States Fill Federal Rights Vacuum on Immigrants

By Jake Grovum, Stateline – MINNEAPOLIS — With Congress gridlocked on immigration issues, states have pursued their own solutions, with some offering in-state tuition and financial aid to unauthorized students and others approving more spending to enforce immigration laws. “While Congress cannot seem to take action on immigration issues, states remain engaged in debating and solving immigration challenges, whether we are discussing services or enforcement,” state Sen. John Watkins, a Virginia Republican and co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ immigration task force, said in releasing a new immigration report during NCSL’s annual summit here this week. States have enacted a total of 132 immigration-related laws this year, according to the report. The number is only slightly down from last year, even though some states, including immigration hot spot Texas, held no legislative session this year. Seven states approved resolutions calling on Congress or the White House to act on a...

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Ride Services, Room Sharing Targets for Taxes

By Elaine S. Povich, Stateline – Ronald Reagan once famously derided the outlook of Big Government as: “If it moves, tax it.”  As America’s economy turns from goods to services, state and local governments are taking the former president’s bromide to heart in their hunt for new revenue. From short-term room rental services like Airbnb and FlipKey and rides in private cars like those coordinated by Uber and Lyft, governments are trying to bring new services into the taxable fold. While the so-called “Amazon tax” on Internet purchases led the way, state and local governments are now moving into taxing room rentals, bowling, yoga classes, barbershops and gym memberships. In New York, California, Oregon, the District of Columbia and some other jurisdictions, these new taxes are being sold as a fairness issue. Why, the argument goes, should a hotel room at the Marriott be subject to a “room tax,” and not a...

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