• Matt Gurtler

Week 7: Regulations, taxes and good public policy

This week it’s been back to business as usual.

We have been at it the whole week focusing various legislation instead of talking about budgets, but there will be updates to come as the budget moves its way through the process.

A few interesting bills came up to the House floor, including HB 583. This bill provides for further regulation on travel insurance, so naturally, I voted against it.

While the bill would provide for a few more people with the ability to sell travel insurance, it would result in more regulation, thus expanding government power and spending.

As always, more regulations on an industry also means higher costs to the consumer, and because I want to keep industries as free as possible, I cannot vote to expand regulation that will hurt consumers.

Speaking of making things more expensive, the House also recommitted HB 715, which is a regulation of professions bill allowing local governments to impose regulatory fees for certain occupations under the guise of “leveling the playing field.”

This is essentially a tax increase for occupations that currently do not fall under the list allowed to be regulated.

Currently, the state caps existing regulatory fees at $400 (which is essentially a license), and this bill would serve to put all occupations under that licensing scheme. No one should have to pay a fee (tax) to a government just to be able to work, especially if they don’t provide anything of value in return.

While the House has withdrawn HB 715 from the voting agenda for February 26, it recommitted it for a future time where Representative Blackmon, the bill’s sponsor, would “fix” certain things, such as “cleaning up the language,” which would essentially do nothing to make this a better bill.

A tax bill is a tax bill, and it will be a tax bill no matter how pretty the language is.

You cannot make a hog better by putting it in a dress. In any case, when the bill comes to a vote, I will be voting against it.

Not all bills this week have been bad, however.

HB 799 came to a vote this week, which would repeal prohibition from early reinstatements for drivers licenses when a citizen is convicted for a traffic violation.

This is a good bill for two reasons: (1) it decreases government control over our everyday lives, and (2) it is good public policy.

Restricting a person’s ability to travel in order to get to work and make a living should only be done when absolutely necessary.

Otherwise, it makes it difficult for a citizen who poses no threat to society to be a productive member of that society.

Under current law, a person who is convicted of certain offenses cannot have his or her driver’s license reinstated early, or have a permit to get to and from work.

Under this bill, the administrative judge is no longer the final arbiter over whether the defendant keeps his or her license, and the trial court judge overseeing the case has discretion as to whether to grant a driving permit for the defendant to go to and from work.

For these reasons, I supported this bill.

As always, it’s an honor to serve.

Matt Gurtler

(706) 490-2285