July 23, 2014

State and Local Sales Tax Rates as of January 1, 2014

State and Local Sales Tax Rates as of January 1, 2014 (Excerpt)

Tax Foundation
May 18, 2014

Key Findings
  • 45 states collect statewide sales taxes.
  • 38 states collect local sales taxes.
  • The five states with the highest average combined state-local sales tax rates are Tennessee (9.45 percent), Arkansas (9.19 percent), Louisiana (8.89 percent), Washington (8.88 percent), and Oklahoma (8.72 percent).
  • Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, and Maine have recently raised sales tax rates.
  • Arizona, Kansas, and the District of Columbia have recently cut sales tax rates.
  • Sales taxes rates differ by states, but sales tax bases also impact how much revenue is collected from a tax and how the tax effects the economy.
  • Differences in sales tax rates cause consumers to shop across borders or buy products online.
Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue. While graduated income tax rates and brackets are complex and confusing to many taxpayers, the sales tax is easier to understand: people can reach into their pocket and see the rate printed on a receipt. Less known, however, are the local sales taxes collected in 38 states. These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate could actually have a very high combined state-local rate compared to other states. Of course, sales taxes are just one part of an overall tax structure and should be considered in context. For example, Washington State has high sales taxes but no income tax; Oregon has no sales tax but high income taxes. While many factors influence business location and investment decisions, sales taxes are something within policymakers' control that can have immediate impacts.
State State Tax Rate Rank Avg. Local Tax Rate (a) Combined Tax Rate Rank Max Local
Alabama 4.00% 38 4.51% 8.51% 6 7.00%
Alaska None 46 1.69% 1.69% 46 7.50%
Arizona 5.60% 28 2.57% 8.17% 9 7.125%
Arkansas 6.50% 9 2.69% 9.19% 2 5.50%
California (b) 7.50% 1 0.91% 8.41% 8 2.50%
Colorado 2.90% 45 4.49% 7.39% 15 7.10%
Connecticut 6.35% 11 None 6.35% 31  
Delaware None 46 None None 47  
Florida 6.00% 16 0.62% 6.62% 29 1.50%
Georgia 4.00% 38 2.97% 6.97% 23 4.00%
Hawaii (c) 4.00% 38 0.35% 4.35% 45 0.50%
Idaho 6.00% 16 0.03% 6.03% 36 2.50%
Illinois 6.25% 12 1.91% 8.16% 10 3.75%
Indiana 7.00% 2 None 7.00% 21  
Iowa 6.00% 16 0.78% 6.78% 27 1.00%
Kansas 6.15% 15 2.00% 8.15% 12 3.50%
Kentucky 6.00% 16 None 6.00% 37  
Louisiana 4.00% 38 4.89% 8.89% 3 7.00%
Maine 5.50% 29 None 5.50% 42  
Maryland 6.00% 16 None 6.00% 37  
Massachusetts 6.25% 12 None 6.25% 33  
Michigan 6.00% 16 None 6.00% 37  
Minnesota 6.875% 7 0.31% 7.19% 18 1.00%
Mississippi 7.00% 2 0.004% 7.00% 20 0.25%
Missouri 4.225% 37 3.36% 7.58% 14 5.45%
Montana (d) None 46 None None 47  
Nebraska 5.50% 29 1.29% 6.79% 26 2.00%
Nevada 6.85% 8 1.08% 7.93% 13 1.25%
New Hampshire None 46 None None 47  
New Jersey (e) 7.00% 2 -0.03% 6.97% 24  
New Mexico (c) 5.125% 32 2.14% 7.26% 16 3.5625%
New York 4.00% 38 4.47% 8.47% 7 4.875%
North Carolina 4.75% 35 2.15% 6.90% 25 2.75%
North Dakota 5.00% 33 1.55% 6.55% 30 3.00%
Ohio 5.75% 27 1.36% 7.11% 19 2.25%
Oklahoma 4.50% 36 4.22% 8.72% 5 6.50%
Oregon None 46 None None 47  
Pennsylvania 6.00% 16 0.34% 6.34% 32 2.00%
Rhode Island 7.00% 2 None 7.00% 21  
South Carolina 6.00% 16 1.19% 7.19% 17 3.00%
South Dakota (c) 4.00% 38 1.83% 5.83% 40 2.00%
Tennessee 7.00% 2 2.45% 9.45% 1 2.75%
Texas 6.25% 12 1.90% 8.15% 11 2.00%
Utah (b) 5.95% 26 0.73% 6.68% 28 2.00%
Vermont 6.00% 16 0.14% 6.14% 34 1.00%
Virginia (b) 5.30% 31 0.33% 5.63% 41 0.70%
Washington 6.50% 9 2.38% 8.88% 4 3.10%
West Virginia 6.00% 16 0.07% 6.07% 35 1.00%
Wisconsin 5.00% 33 0.43% 5.43% 44 1.50%
Wyoming 4.00% 38 1.49% 5.49% 43 2.00%
D.C. 5.75% (27) None 5.75% (41)  
(a) City, county and municipal rates vary. These rates are weighted by population to compute an average local tax rate.
(b) Three states levy mandatory, statewide, local add-on sales taxes at the state level: California (1%), Utah (1.25%), Virginia (1%), we include these in their state sales tax.
(c) The sales taxes in Hawaii, New Mexico and South Dakota have broad bases that include many services.
(d) Due to data limitations, table does not include sales taxes in local resort areas in Montana.
(e) Salem County is not subject to the statewide sales tax rate and collects a local rate of 3.5%. New Jersey’s average local score is represented as a negative.
Sources: Sales Tax Clearinghouse, Tax Foundation calculations, State Revenue Department websites

Taxes Data State and County (Tax Foundation):

Taxes By State and County (Tax-Rates.org):

Comprehensive List of Increased State Taxes and Fees in Maryland - Exposing Martin O'Malley as a NWO Crony

When It Rains, It Pours Tax Dollars In Maryland

January 3, 2014

Forbes - It seems like every year state and federal lawmakers pass legislation that either a) increases an existing tax rate or b) levies a new tax or fee on constituents. Whether the tax is applied to income, property, sales, vehicle registration, inheritance, or even death itself, legislators are continuously thinking of new ways to get an extra penny out of the American people.

While some “red-state” governors – such as Rick Perry (TX), Sam Brownback (KS), and Rick Scott (FL) – have fought to keep the overall tax burden of their state’s residents relatively low, center-left politicians, such as Governor Martin O’Malley (MD) and Governor Jerry Brown (CA), continue to hike tax rates to cover the cost of wasteful government spending. Maryland, for example, has had 40 new taxes signed into law by Gov. O’Malley since he took office in 2007. The most oppressive of those taxes is the one being levied on rain.

If you’re expecting a punch line from that last sentence, you’ll be waiting awhile, because it is no joke. Maryland is the only state in the country that taxes the amount of rain that falls.

Formally known as HB 987 or the Stormwater Management-Watershed and Restoration Program, the “rain tax” – passed by the state legislature and signed into law on May 2, 2012 – was in response to a 2010 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate aimed towards reducing the pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay. While the EPA’s $7.7 billion project called on the seven surrounding states to pass legislation recommendations contained within the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report, Maryland is currently the only state to have actually listened to the federal agency.

So what exactly is the “rain tax,” and who must pay it?

This tax is an annual fee on impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, sidewalks, garages, and any other surface that could create drainage problems and water contamination situated on property owned by an individual or a business. However, the tax is not applied to every city or county in the state.

In fact, only nine counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George) and the city of Baltimore – out of twenty-four total counties in Maryland – are responsible not only for paying this fee, but their local officials must determine and set the dollar amount their constituents will pay. This leaves the aforementioned jurisdictions with 10 different “rain tax” rates. For example, Charles County levies a flat fee of $43 per property, while Montgomery County has fee rates ranging from $29.17 to $265.20 depending on size of impervious surfaces.

