National Conference of State Legislatures
[A report on the conference held in Boston, 5-9 August, 2007.
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
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.