Americans for Prosperity - Is this getting Republicans back to their roots? Regardless, they're starting with the Tobacco Tax
I've been extremely remiss in getting to this. Mainly because there was a small story that broke immediately thereafter, and it's kind of sucked the momentum away from anything else political in South Dakota.
If you're not familiar with AFP, go check out their website at afphq.org, or you can click here for a direct link to the South Dakota chapter of the organization. They're in about 22 states and the organization is continuing to grow as people hear about their focus:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels. The grassroots members of AFP advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.I asked Duane, and one thing he specifically cited is that you won't see his organization getting involved in issues with a focus on morality, such as abortion, etc. They strictly focus on taxation and economic issues. And, you won't see them take on candidate endorsements. Because of their tax status, they're strictly forbidden and will only serve in an educational role.
AFP Foundation is committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits. AFP Foundation’s educational programs and analyses help policymakers, the media and individual citizens understand why policies that promote the American enterprise system are the best method to ensuring prosperity for all Americans. To that end, AFP and AFP Foundation supports:
- A Taxpayer's Bill of Rights to protect the economic interests of citizens by making it harder to raise taxes and waste scarce tax dollars on frivolous programs.
- Cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.
- Tax and Expenditure Limitations to promote fiscal responsibility.
- Removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship and opportunity by sparking citizen involvement in the regulatory process early on in order to reduce red tape.
- Restoring fairness to our judicial system by stemming the tide toward "over-criminalization" of economic activity spurred by over-active attorneys general.
- Working with well-known businessman and free-market advocate Herman Cain to expand all of these projects to even more states across the country in our recently-launched "State Prosperity Expansion Project."
However, as this organization gears up in South Dakota , what they are taking a position on are several of the ballot measures that we'll be voting on in a couple of weeks. Where do they stand on the issues?
AFP is saying NO on Amendment D:
National free-market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) today announced plans to fight a proposed change in property tax code in South Dakota that will discourage economic growth and affect education funding. AFP is joining the No on D Coalition which includes the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce to oppose the harmful effects Amendment D will have across the state. AFP will mobilize a grassroots network around the state to defeat Amendment D.AFP is saying NO on Amendment E:
"Amendment D is essentially a tax shift to owners of newly purchased property" Sand said. "Communities across the state need pro growth policies to help the local economies thrive. Amendment D threatens to endanger economic prosperity across the state. It puts small businesses at a competitive disadvantage by forcing new businesses owners to pay an increasing portion of the tax burden on property. First time home buyers and families looking to downsize their home, will also be hit particularly hard."
Free-market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) today announced plans to oppose Amendment E (aka Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, J.A.I.L. Amendment) which if approved will open the judiciary to frivolous lawsuits and result in waste of taxpayer dollars. AFP will mobilize a grassroots network around the state to defeat Amendment E.And in the measure which first thrust them into the spotlight in South Dakota, AFP is the primary organization in South Dakota opposing Initiated Measure 2, the tobacco tax.
"Amendment E would open up any public servant protected by judicial immunity to numerous lawsuits." State Director Duane Sand said. "The court system in South Dakota would effectively be ground to a halt with a plethora of lawsuits. Amendment E would open the possibility for incarcerated criminals to spend their free time suing judges and/or parole boards."
It was on this measure that we spent quite a time discussing the effort behind it, it's ramification, and general impact on South Dakotans.
Initiated Measure #2 is a misguided attempt to increase taxes on South Dakotans during a growing state economy, ultimately giving government more surplus taxpayer money than it already has. Americans for Prosperity will lead the charge to defeat any tax increase in South Dakota this year.
“Some people want to fund a $5 Million state program by increasing taxes by $40 Million. We think this is clearly sending the wrong message, at the wrong time, to the people that government is supposed to be serving – its citizens,” said Duane Sand, Americans for Prosperity’s South Dakota State Director.and...
“If approved, Initiative #2 will encourage residents to leave the state to buy tobacco. Small businesses will be hurt most if South Dakotans cross state lines to buy the same products. When local economies suffer, job creation also suffers,” said Sand.
It's not as if South Dakotans have never heard of crossing state lines or otherwise untaxed cigarettes. The state revenue department sent out a reminder of it just this last year. And there's also a case pending in the US Supreme court where petition for certiorari has been filed and is pending on a case where one state is attempting to prevent the sales of untaxed cigarettes by tribes which could be exacerbated by an increase in state taxes.
I suspect we'll be hearing more about this from the "No" campaign in the next couple of weeks.
Ont thing that I note was recently mentioned about AFP - they threw down the gauntlet this past week via a media conference that "if the people vote down this excessive tax increase (largest in 50 years) then we (AFP) pledge to assist in finding full funding for their cessation/prevention program in the next legislative cycle. Currently Prevention/Cessation gets state/federal monies of about $3M total now, and they want $5M."
As far as the No on 2 campaign itself, AFP is headlining this measure at a time when other organizations you might expect would be involved such as SD Retailers, casino operators, bar owners, big tobacco, and other outlets for cigarettes are surprisingly quiet. However, I expect them to step up the fight as we wind down to election day.
On the opposite side of the fight, the Yes on 2 coalition (disclosure: yes they are an advertiser) is formed from several individuals and groups such as the South Dakota State Medical Association, South Dakota Nurses Association, South Dakota Dental Association, and South Dakota chapters of the American Cancer Society, the American Dental Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.