Not only are the rates different for each, but so are the amount of square feet used to calculate the Equivalent Residential Unit and Impervious Unit: the unit of measurement to base the total fee per ERU or IU. One unit of ERU in the city of Baltimore is 1,050 sq. ft., while one ERU in Anne Arundel County is 2,940 sq. ft. Out of all the areas impacted by this fee, only two use the square footage amount per IU.

And of course no tax hike would be complete without government agencies, such as the Department of Navy, that own land with impervious surfaces resisting and declining to pay the newly enacted law.

Instead, middle-class families and business owners are stuck paying for a multi-billion dollar EPA program no other state bordering the Chesapeake Bay would help finance. If government entities aren’t going to follow the law they passed in the state, why should any Marylander be forced to pay a fee for a project on which they did not directly vote?

When the state legislature reconvenes on January 8, 2014, the first order of business should be for state senators and representatives to rally behind all legislative initiatives, such as state senator Allen Kittleman’s pre-filed bill, that fully repeal this business-crippling tax. With local leaders – such as Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman – speaking out against the negative impact this fee has on local business and residents, lawmakers in Annapolis need to head their words and take action.

By keeping the law as written, the Governor and members of the General Assembly might as well help pack-up the offices and warehouses of local businesses that will undoubtedly relocate across state lines. Gov. O’Malley claims he wants to help working, middle-class Marylanders, here’s his chance. Start with the full repeal of the “Rain Tax.”

40 O’Malley-Brown Tax Hikes Will Cost $20 Billion by 2018

May 2013

ChangeMaryland – Change Maryland released today stunning new figures on the tax impact that is accruing to Marylander’s since 2007. In two separate reports released today, Change Maryland documents the cumulative impact to 2014 and the one projected to 2018, the latest year for which there are official government estimates.

From 2007 to 2018, Marylander’s will have paid nearly $20 billion in additional taxes and fees stemming from 40 separate O’Malley-Brown increases – an amount which is over and above the tax burden as it existed before 2007 and assumes no additional levies are enacted.
“Nobody expected the total impact to be this staggering, not even me,” said Change Maryland founder and Chairman Larry Hogan. “Struggling Maryland families and small businesses simply cannot afford another four years of an O’Malley-Brown tax and spend binge.”
Governor Martin O’Malley is backing Lt. Governor Anthony Brown as the heir apparent to the state’s top office upon the expiration of his term in 2015. The Lt. Governor has stated a need to continue record “investments” in state government – code word for increasing taxes.
“The prospect of another four years of these policies will have a devastating effect on the productive components of the economy – increasing tax flight, continuing the small business exodus and large corporate headquarters relocating to other states,” added Hogan.
Since 2007, nearly 31,000 Marylander’s fled to other states, the highest in the region, 6500 small businesses have left or shut down, the second-highest in the region, and just three Fortune 500 companies remain in the state. This is a sharp contrast to 24 large corporate headquarters in Virginia and 23 in Pennsylvania.

The cumulative tax impact from 2007 to 2014 – the eight years of the O’Malley Administration – is $9.5 billion. The dramatic spike of the cumulative tax burden, an over two-fold increase in four years, is due to the phasing in of the gasoline tax and related transportation levies. Additionally, the massive sales, corporate income and sales tax increases from 2007 are recurring revenue generators that, combined with subsequent revenue measures, increase the size and scope of government beyond anything ever witnessed in Maryland history.
“This is not just an argument about big government,” said Hogan. “It’s about a government that is on auto-pilot to grow exponentially, beyond anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes and that comes directly at the expense of the private sector economy that we desperately need to diversify our employment base.”
Previously, Change Maryland released a report that updated tax and fee increases following the 2013 session, which brought the total to 37 increases that remove $3.1 billion annually over and above the existing tax burden. These latest reports adds new fees for gun purchases, enacted in 2013, and two newly-discovered measures buried in omnibus legislation and not subject to normal legislative procedures.

Change Maryland is the largest and fastest growing citizens organization in the state, made up of nearly 40,000 people. Its tax reports are derived from official government revenue estimates.

Cumulative 2007-2014
Cumulative 2007-2018

Change Maryland: 32 New Taxes and Fees – and Counting

March 2013

ChangeMaryland – Change Maryland released an updated list of tax, fee and toll increases enacted under the O’Malley Administration. This latest report shows 32 increases that remove $2.3 billion out of the economy annually. As final passage in the legislature of yet more record-high taxes and fees appear imminent, the list is a reminder of the ever-increasing amount struggling Marylander’s are being asked to pay for the big-government ambitions of politicians.

Fully sourced using Department of Legislative Services analysis, executive branch budget documents and fiscal notes from bills, the list is the only comprehensive analysis of what Marylander’s are paying in levies over and above existing taxes and fees since 2007.
“This will not be a slide in the Governor’s power point presentations,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “We’re finding yet again, it’s time to pull the curtain back on this Administration. Elected officials and bureaucrats don’t want their tax, fee and toll increases to be public and understandable, so we did it for them in the interest of promoting fiscal responsibility and transparency.”
Sorted by date, the revenue measures chronicle the state’s emergence as a national leader in imposing broad levies either through either traditional forms, or more recently, in novel ways such as to advance narrow policy agendas. The General Assembly’s presiding officers and the Governor are making a unified push in 2013 to raise motor fuel taxes and to pay for offshore wind by increasing utility bills to customers. Change Maryland will footnote those proposals as they work through the legislative process and add those in another list to be released separately.

1. In 2012, increases centered on raising revenues on individuals in the form of new tax brackets for those making just $100,000 – taking the class warfare argument down to an entire new income level.

2. That year also saw the creation of a new role for state government in local land use decisions – in the form of a stormwater management fee that essentially taxes rainwater and that is expected to collect over $300 million annually for government coffers.

3. The year 2011 was noted for record toll increases – $90 million extra to pay for using tunnels, bridges and toll roads.

4. Together with 2012, this was also the years of fee increases on literally all aspects of human life including additional levies to buy alcohol, obtain a birth certificate, a death certificate, a contractor’s license, a license plate, to stay in a hospital and use indoor plumbing.

5. In 2009 and 2010, Marylanders were forced to pay more to fish and drive a car thanks to additional fees for licensing and a speed camera system that doesn’t work and that elected officials are now trying to distance themselves from.

6. The Change Maryland analysis includes the extraordinary special session of 2007, a year that saw the ill-conceived computer services tax and massive revenue generators including increases in the individual income, sales and corporate income taxes.

All told, legislation of the special session of 2007 adds nearly $1 billion in revenues to the state each year. The computer services and millionaire’s taxes, two measures that caused Maryland to be a national embarrassment in the eyes of the business community, are listed but not included in the revenue that is generated as these measures are no longer in effect.

The grassroots organization periodically updates this list based on newly-discovered measures often buried in legislation and counts separate revenue-raising components individually when they are rolled into omnibus legislation.
“It’s hard to believe but they’re not done yet”, said Hogan. “The Governor and his enablers in the legislature are asking for even more tax increases in the next few weeks. This may very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. One-party monopoly rule is just too expensive. We need balance and a healthy and competitive two-party system. The taxpayers of Maryland have had enough.”
Background: “Maryland Tax and Fee Increases 2007-2012

Md. Gas Tax Increase Goes Into Effect July 2013

The General Assembly on March 29, 2013, gave final approval for a bill that will apply a possible 5 percent sales tax to the wholesale price of gasoline and will tie the current 23.5-cent excise tax to inflation, meaning it will likely go up each year.
The sales tax on wholesale fuel will be phased in, and its net effect on gas prices will depend on the price of fuel, but a state legislative analysis predicts the following increases:
  • 4-cent increase July 1, 2013, to 27.5 cents
  • 4-cent increase Jan. 1, 2015 to 31.5 cents
  • 4-cent increase July 1, 2015 to 35.5 cents
  • 3.5-cent increase Jan. 1, 2016 to 39 cents
  • 3.5-cent increase July 1, 2016 to 42.5 cents
By fiscal 2018, the gas tax is predicted to total 44.6 cents.
The estimates assume that gas prices will rise by 3 percent each year, and inflation will rise by 2 percent each year. [Source]
June 20, 2013

WJZ - Wallets are tightening and tempers are flaring as Maryland drivers get ready to pay the state’s first gas tax hike in 20 years. It’s meant to fund transportation projects statewide. But the price hike couldn’t come at a worse time for some drivers. Many are worried their personal budgets can’t keep up with the gas tax increase.
“I understand why they would like to do it because of the need for our whole state of Maryland. But it’s going to really hurt a lot of us,” said Hilda Kellum Aston, Southwest Baltimore.

