Archive for March 26th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Subject: AIG

Some of the best:

AIG is not equipped to be able to balance the ethical considerations involved in paying huge executive bonuses. Although a “person” under the law, there’s no person called AIG who can undertake this type of a priori moralizing. Paying the bonuses was the only way this corporate “person” could get a sound night’s sleep. It could rest assured that it was satisfying its marching orders, its prime directive. It’s really a simple “life,” being a corporation-person. No complicated morality issues, no fear of death by natural causes, but certainly a fear of death by dissolution, or bankruptcy. Every part of those articles of incorporation and bylaws are designed to avoid this type of death. And it’s avoided by making shareholders happy, by maximizing profits. The only consideration running through the corporation’s “mind” is how can “I” do these things?

Over at Left in the West.

by jhwygirl

Over at Session 61, Executive Director Bob Decker of The Policy Institute has a great analysis on the 4 bills, in various status, working through the legislative session.

Rep. Jill Cohenour has HB649 which has good and bad. Session 61 doesn’t like the “one step forward and one step backward” of the bill, and I don’t blame him.

Frankly, I wonder why we have to have a law – a law – to go after tax cheats and scofflaws. Isn’t that a bit crazy? Unfair? Seriously – what goes on in the mind of a legislator that votes against efforts to go after people who aren’t paying their taxes?

It was attempted last legislative session as I recall – probably before that too – and failed.

You hear quite a bit from certain members regarding Montana’s monstrously evil business equipment tax. Really? Decker explains:

Montana’s tax rate on business equipment, i.e., the percentage of the appraised market value of the equipment that is paid annually as tax, has been reduced several times in the past 20 years:
— In 1989, the Legislature consolidated the various equipment tax rates at the time, which varied from 11% to 16%, into one rate of 9;
— In 1995, the Legislature reduced the rate from 9% to 6%;
— In 1999, the Legislature reduced the rate from 6% to 3%, and it also established a tax exemption for business equipment valued at $5,000 or less;
— In 2005, the Legislature increased the exemption from $5,000 to $20,000.

Summing up his analysis of the bills, Decker says “At this point, the question is: How much more does Montana’s Legislature have to lower taxes on the business community? The state currently ranks high as a favorable place to do business, and further reductions in that sector’s tax responsibility simply mean that other Montana taxpayers – homeowners and individual income tax payers – take on the burden. ”

Which sounds much nicer than the public comment he offered during testimony for HB395:

During the question-and-answer part of the hearing, Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, and a retired economics professor, asked one witness:

“If we pursue the logic of the argument that reducing taxes rates increases tax revenues, don’t we maximize tax revenues when we make the tax rate zero?” Barrett asked, tongue-in-cheek.

Replied Decker: “That’s where the logic leads.”

by jhwygirl

Montana’s conservative side is already rounding up the troops….championing some of this bad environmental legislation.

In the Senate there are 2 crappy environmental bills – HB483, one of this sessions infamous Crappy Environmental Legislation bills. The Editor at the Button Valley Bugle had a fantabulous write-up on this one (and others), titled Your Coal, Their Rights.

This bills comes from Rep. Llew Jones of Conrad. It has already passed the House on a very disappointing 68-32 vote.

It has come out of Senate Energy and Telecommunications committee on a straight party-line 6-5 vote – where it was amended, but is still as offensive as it was in the first place.

SB507 is also on the Senate floor for 2nd reading, and boy is this one speeding along. The bill itself was only available to the public less than two weeks ago. I wrote about it here.

This bill stinks for two reasons: It allows for permanent easements for existing structures within the states navigable waterbodies – many of which don’t allow navigability. And it does it without MEPA review.

It also allows for leases and licenses – but why – WHY? – would we want to grant permanent easements to structures that block navigability?

Exempting them from MEPA is all the worse. No chance at mitigation. No chance at fish screening – no chance and incorporating or requiring portage.

The entirety of the bill is worse. Just check out the fiscal note. Not only that – it allows these things to increase in footprint with just a notice “when a footprint or associated facilities are relocated.”

Take a moment to let your Senators know what you think about these bills. You can go to Project Vote Smart and enter your address to figure out who it is – or you can use the nifty interactive Legislative District Map.

From there – head on over to this list of Senators for email addresses – or call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators.

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