Build a Bear? Yes. Build a Smoke? No.

a previous Memorial Day Concert

See the tiny people walking just under the columns? They don’t like the Big Tobacco bailout, either!

Hello on Monday, June 4, 2012! It’s a BEAUTIFUL DAY in America. Even though we face a great number of challenges, the United States of America is still the greatest country on the planet because of the foresight of our Founding Fathers. Our nation is so blessed to have had George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and many other important minds to seriously think about and act on setting a proper foundation for strength, growth, and prosperity. Had they not had the foresight and ability to protect our liberties, you and I might be sitting in a jail cell right now for protesting the Big Tobacco bailout, H.R.4134. You can bet if we were in China right now, this website would be blocked; our Twitter and Facebook accounts shut down; and we’d be sharing dungeon space with our families and a few mean rats. God bless the U.S.A., all who’ve made her great, and even those supporting the Big Tobacco bailout.

Why do I feel so patriotic today? Because I read a news story today reinforcing the thought that everyone has a say.

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TODAY’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ I’m not a manufacturer, so don’t tax me like one. STOP the #BigTobacco bailout HR 4134 http://bit.ly/NewTax

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CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE: Both the U.S. House and Senate are in session this week. The House will be in recess next week, but then in session for the rest of the month. The Senate is in session from now until the July 4 break.

TRANSPORTATION BILL UPDATE: 2012 highway bill negotiations are characterized as a bit rocky and many lawmakers say they’re no closer to a final bill. There have been NO public meetings since the initial meeting, and many lawmakers say the Senate refuses to negotiate with the House to work out differences.

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) was quoted in the Washington Times after being asked about just passing the Senate’s highway bill for the sake of passing a bill. Tiberi smartly responded: “Should I just give my voting card to [Ohio Sens.] Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and say … you guys decide?” Mr. Tiberi said. “How are we obstructing if they won’t negotiate with us?”

Mr. Tiberi makes a very good point. Every member of Congress has the power to play a role in shaping legislation. Depending on committee assignments, some lawmakers have additional opportunities during the process of drafting final legislation. Here are the people on the House conference committee waiting to negotiate with the Senate. It is important we keep talking with EVERY member of Congress serving us locally AND these folks:

Republicans

Democrats

Each and every one of these individuals can stand up at any negotiation meeting with the Senate and ask that the Big Tobacco bailout be STRIPPED from the 2012 highway bill. This provision is unfair, it’s anti-competitive, it’s private legislation benefiting Big Tobacco, and it’s a job killer. Just ask U.S. Rep Steve LaTourette, who wrote his colleagues about it:

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in urging the members of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference committee not to include an onerous provision in the final Highway bill.  The Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization contains a provision that would eliminate competition from small businesses. It is imperative this provision not be included in the final Highway bill as over one thousand small businesses and their customers across the nation will suffer harmful effects.

Included in the Senate Transportation Reauthorization is a provision that would classify retail establishments that offer roll-your-own tobacco machines as large scale manufacturers of tobacco.  With this classification comes higher taxes which will impose a crushing burden on these establishments. This provision is in opposition to the spirit of this legislation which is to create jobs and to bolster the economy, not to impose further regulation.

Please join us in opposing this provision. If you have questions or would like to sign on to this letter to the Conference Committee, please contact STAFF PERSONNEL INFORMATION REDACTED BY GEORGE RENOME in Representative LaTourette’s office.

Steve LaTourette

Member of Congress

 And here is the exact provision we’re talking about:

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SEC. 100116. ROLL-YOUR-OWN CIGARETTE MACHINES.

(a) In General- Subsection (d) of section 5702 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new flush sentence:

`Such term shall include any person who for commercial purposes makes available for consumer use (including such consumer’s personal consumption or use under paragraph (1)) a machine capable of making cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products. A person making such a machine available for consumer use shall be deemed the person making the removal as defined by subsection (j) with respect to any tobacco products manufactured by such machine.’.

(b) Effective Date- The amendment made by this section shall apply to articles removed after the date of the enactment of this Act.

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As I mentioned yesterday, to understand what the provision actually does, you have to refer to the tax code, etc. But the simplest way to read it is:

U.S. SENATE SAYS, “Build a Bear? YES. Build a Smoke? NO.”

(If you haven’t read yesterday’s post yet, please do and you’ll understand the ‘bear’ reference)

It’s Red Alert Danger Time, again…

OUR MISSION: It’s Red Alert Danger Time again this week because BOTH the House and Senate are in session. That means Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. John Mica are likely to meet and discuss how to overcome the rocky negotiations. We MUST keep our messages flowing. The more people understand our situation, the more they will help. The more lawmakers hear from us, the more they understand WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY! Keep it civil, keep it frequent, keep it real.

Let’s GO team! Hit hard. Facebook. Twitter. Use your keyboard to spray paint billboards, yard signs, poorly-driven minivans…

– GR

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