Have You Had Enough Yet? A Comprehensive List of Increased Taxes and Fees, Under O'Malley's Democrats

July 7, 2012

RightCoastConservative -  It it seems like we are getting taxed to death in Maryland, we are! Every time I turn around, Martin O'Malley has approved or orchestrated another tax increase, and here's proof it just doesn't seem that way.

Govenor O'Malley's administration and his democratic controlled house, have been busy. It seems like all O'Malley has done is spent money and proposed and succeed in "raising revenue" through more and more of Maryland's hard earned money.

I got to wondering just how many taxes and fees have gone up since O'Malley has been running Annapolis, so I did a little digging and decided a list of taxes and fee increases might be good to examine.

Starting back in the 2007 Special Session, Martin O'Malley and the democrats implemented the Largest Tax Increase In Maryland’s History (so far anyway):
  • 20% Increase in the Sales and Use Tax (From 5% to 6%) 
  • Also included an expansion to Computer Service which was repealed in the ’08 regular session and replaced with the “Millionaire’s Tax”, a 6.25% tax rate on incomes over $1 million.  The “Millionaire’s Tax” sunsetted on December 31, 2010.
  • 18 % Increase in the Corporate Income Tax (From 7% to 8.25%)
  •  20% Increase in Vehicle Excise Tax
  • 117% Increase In Vehicle Titling Fee
  • 100% Increase in Cigarette Tax 
  • 5%  Income Tax Increase on Incomes over $150,000 (4.75% to 5%)
  • 11% Income Tax Increase on Incomes over $300,000 (4.75% to 5.25%)
  • 16% Income Tax Increase on Incomes over $500,000 (4.75% to 5.5%)
I am not sure how much additional "revenue that netted the state annually or how much in confiscated wages it cost in taxes, but it had to be significant. But they weren't done....

As housing values continued to take a noise dive and high unemployment remained static, the federal stimulus money dried up. Instead of cutting and downsizing, this group in Annapolis increased spending and demanded more of your money. And so they took it.

2011 Toll Increases:

“…largest package of toll increases in the state’s history…” Baltimore Sun, 9/22/11
  • Key Bridge/Fort McHenry Tunnel/ Harbor Tunnel - 50% increase from $2 both ways to $3 both ways effective November 1 - 33% increase from $3 both ways to $4 both ways effective July 1, 2013 - Total increase 100% from 2011 to 2013.
  • JFK Memorial Highway Section of I-95/Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge - 33% increase from $6 to $8 effective July 1, 2013 
  • Bay Bridge - 60% increase from $2.50 to $4 effective November 1 - 50% increase from $4 to $6 effective July 1, 2013 - Total increase 140% from 2011 to 2013
  • Harry W. Nice Bridge - 33% increase from $3 to $4 effective November 1. - 50% increase from $4 to $6 effective July 1, 2013 -  Total increase 100%  from 2011 to 2013
Taxes and Fees Increases in the FY 2012 Budget/BRFA:
  • Vehicle Titling Tax doubled  $50 to $100
  • Vanity Plate Fee doubled from $25 to $50
  • Land Recording Fees – doubled  $20 to $40
  • Birth Certificate Fees – doubled from $12 to $24
  • Increase in Hospital Assessments adding 2.5% to rates
  • Increasing Nursing Home Tax from 4% to 5.5%
  • Parole Supervision Fee – doubled from $25 to $50 
  • New Taxes and Fees in the FY 2012 Budget/BRFA
    • 2% Premium Tax on the Injured Worker Insurance Fund (IWIF)
    • Payroll Garnishment Fee for State Employees
    • Maryland Higher Education Commission Program Approval Fee
Other Bills With Tax and Fee Increases from 2011 Session:
HB 1196 – Increases the maximum fee imposed by Maryland Historical Trust from 1% to 3%.

HB 362 – Increases Licensing Fees for the Home Improvement Commission by $25 for each type of license and a new $20 fee for all initial applications.

HB 1213 (SB 994) – Increases sales tax on alcohol 50% from 6% to 9%

HB 195 – Increases the licensure fee for a secondhand precious metal object dealer or pawnbroker from $75 to $300

HB 1022 – Establishes a registration and renewal fee of $1,000 for Debt Settlement Services

HB 881 – Establishes an application fee of $100 and a $100 per vehicle registration fee for transporting waste kitchen grease.

HB 523 – Requires the State Court Administrator to assess a $100 fee for the special admission of an out-of-state attorney.
Now we go to present day, and of course they are not done.

In the 2012 Regular Session there is a lengthy list of fee increases in the FY 13 budget.

Office of Health Care Quality Fees:
  • Ambulatory Surgical Centers – 471% increase (from $700 to $4000)
  • Residential Service Agencies – 100% increase (from $500 to $1000)
  • Assisted Living – 567% increase (from $150 to $1000)
  • Laboratories – 200% increase (from $100 to $300)
  • Abortion Surgical Centers – $1500 (new fee)
Food Control Fees (applicable to all food processing operations in the state, shellfish (processing, food manufacturing, etc.):
  • Processing Facilities – 167% increase (From $150 to $400)
  • Plan Reviews - $400
  • Newborn Screen Fee – 43% increase (from $70 to $100)
Other Tax/Fee Bills:
  • HB 446– Environment – Bay Restoration Fund – Fees (Administration)  = $55 Million - Doubles Flush Tax for Septic Users from $30 to $60 per year. - Fund is not protected from future raids. - Exempts areas outside of Chesapeake Bay Watershed (areas in Garrett and Lower Shore)
  • HB 1087 – Telecommunications Companies – Universal Service Trust Fund –Surcharge (Hixson/Davis)  - $1.6 million - Expands Universal Service Trust Fund (USTF) surcharge to all telecommunications services in the state. - Current surcharge is $0.18/month but can be as high as $0.45 per month. - Previously, USTF charge only applied to landlines - $12 million of this special fund’s fund balance has been siphoned off in BRFA’s over the last 3 years.
This brings us to current day. Now we have a "Special Session" and the mantra yet again is "Raise taxes" Well, we've done that over and over again to the point we are slaves to this over spending, money grabbing, Maryland democrats.

I only wish I had the actuall dollars of the additional revenues in the above areas. Is anyone can get their hands on that, let me know.

Today, we learned there is yet another Income Tax increase:

Then, there's this:
Gov. Martin O'Malley and leading lawmakers say they've agreed on a budget plan that they expect to be approved during a 3-day special legislative session next week, including income tax hikes on people making more than $100,000.

Union Rally Draws Thousands to Annapolis to Protest Pension Reform Sought by Maryland Gov. O’Malley

Undercover Cop Tricks Autistic Student into Selling Him Weed

Undercover Cop Tricks Autistic Student into Selling Him Weed

Kid with Aspergers Syndrome who was entrapped by an undercover cop 

July 22, 2014

Infowars - This is the story of Jesse Snodgrass, a kid with Aspergers Syndrome who was entrapped by an undercover cop posing as a student at Jesse’s high school. This is the story of how the war on drugs preys on the most vulnerable.

