward

Randy Evans, National Committeeman, Georgia


Georgia
National
Committeeman
to RNC

 

All,

It was good to visit during the past few days in Charlotte.  My wife Linda and I enjoyed getting to know some many of our Committee.  Thank you also to many of you who have ask about the messaging coming from our meetings.

Unfortunately, this headline (and the article) is the messaging that I feared and raised with everyone prior to our Committee meetings and election.  Fortunately, as those of us who attended know, this messaging does not accurately capture the essence of our meetings or the new thrust of our efforts.  Instead, as opposed to staying the course of the 2012 elections, Chairman Reince Priebus laid out a new strategic direction for our Party.  Specifically, Chairman Priebus said this:

We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven’t before. At the RNC we are dropping ‘red’ and ‘blue’ analysis. We must be a party concerned about every American in every neighborhood. We must develop the best technology with the help of the best minds—and train activists, volunteers, and candidates with the modern tools of a modern party.


Rather than the targeted red-plus strategy of focusing on traditional Republican strongholds with limited targeting of a few additional battleground states, Chairman Priebus’ strategy focuses on a ‘full-court’ national strategy aimed at winning in every state among every constituency.  Make no mistake, this is a change – a real change for our Party from 2012.

Given Chairman Priebus’ accomplishments in Wisconsin, he is in a unique position to lead us in accomplishing his vision for the direction of our Party.  Indeed, he proved Republicans can win in places like Wisconsin where we were not supposed to win.

The foundation for our new fifty-state, all constituency strategy is there.  We are already winning everywhere with governors in 30 states (with 315 electoral votes), including 24 states with a Republican governor and legislature (representing 51% of all Americans).  Of course, we also control of the United States House.

Make no mistake, this is a new direction and a different strategy.  While insider consultants will insist that it is unrealistic and cannot be done, Republican governors, Members of Congress, and legislators know and have proven otherwise.  Of course, others will argue that it is nothing new.  But, as we lived the 2012 election, we know it is.

At our meetings, Speaker Newt Gingrich encouraged us to employ a strategy of happy, persistence.  In 1994, he proved that happy persistence could lead to a Republican revolution with victories in from Illinois to Washington, and many other places around the country.  So, it can be done.

Governor Bobby Jindal laid out seven tactics for improving on our past successes while avoiding the mistakes that cost us much in the last election.  With his good guidance, we can overcome the last election while creating the necessary platform for winning many elections to come.

Finally, individual panels provided real answers to how we translate our goals of expanding our Party into every state and every home throughout the United States.  Our meetings reflected a new direction for our Party.  The purpose of this email is quite simple.  I hope that you will consider including some of these thoughts into your individual reports as we all return home.

It is important that we dispel this ‘business as usual’ perception for our Party.  President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Newt Gingrich proved – try to win everywhere with everyone and you just might succeed.  This is the message that we need to take back home.
 

The politico article referneced by Mr. Evans my be found here

 

   
     
   
From the Atlanta Business Chronicle

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2013/01/18/georgia-legislature-political.html

PREMIUM CONTENT: Jan 18, 2013, 6:00am EST

The Evans Report

Georgia legislature: Political maneuverings under the Gold Dome

Randy Evans

With Republicans firmly in control of both the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Senate, as well as every constitutional office in Georgia, most might wonder what “politics” could possibly exist under the Gold Dome? Yet, politics abound. It is the politics of the future that swirl through the halls of the Capitol. Yes, it is a distant future, but it is nonetheless a future with immense present-day political implications.

Certainly, there will be elections next year. But those are not the elections actually impacting the maneuverings down at the state Capitol. Demographics and incumbency make Republicans the favorites in 2014. Absent a scandal, not even an incumbent Democratic president, Barack Obama, could tilt this decidedly red state to blue. Even if the potential political opportunity existed, Georgia Democrats have no bench. There are Democratic leaders in the making, but their time has not yet come.

