You Want to Tax What? Government Gets Desperate

"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis," Ammiano said in a recent statement, "the move toward regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate much needed revenue for the state" and provide other benefits, such as freeing up police to pursue "more serious crimes."

A marijuana tax is projected to bring in $1.3 billion in new revenue to the state each year, but that hasn't swayed opponents to legalization.

Groups like Save Our Society From Drugs argue that legalizing marijuana would increase other costs, such as health care, and would lead to societal consequences, including more crime.

Paper Cuts in the Courtroom

Even in the digital age, court proceedings are flush with paperwork. Unfortunately for the Morrow County Municipal Court in Ohio, it doesn't have much paper to work with.

The court stopped requesting new paper supplies after the county went $2,600 in arrears on its office supply bill, leading Judge Lee McClelland to make a headline-grabbing decision: The court wouldn't take any new cases -- be they from the county prosecutor or average Joe plaintiffs bringing a lawsuit -- unless people bringing the cases also brought their own paper.

"It sounds kind of simple, but without paper everything stops," McClelland told "We're trying to conserve what we do have so the court doesn't come to a grinding halt."

Since McClelland first announced the policy last week, he's received two donations of paper -- that is, paper not tied to new or pending cases -- but supplies are still tight, he said.

"We're working on day to day right now," he said.

License Plates and Parties

Iowa lawmakers recently solicited suggestions from the public on how the state could cut spending. The response, provided through a Web site, has been encouraging, said Iowa House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, a Republican.

"We've been pretty excited about both the quantity and the quality of suggestions," he said.

Iowa House Republicans have seriously considered about two dozen of the public's suggestions, including a proposal to cut the state's license plate requirement from two per vehicle -- one plate on the front and another on the back -- to just one.

"Not only does it save you production costs, my guess is there's also some logistics costs, as well as far as shipping them and making sure you keep them paired up," Paulsen said. "If there was just one, you have 50 percent of products you have to handle."

Another suggestion was to crack down on state government office parties that use state funds to pay for supplies.

While Paulsen acknowledged that parties may provide a morale boost in tough times, he said state employees should pool their own cash to pay for them.

"The taxpayers of Iowa don't need to be funding parties in the state offices," he said. "At least on the surface, it just appears to be something that's flat wrong."

Shining a Red Light on Insurance Scofflaws

By now, many drivers have become grudgingly familiar with the surveillance cameras perched near traffic signals in different parts of the country.

They're there to catch and record the license plates of motorists running red lights. The traffic tickets that are issued as a result of the lights can provide governments with a valuable source of revenue.

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