There seems to be a national trend in the use of excessive force by law enforcement personnel in recent years, which is indicative of poor leadership and training and a changing mindset in the newer generation of officers/deputies. The majority of law enforcement officers are less than 40 year of age -- after 20 years of service, they can retire with full pensions, which means the generation of "peace officers" from their fathers' and grandfathers' era (ages 50 and up) are no longer working in the field and serving as mentors.

Military tactics and equipment (given to them free by the federal Department of Homeland Security*) are being used by local law enforcement agencies against citizens -- this all started when Los Angeles developed a SWAT team in 1967 (they originally created the term, "Special Weapons And Tactics"). SWAT teams are being used inappropriately by law enforcement. All sheriffs and police chiefs across the country should refuse to accept and use military equipment against the people, and terms like "war on drugs" should not be used since it creates a mindset that law enforcement is at war with segments of American society. SWAT tactics like "flash-bang no knock warrants" should not have been used to serve search warrants.

Surveys of police officers found that police brutality, along with sleeping on duty, was viewed as one of the most common and least likely to be reported forms of police deviance other than corruption. There is evidence that courts cannot or choose not to see systemic patterns in police brutality. Other factors that have been cited as encouraging police brutality include institutionalized systems of police training, management, and culture; a criminal-justice system that discourages prosecutors from pursuing police misconduct vigorously; a political system that responds more readily to police than to the residents of inner-city and minority communities; and a racist political culture that fears crime and values tough policing more than it values due process for all its citizens. It is believed that without substantial social change, the control of police deviance is improbable at best.

Causes of police brutality and excessive force:

As was the case with Prohibition during the 1920s and 1930s, the "War on Drugs" initiated by President Nixon in 1969 has been marked by increased police misconduct. Critics contend that a "holy war" mentality has helped to nurture a "new militarized style of policing" where "confrontation has replaced investigation."

Numerous human rights observers have raised concerns about increased police brutality in the U.S. in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. An extensive report prepared for the United Nations Human Rights Committee, tabled in 2006, states that, in the U.S., the "War on Terror" has "created a generalized climate of impunity for law enforcement officers and contributed to the erosion of what few accountability mechanisms exist for civilian control over law enforcement agencies. As a result, police brutality and abuse persist unabated and undeterred across the country."

Studies have shown that most police brutality goes unreported. In the United States, investigation of cases of police brutality has often been left to internal police commissions and/or district attorneys (DAs). Internal police commissions have often been criticized for a lack of accountability and for bias favoring officers, as they frequently declare upon review that the officer(s) acted within the department's rules or according to their training. The ability of district attorneys to investigate police brutality has also been called into question, as DAs depend on help from police departments to bring cases to trial.

Laws intended to protect against police abuse of authority include the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution -- it protects against unreasonable searches and seizures; the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses; the Civil Rights Act of 1871; and the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Civil Rights Act has evolved into a key U.S. law in brutality cases.

Most civil actions against police officers for misconduct are filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, it is difficult to succeed in § 1983 claims against police officers, and the successes in § 1983 claims do not necessarily result in changes in police practices. Further, judicially imposed barriers limit the value of remedies under § 1983. One barrier is the doctrine of immunity that protects individual police officers from lawsuits -- defendant officers are usually indemnified by the municipalities or unions if an alleged misconduct is within the line of duty. Therefore, there is no real incentive for police officers to change their practices to ensure that individual rights are protected. In Guardians, the Commission argued that § 1983 claims have not been effective in deterring police misconduct and without much change in police practices, § 1983 continues to be ineffective in deterring police misconduct.

Much of this difficulty in combating police brutality has been attributed to the overwhelming power of the stories mainstream American culture tells about the encounters leading to police violence.

*  DHS fusion centers "reports suspicious activities which have a potential nexus to terrorism." The Department of Homeland Security has been involved in producing a deluge of literature which portrays liberty lovers and small government advocates as extremist radicals. The increasing use of military hardware in the field of domestic law enforcement has caused consternation amongst some who see the police’s role as changing from ‘protect and serve’ to treating the American people as some kind of enemy. Since the winding down of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Department of Defense has been donating armored vehicles to the Department of Homeland Security which in turn has been selling them to police departments across the country. Former Marine Corps Colonel Peter Martino, who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers, warned last year that the Department of Homeland Security is working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens.

U.S. Agents are Leaving Strategic Areas Along the Southern Border Unprotected and are Using Children as the Face of the Illegal Immigrant Surge to Elicit Public Sympathy as the Federal Government Engages in a Sophisticated Military Tactic Known as 'Asymmetrical Warfare' Against the American People

Former Border Agent: Gov’t Using Immigrant Children for ‘asymmetrical warfare’

“In other words [the government is] assisting in the downfall of America..” 

By leaving strategic areas along the southern U.S. border unprotected, and by using children as the face of the illegal immigrant surge to elicit public sympathy, the federal government is engaging in a sophisticated military tactic known as “asymmetrical warfare” against the American people, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent is warning. 

July 22, 2014

Infowars - As the government allocates resources to South Texas, it is systematically leaving areas within the U.S., as well as vast swaths of land along the border, unguarded, outspoken former Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent Zach Taylor says in an excerpted clip taken from an upcoming documentary entitled, “Back to the Border.”
“This gives people that are trying to get their infrastructure, their personnel, their drugs, their dirty bombs, their biological weapons, their chemical weapons into the United States without being noticed” the opportunity to do so, “because this part of the border is open, it is not being controlled,” the 26-year Border Patrol veteran outlines in the extensive interview.

Scroll to 11:44 for “asymmetrical warfare” reference (see transcript below). / Video courtesy of Little Bonanza Productions. For more information, please contact: lisa@littlebonanzaproductions.com.
 “If asymmetrical warfare is going to be successful, the first thing that has to be done is to compromise America’s defenses against invasion,” Taylor says, “because they have to have their personnel inside the United States to affect the infrastructure.. they have to affect the degeneration from inside the United States.”
The retired federal agent claims that by magnifying the mere ten percent of the influx that is actually apprehended, and by mostly centering on the one percent who are immigrant minors, the government is deliberately drawing attention away from the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who evade capture – who may or may not be harboring communicable diseases, or may or may not have gang affiliations.

In Central America, children as young as 10 join violent gangs, like MS-13, an intelligence report notes, and according to an FBI report, many are initiated by having to commit murder.
“What the people don’t realize is that it is putting their own children at risk, because these children are going to be put in schools with their children,” Taylor says.
Taylor, who also serves as Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, had previously made headlines for slamming the recent immigrant wave as an Obama administration-manufactured crisis.
“This is not a humanitarian crisis,” Taylor wrote in a press release last month. “It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor Illegal Alien children at risk for purely political purposes. Certainly, we are not gullible enough to believe that thousands of unaccompanied minor Central American children came to America without the encouragement, aid and assistance of the United States Government.”
Below is a transcript of the portion of the video where Taylor explains how the immigration crisis is covert asymmetrical warfare aimed at the U.S. public.
The whole idea of asymmetrical warfare is to defeat your enemy from within. It is not to attack him from without. Of course the threat comes from without, but they have to be inside of the US to effect a successful warfare strategy.
If asymmetrical warfare is going to be successful, the first thing that has to be done is to compromise America’s defenses against invasion, because they have to have their personnel inside the United States to affect the infrastructure: our hospitals, our schools, our electric grid, our power supplies our water supply – basically what we call “infrastructure.” All of those things create our infrastructure – but they have to affect the degeneration from inside the United States.
The markers that we’re seeing that indicate this is “asymmetrical warfare” is because the reaction that the United States is taking is they’re taking the opportunity of inviting these illegal aliens to come here, they’re concentrating them in one place in the United States, the Rio Grande Valley, and they’re drawing the resources that are protecting the rest of the US border to care for the illegal alien children, to help with the overflow of the minors, to transport, to take care of the needs of these people while they’re in Homeland Security custody.
All this takes the resources that are protecting America at the border, off of the border. So now the borders are wide open. This gives people that are trying to get their infrastructure, their personnel, their drugs, their dirty bombs, their biological weapons, their chemical weapons into the United States without being noticed because this part of the border is open, it is not being controlled.
It is a perfect military strategy. It doesn’t raise any eyebrows because we’re focused on the children, but we need to focus on our children, because this is asymmetrical warfare. Everything says it is. And the way the United States government is responding to it is concealing that fact from the American people.
In other words they’re assisting in the downfall of America, and you need to understand that.
H/T: allenbwest.com

