Pressure is on to help casinos be competitive
State Senate President Pro Tem David Long is warning Hoosiers of the wanton savagery likely to be visited upon us by the vicious residents of adjacent states.
“There is an all-out assault on the system that Indiana has implemented, which was to take other people’s money,” Long told The Times of Munster. “They’re out to get it back.” So there is a lot of pressure on the state now “as a very important source of revenue is going down.”
He is referring, of course, to the tax money Indiana gets from its casinos, which are facing stiff and growing competition from gambling dens in nearby states. Ten of our 13 casinos are in counties adjacent to other states, and Illinois, Michigan and Ohio are making every effort to eat into their revenue.
Self-imposed fiscal cliff
It’s time for one of those good-news, bad-news cliches: The bad news is that we’re headed for a “fiscal cliff” we may not be able to avoid going over. The good news, as The Associated Press reports it, is that the crisis is forcing the nation’s lobbyists, advocates and trade groups to moderate their usual panhandling style. “Instead of digging for more tax dollars, they’re trying to protect what they’ve got.”
The cliff is the result of a massive combination of automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts due to kick in January because members of Congress wanted a self-imposed deadline for dealing with the $1 trillion deficits being added each year to the debt that is now more than $16 trillion. They sort of jumped out of the crushing-debt frying pan into the “Hey, let’s send the economy into another tailspin” fire.
Don't rush to online tax
Members of the General Assembly seemed inclined to rush something they probably should slow down and think about a bit. There seems strong support for a bill to be introduced by two legislators that would require Amazon.com and other online retailers to start collecting sales tax six months earlier than the deal brokered by Gov. Mitch Daniels last January.
The bill has the support of conservatives, who ordinarily live by the common-sense rule that a tax – discourages the activity it is attached to; make retail purchases more expensive, and people will make fewer of them. And they are supporting this tax proposal with the same reasoning liberals deploy in favor of taxes: The current system is “unfair” because some brick-and-mortar retailers are forced to collect the sales tax and online retailers aren’t.
Is marijuana here to stay?
Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell made national news and probably surprised more than a few state legislators when he said of marijuana that if it were up to him, “I do believe I would legalize it and tax it.”
State Police were quick to walk back Whitesell’s statements – the superintendent, you see, was stating a “philosophical opinion,” not an official one – but not before an important point had been made. “My thoughts are, toward the zenith of my career,” he said, “that it’s here, it’s going to stay.” He cited voter-passed measures in Colorado and Washington that allow adults to have small amounts of marijuana as evidence of a national shift on the issue.
The law need not follow public opinion, but there is great risk when the law gets too far ahead of public opinion.
Court deciding who's in charge?
Fourteen years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can be liable for workplace harassment by supervisors they employ. Now, a harassment case brought by a black catering assistant named Maetta Vance against Ball State University has the court engaged in the delicate task of deciding exactly who qualifies as a supervisor.
Must it be someone who has “the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline the victim”? That was the opinion of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in dismissing Vance’s case. Three federal appeals courts have also adopted that standard. But three other appeals courts have said mere day-to-day oversight is enough to result in liability. A definition proposed by the Equal Opportunity Commission resembles this less strict interpretation.