What’s next, right? Over the past few weeks there has been talk in Montgomery of taxing everyday items such as sodas and now watching TV. This morning Direct TV (of which my family is a subscriber) sent out a consumer alert email concerning a possible tax increase for watching TV and encouraged consumers to contact their legislator. I’ve received over 100 emails this morning; great job folks!
As usual, I will use my blog to provide some background – inside baseball if you will – on this issue.
The problem is this; with little fanfare, a bill passed during the 2015 Legislative session that willfully gave away the ability of the legislature to fully control rate and fee increases by agencies in state government. You read that right – willfully gave away control. The bill is SB216 and you can read about the bill and sponsors here. The argument for the bill was that rather than have these agencies apply through the legislature each time a fee increase may be warranted, that we should just trust the government to do the right thing and that they would only pass such fees that are truly warranted so that the agency could continue to serve the people of the state.
I didn't buy that and vehemently opposed this bill along with a small group of other legislators but unfortunately the bill passed both legislative bodies – you can review the votes yourself; Senate (passed 21 – 8) and House (passed 61 – 38) for SB216.
I maintain that we supplant the representative function of the legislature when we allow agencies to raise fees without or even with limited oversight from those elected by the people to represent the people. I am concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg with respect to future fee increases – aka tax increases – which we will see in the months ahead.
The emails that should be going out to legislators is a movement to repeal SB216 and return what was willfully given up, back to the representatives of the people.