July 22, 2014

Federal Court Rules Obamacare Subsidies in Federal Exchange Are Illegal; Feds Ignore the Ruling and Keep Handing Out Federal Subsidies

Handing out subsidies to lower-income people is one of the most basic functions of the law, and helps provide otherwise unaffordable health insurance. If federal subsidies are ruled illegal, it could torpedo the law — not to mention wreak havoc on the subsidies already dished out. But supporters of the law had been unconvinced the courts would grant much credence to the plaintiffs' argument. "If the courts took the argument seriously, it could seriously damage the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a supporter of the law, told Business Insider earlier this month. "It has the potential to destroy the individual insurance market in two-thirds of the states." Department of Justice spokesperson Emily Pierce said in a statement: "We believe that this decision is incorrect, inconsistent with Congressional intent, different from previous rulings, and at odds with the goal of the law: to make health care affordable no matter where people live. The government will therefore immediately seek further review of the court’s decision. In the meantime, to be clear, people getting premium tax credits should know that nothing has changed, tax credits remain available."

White House To Ignore Court Ruling, Keep Handing Out Obamacare Subsidies

DailyCaller - The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.

A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.  

(RELATED: Federal Court Takes Down Obamacare: Subsidies In Federal Exchange Are Illegal)

But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.
“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.
A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.

That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Federal Appeals Court Deals Potentially Huge Blow to Obamacare

July 22, 2014

Business Insider - A federal appeals court has thrown out an IRS regulation that implements key subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, dealing a potentially significant blow to the law.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with plaintiffs who argued the law, as written, only allows for subsidies to be provided through state exchanges. The lawsuit, Halbig v. Burwell, has the potential to cripple Obamacare in the 36 states where the federal government provides subsidies for low-income people to buy health insurance.

The plaintiffs in the case argue the way the law was written does not allow for subsidies to be provided by the federal government, pointing to a statute that says subsidies should be issued to plans purchased  "through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311" of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1311 establishes the state-run exchanges. But plaintiffs say the law does not permit subsidies in federal exchanges, according to Section 1321 of the law.

In the end, the court said the plaintiffs presented a more compelling argument than the federal government. It determined the law " unambiguously restricts the ... subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges 'established by the State.'"
" We conclude that appellants have the better of the  argument: a federal Exchange is not an 'Exchange established  by the State,' and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to  provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal  Exchanges," the judges wrote in their decision.
The Internal Revenue Service handed down a regulation in 2012 that said individuals may receive a tax credit "regardless of whether the exchange is established and operated by a state."

The lawsuit is viewed as the most potentially damaging challenge to the law since the 2012 lawsuit targeting Obamacare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance.  Handing out subsidies to lower-income people is one of the most basic functions of the law, and helps provide otherwise unaffordable health insurance. If federal subsidies are ruled illegal, it could torpedo the law — not to mention wreak havoc on the subsidies already dished out.

But supporters of the law had been unconvinced the courts would grant much credence to the plaintiffs' argument.
"If the courts took the argument seriously, it could seriously damage the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a supporter of the law, told Business Insider earlier this month.
"It has the potential to destroy the individual insurance market in two-thirds of the states."
The appeals court's decision is likely to set up another high-profile confrontation over the law at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama administration said, however, that the ruling does not affect existing premiums.
"We believe that this decision is incorrect, inconsistent with Congressional intent, different from previous rulings, and at odds with the goal of the law: to make health care affordable no matter where people live," Department of Justice spokesperson Emily Pierce said in a statement. "The government will therefore immediately seek further review of the court’s decision.  
In the meantime, to be clear, people getting premium tax credits should know that nothing has changed, tax credits remain available."

A senior administration official told Business Insider it will appeal the ruling to the full D.C. Circuit court, in which the full court would hear and decide on the case. The math for the administration is better in this situation. T he appeals court is stacked with seven Democratic and four Republican appointees, four of whom were appointed by Obama himself.

But even if the Obama administration prevails before the full D.C. Circuit, the case appears destined for the Supreme Court.

You can read the full decision here.

Democratic Governors Enact Billions In Higher Taxes, While Republicans Enact Billions In Tax Relief

Democratic Governors Enact Billions In Higher Taxes, While Republicans Enact Billions In Tax Relief

May 16, 2014

Forbes - With state governments across the country under unified partisan control to the greatest degree in decades, this space has frequently covered how this dynamic has resulted in blue and red states moving in completely opposite directions in terms of public policy. Since the beginning of 2011, Democrat-controlled states have been busy raising taxes and growing the size of government, while Republican-controlled states have been cutting taxes and reducing or streamlining regulations.

This week, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) tabulated the total dollar amount of tax increases signed into law by Democratic governors since 2011, with that amount coming to $58 billion in higher taxes for blue state residents. This stands in stark contrast with what Republican governors have done with their tax codes during that same period. As ATR pointed out in a report released at the end of 2013, Republican governors have cut taxes by more than $38 billion since 2011. Since that report was released, an additional billion dollars in tax relief has been signed into law by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).

The great policy experiment happening in state capitols across the country will prove useful in demonstrating whether limited government, free market policies best foster economic growth and job creation, or whether that goal is better served by policies that expand government and increase the redistribution of income.

While it will be a few years before sufficient data from the states is available to draw decisive conclusions as to which approach works best, early indicators suggest that the red state model is superior. The average unemployment rate in the 13 states under total Democrat control is 6.3 percent, which is 12.5 percent higher than the 5.6 percent average unemployment rate of the 24 states under unified GOP control.

In the past month, two prominent indices of state economic competitiveness were released, and the results do not bode well for proponents of the blue state model.

Site Selection Magazine just released its annual ranking of the most economically competitive states in the country. Of the top ten most competitive states according to Site Selection, eight have Republicans residing in the governor’s mansion and controlling both chambers of the state legislature.

Chief Executive Magazine just released its tenth annual report on the best and worst places to do business, based on a survey of CEOs. Of Chief Executive Magazine’s ten best states to do business, all of them have GOP governors and Republicans also control both chambers of the state legislature in nine of the top ten. Wisconsin stands out in that survey, having rocketed from the 41st best state to do business five years ago, to the 14th best in 2014, thanks in large part to the labor and entitlement reforms, along with the $2 billion in tax relief championed and enacted by Gov. Scott Walker.

The Democratic Governors Association won’t be touting it this election cycle, but seven of the ten worst states to do business according to the aforementioned CEO survey have Democratic governors, and six of the ten worst states to do business have Democrats running both the executive branch and the entire state legislature.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation puts out the highly regarded annual State Business Tax Climate Index. Of the ten states with the best business tax climates, seven are completely controlled by Republicans.

Meanwhile, half of the ten states with the worst business tax climates are totally controlled by Democrats. Among the other five states with the worst business tax climates, three are under split partisan control and two are states that the GOP took control of in 2010 and are still busy cleaning up the fiscal mess left behind.

Despite what left-of-center critics contend, states with better business tax climates on the Tax Foundation’s index economically outperform other states. Bureau of Economic Analysis data shows that the economies of the five states that score the best on the Tax Foundation’s index grew by 66.9% on average in the ten years from 2002 to 2012. Meanwhile, the other five states with the worst business tax climates saw average economic growth of only 39.7%.

Much of the focus of the 2014 election cycle has been and will continue to be on the battle for the control of the U.S. Senate. While that matter is incredibly important, so too are the choices that voters will make in the 36 gubernatorial races on the ballot this fall, as well as the balance of power in state legislatures across the country.

