New hotel-motel ‘fee’ was poorly handled, poorly designed

239-tte9U.AuSt.55-1In the next-to-last day of the 2015 Georgia General Assembly, legislative leaders trotted out a dramatically revised $900 million transportation-funding bill and basically rammed it through the House and Senate, brooking no objections and allowing no amendments.

Among the features of the revised House Bill 170 — features never vetted in a committee hearing, never discussed in a public setting — was a new $5-a-night “fee” on hotel and motel rooms in Georgia. The “fee” — not a new tax, mind you, but a “fee” — is expected to generate some $200 million a year for transportation. Using that revenue, legislative leaders were able to reduce the size of a fuel tax increase also contained in the bill.

Politically speaking, one of other attractions of the “fee” was that a lot of it would be collected from visitors to the state, who do not vote here and who presumably would have no option but to pay it. But the state’s tourism, convention and hotel-motel industries were justifiably upset, in no large part because they had been blindsided. That wasn’t by accident. HB 170 had been passed 11 days earlier in the state Senate, meaning that legislative leaders had ample time to negotiate its final form in public, through the conference-committee process. But they had no intention of doing so.

During a committee process, someone might have pointed out the inequity of attaching the same $5-per-night fee onto a $35 bill for a motel room in south Georgia and onto a $3,500-a-night suite at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead. For the farm laborer or transient family needing a cheap place to stay in south Georgia, that’s a 14 percent increase in the cost of the room, but only a 0.14 percent increase in the cost of the Ritz suite. If you’re going to go that route to raise money for transportation, a tax as a percentage of the room rate would have been far more equitable.

And what about the impact on the thousands of unfortunate Georgia families who are already living on the economic edge, whose only refuge short of homelessness are the cheap extended-stay motels such as those along Buford Highway or Jimmy Carter Boulevard? A $30-a-night kitchenette for a single mother and two children now becomes $35 a night; over a month’s time, that struggling family will end up paying $150 to help fund transportation. That’s an enormous, even crippling sum to people in that situation.**

Of course, it’s entirely plausible that given a full chance to work its will, the Georgia Legislature might have paid no attention to such concerns. Looking out for the little guy is not typically high on its list of priorities. But the way the bill was handled ensured that they never had a real chance to think it over.


** After 30 days in the same motel, renters in Georgia are no longer charged hotel-motel fees or taxes. However, if they move to a new motel for some reason, for example to take a new job, they will once again have to pay another $150 a month.

 

 

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300 comments
N-GA-Online
N-GA-Online

Taxation without representation! Florida does the dame thing by putting "fees" on hotel rooms, rental cars and tickets for Disney, Busch Gardens, Sea World, etc. That's why there is no state income tax in Florida! Tourists subsidize the states expenses. 


Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas all collect taxes on oil pumped in their state. 27% of Oklahoma's revenues come from taxing oil at the wellhead. Who pays for it (ultimately). You guessed it! Why do you think Palin and others trumpet "Drill, baby drill!"? They want more revenue from taxes that are passed on to consumers. Meanwhile Alaskans get money every year from the state instead of paying taxes to the state.


The Atlanta City Council did the same thing a few years back. They added a fee/tax to rental cars to pay for the new basketball venue for the Hawks. They figured that most people renting cars are business people from out-of-state. What they should have done is place a surcharge on every ticket for every event in the arena. That way the people who use the arena would pay for it.


Taxation without representation.....the new Conservative motto!

PJ25
PJ25

How dramatic. Yet another hack job by Bookman!  In what world does he live where watermelon picking illegals live in the $35/night Jolly Inn?  They generally live 10-20 deep in 40 year old single wides and pay per head per week and have for decades. 



crunchma_suchie
crunchma_suchie

shoot the armless!  tax the poor!


hooray for the 'tough of crime' and 'no new taxes' crowds.


now that we have those down pat, let's have another war to straighten things out in the world!

count_schemula
count_schemula

So the hotel motel tax did not have to be used to build the Falcon's stadium? As I suspected.

juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

Since when do the clowns under the gold dome care about the poor people of this state?  they are at the beholden only to the ones with deep pockets...who bought them lock, stock, and barrel.  

