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Ramsey Questioned on Use Tax Payments by TN Liberty Group

Press release from the TN Campaign for Liberty; May 13, 2013:

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Campaign for Liberty challenges Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey to show he has fully paid the Tennessee Use Tax he owes to the Tennessee government. In a comment given to the Commercial Appeal published on May 9th, 2013 Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey stated “I am very much for the Marketplace Fairness Act…It’s not a new tax. It’s a tax you’re supposed to be paying now and you are breaking the law if you don’t.” referring to the Tennessee use tax as if it were the same thing as the statewide sales tax.

“The vast majority of Tennesseans do not pay the TN Use Tax, most don’t know that it exists or even how to pay it” said Matt Collins, a Coordinator with the TN Campaign for Liberty. “We’re willing to bet that like most Tennesseans, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey hasn’t paid all of the use tax that he owes to the Tennessee government for purchases that his household made online. Can he prove otherwise? If not, then it’s the height of hypocrisy to label people as criminals for not paying the very same tax that he himself avoids. He should show the People of Tennessee his Use Tax receipts.”

Lt. Governor Ramsey’s comments were in regards to attempting to sway the Tennessee Congressional delegation to support his push for the national Internet sales tax mandate. It will likely come up for a vote in the US House of Representatives later this year. The bill is known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act” and is being opposed by the Campaign for Liberty, eBay, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Freedomworks, the Heartland Institute, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and many other conservative figures.

According to the Tennessee Use Tax website: “If you buy or ship merchandise to your Tennessee address and sales tax is not added to the price, then you are responsible for paying the use tax directly to the TN Department of Revenue….The use tax rate is a combination of the state tax rate of 7% … plus the rate levied by your local government, generally 2.25%. The tax is applied to the purchase price of the merchandise plus any shipping and handling charges that the merchant adds to your bill.”

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False Claims About Military Service Criminalized Under Bill

A guy could soon face steep penalties for attempting to impress women in bars with bogus claims of combat heroism following the Senate’s passage Monday of a bill that criminalizes impersonating military personnel.

The measure, HB2491/SB2287, makes it a Class B misdemeanor to falsely represent yourself as a military service-member with the intent to deceive — whether or not any benefit is received. The offense would carry a fine of up to $500, as well as the possibility of six months in jail.

The bill passed the Senate easily, 33-0, and the House almost as easily on Feb. 16, 93-2, with Knoxville Republicans Rep. Bill Dunn and Sen. Becky Massey, neither of whom are veterans, sponsoring the measure.

“You know, there are people going into bars, and trying to get free drinks by passing themselves off as military people,” Dunn said. “And once again, they’re stealing something that others rightfully earned by putting their lives on the line.”

Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, one of only two that opposed the measure in the House, said that it can go both ways, and she was concerned that it might unintentionally make things more difficult for veterans.

“As a matter of fact, I had a vet come up to me right after that vote and say, ‘Thank you so much for voting no for that, because I’d hate to have to prove to everybody in the world that I was a member of the armed forces,’” Butt said. “So you can look at that both ways, and I thought that was just a slippery vote right there.”

However, individuals won’t to come to the attention of law enforcement unless they are turned in, and the burden of proof would rest on the accusers, according to Dunn.

Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, the other opposing vote, said that he thought the bill went further than necessary.

“If you lie to commit fraud and harm someone, that’s one thing,” Kernell said. “What if we had a bill that simply said it’s a misdemeanor to lie? I don’t think the courts would uphold that, so I think the bill needs to be written differently.”

Next, the bill heads to the governor’s desk for his approval.

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Press Releases

Sen. Henry Sponsors Tougher Sentencing For Hardened Criminals

Press Release from Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville; March 30, 2010:

Bill Will Increase Jail Time For Armed Robbers, Save State Money

NASHVILLE – Armed robbers will spend a minimum of nearly six years in prison under a bill passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and sponsored by State Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville).

“Our budget crunch will limit severely our capacity to build new prisons in the coming years. This legislation allows us to use our space wisely while keeping the most dangerous criminals out of our communities,” Henry said

Under the bill (SB3431/HB2813), first-time convicted armed robbers would be forced to serve at least 74 percent of their sentences before becoming eligible for release. Current law provides for a minimum of 30 percent.

To create the necessary jail space, about 600 small-time criminals would be moved from jail to community corrections programs, in which they would be required to work and pay restitution to their victims. The move would save the state more than $261,000, according to a legislative fiscal analysis.

“We can put property offenders to work for our community, while keeping violent offenders off the streets,” Henry said.

Metro Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas supports the legislation, as do the Chiefs of Police in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis; the state’s District Attorneys and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.

“As police chiefs, we must carefully consider our obligation to putting public safety first,” Serpas said. “When we, as a state, are forced to make a choice between who occupies a prison bed, the answer is clear: public safety will always favor incarcerating the violent armed criminal over a non-violent property offender.”

The House version of the bill, sponsored by Nashville Rep. Gary Odom, passed in the House Finance Committee today and likely will go to the House floor soon.