The good news is that the parties have sent a clear message to voters over the last several years as to which direction they want to take states. It’s now up to voters to decide which approach they prefer.

Patrick Gleason is director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform. Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickMGleason

What the rise of Republican governors tells us about the GOP's future

- Shortly after Barack Obama won reelection in November, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pointed out that Republicans’ cloudy political prospects had a bright silver lining.
“One of the reasons you have 30 Republican governors in America, and why we’re the only organization to add Republican strength,” Christie said, “is because people see us getting things done.”
Christie’s stance countered most of the elite postelection commentary, which gleefully pronounced the Republican Party’s political irrelevance. But the governor was right.

Since Obama first took office in 2008, Republicans have picked up a net nine governorships, bringing their total to 30 states, which hold nearly 184 million Americans. In 24 of those states, containing 157 million Americans, Republicans also control the legislatures.

Democrats boast similar power in just 12 states, with a population of 100 million. Even Republicans’ unimpressive national showing last November didn’t reverse their state-level momentum.

It’s becoming clear that the Republican governors plan to lead in ways consistent with the reform agendas that got them elected.

The next-wave Republican governors have ignored proclamations that President Obama’s victories have vaporized fiscal conservatism and opened a new era of American big government.

At a time when Washington policymakers seem paralyzed by our toughest problems, these state-level revolutionaries have restrained government growth and radically reformed local tax codes.

They’ve made their states friendlier to business, reshaped government-employee pension systems to reduce state debt, and restrained the power of public-sector unions over state and local budgets. Some have even proposed eliminating income and corporate taxes.

Christie, whose stock has risen in New Jersey as he heads into a reelection battle this year, believes that the next national leadership of the Republican Party will emerge from the ranks of its effective governors.
“I don’t think this is a core philosophical examination we have to go through,” he has observed. “What this is about is doing our jobs.”
Few observers predicted this Republican resurgence back in 2008, when elections not only handed the Democrats the White House and Congress but also cemented their control of 29 governors’ mansions.

Even as the country seemed to lurch leftward, however, state voters began to revolt against Democratic governors’ tax increases.

In 2009, Christie defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine with a platform that rejected new taxes. Over the previous eight years, Corzine and his Democratic predecessor Jim McGreevey had raised taxes by more than $5 billion.

McGreevey boosted taxes and fees $3.6 billion between 2002 and 2004 alone, raising everything from income taxes to levies on home sales.

Corzine followed in 2006 with his own $1.1 billion sales-tax hike. Three years later, he slapped a temporary income-tax surcharge on households making more than $400,000 a year, part of another proposed $1 billion in new taxes. But actual tax collections imploded, leaving Christie with a $4 billion budget deficit when he took office in 2010.

Christie ran enormous political risks in trying to shrink that deficit. Despite discontent over the high taxes, polls showed that voters wanted higher levies on the rich, so that the state could continue a popular program of property-tax rebates for homeowners. And though the voters favored winning concessions from government workers, they also wanted the state to keep subsidizing public schools richly.

Christie disagreed. 
1. He chose not to renew the surcharge on high earners and slashed aid to municipalities. 

2. He also reduced the property-tax rebates; after all, property taxes are imposed by localities, so the rebates amounted to a state subsidy that let cities and towns avoid making tough budget decisions.
When homeowners complained, Christie urged them to vote against the expensive municipal and school budgets that were driving their ever-rising property taxes. Voters responded, defeating nearly 60 percent of the school budgets proposed in 2010. Christie’s reforms slashed state spending by nearly 9 percent and balanced the state budget without new taxes.
3. Christie then pressed the legislature to pass reforms that restrained municipal spending, including a cap on annual property-tax increases.

4. He also signed off on roughly $347 million in business tax cuts, though he has yet to find the revenues to make good on his pledge to lower Jersey’s income tax. 
Christie’s favorability rating was just 44 percent after his first budget passed, but as Jerseyans watched his strategy play out, his popularity grew.

Even before his effective and sympathetic response to Superstorm Sandy, more than 50 percent of voters approved of the job he was doing; since then, his popularity has soared.
“Despite the challenges that Sandy presents for our economy, I will not let New Jersey go back to our old ways of wasteful spending and rising taxes,” Christie recently announced. “We will deal with our problems, but we will continue to do so by protecting the hard-earned money of all New Jerseyans first and foremost.”
A year after Christie’s victory came the 2010 elections, when 26 governorships were up for grabs. Republicans wrested 11 of them from Democrats and lost only five, an impressive tally.

Perhaps the most ambitious of the 2010 crop of reform governors is Michigan’s Rick Snyder, a former venture capitalist with no previous experience in office.

Snyder initially received less national attention than Christie or Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, whose battle with government unions grabbed headlines throughout 2011.

Perhaps Snyder’s post-partisan image was what kept him off the national press’s radar for so long: he ran as a wonk who would use his business acumen to fix the state’s finances.

In his first budget, Snyder sought to close a $1.5 billion deficit while pushing—successfully, as it turned out—to get rid of the hated Michigan Business Tax.

The MBT didn’t just tax businesses’ profits, as most corporate taxes do; it taxed their revenues as well, meaning that firms had to pay even when they weren’t making money.

Politicians and policy experts in Michigan had long acknowledged that the MBT was one of the nation’s worst corporate taxes and that it drove away business. But it brought the state $1.7 billion in yearly revenue that no previous governor had wanted to forgo.

Snyder’s tax-reform plan was audacious. To make up for the lost MBT revenues, he proposed a flat corporate levy; jettisoning $400 million in targeted corporate tax credits, which had tried to keep particular companies in the state; and (most controversially) taxing the pensions of all Michigan residents.

Michigan, Snyder observed, was one of only three states that exempted pensions from income tax. The anomaly had originated in the mid-sixties, when state pols and public-sector unions reached a deal to exclude government pensions from taxes and public anger over the favoritism led to a broadened exemption.

Snyder’s call to tax pensions understandably upset retirees and government-worker groups, who threatened to try to recall the governor. But he persisted, and the recall idea fizzled. The Michigan legislature eventually agreed with him and reshaped the state’s tax code. The new arrangement moved Michigan’s corporate levy from next-to-worst in the Tax Foundation’s national rankings to 18th best. 
“The Wicked Witch is done,” Snyder said.
Nor was that the end of Snyder’s reform drive. Last year, he lowered Michigan’s personal income-tax rate. And now he’s seeking to eliminate the state’s so-called personal property tax, which is actually an outdated tax on business equipment. Snyder’s changes are “unshackling the state from its obsolete economic past and positioning it for new prosperity,” noted the Detroit News.

In Kansas, meanwhile, Governor Sam Brownback is pushing to extend a tax-reform program. Brownback roared into office in 2011 proposing to lower income-tax rates and to regain the lost revenue by capping some popular tax expenditures, like the mortgage-interest deduction.

Republicans in the state legislature, balking at ending the popular items, passed a tax-cut package without them, lowering the state’s income-tax rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent.
“The governor said early on… ‘Go bold.’ And we did,” said Mike O’Neal, Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. 
Brownback paid for the tax cut in part by keeping state spending flat and by using increased revenues from a modest upturn in the state economy. He’s now hoping to end enough tax-code deductions and loopholes to save Kansas more than $1 billion in revenue.

States are laboratories of democracy, in Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous formulation, and the very different experiments that their Republican and Democratic governors conduct over the next few years—especially on issues that go to the heart of economic competitiveness—will be eye-opening.

In the months since President Obama’s reelection, it’s becoming clear that the Republican governors plan to lead in ways consistent with the reform agendas that got them elected. How they fare may steer the Republican Party’s course more decisively than any soul-searching in Washington does.

Steven Malanga is the senior editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. His latest book is "Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer."


