Tag Archives: sin tax

City Slaps Sin Tax on Pregnant Pooches

Got a license for that?

Got a license for that?

An effort to cut down on the number of homeless pets in one Texas city has prompted officials to slap pet owners with a $75 sin tax to help deter their furry friends from breeding. Failure to register your pet’s new litter within 14 days “could result in fines and penalties,” states El Paso’s new animal ordinance.

City officials have also limited dogs and cats to 2 planned or unplanned pregnancies a year in an effort to prevent shelters from being overwhelmed. Professional breeders complain that the city’s crackdown on careless pet owners unfairly punishes their responsible businesses that provide in-demand pets to welcoming new homes.

El Paso Animal Services received $250,000 from the city council to step-up its enforcement efforts that will include monitoring newspapers and other media to ensure citizens selling puppies and kittens have registered their new litters and paid the sin tax for their pets’ intentional or unintentional ‘romantic encounters.’

Your taxpayer dollars hard at work!

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Tobacco Added to Happy Meal Czar’s Naughty List

Ken Yeager's on a crusade to save citizens from themselves.

Ken Yeager's on a crusade to save citizens from themselves.

Big government bureaucrats in Santa Clara County, Calif., recently robbed kids of their beloved Happy Meal toys and today they came back for seconds, this time, bullying smokers and punishing tobacco retailers for selling a product that is still legal for adult purchase in all 50 states.

Supervisor Ken “Unhappy Meal” Yeager and his merry band of nanny state ninnies on Tuesday passed an ordinance that slaps tobacco retailers with an annual $425 fine vending permit fee. New retailers are also required to pay a one-time “permit application” fine fee, the San Jose Mercury reports.

The Board of Supervisors claims these new fines fees were established to extinguish teenage smoking, despite the fact that it is already illegal in all 50 states for tobacco retailers to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.

On Nov. 10, the Nanny State Liberation Front was among the first to report that Santa Clara County was “targeting smokers in their own apartments, condominiums and townhouses.” The American Lung Association commended the county for its’ ‘successful’ month-long assault on smokers’ rights, declaring their fascist crackdowns “among the toughest in the nation.”

Next up, Yeager & Co. will float a ban targeting flavored tobacco products that will likely include cigars and pipe tobacco. Will you fight back or watch another freedom enjoyed by responsible adults go up in smoke?

Contact Ken Yeager on Facebook (click “Send Ken a Message” below his picture) or get in touch with him the old-fashioned way:

Supervisor Ken Yeager
County Govt. Center, E. Wing
70 W. Hedding St., 10th Fl.
San Jose, Calif. 95110
P: (408) 299-5040
F: (408) 299-2038
Ken.Yeager@bos.sccgov.org

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Vermont AG Proposes Soda Tax; Turns Blind Eye to Maple Syrup

Vermont Public Radio reports the state’s Attorney General Bill Sorrell wants the Legislature to enact a “one cent per ounce excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages.” He blames soda for the state’s rising obesity rates, despite Vermont maple syrup having nearly the same calorie count as sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Mom always said, "Everything in moderation." Mr. Sorrell, nobody's asking you to be their mother.

Mom always said, "Everything in moderation." Mr. Sorrell, nobody's asking you to be their mother.

How about taxing “the official flavor of Vermont,” Mr. Sorrell? Whether he wants to admit it or not, the sugar found in pure maple syrup is no healthier than white sugar, according to the Cornell Sugar Maple Research & Extension Program:

The sugar in maple syrup is sucrose and invert sugar. White sugar is sucrose, whereas invert sugar is a breakdown product of sucrose. There is no evidence that maple syrup is healthier than white sugar.

In fact, white table sugar contains 49 calories per tablespoon and pure maple syrup contains 52 calories per tablespoon, one calorie less than high fructose corn syrup that is found in most of the sugar sweetened beverages Mr. Sorrell proposes taxing.

Here’s how we see it, Mr. Sorrell: Your state consistently leads the U.S. in the production of maple syrup with 890,000 gallons produced in 2010 alone. That makes Vermont a contributor to the so-called obesity epidemic when millions of consumers nationwide smother steaming hot plates of pancakes with with your state’s pure maple syrup.

