Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) desires to be the next Speaker of the House in the Arizona Legislature in 2015. Of course, Republicans would have to maintain their majority first, but hey.
J.D. Mesnard is currently co-chairing a legislative task force on reforming Arizona's income tax as a vehicle to ride to the speakership. He has run into a couple of embarrassing problems recently which demonstrate that he is not ready for prime time.
First, his legislative task force on reforming Arizona's income tax. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Doing no harm: Tax overhaul effort stalls over vague goals, concerns about middle class:
After four weeks and three meetings of a
task force with intentions to reform, tweak, or overhaul Arizona’s
personal income tax system, the members of the group don’t seem closer
to deciding what, exactly, they want to accomplish.
It’s an issue that Rep. J.D. Mesnard, a co-chair of the task force and the driving force behind it, has attempted to address at several points in the past few weeks, most recently at the outset of a meeting on Sept. 19.
“I keep getting asked the question, ‘What are we trying to do?’ and my response has always been, ‘Whatever we can to make the system better,’” Mesnard, R-Chandler, told the task force.
But that’s precisely what lawmakers, economists, tax experts and business leaders can’t seem to settle on, as members of the task force bring their own unique perspective to the state’s tax code and what’s good for taxpayers and the Arizona economy.
“We seem to still be searching for who we are and what we’re doing,” said Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson. “And it was made clear today from members on both sides that we need some clarity as to what direction we’re going, because I can’t answer that question.”
Much of the discussion has centered on a flat tax — or, as Mesnard pointed out, a single rate tax system — as a more fair, across-the-board rate. An official from Utah gave a lengthy presentation two weeks ago on that state’s own successful five-year effort to create a single-rate tax system that also included progressive exemptions to protect low-income residents.
Yet Mesnard and others have made it clear that a pure flat tax is not ideal for Arizona. Projections provided by the Arizona Department of Revenue gave a glimpse of how such a system might work in Arizona. In each case, taxes were reduced significantly for the wealthy but also raised for the middle class.
The projections swiftly drew rebukes from Democratic lawmakers on the task force after they gave a similar reaction to a presentation by Goldwater Institute economist Stephen Slivinski on the volatility of personal income taxes compared to other sources of tax revenue.
Even versions with measures to mitigate the impact on Arizona’s poorest taxpayers still saw increased taxes for the middle class, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson.
Farley and Wheeler, the only Democrats on the panel, have not hesitated to sharply criticize any discussion of a flat tax.
[Note: Back in 2011, it was Rep. Steve Court (R-Mesa) who sponsored HB 2636 (the Tea-Publican "flat tax"). That Flat Tax proposal was withdrawn after Sen. Paula Aboud (D-Tucson) conducted a series of Forums on the Flat Tax Folly around the state and sucked the life out of any support for it.]
The discussions have left some members of the task force anxious to find a tangible goal. Most of the presentations and discussions so far have left the panel deep in the weeds when it comes to the tax code and economic theory, said Jim Rounds, a senior economist with Elliot D. Pollack and Company.
“The hardest part in participating in these types of things is getting to a point where we’re all on board with what we want to accomplish,” Rounds said after the meeting.
Again, the legislative task force on reforming Arizona's income tax is a vehicle for J.D. Mesnard to ride to the speakership. And it is not going well.
Nor did J.D. Mesnard's handling of the campaign finance reform bill go well. it appears "the professor" never considered the law of unintended consequences to sloppy drafting. Campaign finance changes’ unintended consequences:
An oversight during the legislative session has made Arizona’s new campaign finance system much more complicated than anyone intended, leaving incumbent legislators and potential candidates scrambling to grasp its implications and comply with its provisions.
Already, the law’s author, Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), is calling these unintended consequences “a nightmare.”
Just hours after HB 2593, which dramatically raised Arizona’s campaign contribution limits, took effect on Sept. 13, Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s elections division issued a memo that reached startling conclusions about the how the new system would work. If the Secretary of State’s Office is correct, the new system will be far more cumbersome than expected, and will severely restrict the way candidates use campaign funds.
* * *
[T]he Secretary of State’s Office opined that candidates are now required to create separate campaign committees for the primary and general elections. Additionally, Bennett’s office said candidates cannot transfer money in excess of $2,000 between the two. Finally, if candidates have money in a preexisting campaign committee, they cannot split up last year’s unused funds between their two committees and earmark the lump sum solely for one or the other.
Under that interpretation, candidates would have to decide in which election to put their funds without knowing if they would face a primary challenger or what kinds of resources they would need to win.
And while congressional and U.S. Senate candidates can accept a maximum contribution in the primary and then carry the unused portion — no matter the amount — over to the general election, state-level candidates would not have the same ability to build up their war chests.
* * *
Mesnard said he and others who crafted HB 2593 may have made a significant oversight: They changed the way the state law defines “election,” but didn’t consider how that would affect other election statutes.
State law says candidates “shall designate … a political committee for each election to serve as the candidate’s campaign committee.” Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said that means the law requires a separate committee for each election.
And if candidates are required to create a separate committee for both the primary and general elections, that triggers a statute already on the books barring candidates with multiple campaign committees for the same election year from transferring more than $2,000 between the two. The law would prevent candidates from carrying over leftover money from their primary into the general election.
Roberts said that probably wasn’t the intention of the bill’s drafters, but the language is clear.
* * *
The secretary of state’s guidance has sent candidates, election attorneys and campaign operatives scrambling to make sense of a new law that many thought they understood clearly. Bennett’s guidance and the attorney general’s opinions are legally nonbinding, but many candidates and consultants are following the secretary of state’s interpretation to be on the safe side.
* * *
Candidates aren’t the only ones who will have a tough time adjusting to the complicated campaign finance reporting scheme that would result from Bennett’s opinion. Roberts said the Secretary of State’s Office is currently upgrading the software that candidates use to report contributions.
Mesnard said he will likely introduce cleanup legislation in 2014 to ensure that candidates don’t have to file separate committees, can transfer money freely between their primary and general election accounts, and don’t have to designate their preexisting campaign cash as being solely for one election or the other.
If he can get at least two-thirds of the House and Senate for the cleanup bill, it will go into effect immediately. If not, he said, it would probably go into effect before the primary election.
“I hope I can get an emergency clause or a retroactive clause,” Mesnard said.
But he’ll also settle for a simple majority — just to ensure the cleanup legislation goes into effect 90 days later.
“Then you’re going to breathe a lot bigger sigh of relief,” Mesnard said.
Imagine this guy making these kinds of mistakes on tax reform, which because of Prop. 108 (1992) requires a two-thirds super-majority vote of both chambers to pass any "clean up" bill to clean up his mistakes. Now imagine this guy presiding as Speaker of the House. Yikes!
Then again, the old adage may be true, "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." In a GOP clown car legislature, why not?