Even if a bench existed, Gov. Nathan Deal has exceeded every expectation, leaving little room for either a primary challenge or a serious general election challenge. Meanwhile, most (but not all) of his Republican colleagues have avoided the kinds of missteps that create openings for challengers. Strangely enough, instead of 2014, it is 2018 that is on Georgia politicians’ minds. Indeed, 2018 has the attention of both Democrats and Republicans. For both parties thinking about 2018, the single most important political dynamic comes from Georgia’s Constitution. Georgia governors can only serve two consecutive terms. As a result, Gov. Deal will not be able to run for re-election in 2018. This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

For Democrats thinking about 2018, it is clear that Georgia is changing. After North Carolina, Georgia was the closest state that Gov. Mitt Romney carried over President Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election. Democrats expect that gap to continue to close over the next six years as Georgia’s demographics change. With no incumbent to defeat, there is little doubt that Georgia Democrats have their sights clearly set on a competitive potentially purple Georgia in 2018. Already, young gun Democrats in the 2013 Georgia General Assembly have started their political plans for that opportunity.

For Republicans, the political merry-go-round begins in 2018. Despite their protests to the contrary, elected Republican officials will be lining up for that opportunity. Today, at least three political heavyweights have their eye on Georgia’s biggest prize — and all three are impacting in big ways the 2013 Georgia General Assembly.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has consolidated his power in the Georgia Senate. His 2013 General Assembly session could be pivotal. If he can convert Georgia’s higher chamber into a productive partner in managing Georgia’s future, then he will emerge as a real contender for governor. The key to his success will be stabilizing the Senate so that it can meaningfully participate in deciding the direction of Georgia’s future. A return to the instability of years’ past could be a real problem for his future aspirations.

Attorney General Sam Olens continues his high-profile positions on both national and state issues. The legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act have not ended. Meanwhile, the myriad of legal battles that Georgia is a part of also continue. While Gov. Romney’s presidential campaign provided an important platform for Olens to stand on, it will be the nuts and bolts of dealing with Georgians on local issues that will make the biggest difference for his future. Olens has proven that he understands that.

As Georgia’s chief legal officer, he will have much to say about legislation coming out of the General Assembly. After all, he is the one who will have to defend it if it is challenged in court. He has a hefty incentive to help legislators do their job while making sure that they do not cross legal lines while doing so.

Finally, Secretary of State Brian Kemp touches voters every time they vote. With multiple elections between now and 2018, this is no small thing. Instead, it will give him the kind of access that politicians cherish most. But, the secretary of state has many other jobs beyond just elections. From corporations to supervising a multitude of boards and commissions, the secretary of state touches, either directly or indirectly, many businesses in Georgia. With that responsibility comes an important role when the General Assembly is in session and laws impacting those businesses come into play.

Beyond these three, there will be more. Virtually every elected official in Georgia from constitutional officers to locally elected officeholders, including a couple of congressmen, can see themselves as a viable candidate for governor in 2018.

The net effect is that while the calm, steady movement of the political process continues on the surface in the 2013 Georgia General Assembly, a completely different kind of politics is going on underneath the surface. Democrats are posturing for position. Republican hopefuls are building alliances and records capable of advancing greater opportunities in the future. Every battle — from the budget to ethics reform — will be shaped by these differing factions seeking political advantage in an election that is almost six years away. Just watch.

Evans is an attorney and columnist.

 

Vanessa Mussenden | Legal Secretary to
J. Randolph Evans, Shari L. Klevens and Matthew M. Weiss
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
303 Peachtree Street | Suite 5300  Atlanta, Ga 30308
Tel: 404.527.4596| Fax: 404.527.4198| vmussenden@mckennalong.com
 


     
   


From the Atlanta Business Chronicle :
http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2013/01/04/2013-general-assembly-whats-ahead.html

The Evans Report

2013 General Assembly: What’s ahead

Premium content from Atlanta Business Chronicle by Randy Evans Date: Friday, January 4, 2013, 6:00am EST

On Jan. 14, the 152nd Session of the Georgia General Assembly will convene in Atlanta. In many respects, the General Assembly will look the same with Republicans Gov. Nathan  Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston and Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones all serving as constants from the 151st Session. Indeed, Republicans have increased their margins in the Georgia House of Representatives (within one vote of a supermajority) and the Georgia Senate (with a supermajority). The most significant change is in the Georgia Senate, where most everything is different. The Georgia Senate has a new president pro tem (Sen. David Shafer), majority leader(Sen. Ronnie Chance), and many new committee chairs. In addition, the balance of power has tilted back in favor of Lt. Gov. Cagle.