In the spirit of fairness, what are your thoughts about asking state legislators nationwide to enact sin taxes on Vermont maple syrup, Mr. Sorrell? All is fair in love and anti-obesity crusades, isn’t that right?

Contact Attorney General Bill Sorrell and ask him why he’s such a huge hypocrite:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1647753286 (Click “Send Bill a Message” below his profile picture.)
Email: atginfo@atg.state.vt.us
Tel: (802) 828-5507

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Taxachusetts Voters Repeal Alcohol Sin Tax

No more gratuitous 'tips' to the nanny state.

No more gratuitous 'tips' to the nanny state.

In case you missed it, Massachusetts voters on Tuesday successfully repealed the 6.25% sin tax placed on alcohol, beer and wine last year. Nanny state advocates are now whining that the state will lose about $110 million in annual revenue that would have been funneled to anti-alcohol advocacy programs and organizations.

Jonathan D. Scott, president and executive director of Boston’s Victory Programs Inc., is upset that his organization will no longer be getting a piece of the alcohol sin tax pie:

For years, the sale of alcohol in Massachusetts has been treated as a necessity along with clothing and food, despite the serious harm it can create in people’s lives. This tax served as recognition that alcohol, like cigarettes, should not be considered a necessity, and created a fair way to fund important services.

Do you find anything “fair” about forcing responsible adult beverage consumers to foot the bill for rehabilitating those who abuse alcohol? Sound-off on Scott’s pro-sin tax/anti-alcohol diatribe in the Boston Globe’s comment section.

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Junk Food Taxes Foster Poverty and Obesity

"People have to stop exaggerating the numbers about childhood obesity - that's not to say that it is not an issue but you know, hysteria, fear campaigns and exaggeration are not very scientific," said Dr O'Dea, who is Associate Professor in Health Education and Nutrition.

"People have to stop exaggerating the numbers about childhood obesity - that's not to say that it is not an issue but you know, hysteria, fear campaigns and exaggeration are not very scientific," said Dr O'Dea, who is Associate Professor in Health Education and Nutrition.

Now that a few more legislators with common sense have been elected to office on the federal, state and local levels, it’s time to start repealing behavior modification taxes, aka ‘sin taxes,’  that seek to control the food and beverages lower income families consume. Australia’s NineMSN.com news reveals junk food taxes do nothing to relieve poverty or curb obesity:

Australia’s childhood obesity problem is an “exaggeration” and calls for a junk food tax will do little to relieve the poverty that is its major driver, an expert says.

The rate of childhood obesity among low income families was almost double that seen across middle and high income families, said Dr Jennifer O’Dea from the University of Sydney.

She said a tax on junk foods, as called for by a rising number of health experts, would only place extra financial strain on those families when a “social justice” approach was needed.

And while not downplaying the serious health problems that flow from a life of obesity, Dr O’Dea also said the scale of this problem for Australian children has become increasingly overblown.

“People have to stop exaggerating the numbers about childhood obesity – that’s not to say that it is not an issue but you know, hysteria, fear campaigns and exaggeration are not very scientific,” said Dr O’Dea, who is Associate Professor in Health Education and Nutrition.

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NSLF’s Top 10 Least Wanted State and Local Bureaucrats

Editor’s Note: Candidates appear in no particular order.

Does trampling on citizens' rights and liberties count as "torture," Eric?

Does trampling on citizens' rights and liberties count as "torture," Eric?

1. Eric Mar | San Francisco Supervisor (D)* – Leading the city’s now infamous assault on children’s beloved Happy Meal toys, incumbent Supervisor Mar has also been busy in recent months trying to regulate citizen’s intake of soft drinks. “I’m proud that we protect the public’s health,” Mar says, even if he uses shoddy data to force his radical anti-choice agenda down the throats of citizens both young and old. When Mar’s not telling citizens what they can’t eat and drink, he can be seen pressuring pet stores to quit selling dogs and cats. *Mar’s not running for office right now, but it looks like he has his eyes on becoming the city’s next mayor. Don’t forget about him. And, trust us, we won’t let you.

