The logrolled tax increase coming to Logan County

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Do you know how many television channels you subscribe to? If you are like many, you probably never watch 90% of those for which you are forced to pay. Those 90% have been bundled into your subscription with the channels that you actually watch, thus forcing you to pay for a product you don’t want.

State Reprenstative Jason Murphey

State Reprenstative Jason Murphey

In government, this practice is known as logrolling. It occurs when politicians package multiple issues into a single vote as a way to ensure the passage of a particularly unpopular proposal. And it’s illegal! At least, it’s illegal for state legislators to logroll when they create legislation. 

For some reason, however, it is not illegal for county officials to use this terrible practice when trying to pass a $1.4M tax increase to benefit their personal discretionary budgets. But it certainly should be, and I intend to sponsor legislation during this next session to end this abuse.

The issue came to light when two Logan County commissioners voted to call an August 26th election for the purpose of extending two already existing taxes and creating a brand new tax. It would not have cost the county one penny more to separate these three questions into three separate initiatives. That way, the voters who supported extending existing taxes, but who are either opposed to creating new taxes or aren’t comfortable giving so much money to the commissioners’ discretionary fund, could have voted against the new tax individually.

However, by logrolling all three items into a single question, these two commissioners are dictating to the voters that if they support just one of the tax extensions, they must also support the other, AND the new tax!

The commissioners logrolled one of the tax extensions even though it wasn’t set to expire until September, 2015. They also broke an important tradition of accountability and lifted the sunset date on the tax from 5 years to 10 years. This appears to be an attempt to placate those who benefit from that tax but might not otherwise allow the commissioners to logroll their self-serving new tax onto the proposal to extend the existing tax.

This strategy, while possibly effective at securing passage of the vote, deprives the voters of accountability because ten years is a very long time without accountability to the voters. 

If the commissioners really believed in the merits of their new tax, they should have had the courage to let it stand alone as a single vote. They certainly shouldn’t have logrolled it in with the existing taxes and they absolutely should not have lifted the sunset window from 5 to 10 years.

Even more dastardly are the circumstances surrounding the commissioners’ approval of the logrolling. Voters had scant notice of the attempt because the commissioners approved the proposal with little discussion in a hastily called special meeting which lasted just a few minutes. There wasn’t a single public hearing on the matter where voters could have realized what was occurring. In fact, the one member of the public who attempted to speak before the commissioners’ action wasn’t allowed to ask a single question. 

It is clear that discussions had been held outside public purview, with one commissioner admitting that he had already made an agreement with various beneficiaries of the tax. All of this should have occurred in the light of day with plenty of notice to the public, but it didn’t. 

Fortunately, one courageous individual managed to videotape the meeting which you can view at I think you will be stunned to realize that this is how tax policy is determined at the county level of government – with little public deliberation, but with what appears to be plenty of behind-the-scenes deal making and logrolling. 

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email with your thoughts and suggestions. 


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