Above the Fold 04.30.09

Fla. Legislators: We’re gonna need to see some I.D….Rhode Island legislators: So are we…You say tomato, we say tom’ah’to…Transportation bill a long way off to those who don’t care…Michigan plays ‘Chutes and Ladders’ the home game…Finding tax scofflaws isn’t as much fun as saying the word ‘scofflaw’…

A proposal by Florida legislators would ban seaports from issuing individual identification cards and would create a database to allow ports to share security information, according to the Miami Herald. The measure is aimed at Port Everglades and has a significant amount of political backing. “In the past, if someone wanted to get cleared at 10 different ports, they had to show up in person at 10 different ports and get specific clearances. Now we can do that with one centralized system for much, much less,” said the House co-sponsor Representative Sandy Adams, R-Orlando. No mention was made of how much Florida was willing to pay for such a centralization, however.

Rhode Island legislators “voted quickly and quietly” approving a bill that will crack down on both voter fraud and Rhode Island businesses that employ undocumented immigrants, the Providence Journal reports. Known as E-Verify, the law requires private businesses to sign statements pledging that all employees are in the country legally. The Senat still needs to approve the measure, but Rep. John Brien (D-Woonsocket) thinks the time is right. “Hopefully the third time’s the charm. It’s a bill that the House of Representatives wants. It’s a bill that the governor wants. It’s a bill that the people want. There are 38 people in that chamber who need to decide if it’s a bill they want.”

The North Carolina por Council is trying to set the record straight on swine flu. “This is not an issue of food safety so we’ll keep hammering away with the messages that pork is safe to eat and there is no evidence this influenza subtype is present in pigs,” says N.C. Pork Council spokeswoman Deborah Johnson. The group claims the link between pigs and the flu “should have never been made,” the Charlotte Observer reported.

Reuters points out that the U.S. transportation lobby has until September 30 to pass a massive funding law or there will be a sharp cut in infrastructure funding. “I am hopeful,” Pete Nonis, congressional relations manager for the American Automobile Association told Reuters. “It’s going to be a tough lift.” James Berard, a spokesman for the House of Representatives Transportation Committee, said, “If we go past the September 30 deadline there will be a serious shortfall in revenues, resulting in a 50 percent cut in what we can send out to the states.”

Michigan’s deficit has crossed the $1.32 billion mark and its rising, according to the Detroit News. The cycle of poor tax revenue from the ailing auto industry and increased reliance on assistance benefits appear to be sending Michigan down a chute facing many states. “There is no doubt that what’s happening with the auto industry and suppliers is impacting the state budget — significantly,” Governor Jennifer Granholm told reporters Wednesday. “When the revenue estimating conference comes out it will show a significant additional drop in revenue.

States across the country are looking for ways to catch tax evaders – now more than ever, USA Today reports. In order to catch the scofflaws, states are upgrading information systems, garnishing bank accounts and conveneing special court hearings to recoup money owed. Businesses and citizens owe tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to nearly every state in the union. In Nevada, State Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty is asking the Legislature to create a statewide collection agency to recoup an estimated $19.5 million in unpaid fines, USA Today reports.

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