Proud to be a jackass legislating in her own special interests.

Proud to be a jackass legislating in her own special interests.

2. Rep. Eileen Cody | Wash. State House (D-Seattle) – Washington State’s longest serving legislator is also its most predictable anti-tobacco foe, stopping at nothing to ensure smokers quit offending her. Earlier this year, Cody sponsored HB 2493 in a last ditch effort to tax cigarettes in to oblivion. “I really don’t care,” Cody said, about the potential for the state to actually lose tobacco sin tax revenue because cigarettes would no longer be affordable for most Washingtonians to purchase; her top priority, she proudly proclaims, is to “force people to quit smoking.”

Don't be fooled by Martin's 'family friendly' marketing schtick.

Don't be fooled by Martin's 'family friendly' marketing schtick.

3. Grier Martin | N.C. House (D-34) — Earlier this year, Martin was influential in passing a statewide ban on chocolate milk and juice products at child care facilities. Ironically, he says parents “can cram [their kids] with ice cream, sweets, 50-percent-fat milk, anything they want” after they get home from day care, perhaps as a symbol of goodwill between the nanny state and parents. Here’s our warning to concerned voters: Don’t accept candy from strangers and don’t think for a moment that Martin isn’t interested in ultimately controlling every aspect of your children’s lives from the cradle to the grave.

No tax is too sweeping or absurd for Basnight and Hackney.

No tax is too sweeping or absurd for Basnight and Hackney.

4 & 5. Marc Basnight | N.C. Senate (D) and Joe Hackney Speaker | N.C. House of Representatives (D)These two big government bureaucrats colluded in 2008 to propose a revenue-generating scheme that would monetarily penalize motorists for driving too much. Family vacations and weekend getaways, if vehicles’ owners were already over the limit, would warrant a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” tax to compensate the state for needlessly clogging roadways.

"Please tell Michelle I love her recipe for controlling citizens' diets."

"Please tell Michelle I love her recipe for controlling citizens' diets."

6. Dean Florez | Calif. Senate Majority Leader (D) – Florez has a knack for citing alarming nationwide statistics to boost the credibility of his statewide anti-soda crusade. Perhaps, that’s because he is a puppet of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), who Florez even admits are the soda tax bill’s “sponsors.” While the CCPHA describes itself as a “nonpartisan” public health organization, its Board of Directors includes The Huffington Post’s Joel Epstein, a partisan journalist who makes no efforts to inform readers of his affiliation with the organization he advises in its ongoing war against consumers and the beverage industry. One thing is certain: Neither Florez nor his CCPHA cronies trust citizens to make the ‘right’ choices when it comes to the food and beverages they consume.

'Reality' is a lost concept in Hieftje's big head.

'Reality' is a lost concept in Hieftje's big head.

7. John Hieftje | Mayor, Ann Arbor, Mich. (D) – DailyKos.com, the virtual mouthpiece of the radical Left, calls Ann Arbor “one of the most liberal cities in the U.S.” And, by their account, “Mayor John Hieftje is doing a good job,” so that should be reason enough to include him on our “Least Wanted” list. According to his campaign website, Hieftje boasts, “I led City Council in setting the policy for the complete re-organization of the City bureaucracy, now saving taxpayers over $15 million per year.” As A2Politico.com’s Margaret Wong points out, Hieftje reduced staff, but wages increased. “We’re paying more for less,” Wong reveals. “We’re getting less for more.”

Squeaky clean good looks can be deceiving.

Squeaky clean good looks can be deceiving.

8. Greg Fischer | Mayoral Candidate, Louisville, Ky. (D) – When Greg Fischer announced in late September that he would make his administration “the most open, honest and transparent in the nation,” he probably wasn’t expecting anyone to take him to task on that promise before he got elected. A few short weeks later, citizen watchdogs and even the local media were raising concerns about an emerging ‘pay-to-play’ scandal in which Fischer allegedly offered “a position of influence in city government” in exchange for the endorsement of a third party opponent who quit the race.

Vince wants big government to raise D.C.'s kids until they're completely dependent adults.

Vince wants big government to raise D.C.'s kids until they're completely dependent adults.

