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Legislative Action Alert Week of May 23, 2011

Legislative Action Alert Week of May 23, 2011

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Published by Doug Grant
Jackie's latest
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Published by: Doug Grant on May 25, 2011
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Legislative Action AlertWeek of May 23, 2011 Jackie Cilley jcilley@aol.comMain Street and the Middle ClassTheir Futures Intertwined
I recently asked a restaurateur a simple question: “If a fellow who received a$6 million windfall ate here how much would he spend?” Looking quizzicallyat me he theorized maybe he’d buy the most expensive meal, lobster and allthe trimmings. “How many of those would he buy,” I asked. Clearlywondering where I was going with this, he replied that more than likely ourhypothetical jackpot winner would purchase one such meal unless he was atruly big eater. Taking it a step further, I asked what would happen if 60,000 people in thearea had $1,000 more in their pockets each year. The light bulb was goingon. We had been talking about tax and labor policies. He was beginning tosee how policies he had supported might be harming his business and itsfuture.It has long puzzled me why so many small business owners support policiesthat demonstrably harm their long term future prospects. Two weeks ago Idiscussed the evidence that tax cuts have not led to job creation and, in fact,have contributed to our deficit. I pointed out jobs are created to fill demandand demand comes from desire and
ability
to purchase specific products. Itisn’t that someone has more money in their pocket that creates jobs. It isthe fact there is a productive place for money to make more money. That’swhat capitalists do. Indeed, it’s their rightful role in a capitalistic society.If demand for one’s product doesn’t exist here or elsewhere, the capitalistfinds more productive places for his money – investments in pork bellies,Chinese clean energy technologies, whatever. What he doesn’t do is create jobs here in the US that serve no useful purpose and don’t give him a returnon investment.It follows that a robust middle class is necessary for a strong Main Street. Just like the restaurant owner, small businesses can’t rely on one wealthy
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customer. They need numerous average folks for a healthy customer base.Anything that endangers the middle class imperils small businesses as well. Yet, we’ve accepted policies that imperil both for several decades now.Whether it’s the debunked
trickle down economics shell game
 
or thenotion that busting up unions will lead to greater prosperity (also ademonstrable myth), too many of us have supported policies that hurt ourown selves, our families, our community, our small businesses and ouroverall economy. Take the Right to Work [for less] legislation that may well pass this week.Every previous legislature, Republican or Democrat, has defeated this in thepast. They knew RTW produced lower wages ($5,300 less), higher rates of worker injuries, higher work-related death rates (53% higher), lower levels of healthcare coverage (21% lower) and a lower standard of living. Suddenly,those now in power claim this is just the prescription for businesses wantingto come here with more jobs. Even if that were the case (and the evidenceon this is not fully vetted), what kind of jobs would those be? More Walmart-style jobs?Some might say “jobs is jobs.” Here’s what a Walmart economy looks like: 3better paying local jobs killed for every two produced by a new Walmartstore, 2.7% decline in retail employment “in every county they enter,” 10-40% decline in supermarket and other retailers sales when Walmart enters amarket and loss of wages and benefits in the marketplace (southern CAestimates a $2.8 billion loss in wages and benefits from the new Walmarteconomy in that region). Walmart costs taxpayers money from thethousands of associates who make below poverty wages and qualify forMedicaid. Only $43 of money spent at Walmart circulates in the localeconomy while $68 spent at a local business stays local. And, oh by theway, among these and other sad statistics, Walmart acknowledged that they
failed 
to pay $2.95 billion in taxes owed for 2009.
Is that a bit likemisplacing your car keys??
Whether it’s Walmart’s or other low wage/low benefit companies seeking tolocate in a state that offers up its workers for servitude the cycle will likelybe the same. Wages fall forcing more shoppers to low cost alternatives thatbring more low cost alternatives into the market driving out locally ownedbusinesses and producing more low wage jobs forcing more shoppers to seekyet lower cost alternatives.
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Until Main Street businesses understand their fate is tied to that of theworkers in their marketplace, the $6 million man will eat his $30 meal of lobster and 60,000 potential customers with their potential $10 meal will slipsilently away.
Contents
 
Page
 Thought for the Week: Middle Class & Main Street1 The Week in Brief3Senate Reads the Tea LeavesSenate Floor Action5States Capital Budget Plan5Performance Measurement Reviews on Hold6Parental Notification Amendment6Senate Hearings on Select BillsFilming Officers on Duty But Not Legislators6Kangaroo Court in Our Statehouse7Governors Veto Message8
♦♦♦♦♦
The Week in Brief 
 The upcoming week will be the final week of hearings and Senatecommittees’ final actions on House bills with the exception of the biennialbudget bill. The full Senate chamber will vote on committeerecommendations on 23 bills, while two committees will hear the final threeHouse bills on their docket.As the Senate meets in session on Wednesday, May 25, the House will meetto take up 23 bills, 13 on the consent calendar (these are voted on as a blockdue to unanimous consent on the recommendation of the committee) and 10on the regular calendar. No new hearings are scheduled. The most noteworthy legislation to be taken up will undoubtedly include theattempted override of the Governor’s veto on HB 474, the Right to Work Act,(see the Governor’s veto message at the end of the Alert), the Senate’sshunning of a priority nullification bill pushed by Free Staters and extremelibertarians, parental notification, and a bill to bar utilities from applyingeminent domain when no public benefit is evident. Then,
there will also be
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