National Conference of State Legislatures
[A report on the conference held in Nashvile, Tennessee, 2006.
GroundSwell, July-August 2006]
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) held its
annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The Gaylord Opryland
Resort & Convention Center is a huge complex of four adjoining
hotels, each with a huge atrium. Under each atrium was a garden with
a major water feature. The largest was called the Delta and it had a
twenty passenger flatboat that took visitors on a river tour showing
the botanical garden and full scale buildings featuring various
styles of Southern architecture. The enclosed buildings held
restaurants, bars and retail shops. The Gaylord Entertainment Center
and Gaylord Opry Mills Mall were all connected by gardens and
parking lots. We could not afford to stay at the Gaylord compound
and were lucky to find the Airport Ramada Inn & Suites Opryland
very suitable and affordable at a daily rate of $55.00. No one knew
who Gaylord was.
Tennessee calls itself the Volunteer State. As usual, Public
Revenue Education Council (PREC) depended on volunteers to help man
the exhibit booth at the NCSL. David Giesen of San Francisco
volunteered to help man the booth. A week before the start of the
conference he called and informed PREC that he had secured a job
teaching and could not come to Nashville. Lou Basso, a member of the
Board of Directors of PREC, agreed to drive to Nashville and help
man the booth.
Each convention center has its own way of doing things. At Gaylord
exhibitors where directed to unload exhibit materials at Ryman dock
"C." Dock C was for eighteen wheelers. Homeland Security
rules demanded getting out of the area and reporting to another site
where IDs, signatures and credentials were checked and parking
instructions were given for unloading the materials. Not parking at
the exact angle resulted in a quick warning. This was the first time
Public Revenue Education Council (PREC) experienced the Homeland
Lou was enthralled by the Exhibition Hall and all the exhibitors.
He worked the crowd and was very good at holding people in
conversation. At first, Lou was forgetting to give those who stopped
at the booth the materials we had on display and available for the
taking, but you must place the material in the visitors hands or
they will walk off empty handed. After lunch Lou went to check out
the other exhibitors and came back with two bags of free-bees for
his grandchildren. Each year the host state gives everyone who has a
floor pass to the exhibits a gift. This year each person received a
Tennessee cowboy style straw hat. Lou made the mistake of not taking
PREC materials with him when he visited the other booths and so did
not have our material with him to hand out to them. He spoke of all
the good experiences he had conversing with the other exhibitors but
did not have any of our information with him to give them. The
second day Lou worked the morning crowd. Later on he went to all the
health / medical exhibitors and received a full physical and
collected two more bags of free-bees for the grand kids.
This year we learned the NCSL has committee meetings and sessions.
The words "professional workshop, legislative workshop,
educational workshop" etc. are totally unacceptable. The NCSL
has thirty-two E-mails for various topics and a directory of 166
issue specialists. NCSL bills itself as "the latest, most
up-to-date information source on all policy topics. The issues are
so fragmented that it is no wonder why these "specialists"
do not see the connection between economic development and taxes.
The specialists on poverty are also the specialists on same sex
marriage, go figure. During the past ten years going to the NCSL we
have learned the power of "governance" is in the hands of
professionals like the NCSL who hold great sway over the legislators
by supplying them with what NCSL believes is the "latest, most
up-to-date information on all policy topics." NCSL provides
information, "leading experts," guides lobbying efforts,
does research, publishes books etc.
The NCSL trains legislators to "sharpen their legislative
skills." This year Molly Ramsdell of the Budget and Revenue
Committee stopped by the booth. Her office is in Washington, DC. She
received all of our handouts and said she would be receptive to
visitors to her office in Washington to learn more about collecting
public revenue from economic rent. It is the intent of PREC to
attend the NCSL so we can find leads for Georgist to pursue to
advance Georgist goals.
June M. Detetering of DIVISION DE L ' ECONOMIE SERVICE D'
INFORMATION ET DE RECHERCHE PARLEMENTAIRES returned to the booth
this year and said no one from Canada ever contacts the committee
that travels the country seeking input to improve Canadian finances.
The committee contact is www.fina.gc.ca. I gave her another copy of
"An Introduction to the Georgist Philosophy and Movement."
Her Courriel is firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Senator Steven Rauschenberger of Illinois and President of
NCSL stopped by the booth. When we told him East St. Louis was one
of the "Land Rich" cities of America, he started listening
to us. He said he was very interested in the idea and its potential
use in East St. Louis. He is a hot lead and everyone in Illinois
needs to contact him.
Bert May, the Legislative Liaison for Kentucky League of Cities
took copies of all our materials. The contacts are www.klc.org and
PREC moved up to number six-one on the pecking order for booth
selection at the 2007 NCSL in Boston, Massachusetts on August 5 to
9, 2007. There were 281 exhibitors in Nashville. NCSL expects more
in Boston. PREC will be needing volunteers to help man the booth in
Boston. Please contact Al Katzenberger to let PREC know you will
help in Boston. Please contact Al early so plans can be made and
required exhibitor floor passes can be ordered. PREC runs a very low
budget operation. This year we only had to pay for the booth space,
and rent one table, one chair and required carpeting for the booth.
PREC is hoping the Henry George Foundation of America will bring
its exhibitor equipment to the Boston 2007 NCSL. PREC is passing out
materials from the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, the Center for
the Study of Economics, the Council of Georgist Organizations, Gib
Halverson, Don Killoren and Common Ground-USA (see "Revenue
Source..." brochure insert). PREC wants to thank all of you who
are helping to keep our contacts with NCSL.
Lou Basso took a different route back to St. Louis. I drove to the
Shiloh National Military Park. The Civil War battlefield is very
well preserved. The orientation film at the Visitor Center needed to
be improved. It looked like a military training film from World War
II. Shiloh is worth a visit. The museum in Corinth, Mississippi was
closed by the time I finish my tour of Shiloh so I headed back to
St. Louis half satisfied with my side trips.