9. Vince Gray | Mayoral Candidate, Washington, D.C. (D)According to Gray’s campaign website, “We need a mayor who will focus on the entire birth-to-24 education process.” If you think that sounds like another big government cradle-to-the-grave entitlement program, you’re right! Gray’s education plan includes all of the trendy code words you’ve come to expect from “community organizers” like President Obama and ‘progressive’ leaders like House Speaker Pelosi who think they can solve all of our problems, even if we don’t want their help! Want a “community buy-in” with “community as a part of the solution” to your child’s educational pursuits? How about making learning “sustainable?” Let’s not forget that everyone’s going to be “valued and empowered!” And, top it all off with some “accountability” and Gray claims there’ll be no more “bureaucracy” in D.C. Public Schools. But first, you must elect Gray so you can see what’s really in his education plan.

Mahan is a 'go along to get along' big government bureaucrat who can't be trusted to legislate in the people's best interests.

Mahan is a 'go along to get along' big government bureaucrat who can't be trusted to legislate in the people's best interests.

10. Patricia Mahan | Mayor, City of Santa Clara, Calif. (D) – Mayor Mahan has remained silent on Santa Clara County’s recently enacted ordinance banning toys in children’s Happy Meals, but the fact remains that parents residing in her city remain affected by the county’s nanny state crackdown on their freedom to determine what their children consume. According to the City of Santa Clara’s website, “Santa Clara is a family oriented and business friendly city, with an award-winning ethics program and a commitment to fostering public trust.” If Mahan won’t stick-up for families and businesses that are being treated unfairly in her city, then she must support nanny state bureaucrats like Supervisor Ken Yeager who feel entitled to dictate how and what parents feed their own children.

Don’t see a candidate listed? Spotlight the offender of freedom and liberty on our Facebook page’s Wall or Twitter page.

View NSLF’s additional “Top 10 Least Wanted” lists:

1. U.S. Senate (Oct. 27)
2. Governor (Oct. 28)
3. U.S. House (Oct. 29)

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Idaho Wants Smokers and Drinkers to Pay for Budgetary Indiscretions

Potato head bureaucrats want to loot smokers and drinkers.

Potato head bureaucrats want to loot smokers and drinkers.

Idaho bureaucrats are struggling to provide continued funding for health and welfare, education and the state’s prison system, so they’re hoping smokers and drinkers will help pay the bills.

“Our reserves are gone,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron (R-Rupert). “We can’t expect more federal stimulus.”

Sensing desperation, anti-smoking advocates are telling lawmakers they can pull-in a quick $46 million in revenue with a $1 per pack cigarette sin tax increase. House Minority Leader and wordsmith John Rusche (D-Lewiston) managed to pass-off the penalty tax targeting smokers as “another smoking prevention tool [for kids].”

Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett (R-Challis) scolded greedy big government lawmakers for budgetary indiscretions in the past and wanting smokers and drinkers to pay for their mistakes today.

“Boil it down: stop spending and lower taxes,” Barrett advises fellow legislators.  She defended smokers and drinkers targeted by sin taxes, stating, “that’s their choice and they’re not breaking the law.”

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US Medical Journal Reports Obesity ‘Crisis’ Is Fattening Big Government

Sin taxes: The choice of a new generation of fascist dictators.

Sin taxes: The choice of a new generation of fascist dictators.

A new report appearing in an American medical journal says the federal government is exploiting the nation’s so-called obesity ‘crisis’ to “extract more money from taxpayers and to expand government.” Additionally, the article’s authors note that nanny state bureaucrats have already failed in their attempts to meet self-imposed goals for reducing obesity, perhaps, because they are targeting food sources that pose no proven risk to Americans’ waistlines.

