National Conference of State Legislatures
[A report on the annual conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky.
GroundSwell, July-August 2010]
The economy is poor, Kentucky is poor and the 2010 National
Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) legislative summit in
Louisville, Kentucky, July 25 to 28, 2010 had poor attendance and
number of exhibitors. From the blockbuster two years ago in Boston
with over 9,000 in attendance and over four hundred exhibitors to
this year with about 4,500 in attendance and 241 exhibitors. The
2010 meeting was the smallest since 1997 in St. Louis when Public
Revenue Education Council (PREC) first started having an exhibit
booth at the NCSL summits.
This year PREC had Booth 410 in a prime location near the front
entrance of the convention hall. We only had two people working the
booth. I had the focused and intense help of Don Kelloren, Vice
President of PREC. I was able to arrive at the convention hall in
Louisville ahead of Don and set up the booth and delivered the boxes
of our exhibit materials to the booth with little trouble.
Though the attendance was low this year we still had good traffic
in front of our booth and were able to attract several hundred
people to talk with and hand out our literature. We handed out
literature from Common Ground - USA, the Robert Schalkenbach
Foundation, the Center for the Study of Economics and the Henry
George Institute. There were several foreign delegates from
Australia, Canada, Nigeria and South Africa who eagerly took the
small booklet "An Introduction to the Georgist Philosophy and
Movement" when we showed them their nation in the booklet.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Republican Leader
Mitch McConnell both spoke concerning issues between states and the
federal government. The state legislators were not impressed by what
they had to say and a few expressed that they felt they were being
dumped on by the federal government.
The NCSL meeting had about 150 issue forums/sessions on various
topics. The U.S. Census Bureau had a big booth and Legislative
Redistricting was a big issue this year. Many but not all
legislators were wearing blue CIVILITY buttons to show their concern
of the increase of toxic/uncivil politicians in their ranks. Don and
I met some of these "you listen/don't speak" characters. A
few even got a little caustic when spoken with. My favorite was a
representative from Delaware. I said Arden has a beautiful community
that is using a method to stay beautiful that we would like all of
Delaware to use. He yelled, "We don't need it and don't want
it!" and dashed down the aisle. Don and I did not see one
legislator from our state of Missouri. Don is a stand up exhibitor
and will quickly speak with anyone willing to stop and chat. He was
able to hold the attention of several visitors to the booth and
promoted all the literature we had on the table. He kept working
through his frustration in dealing with some of the obtuse thinking
he witnessed from some of the legislators. We had one fellow who
stopped by at least four times and talked about how his state's
constitution was "hard wired" against the split or
two-rate system of taxation. When asked if there was a way to change
the constitution he would just say no, its "hard wired".
The exhibit hours where shorter this year. Don was with me for two
full days and I was able to handle the last day of three hours by
myself. Don was very helpful in returning extra materials we had
that we knew I was not going to be able to distribute.
At the end of the NCSL summit the legislators enjoyed a closing
social event at Churchill Downs. I was unable to stay for the event.
One big highlight of the summit was when William T. Pound, the
Executive Director of NCSL, stopped by our booth for a visit. We
told him of our desire to have an issue forum/session concerning
land value taxation at the 2011 NCSL Legislative Summit in San
Antonio, Texas. I told him we have highly trained experts on the
issue that are very willing to present a forum/session and dialog
with the legislators. He asked us to send letters outlining what
would be presented at the forum/session and who would be the
presenters. Of course, this information is being forwarded to Joshua
Vincent, President and Executive Director of the Center for the
Study of Economics.
TO and FROM Louisville, Kentucky along I-64 in Indiana is filled
with interesting attractions. On the way to Louisville I stopped at
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial where Lincoln grew to manhood and
where his mother and sister died. His mother and many other pioneers
died from unsuspecting drinking milk from cows that ate the toxic
snakeroot weed. My neighbor has some of this innocent looking white
weed in his yard. The memorial also has a bronze casting in the
shape of Lincoln's historic cabin sill and hearth. Santa Claus
village and amusement park was near by but I did not stop there.
Next I went to see the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand,
Indiana. At one time over 500 Sisters of St. Benedict or Women of
the Rule were taught and practiced their faith. The church is
awe-inspiring, huge and breathtakingly beautiful. I spent a night at
Corydon, Indiana and the next morning visited the Battle of Corydon
Memorial Park, the one and only Civil War battle fought in Indiana.
It was the start of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's 46 day,
1,000 mile cavalry raid in the North and ending in New Lisbon, Ohio.
It was easy for Morgan to win the Battle of Corydon with 2,400
Confederates to 450 Union soldiers. While in Louisville I visited
the Cathedral of the Assumption. It is huge and beautiful and the
third oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States. The ceiling is
covered with over 8,000 six pointed stars of 24-karat gold leaf.
Above the altar is a stunning fresco of the Assumed Virgin. You must
walk to the altar and look up at the vaulted ceiling to see Mary's
assumption into heaven. On the way home I stopped to see the Saint
Meinrad Archabbey, the home of about 100 Benedictine monks who live
by the Rule of St. Benedict....pray and work. The church is huge and
the grounds are well manicured. If you visit be sure to go behind
the organ to see the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and another view of
the powerful painting of showing Christ holding the book of life and
the words "I Am Life". The abbey is supported by guest
retreats, Abbey Press, Abbey Soaps and Abbey Caskets.
Next year the NCSL summit will be in San Antonio, Texas August 8
to 11, 2011. At the booth selection meeting PREC was number 35 and
we selected Booth 307 near the front entrance of the convention
center. NCSL and Texas are expecting a bigger summit in 2011. They
are expect at least 6,000 people to attend and over 300 exhibitors.
Don and I work free and pay for travel, lodging and meals to and
from the summit. PREC pays for the cost of the 10x10 booth and
required booth furnishings. PREC is a very small Georgist group that
needs support if we are to continue our outreach project of meeting
and providing state legislatures with Georgist information. Please
help us continue this important project. Send donations to PREC,
6228 Pershing Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130. Thank you.
In a postscript, Al Katzenberger emailed that Don
Killoren wrote a separate piece of literature concerning "Jobs
$$$$ Votes" related to site-value taxation that they passed out
at the NCSL summit.