State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Links: Voter ID on the brain in Charlotte

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 6, 2012 12:52 PM

The word from Charlotte:

It seems opponents of the voter ID law are still holding fast to the hope that the controversial photo requirement will actually rally voters and increase turnout.  Next week the state Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a state judge’s decision not to block the voter ID law.  As the Post-Gazette reports, Democrats in Charlotte aren’t fretting:

At a meeting of the Pennsylvania delegation to the party convention here, Will Crossley, the Democratic National Committee's voter protection director, pledged that regardless of the high court decision, Pennsylvania would show up at the polls in big numbers.

"We're going to have the most extraordinary effort that you've ever seen in Pennsylvania," he said. "Regardless of the court's decision we're going to be ready."

He described an outreach program by the Obama campaign to identify potential voters who lack the government approved identification, and help them secure such ID.

Speaking of voter ID – the state GOP is registering its dismay over a photo ID requirement at the Democratic National Convention itself.  From the party’s chairman, Rob Gleason:

The fact that the Pennsylvania Democrats are requiring photo ID to pick up credentials at its own convention is the height of hypocrisy.  The sensational arguments that Democrats have been making against Voter ID simply lose all credibility in this one Twitter photo.

The photo was posted by Tribune-Review reporter Salena Zito.  In a nod to the difference between attending a convention crowded with public officials who require top security, and casting a ballot, Pennsylvania Democrats spokesman Mark Nicastre retorted: “Voting is a right.” 

A little tax here, a little tax there:

Last week, the state announced it would begin collecting sales taxes from certain online retailers in September.  The PA Independent takes a look at the issues tangled up in the ramped-up enforcement of tax law:

It wasn’t the law that changed, but how the state treated it.

But some say the state overstepped its boundaries. On the flip side, others say the state’s law doesn’t go far enough.

The sales tax applies to consumer transactions with online businesses with a “physical presence” — or nexus — in Pennsylvania. The physical presence includes distribution centers, staff or delivery trucks that come into the state, and those who advertise with in-state entities using sales- or clicked-based compensation methods.

The charmingly-named “pillow tax,” made law in June came in just the nick of time for Adams County folks gearing up for a surge in re-enactors and other Civil War buffs coming through town for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg next year.  The Evening Sun reports the levy on out-of-towners goes to pay for law enforcement and marketing:

Commissioners said 75 percent of the funds raised through the pillow tax will be going to the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, 12 ½ percent will go to the county, and another 12 ½ percent will be dedicated to municipalities that employ at least two full-time police officers, and have hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts or campgrounds.

Commissioner Marty Qually pointed out that these funds are not a windfall of new cash for the county and the bureau - the tax is essentially replacing state money that has been lost over the years.

Commissioner Randy Phiel said the tax will most help municipalities, which will use pillow-tax revenue to help pay for their police services. Gettysburg and Cumberland Township, primarily, see a lot of tourist activity, which requires an increased police presence, and funds from the pillow tax can help offset that cost for local taxpayers, he said.


Photo credit: Tribune-Review's Salena Zito.  

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