Governors of States by Party

Myrtle Beach Taxes Increase for Tourists; Corporate-Funded Police State Coming to Myrtle Beach

In a recent trial in Horry County, Myrtle Beach Area Lobbyist Mark Kelly’s legal team layed out how a $30 million annual tax on tourists was passed by Myrtle Beach City Council in 2009 to benefit the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Lobbyist Mark Kelly was present at a luncheon with two men he termed as two good friends — Brad Dean (President, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber) and Gresham Barrett (who was running for Governor of S.C at the time) — when Brad Dean passed Gresham Barrett $84,000 in suspicious campaign funds. Over $324,000 in suspicious cashiers checks were written on the same bank at the same time on the same day in sequential numbers written on several businesses which did not have the resources to write such checks. These cashiers checks were passed out to local politicians through a clearing house set up by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce after the tourist tax was passed into legislation. Testimony from witnesses in court, under oath, showed that the funds were handed out by Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O, himself. Mr. Dean would be well advised that a culture of hidden corruption is often a start that leads to arrogance, entitlement, and insensitivity. Nothing good can come of such. [Source]
* The "State Tax Relief" of 1% effective June 1, 2007 plus the "State Sales Tax" for South Carolina brings the total "Sales Tax" to six percent before the other taxes are factored in.

Tax Overcharge in Myrtle Beach Restaurant

Tax charged on this restaurant bill is incorrect.
Tax charged on this restaurant bill is incorrect.
March 12, 2012

Myrtle Beach Restaurant News - Tax on restaurant food within the Myrtle Beach city limits is 11.5%, but recently a local diner was charged 11.5% and an additional 16.52% of the bill's total.

A local diner, who wishes to remain anonymous, emailed to MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com a copy of her March 5, 2012, lunch receipt from SoHo Restaurant, which is within the Myrtle Beach city limits. The total for two meals was $15.98, and a tax of 11.5% - $1.84 - was charged. That is the appropriate amount according to city tax rates.

However, an additional tax of $2.64 was also charged, an amount that is 16.52% of the total.

The diner asked the server about it, and she was told it was a "hospitality tax."

"I would just hate for tourists that go there to go back wherever and say Myrtle Beach has high 'hospitality tax' that's what the waitress said it was," the diner said. "And when I told her hospitality tax is 2.5 within the city she said other people have questioned it and they explain it as a hospitality tax."
Since other people have questioned the tax, it seems this is a recurring problem at this restaurant.

A copy of the receipt was sent to Maria Baisden, who works in the City of Myrtle Beach finance department, and she said she does not know what the second fee represents.

Three days later on a different meal, the correct amount of tax was charged.
Three days later on a different meal, the correct amount of tax was charged.

Corporate Funded Police State Coming to Myrtle Beach

The chamber plans on redirecting portions of a $30 million tax on visiting tourists it receives to pay for public law enforcement. Reports of other tourism promotion funds will also be used by this Chamber to hire more law enforcement for May 2015. Using those funds would require amending state law.

Because of issues surrounding the passage of the current $30 million annual tax on visiting tourists and the suspicious way it came to be, some area leaders are highly concerned about giving this much power to a private entity.  

“This Chamber of Commerce has sued us for our own private trademark, worked to shut down our facebook page, and their members have Google bombed our maps listings in the past few weeks so as to have them removed from Google maps,” said David Hucks. “It is frightening to see them now working towards paying the salaries for public law enforcement. Does anyone not believe these officers will not know where this money is coming from? What happened to we the people?”

“Am I the only person in this state who can see the long term implications of this?” said Skip Hoagland of StopChamberAbuse.com. “As much as I have spoken out about the abuses of this Myrtle Beach Area Chamber, God forbid I visit during the period this group is funding law enforcement or any time for that matter. They are working to put small media out of business,  paying politicians for taxation laws to benefit their own private affairs, and now they are in the police business? This is very troubling,”  Hoagland added.

Why are so many concerned about the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber getting into the business of paying for public law enforcement?

In a recent past election over $324,000 was paid out to local politicians and a candidate for the S.C. Governor’s office through a clearing house set up by VisitMyrtleBeach.com, The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber. Area politicians were paid after they passed this $30 million tax on visiting tourists and it became law.  The source of many of these funds has never been determined. The chamber and the city of Myrtle Beach have largely worked in lock step since with a powerful few financing campaigns and benefitting from the system that is now in place.

In a recent Myrtle Beach area trial, the attorneys for lobbyist Mark Kelly laid out evidence under oath that Chamber President Brad Dean personally passed those suspicious funds to area politicians. Is this the man we want funding our public police officers?

“This just gets more and more concerning as each day passes,” said Tammy Dabbs of the Myrtle Beach Peoples Rally. “People are just now waking up to their loss of civil liberties here in Myrtle Beach.“

Myrtle Beach Peoples Rally will put sunlight on these mounting concerns this August 8th and 9th. The rally will be held at Pelicans Baseball Stadium.  A peaceful, Saturday protest march from the stadium to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will be part of the rally.  “We simply can not have a private entity,  not accountable to voters paying for public safety officials. nless we wake up as a community and state wide,  we will soon have one of the first corporate-paid, public police states in the nation,” said Dabbs.

To show support for the rally,   visit the MyrtleBeachPeoplesRally.com

Myrtle Beach Mafia, S.C. beer laws, and Capt. ‘Murica

April 23, 2014

Weekly Surge - This week from Under the Outhouse, a group claims a “Myrtle Beach Mafia” has hijacked the city, more beer freedom (and beer in general) may be headed to South Carolina, and Captain America channels his inner Edward Snowden.

Group Claims “Myrtle Beach Mafia” Hijacked City 

A group of local activists opposing the Myrtle Beach area’s 1 percent sales tax is targeting a coalition of local politicians, local business magnates, and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. A post by the organization on Myrlte-Beach.com supposedly documents “how one hotel corporation took full control of an entire city and is now working to have greater control over an entire state.” The existence of an organized “Myrtle Beach Mafia” may be a bit of a stretch; however, the article does highlight what could be one of the biggest pay-to-play scandals in the history of the state -- as well as the fleecing of Myrtle Beach locals at the hands of corrupt politicians and Chamber of Commerce.

The story begins back in 2009, when the South Carolina Legislature allowed local municipalities like Myrtle Beach to pass a 1 percent sales tax to fund tourism-related projects. In May of that year, the Myrtle Beach City Council voted to approve the 1 percent sales tax increase (without putting it to the voters, of course).  Of the more than $30-million collected yearly from tourists and locals, 80 percent is directed back to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, which (unsurprisingly) lobbied state and local elected officials to pass the tax. Only a small percentage is actually used for infrastructure projects in the area; according to WMBF News, just $1.9 million was allocated to public works projects in Myrtle Beach in the tax’s first three years, while $57 million was used for advertising. The Chamber claims the tax has been instrumental in bringing more tourists to the area, but local activists claim the tax is a kickback scheme benefitting the chamber, local politicians who support making the tax permanent, and large hoteliers (the Brittain Resort Corporation). Additionally, activists claim that the tax puts small hotels and condo owners who lease their property at a disadvantage.

The economic impact of the tax on tourism is still debatable (though if a cigarette tax is intended to stunt smoking, a tax on tourism would theoretically have the same effect), but the group’s “kickback” accusation does carry merit.

According to The Sun News’ David Wren, a federal criminal investigation is examining $324,500 in political contributions made in 2009 to local officials who supported the sales tax increase. Wren reports the possibly illegal contributions came from 14 shell corporations – all listing Myrtle Beach lawyer and former Chamber Chairman Robert “Shep” Guyton as their registered agent. Myrtle Beach City Council members Wayne Gray, Randal Wallace and Mayor John Rhodes are just a few who received this money. State Senator Ray Cleary (R-Murrells Inlet) and state Representatives Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach), Liston Barfield (R-Aynor), and Nelson Hardwick (R-Surfside Beach) are also some of those reported to have received contributions from these corporations.