DS
DS

I usually agree with Mr. Bookman, but not on this one. I don't see the $5/night hotel tax as something that's oppressing the poor. There are lots of other examples of that, but this isn't one.

We need to raise a considerable amount of money for transportation. This bill raises some, but not enough. I wish it were more.

But if this is all we can do right now, and this last-minute hotel tax was the compromise that made it happen, then I'll take it.

Politics is the art of the possible.

Robtown
Robtown

Anything the slippery snakes can do to not call a tax a tax...

gotalife
gotalife

The gop guvs united with gop congress on abortion, religious liberty, cutting food stamps and tread on the poor.



LeninTime
LeninTime

Love it when liberals pull the 'pinko' card, lol.

gotalife
gotalife

@LeninTime pinko came from the commie hating troll named Andy. Now he is using the fascist card instead of the pinko card. Change.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

So what's the big deal? As others have pointed out, this is just another "we have to pass it so you can know what's in it" legislation, but on a much smaller scale.......

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Surelyyoujest 

 "we have to pass it so you can know what's in it"

Perhaps you shouldn't use advanced punctuation such as quotation marks until you know how to use them properly.

Just suggestin'.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Surelyyoujest If you're going to quote someone...you should put who you are quoting, otherwise we'll know for sure you made up that quote.

gotalife
gotalife

They won the class war easily and now waging the culture wars so their base will continue to vote gop no matter what.


I am shocked the gop joined the dems against the police execution.


The perception of the execution was too ugly for the gop.


That is shocking. I guess the protests helped that to happen.

gotalife
gotalife

@SFM_Scootter @gotalife The class war was won uncontested. The end game is the gilded age controls all the wealth that leads to a bloody revolution if you studied world history. The culture wars and race relations is ongoing.

LeninTime
LeninTime

George W. Bush did to Iraq what that Charleston police officer did to the poor suspect who was running away. 

Obama did the same for Libya.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

Comparing the two is pretty asinine.

***
You're right. Libya might be even worse.

gotalife
gotalife

There is unity against the police execution.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@FIGMO2 

Bush’s mistake was invading the country. His successor’s was leaving it to a strongman.

***

Mistake? More of a flat out crime than a simple mistake.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2


@LeninTime @FIGMO2 

No need for an additional U.N. Resolution when the last one left the door open.

I'm not a big fan of the U.N., LT. Never have been. It's a large body of never do nothings.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@LeninTime @FIGMO2 @gotalife

Take it up with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. They're the body that refused to take up a case for reparations.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@FIGMO2 @LeninTime "No need for an additional U.N. Resolution when the last one left the door open."


It did no such thing.


A quick perusal of UNRs from the 2002-2003 period should disabuse you of your misapprehension.


87GaDawg
87GaDawg

"Of course, it’s entirely plausible that given a full chance to work its will, the Georgia Legislature might have paid no attention to such concerns. Looking out for the little guy is not typically high on its list of priorities. But the way the bill was handled ensured that they never had a real chance to think it over."


Hmmmm.  I thought we liked passing bills before anyone had read them...

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@87GaDawg Most Republicans didn't read the PPACA because it was 1400 pages.


I doubt many can read that well. 


This sounds like a different case. 

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@HeadleyLamar @87GaDawg Legislators seldom read big bills themselves anyway.  That's what they have staffs for.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  A lot of bills are pages of stuff that is, basically, legalese.  There's nothing wrong with having staff read it and summarize it for their boss.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@gotalife It must just chap the living hell out of Netanyahu's hind end that Israel didn't have a seat at the table for those negotiations.


gotalife
gotalife

squirting bs not schnirting.

gotalife
gotalife

Did you ban talking about climate change like Florida?

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Tuna Meowt,


Regarding your German descended friend. 


Iche michta heine biera bitte! 


If you need to know any German at all that would be the sentence to know. Better than Guten Tag. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Doom Classical liberal  Meinst du "Ich möchte ein Bier, bitte, Herr Ober?"    ;)


Habe ich drei Jahre Deutschklassen im Universität, Kürbis.   XD

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Tuna Meowt @PaulinNH 

Ich verstehen.

BTW - I don't think DCL understands that you calling him Du rather than Sie is not a compliment.