The budget

Like years past, the most significant and pressing issue for the General Assembly will be Georgia’s budget. From the implications of the Affordable Care Act to the continuing challenges from a sluggish economy, Georgia’s budget will be a real challenge. Unlike the federal budget, Georgia’s budget must be a balanced budget.

Huge unfunded mandates along with lackluster revenues make the 2013 budget an even greater challenge. Early on, Gov. Deal warned legislators that there would be no money for any new initiatives. Now, the challenge is to pay for what is already on the books while trimming spending wherever possible. While everyone agrees on the objective, there will undoubtedly be a few disagreements about how to achieve the objectives along the way.

Juvenile justice reform

Last year, Gov. Deal tackled the complicated and expensive issue of criminal justice reform. He relied heavily on the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians. Ultimately, most of the 2011 proposals from the Criminal Justice Reform Council were adopted by the legislature. Over time, these proposals will save Georgians billions of dollars.

Building on this success, Gov. Deal again turned to the Criminal Justice Reform Council. Under the leadership of Council Chair (and Court of Appeals Judge) Mike Boggs, the Council focused on improvements to the system.


 

In the fiscal year 2013 budget, Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice received$300 million. Yet, since 2003, “more than half of the youth in the juvenile justice system are re-adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a criminal offense within three years of release.” With a series of detailed recommendations, the Report of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians, December 2012, offers changes aimed at “less crime at lower cost to taxpayers.” The projected savings for Georgia taxpayers is more than $88 million. Like 2012, expect significant action by the 2013 General Assembly on the Council’s recommendations.

Ethics reform

Legislative leaders appear to have reached a consensus that the time has come for more ethics reform. The most significant target will be unlimited gifts by lobbyists to legislators ranging from sporting event tickets to foreign travel. Sen. Josh McKoon took the early lead on pressing ethics reform, including a gift ban. Unfortunately, his initial bill creating an off-budget mandatory funding for the ethics commission lacked credibility and undercut somewhat his standing among legislators on the issue.

In the end, Georgians can nonetheless expect some form of ethics reform to make its way to Gov. Deal’s desk. Unfortunately, legislating ethics is tricky business. The challenge will be to pass legislation that enhances the standards of conduct for public servants without creating a minefield of technicalities that only lawyers understand.

At the heart of any meaningful ethics reform will be transparency. The more reporting — especially using the Internet — the more likely that public servants will be held accountable for misconduct.

Tort reform

While unlikely to be called “tort reform,” there will be some measures aimed at addressing some anomalies created by Georgia’s Supreme Court. Last year, the General Assembly, along with Georgia voters, reversed the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision striking down state chartered schools. This year, the legislature will consider addressing at least one other issue triggered by Georgia’s highest court. The court ruled legal a common practice among plaintiffs’ trial lawyers to game the system with what are called “Holt demands.” Basically, these are demands for money with a time limit. If someone that is sued says anything other than “we agree,” then the plaintiffs’ trial lawyers want even more money. While seemingly discrete, this is a major issue for Georgia businesses and one which legislators may have difficulty avoiding.

Other housekeeping

There will be a host of other issues that require “cleanup.” Some involve election laws. Others arise out of the Affordable Care Act. Most will be technical in nature.

Fortunately for Georgians, there is no fiscal cliff looming on the horizon. On the other hand, Georgia’s General Assembly does have its work cut out for it. Between the budget and juvenile justice reform, Georgia will take another step forward in 2013.


 

Evans is an attorney and columnist.

 

 

Vanessa Mussenden | Legal Secretary to
J. Randolph Evans, Shari L. Klevens and Matthew M. Weiss
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
303 Peachtree Street | Suite 5300  Atlanta, Ga 30308
Tel: 404.527.4596| Fax: 404.527.4198| vmussenden@mckennalong.com

 

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