Category: Regulation

How New Car Dealers Put the Brakes on Competition

By Morgan Smith I.          Summary It has been four years since Georgia legislators enacted broad changes to the state laws that regulate the relationship between auto dealers and car manufacturers. The changes have created significant benefits for auto dealers by insulating them from new forms of competition – such as direct sales to consumers from car manufacturers and online retailers. The new rules also expanded some existing protections that restrict how car manufacturers can interact with dealers in key aspects of their business. Georgia’s 1999 regulations have created a less competitive market environment, which imposes excess costs on consumers, car manufacturers and online retail competitors. The expanded restraints – such as the prohibition on non-dealer sales and strict relevant market… View Article
By Morgan Smith Trudging from dealership to dealership to kick the tires on the new car you’re thinking about buying is nothing new for Georgians. Even in the facilitating age of the Internet, the Georgian whose heart is set on that Toyota Camry or VW Jetta still must do a lot of driving around town to check out dealers’ competing offers. Ever wondered why? It’s called “Relevant Market Area” or RMA. No matter how populated the area, whether it be crowded metro Atlanta or little Statesboro, Georgia’s established new-car dealers have wangled a little-known law that allows them to prevent any same-brand competitor from setting up shop within eight miles in any direction of an existing dealership. And if that… View Article
By Chris Carr Right or wrong, needed or unneeded, government regulates commerce all of the time. Government will mandate, for instance, how much pollution may be released into the air, how many handicapped spaces must be included in a parking lot at a shopping center and whether warning labels must be used on particular products. Usually, these regulations do not cross the line into micromanaging private industry. Typically, politicians have not dared to tread into the realm of telling a business how it should operate and what it will or won’t sell. Apparently, the DeKalb County Commission doesn’t play by these time-honored rules. They recently stepped over the line by banning smoking in the private sector and began a new… View Article
By Morgan Smith I. Summary In 2001, the Georgia Legislature convened a Study Committee in the House of Representatives to examine complaints raised by the state’s alcohol retailers about some businesses practices on the part of alcohol wholesalers. The subsequent examination of the state’s regulation of the alcohol distribution industry brought to light serious questions about the structure and value of economic protections provided to the wholesalers. It is widely accepted that state regulation of alcohol distribution is an important and necessary undertaking. But it is also clear that some elements of Georgia’s regulatory policy haven’t kept pace with changes in both the industry’s participants and the shape of the marketplace. As with all instances of state intervention in “special”… View Article

Deregulation Not to Blame for High Gas Bills

By Shawn Davis Deregulation in the natural gas industry has been an easy target for the media and public policy leaders since legislation introduced competition in the Atlanta Gas Light Company territory in 1997. This sentiment is understandable. Gas marketers have had difficulty getting billing under control, and high gas bills are giving consumers sticker shock, prompting them to complain to the Public Service Commission (PSC), the General Assembly and anyone who will listen. Many consumers have blamed deregulation for the high bills. But the culprit is not deregulation, the PSC or lawmakers. Everyone in the country is feeling the impact of higher prices. If something is to blame, it is the weather’s influence on the guiding principle upon which… View Article

Sales Taxes and the E-Commerce Revolution

Hans A. von Spakovsky Elected officials in Georgia and throughout the country have been expressing their concern over the possible loss of state sales tax revenues as e-commerce grows on the Internet. Georgia State Revenue Commissioner Jerry Jackson told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that Internet commerce represents a future threat to state revenue and that “[a]t some point [it] will begin to have a major impact on sales tax collections.”1  Proponents of taxing Internet commerce believe that online sales are a substitute for “bricks and mortar” retail sales and that state sales tax receipts will decline as e-commerce increases. They also claim that exempting e-commerce from sales taxes is “unfair” to other retail… View Article

Milking the Consumer

By E. Frank Stephenson The following article originally appeared in the July 1999 issue of the Georgia Policy Review. E. Frank Stephenson is assistant professor of economics, Campbell School of Business, Berry College, Mount Berry, GA. Any opinions expressed herein are his own, and do not necessarily represent those of Berry College. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Berry College operates a small dairy. In its 1999 session, the Georgia General Assembly again passed legislation authorizing Georgia to join the proposed Southeastern Dairy Compact. Gov. Barnes, unlike his predecessor Zell Miller, signed the authorization into law thereby entering Georgia into the dairy compact. (Federal legislation is still required for the compact to become operative, but… View Article

Consumer Beware

Kelly McCutchen In her recent book, The Future and its Enemies, Virginia Postrel recounts the story of a visitor to a small Georgia town who set out to trap some wild pigs. Many others had tried to trap these pigs unsuccessfully, but this newcomer had a unique approach. First, he placed some food in a clearing near the pigs. For days the pigs ignored the food. Finally, after one pig curiously tasted the food, the others joined in. The man restocked the food every day. Before long, the pigs quit foraging and became dependent upon the food in the clearing. He slowly began erecting a fence, carefully leaving several openings for the pigs to go in and out. Several weeks… View Article
Steve Langford The rush by many Georgia cities to enter new businesses and expand existing ones, in direct and unfair competition with small and large private companies, poses the primary long-term fiscal challenge to Governor Barnes and the Legislature. Many cities are adding to their traditional services — water, sewer, trash, gas and electric — such new ventures as cable TV, telecommunications, hotels, real estate development, construction services, appliance sales, etc. This alarming trend in local government is the purest form of socialism and is crashing onto the scene at a time when all other levels of government are discovering inefficiencies and privatizing services at a steady pace. The problems with government expansion into these areas are evident: · Government… View Article
By Betsey Weltner At a time when state government is downsizing, privatizing services and deregulating utilities, relieved Georgia taxpayers have a new threat on the horizon — municipal development of telephone, cable and Internet services. The high-tech, high-risk telecommunications industry is no place for local governments to be, but the power of cities to tax and regulate the private industry “competition” has created an uneven playing field in Georgia. Further, while dozens of Georgia cities are either planning or implementing costly telecommunications systems, they are doing so without public approval of any kind. Consider a Georgia statewide poll taken in September 1998 on the subject of municipal “competition” with private telecommunications industries. 500 registered voters across the state were asked… View Article

The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.

Senator Herman E. Talmadge more quotes