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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lawmakers get creative.

Never underestimate the ingenuity of the American spirit, or the creativity of lawmakers looking to separate taxpayers from their money.

In Georgia, one county will start sending out $500 tickets to residents who don't recycle:

While neighboring counties encourage recycling, Gwinnett County’s new solid waste management ordinance puts teeth into it. The ordinance provides for a civil fine of $500 for violations, which includes those who fail to “source separate residential recovered materials.”

Mandatory recycling is not common in metro Atlanta, but Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said the move is in line with a state policy that local governments develop plans to reduce solid waste by 25 percent.

Who is and isn't recycling sufficiently will be left to the discretion of local bureaucrats:
“We don’t intend for this to be the garbage gestapo, running around, looking in people’s garbage about what’s there and what’s not there,” said Connie Wiggins, executive director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, which is administering Gwinnett’s waste disposal program. “I believe the fine applies to all categories, and certainly, if we saw excessive abuses of materials being thrown in the garbage.”
And in Rhode Island, the Public Transit Authority is looking for more revenue from several sources, more tolls, higher has taxes, and maybe even taxing drivers based on their mileage:

•Both new and higher fuel taxes. The proposals include increasing the gasoline tax, now 30 cents, by up to 15 cents per gallon by 2016, which would raise an estimated $64 million per year. They also include a new “petroleum products gross earning tax,” beginning with the equivalent of 10 cents per gallon of gasoline in 2010 and adding another 5 cents in 2014. That would affect all petroleum products, from gasoline and aviation fuel to those made from petroleum derivatives, such as plastics, paint and fertilizer. It would eventually raise about $66 million per year, the draft report says.

•Car registration fees, now $60 for two years, would rise $40 per year immediately and could more than double, to $140, by 2013, depending on which version was used, raising up to $46 million per year.

•A new mileage fee. The $150-million plan would not include it, but the $300-million plan would impose a half-cent-per-mile fee, raising an estimated $50 million per year. But officials said yesterday that they expect to eliminate the transfer of some sales tax revenue to the transportation system, proposed elsewhere in the report. Raising the mileage fee to 1 cent per mile would make up the difference.

At a half-cent per mile, driving 10,000 miles per year would cost $50 per vehicle. One cent would cost $100.

Also referred to as a VMT fee (for vehicle miles traveled), the mileage fee would be based on odometer readings reported by vehicle owners when they renew their registrations. The mileage could be verified during mandatory auto inspections, the study says. Robert A. Shawver, the DOT’s assistant director, said that although one state, Oregon, is pilot-testing a similar fee, Rhode Island’s would be the first of its kind in the country.

•Tolls. The $150-million plan could include tolls, $3 per car and $6 per truck, only at the Connecticut border, yielding an estimated $39 million per year. The $300-million plan would include similar tolls where all of the state’s interstate highways (Routes 95, 295 and 195) cross the state line, and would raise $60 million per year.

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