National Conference of State Legislatures

Alfred Katzenberger


[A report on the conference held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Reprinted from GroundSwell, July-August 2009]


This was Public Revenue Education Council's (PREC) fourteenth showing at the NCSL's annual Legislative Summits and the second time in Philadelphia. PREC's first time in Philadelphia was in 1997. Al and Pat Lubin, two loyal PREC members, drove to Philadelphia to help with the exhibit booth but had to return home do to illness. Sandra (my wife) was with me to help and Mike Curtis also came to help. So all went well.

This year was much different. Joshua Vincent scheduled his whole staff to come to the Convention Center to help. PREC wants to thank Barbara Maloney, Eron Lloyd, Cazie Perry, Richard Biddle and Ed Dodson for being so helpful. They also had a chance to visit the other exhibit booths in the Convention Center. All but Joshua Vincent seem to be a bit shy about attracting people to the PREC booth. Having Joshua Vincent at the booth was a wonderful experience. He was able to speak to any State Legislator and any Foreign Legislator about land tax issues in their state or nation.

The NCSL is the nation's largest, most influential and prestigious organization of state legislators and legislative staff. The annual summer meeting brings together thousands of the (7,000 plus) legislators. This year 5,373 people attended including 800 legislators and 505 legislative staff. Because of the economy fewer people attended this year. Next year the summit will be July 25 to 29 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Joshua Vincent is going to make an effort to arrange a workshop concerning land tax issues at the Louisville Summit. If he calls on you for help or support please respond generously. As Georgists we need to educate the state legislators about land tax issues or we will make slow progress in changing the laws to tax land instead of homes, buildings, wages and sales. The legislators are organized through the NCSL to lobby official in Washington, D.C, We need to influence the state legislators at their annual meetings. The PREC exhibit booth is helpful but Joshua Vincent's workshop will make a big difference.

Joshua Vincent and his staff attend and work other public policy conferences and conventions. Their experience helped PREC. This year PREC had a larger exhibit booth because more people were available to work at the booth. The booth was 20' X 10' instead of 10' X 10'. Joshua Vincent installed a large exhibit display explaining "Incentive Taxation" including colorful charts and graphics. He also provided a literature stand that was easy for legislators to pick up information of interest to them. He also had a bowl to collect business cards and offered a gift to the lucky winner of the card chosen on the last day of the exhibits. I asked Joshua Vincent and his staff each to write a report and to send the reports to GroundSwell for a complete understanding of what happens at the NCSL summits. Eron Lloyd had a portable computer and was able to show booth visitors assessment maps and Geographical Information System maps concerning site-value. Having such valuable skills are very important to the advancement of site-value taxation.

All the Georgist helpers commented on the location of PREC's exhibit booth. Next year the location will be even better. PREC was number 40 in the "pecking order" for the location selection of its booth for 2010. We will be 50 feet from the entrance to the exhibition hall. Fourteen years ago we were in the back of the hall near the restrooms and the concession stands. We had difficulty passing out literature because people were rushing to the restrooms and others were carrying food and drinks and did want anything else to carry.

This year we had no trouble getting our literature and the large display to and from the booth. We did not have to use the loading docks because the local Georgists knew where to park and unload and made it easy to carry and cart everything in and out. Joshua Vincent had literature and legislation concerning current land tax practices. PREC had literature from Common Ground-USA and greatly improved copies of "A Synopsis of Progress and Poverty" by Henry George. Mark Sullivan and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation published these very colorful and attractive booklets. The editing and design were skillfully done by Lindy Davis. PREC is very thankful to all the Georgist individuals and groups that supply us with Georgist literature and help support the exhibit booth. We will need support for the exhibit booth next year in Louisville, KY. Georgists in the Louisville, Kentucky who can help man the exhibit booth, please contact PREC at alfredkatzenberger@sbcglobal.net and subject your E-mail "Will help PREC in Louisville." Faithful David Giesen of San Francisco, CA will help if need be. The NCSL 2011 Summit will be in California. Visit NCSL.org

PREC pays for the exhibit booth and the basic furnishings required for the booth. We had to order carpeting, two tables and one chair. Total cost of the booth and furnishings was $2,400.00, a huge sum for PREC. PREC does not pay any of my expenses concerning the NCSL Summits. While I am going and returning and while not working the exhibit booth I enjoy being a tourist.

This year Joshua Vincent directed me to a Bed & Breakfast in Philadelphia. It was much more affordable than the NCSL suggested hotels. Visit www.philadelphiabellavistabnb.com and eat your heart out knowing I was a guest in this stately Philadelphia town home surrounded by antiques and Art and comfort. I even bought one of the mesmerizing paintings. The B&B is in the Italian Market District. I ate at Dante & Luigi's, the United States' oldest Italian restaurant and Ralph's, the oldest family-owned restaurant in the United States.

On the way to Philadelphia I visited the Santa Maria in Columbus, Ohio. Christopher Columbus was a great sailor and being a Navy veteran, I had to pay my respects. I also visited the German Village and ate myself numb at Schmidt's Restaurant and Sausage Haus.

While in Philadelphia I had to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A really big thrill was at the Independence Seaport Museum and touring the Spanish-American War Cruiser "Olympia." My sea-legs were feeling very restless. I wanted to cruise on that Cruiser...the Great White Fleet! I walked around Chinatown. Many of the streets, sidewalks and buildings are poorly kept. I also made my second visit to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site. It was much improved from my first visit.

On my way through Harrisburg, PA I stopped to visit Mayor Steven Reed. He was officiating at a program honoring Junior Police Cadets. Before the ceremony got started, I walked up to him and introduced myself and told him how much I admire his work as mayor and gave him three new copies of "A Synopsis of Progress and Poverty." I do not know if he enjoyed that little visit, but I did.

On my way home I learned about "Rose Rent." Go to Chambersburg, PA and you will learn that Col. Benjamin Chambers was a pioneer land-owner and founder of the town. He set aside three plots of land for three churches: First Lutheran, Zion Reformed and Falling Spring Presbyterian. In return for the land Col. Chambers directed each congregation to pay a yearly Rent of One Rose to a descendant of the Chambers Family. All three congregations still honor his instructions. "Death Pays The Rose Rent" a mystery book, was inspired by Rose Renting in Chambersburg, PA.

My last big stop was at Shanksville, PA to visit Flight 93 National Memorial. It was not far off the Turnpike. The field where the hijacked plane crashed is an old open pit coal mine. I did not know what to expect and when I got there. People were sitting outside on wooden benches listening to a speaker with a folder of picture explaining what happened there September 11, 2001. You could not go to the area of the crash. A national memorial is planned for the area. Nothing has been built. There were pictures of what the memorial will look like when complete. On the rim overlooking the site was a small wooden security shed. Surrounding the benches were several stone monuments. But what was really impressive was a huge billboard size collection of items left behind by visitors to the site. Thousands of objects including baseball caps, patches, pins, medals, toys, neckties, badges, small statues, sports equipment, knives, tools etc. I left behind a new copy of "A Synopsis of Progress and Poverty" and my floor pass to the NCSL 2009 Summit. I took a treasured photograph of my deed. I was told all the objects will be cataloged and be part of the Flight 93 Memorial and many will be put on display.

The rest of the ride was routine and I made it home safe and then one week later had to pack again to attend the Council of Georgist Organizations and Common Ground-USA meetings in Cleveland, Ohio.



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