Politics

Brian Burns / April 16,2020

States Should Be Allowed to Levy Sales Taxes on Internet Access

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The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), enacted in 1998, was intended to protect the developing internet technology. ITFA, which prohibited states and localities from applying taxes on internet access or imposing discriminatory digital-only taxes, became permanent in 2016 but included a grandfather clause that allowed states with taxes existing before 1998 to keep that tax in place until June 30, 2020.

On July 1, sales taxes levied on internet access in six states—Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin—will become illegal under the provisions of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA). The states would have collected nearly $1 billion in fiscal year 2021.

Today, the internet hardly requires extraordinary protection from state and local sales taxes. In fact, 80 percent of U.S. households have a subscription to the internet, and 90 percent of U.S. adults use the internet. Indeed, the application of sales taxes on access to the internet does not seem to impact this number, as the percent of households with internet access in states currently levying a sales tax is comparable to national averages (2014-2018 data): 83 percent in Hawaii, 72 percent in New Mexico, 80 percent in Ohio, 78 percent in South Dakota, 79 percent in Texas, and 80 percent in Wisconsin.

Brian Burns / January 18,2020

Michigan Attorney General Nessel Appeals Line Five Court of Claims Decision

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by Bruce Walker
 
Michigan’s attorney general is appealing a ruling in the ongoing battle over a proposed tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
At issue is the Enbridge Line 5 oil and natural gas pipeline, which has spanned Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas since 1953. After the line was struck by a tugboat anchor in 2018, Enbridge announced plans to replace the current line situated on the lakebed with a tunnel buried 100 feet beneath the bedrock.
In late 2018, then-Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration amended Public Act 214 of 1952, which originally sanctioned the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. The amended act authorized the building of the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel.
After taking office on Jan. 1, 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel began a united attempt to unravel the deal. In March 2019, Nessel issued a formal opinion that the amendment violated Michigan’s Constitution because the initial Public Act is specific to the Mackinac Bridge as explicitly stated in the Act’s official title.
Enbridge sued in June 2019, and Michigan Court of Claims Judge Michael J. Kelly ruled in the company’s favor and against Nessel last October, prompting the attorney general’s brief filed on Thursday in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
According to the AG’s brief: “Michigan’s Constitution provides that ‘[n]o law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title. No bill shall be altered or amended on its passage through either house so as to change its original purpose as determined by its total content and not alone by its title.’”

Brian Burns / January 18,2020

Is Housing Affordable Anymore? What Happened?

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Is Housing Affordable Anymore? What Happened?

Over the years, the UN-Habitat has inspired its policies around affordable housing and resilient infrastructure. And that cuts across the board to include both rental and property for sale. Further, it highlights urbanization as the indispensable engine that can drive developments in every nation.
It is a prerequisite for individual prosperity and national growth. Critical highlights of the then Housing Policy were addressing the affordability of housing for all within the confines of urban policies. With that, even the Philippines has had its fair share of improvements as the housing market here pursues closing in on the global crisis of inadequate housing.
But is that the case here?
It would be inaccurate and biased not to mention that while the issue of inadequate housing is imminent, the number of residences that are going vacant is increasing year after year. Could the problem be that the public’s purchasing power is lacking? Is it that the Philippines’ population is dwindling?
Could it be that national policies for housing, in general, are discouraging the public from buying and renting out properties? Is the nation’s housing market intimidating to developers and mortgage providers?
A resounding no
None of the above underlines the root problem of affordable housing. There are low-cost housing in Tanza, Cavite, and even in other parts of the Philippines. But, do they address the issue of urbanization using affordable housing as the means toward social development and equality?

Brian Burns / December 18,2019

The Factors That Affect the Type of Foundation Used in Buildings

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The Factors That Affect the Type of Foundation Used in Buildings

Buildings are not measured by how it looks because style and design are subjective. A true measure of a building is by the strength of materials and methods of construction. A building’s style can fade, but a durable structure with great foundations can withstand the test of time.

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