Local Rep Leading Charge to make S.C. a Better Place for Beer

South Carolina State Senator Sean Bennett (R-Summerville) filed an amendment last week that would make the state more hospitable to craft breweries. The amendment, co-sponsored by State Senator Greg Hembree (R-Little River), would allow craft breweries to make more beer, as well as sell directly to distributors both in and out of the state. Such changes to South Carolina’s laws would make the state more attractive to microbrewers like California-based Stone Brewery, which is looking to expand in the East. "I certainly think we’re in the running and have a shot at it," South Carolina Brewers Association attorney Brook Bristow told The Greenville News.

According to The Sun News, economic developers from the area have targeted a location across from Broadway at the Beach as a possible spot for Stone’s footprint in the East. However, Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., doubts the brewery would commit to such a large expansion without a law on the books that would allow it to operate in the state.

At press time, the bill resides with the Senate Judiciary committee, and must be passed by the Senate by May 1 in order for it to be also approved by the House this year.

Is Sen. Lindsey Graham a Member of Hydra? 

Before it leaves theaters, I strongly suggest you go see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Marvel’s second installment of comic book hero Captain America is a modern-day allegory of the battle between freedom and security. And, following the on-going revelations of the extent of the Obama Administration’s illegal use of domestic spying by the National Security Agency, the movie’s message hits close to home.

Andrew Davis is a Myrtle Beach native and former Director of Communications for the national Libertarian Party. Contact him at SCPundit@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @SCPundit.

Culture of Corruption And Violence Part of Myrtle Beach’s Recent Past

June 4, 2014

Myrtle-Beach.com - Mayor  Jake Evans of Atlantic Beach, S.C. said today that he was not invited to the press conference recently attended by Myrtle Beach Chamber C.E.O. Brad Dean, County Council Chair Mark Lazarus, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, and Governor Haley where the governor called for an end to the Atlantic Beach Memorial Weekend Bike Festival, commonly referred to as Black Bike Week Rally, held in Atlantic Beach.  He said he was sent a text by the North Myrtle Beach Mayor once the press conference was just about to begin.

As of today,  Mayor Evans said that neither the Governor, nor the Mayor of Myrtle Beach, nor the head of Horry County Council, nor the Chamber C.E.O. has reached out to him personally to discuss the matter individually or privately.  All of the communication he has received to date has come through what he has read in the media.  While an area meeting of mayors is scheduled for tomorrow,  Mayor Evans is required to be in court during that time for a matter concerning the city of Atlantic Beach.

In a prepared statement to the media,  Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O. said, “We are working with our promotional partners to do what little we can to counter the negative publicity and assure those visitors planning a trip to the Myrtle Beach area that our community values their safety.” 


Two more murders have occured in the Myrtle Beach area since the Memorial Day shootings and one attempted murder on June 2nd at 60th Avenue North in downtown Myrtle Beach also occurred. These murders are completely unrelated to the Bikefest Rally. While the Heather Elvis murder of last December in Myrtle Beach also captured national headlines,  the news of a man beaten to death at a South end Myrtle Beach motel last Fall, a Myrtle Beach woman who murdered her ex-lover, and these most recent June 2014 murders have not garnered the national press attention that the Memorial Day shootings have.

“There are areas on the South end of Myrtle Beach near where those murders and the murder last Fall occurred that I would not feel safe having my grandchildren be on the streets after 9 p.m., “said Mayor Evans.  “A decade of history has attracted an element to the South End of Myrtle Beach, where those murders occurred,  that has created an unsafe environment for everyone.”

He added, Let’s be clear,  there were no murders in Atlantic Beach during the bikefest and no murders in our town all of last year.  Through the media,  this group is asking me to shut down our festival because of violence in the city of Myrtle Beach.  My voting constituents simply won’t support that, and it is not the right thing to do,” the Mayor said. 


Mayor Evans is concerned that politicians supported by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will work to strong arm rally participation in the greater area moving forward. In a recent past election over $324,000 was paid out to local politicians and a candidate for the S.C. Governor’s office through a clearing house set up by VisitMyrtleBeach.com, The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber.   Area politicians were paid after they passed a $30 million tax on visiting tourists and it became law.  The source of many of these funds has never been determined.   The chamber and the city of Myrtle Beach have largely worked in lock step since with a powerful few financing campaigns and benefitting from the system that has now been put in place.  

In a recent Myrtle Beach area trial, the attorneys for lobbyist Mark Kelly laid out evidence under oath that it was actually Chamber President Brad Dean who personally passed those suspicious funds to area politicians.  One of the cashiers checks was written on a corporation owned by County Council Chairman, Mark Lazarus. Lazarus has stated publicly that he does not know where those campaign contributions came from. 


The current Chairman of the Chamber Board is a man named Ted Fortenberry.  He is also the station manager for the local Myrtle Beach NBC television station, WMBFnews.  While stories of the Memorial Weekend shootings have been high profile stories across the station for the past few weeks,  stories concerning the Chamber-related suspicious political payoffs have received sparse coverage.  There have been ongoing calls from the Myrtle Beach Peoples’ Rally and from Myrtle-Beach.com for the Chamber Board Chairman to call for an internal investigation into that Chamber-related matter.  The station and Mr. Fortenberry remain silent on this issue.

In his prepared statement,  Chamber C.E.O. Dean said concerning the Memorial Day shootings, “The senseless acts of criminals and unruly visitors have once again marred what should have been a stellar weekend…” As of this writing, we understand officials are just now beginning to make arrests in the Memorial Weekend shootings. No arrests of any kind have ever been made in the Chamber-related suspicious payoffs to local politicians.

Today the Chamber voted unamimously to divert funds collected from the $30 million tourist tax to a fund used for police protection during the bike rally.  Dean said,  “We as a community must find ways to combat this problem and ensure that this type of lawlessness will no longer be tolerated. That is going to require a substantial increase in law enforcement”.

CASINO GAMBLING – Issues Moving Forward

Concerns have also been raised about an initiative on next Tuesday’s Democratic Ballot that will poll whether casino gambling should be allowed in the city of Myrtle Beach.  Area locals have spoken that dark money, from members associated with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber have lobbied for such casino gambling for some time now.  Area churches are just now coming together to voice their concerns about this issue.

“Casino gambling and hotel casino gambling would devastate poor peoples and only invite a more criminal element into our city,” said Tammy Dabbs, National Director of the Myrtle Beach Peoples’ Rally.  “The costs of such would certainly outweigh any benefits to our town and our state for supposed road repairs.”

A Myrtle Beach Peoples Rally will be held August 8th and 9th, at Pelicans Baseball Stadium to address issues that have caused the Myrtle Beach brand to be tarnished over the past 6 years.  A Saturday protest march from the stadium to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will be part of the rally.  For ongoing updates on the rally,  you can visit the Rally’s Facebook Page.

We reached out to Governor Haley, Brad Dean, Mark Lazarus, and Mayor Rhodes for their input on this story.  As of this writing none have responded.


The Brittain Center for Resort Tourism
City of Myrtle Beach Hospitality tax receipts up nearly 2 percent during the first half of fiscal year 2013... moderating compared with the 6 percent growth rate seen in FY 2012.

What is the Myrtle Beach Peoples’ Rally?
  What is the Myrtle Beach People’s Rally? • What are you rallying for or against? • Are you an anti-Gambling group? • Are you an…

As a leading South Carolina Democrat pushes legislation to allow $29.8 billion in road repair to be paid by Myrtle Beach Hotel Casinos,  the Trump…

 $5.4  million in dark money will be used to sell Casino Gambling to S.C. VotersHouse Minority Leader Todd Rutherford has come out guns…

First, the cost of television ads and promotional items is unavoidable as the dark money will present it through the same medium. With support the…

In what has been called a shocking set back for conservative values,  80% of all Democrats in the state of South Carolina voted for allowing…

Today, South Carolina Democrats will have the opportunity to decide an important matter affecting the city of Myrtle Beach. A statewide referendum of…