Michael L. Marlow, Ph.D. and Alden F. Shiers, Ph.D., both economists at California Polytechnic State University, write in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that the federal government has erred in its decision to use “sin taxes” as its weapon of choice to win the war on obesity. The primary target of these sin taxes is sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), despite empirical studies that do not show a clear, if at all existent, link between SSBs and obesity, the authors state:

It is sheer folly to single out a specific food or beverage as the “cause of obesity” when common sense indicates that obesity is a product of genetics, hormones, food choice, exercise or lack thereof, and the basic equation: Calories consumed minus calories expended = weight gain or weight loss. If one eliminates soda pop from his diet, while consuming 10,000 calories per day and expending 1,000 calories per day in exercise, that individual will gain weight. Moreover, if government interventions somehow reduce soda consumption, it is likely that substitution will take place, such as eating more food or simply adding more sugar to home-brewed iced tea. Effects on weight are thus ambiguous at best.

Powering forward despite any solid or convincing empirical data to support their crusade against SSBs, many states are jumping on-board the “sin tax” bandwagon with the expectation that they can alter Americans’ eating and drinking habits by pricing soft drinks and junk food out of reach of cost-conscious consumers, namely low-income minorities that are the primary targets of nanny state anti-obesity initiatives. Those who can afford to pay more for so-called ‘unhealthy’ food and beverages, essentially, will be counted on to generate tax revenues that create and fund big government “public health” programs charged with telling citizens how and what to eat.

Marlow and Shiers oppose efforts by government officials to demonize sugar-sweetened beverages because empirical studies consistently fail to establish a relationship between SSBs and obesity. Any relationship that has been established between SSBs and obesity, they note, indicates a “correlation rather than a causation.” Despite this non-existent ’cause and effect’ relationship, the First Lady, Surgeon General and federal officials continue to demonize SSBs as the primary factor responsible for fueling the so-called obesity ‘epidemic.’

Keep in mind, when President George W. Bush said he knew that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and used that premise as a launching point to liberate Iraq, he landed himself in a heap of trouble for making policy decisions based on what critics decried was an erroneous assumption and extreme error in judgment. Lucky for the First Lady and her fellow big government anti-obesity crusaders, the harshest critics of President Bush are their biggest fans and supporters, so they should have no problem pulling our nation in to another costly battle against a ‘self-created’ enemy threat.

Data proving the effectiveness of SSB sin taxes on trimming Americans’ waistlines is “very scarce,” the authors note, just like evidence of WMDs in Iraq. One recent study, they note, “found that tax hikes on soda lowered adult BMI, but the magnitude of the effect was trivial. A one-percentage-point increase in the tax rate led to a decrease of only 0.003 BMI points. A childhood longitudinal study of young schoolchildren found no relationship between soda taxes and weight gain.”

“The idea of funneling ‘sin tax’ revenues into government programs to discourage unhealthy behavior has been tried with tobacco taxes,” reminisce the authors. “Roughly 10 percent of tobacco tax revenue flows into smoking-control programs—which are not very effective—and the rest is used for unrelated government programs.”

Nanny state bureaucrats are pitching their war on obesity as a mission of compassion to save American citizens from a threat they are being led to believe has rendered them helpless to combat without the helping hand of big government. Doctors and citizens alike “should be skeptical” of another round of big government intervention efforts as two recent federal initiatives to trim Americans’ waistlines failed to achieve their goals.

In November of 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “established ‘Healthy People’ goals of 15% or less for adult obesity and 5% for children and adolescents by 2010,” cite Marlow and Shiers. “Neither goal has been met.”

A decade later, Americans faced with high unemployment and a lousy economy are being conned in to believing that paying more taxes on sinful indulgences like Coca-Cola and Gatorade will prove to be the nail in the coffin for the obesity ‘epidemic’ that plagues them. Marlow and Shiers find that scenario hard for Americans to swallow, and even more difficult for the federal government to pull-off.

“We predict government intervention will make obesity worse as it crowds out market-based solutions that effectively tie weight loss to personal responsibility, higher wages, and lower insurance premiums,” conclude Marlow and Shiers. “The main effect of the campaign will be to extract more money from taxpayers and to expand government.”

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Russia Offers Conflicting Messages on Smoking and Drinking

Just say no to vodka? Russian citizens are confused by mixed messages from big government.

Just say no to vodka? Russian citizens are confused by mixed messages from big government.

Russian bureaucrats are confusing the masses with their mixed messages about the benefits and drawbacks of smoking and drinking. Reports out of Moscow this week show efforts to increase consumption of booze and smokes to spur economic growth through sin taxes, as well as a crackdown on late-night vodka sales to prevent citizens from killing themselves.

