National Conference of State Legislatures

Alfred Katzenberger

[A report on the conference held in Boston, 5-9 August, 2007.
Reprinted from GroundSwell, July-August 2007]

The biggest gathering of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) took place in Boston, Massachusetts August 5 to 9, 2007. There were over 9,000 registered attendees including over 1,900 of the 7,382 state legislators, about 2,700 legislative staffers and over 250 international delegates from 26 countries.

Public Revenue Education Council (PREC) was represented by David Geisen of San Fransisco, Sherri Tucker of Cambridge and Al Katzenberger of St. Louis. This was an extra long trip from St. Louis because the Council of Georgist Organization (CGO) conference was July 21 to July 27, 2007 in Scranton, PA. It would have been difficult to drive back to St. Louis and stay two or three days and then drive 1,200 miles to Boston, MA. Staying in the Boston area was relaxing and made it possible to do some sightseeing and scout out the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). The BCEC is new and huge and has only two expensive hotels nearby. Getting the PREC exhibit materials in the exhibition hall was easy this year. With a trusty two wheeler it took only four trips from the SUV to the exhibit booth. The dock and the floor of the exhibition hall were one flat surface. The only cost was $10.00 per day for parking the SUV in the flat surface parking lot behind the BCEC. It was just as easy reloading the SUV at the end of the conference.

PREC received literature from Common Ground - USA, the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, the Center for the Study of Economics, the Henry George Institute and the Council of Georgist Organization. Mark Sullivan and Nadine Stoner gave PREC all the left over free-bees from the Scranton conference. We also displayed the brochures produced by Don Killoren, Vice President of PREC.

PREC's 10' X 10' assigned exhibit booth was changed because of the reconfiguration of the booths in the hall and ended up across from the NCSL 50' X 20' walk-in booth. This arrangement made the aisles wider and more difficult to get passersby attention. The booth was also between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and US ENGLISH, INC. The NRA booth attracts a lot of visitors because it gives out thousands of logo baseball hats, T-shirts, buttons, flashlights, utility knifes etc. and literature promoting the enjoyment of owning and using guns.

PREC had a good flow of people stopping at the booth. David made a banner that read,

"Public Revenue with no business taxes no sales taxes no state income tax and no land speculation!"

He had to modify the banner when one legislator questioned, "How much public revenue?" David attached the word "Abundant" in front of Public Revenue. The NCSL puts the name of each exhibitor in the top back of their booth. Many of the organizations used their acronym instead of spelling out their name and several legislators said they were attracted to our booth because of the words "public revenue" and / or "education." As usual we had a basket of candy to attract passersby. Many people were attracted by David's use of colorful Uni-fix boxes to show a three dimensional display of land values. They were so attractive that some people took pieces of his display probably thinking they were cubes of candy. He called the display, "Your city rent landscape." David was able to engage a lot of people in his demonstration but often forgot to give out the materials we had for them to read. David also made the rounds to the other exhibitors and shared our literature. I asked him to go to one of the workshops and pass out literature. That was very successful. He stayed and talked with those at the workshop. The workshop was called "Got Reform? Property Taxpayers Seek Solutions."

Sherri Tucker was at the CGO conference in Scranton. PREC had an extra floor pass for her to come to the exhibit hall. She showed up two days and viewed the three hundred or so booths. Each day she left the five canvas bags and other collected items. She enjoyed herself and even went to one of the legislative luncheons. She used the light rail (America's First Subway, The "T") for transportation.

The big issues at the bipartisan NCSL conference were immigration and federal IDs. It was reported 1,404 bills concerning immigration are being considered by the various state legislatures. Veterans noticed the report that only 68 of the 7,382 state legislators serve in the National Guard or Reserve units. Even more shocking was the lack of participation in a Presidential straw poll. Only about 500 of the 9,000 plus politically aware people at the conference voted. And they wonder why the general public does not vote. The outcome was Hillary Clinton leading with 31% of the Democratic votes and Mitt Romney receiving 36% of the Republican votes. Attentions all changed with the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis. Of course we pointed out the importance of bridges to land values. Some understood the connection. It is noticed that each year more and more people who stop by the PREC booth are aware of Henry George and Georgist ideas. This is the eleventh year of PREC's participation at the NCSL conference. The conference will be in New Orleans in 2008 and Philadelphia in 2009. There will be no excuse not the have a Land Value Tax workshop at the Philadelphia conference. The state legislators have to request such a workshop and then NCSL will arrange for it to be part of the conference. We need a Pennsylvania legislator to make such a request.

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