National Conference of State Legislatures
[A report on the conference held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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
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 email@example.com 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.