National Conference of State Legislatures

Alfred Katzenberger

[A report on the annual conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky.
Reprinted from 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.

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