“If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates,” Russia’s finance minister Alexei Kudrin said Wednesday. “People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state.”

Also on Wednesday, Moscow banned late-night sales of vodka and other spirits in an effort to curb crime and enhance public health. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last year declared alcoholism a “national disaster” and ordered a series of anti-alcohol laws be enacted to save the public from itself.

Medvedev believes alcohol is responsible for the nation’s declining population due to violent crime and alcohol-related deaths, hence the draconian measures.

And, in related news about big government bureaucrats overseas trying to legislate what they believe is best for citizens, Greece is officially banning smoking.

Touting the slogan “Cut smoking, gain life,” Greek officials have imposed a nationwide smoking ban in enclose public and private workplaces, as well as restaurants and cafes.

First-time offenders of the smoking ban will be given a warning and placed in a national database. No word on whether the Greek government will tie its smokers database to health care and health insurance databases, but one can only assume the punishment for getting caught lighting-up doesn’t stop with a slap on the wrist or a fine.

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Licensing Law Stunts Budding Florists’ Growth While ‘Fertilizing’ the Nanny State

Louisiana loves the sweet smell of money in the air at flower shops.

Louisiana loves the sweet smell of money in the air at flower shops.

Until recently, anyone seeking to become a florist in Louisiana was required to pass strict licensing requirements typically reserved for jobs associated with protecting public health and ensuring general safety. While some of the state’s licensing regulations have changed for the better, budding florists are still finding it difficult to grow their businesses.

Aspiring florists once required by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry to pass a written test and practical exam judging their abilities to prepare floral arrangements can ‘partially’ thank the the Institute for Justice (IJ), the nation’s “only libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm,” for making it easier to get licensed in the ‘Big Easy.’ However, there are a few bureaucratic loopholes that still hinder the process.

Last March, the IJ filed a civil rights lawsuit, Chauvin v. Strain, in federal court against the Commissioners of the Louisiana Horticulture Commission in an effort the state’s “anti-entrepreneur, anti-competitive, and anti-consumer florist licensing scheme” declared unconstitutional, an IJ press release announced. “If Louisiana can license florists, there is no limit to what it can license or to the burdens it can impose on honest, productive livelihoods.”

Deeming the licensing law an “abitrary” and “unreasonable” affront to potential florists’ budding careers, the IJ’s federal lawsuit gained the attention of state lawmakers, prompting them to pass legislation that outlawed a portion of the licensing exam which allowed the IJ to cease its case in court.

“H.B. 1407, sponsored by Rep. Franklin Foil [R-Baton Rouge], abolishes the demonstration portion of the floral licensing exam, while leaving in place (for now) a short written exam that presents no serious obstacle to would-be florists,” the IJ declared on July 12. “The bill passed both houses of the Louisiana legislature by wide margins.”

Unfortunately for florists entering the market, the licensing requirement and accompanying fee still remain intact, leaving Louisiana as the only state in the nation that regulates floral arrangers.

“The problem with this nanny-state attitude is twofold,” opines the Lousiana’s Advocate news. First, there seems no reason to license florists at all. If a flower-arranger runs a lousy shop, the market will force it out of business. That self-described conservatives have so little faith in markets is striking.”

Regarding the licensing fee, the Advocate says it is just another example of “stealth” taxing that big government bureaucrats use to bankroll state jobs. The fact that the Legislature kept the unnecessary fees intact as opposed to rescinding the entire roadblock to becoming a florist, just like any novelty store owner, is “symptomatic of how regulatory agencies leech off the economy,” the Advocate added.

And, if you think this ridiculous law doesn’t affect ordinary Louisiana citizens, guess again. Those licensing fees will be passed on to anyone who patronizes florists.

While the IJ seems content in declaring victory against the nanny state in this case, the Advocate views the outcome with less optimism and enthusiasm.

“The nanny state is alive and well in Louisiana,” the Advocate declares. “No one should congratulate himself on this outcome from Foil’s bill,” the same bill the IJ is heralding in its July 12 press release.

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