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Less Opportunity To Boss Us Around

Laura Carno

By Laura Carno

June 6, 2015

Kudos to Colorado State Representatives Paul Lundeen and Tim Dore and Senator Kevin Lundberg for at least trying to limit the ability of the Colorado State government to boss around its citizens.

Late in the 2015 legislative session, these three Colorado state elected officials were the prime sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution 1003 (HCR-1003) which would have decreased the duration of the legislative session, and reduced the number of bills legislators could sponsor each year.

Currently the Colorado Constitution mandates that the legislative session lasts 120 days each year, and that each legislator may sponsor 5 bills each session. Since there are 100 legislators between the house and senate chambers, there are a minimum of 500 bills that are offered each year. Are there really 500 things that are wrong in Colorado that need to be proactively “fixed” with legislation? If they were all repeal bills, I might feel differently, but sadly they are not.

HCR-1003 would have reduced the duration of the sessions to 90 days in odd numbered years, and to 60 days in even numbered years. The extra 30 days in the first year would enable a biennial budget to be passed. Each legislator would have only 2 bills, not 5.

Imagine how much less damage could be done to the citizens of the Centennial State if legislators could only do 40% the damage they could do in a 120-day session with 5 bills each.

With just 40% of the bills, there would be less room for bills like:

HCR-1003 would have referred an amendment to the Colorado Constitution on the November 2016 ballot. The requirements for the current 120-day legislative session are in the Constitution.

See the original post here.

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The Government Cannot Compel Speech

March 24, 2015
By Laura Carno

The Government Cannot Compel Speech

ConservAFA-185x117atives and civil libertarians were up in arms last year over the case of the bakery that was required by law to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The baker didn’t want to bake the cake as same-sex marriages were against his religious values.

This was largely debated as a religious liberty issue, and there is certainly a case to be made for that. There is also my preferred argument that it isn’t the government’s job to tell anyone how to run their business, or what products they must sell, and to whom.

The government should not be able to compel speech. The government compelling speech is as wrong as the government prohibiting speech. It’s not the government’s job to tell us what we must or must not say.

It is this same principle that applies to a story about four US Congressmen who are sponsoring a bill that would require cadets at the Air Force Academy to say, “So help me God” as part of their annual oath. My own Congressman, Doug Lamborn, is one of the four.

Rep. Sam Johnson from Texas is the bill’s prime sponsor. He said the bill, called the Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015, would protect the religious freedom of American troops. Fair enough. It is currently an optional part of the oath, and cadets may say it.

But why try to compel those cadets who are not religious to say, “So help me God?” Why is it acceptable to compel this speech, when it’s not acceptable to compel the speech of the baker? And for those who were in favor of requiring the baker to bake the cake, but are against this “So help me God” bill, that is not philosophically consistent either.

Both sides need to check their premises. The government either can tell us what to say or they cannot tell us what to say. You can’t have it both ways.

See the original post here.

 

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Denver City Council Should Back off Airbnb and Let Consumers Benefit

City CouncilCompanies such as Airbnb, Uber and Lyft have been revolutionizing the way that consumers think about certain services in our economy. Unfortunately, rather than being embraced by local governments, these companies have consistently encountered bureaucrats and special interests every step of the way.

Denver politicians and hotel industry lobbyists are currently seeking to impose lodging taxes and licensing requirements on thousands of homeowners who simply offer cheap extra rooms to consumers who wish to pay less. Denver should instead encourage this new “sharing economy” and refrain from placing unenforceable regulations on Colorado property owners and tourists.

Since its inception in August of 2008, Airbnb has grown from a single apartment rental into a worldwide network of available lodging for over 9 million customers served. Rather than choose from a few cookie cutter hotel chains, consumers can shop through countless hosts based on price, amenities, reputation and whatever else they desire. The growth has been so rapid that local governments are only just beginning to comprehend how prevalent it is.

The first cities to successfully implement local taxes on Airbnb hosts were Portland, OR and San Francisco, CA in 2014. According to the company, about $5 million in taxes has been paid out to these 2 cities, encouraging the likes of San Jose, Amsterdam, Washington D.C. and Chicago to join the mix this past February.

With over 1,000 listings in Denver alone, the Denver City Council Sharing Economy Task Force (yes, this actually exists) has now begun to discuss applying their 10.75% lodger’s tax on any property owner who lists through Airbnb. This proposal predictably has the full support of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, whose clients have seen a dip in profits as Airbnb has grown elsewhere.

Cities should understand that consumers and hosts would be paying for and hurt by the tax implementation, not Airbnb CEO’s. The ability to turn a home into a source of revenue is helping property owners who are struggling to get by, along with allowing consumers and families who can’t afford normal hotel rates a greater opportunity to travel.

In fact, a recent study by a New York University professor showed that, “peer-to-peer rental marketplaces have a disproportionately positive effect on lower-income consumers across almost every measure.” It turns out that leaving more money in the pockets of low-income consumers increases their ability to afford things like food, lodging and travel. No kidding.

Beyond the implementation of the lodger’s tax, the city council and Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association president Amie Mayhew are pushing licensing and safety regulations on hosts. These regulations would align with what the hotel industry has to abide by, including carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, etc. Mayhew states that this would simply be, “to create equity”.

The city of Portland has gone a few steps beyond this and currently demands that hosts must allow health and safety inspections of their residences, in addition to requiring permits to operate. Of the over 2,000 rental properties available in Portland, only 93 (or under 5%) of properties actually had the permit and inspections to operate legally.

These types of costly and time-consuming regulations simply don’t work and arbitrarily turn good people into lawbreakers when they refuse to comply.

Additionally, Airbnb’s website has a much more effective and meaningful regulatory system. Both hosts and guests can review each other and make recommendations to the web community. If a host drops their standards, the comments section will instantly warn travelers. A city license of approval on the other hand could last for months between inspections.

While the implementation of some degree of taxation may be difficult to avoid, bureaucrats should refrain from placing absurd licensing and safety regulations on people’s homes. There is simply no way to enforce such a policy without placing onerous obligations on the part of Airbnb, or by deploying lodging police to kick down the doors of Airbnb hosts.

Denver City Council should instead celebrate the growth of this “sharing economy” and not let arbitrary regulations hurt entrepreneurial property owners and lower income tourists.