April 14, 2008

Mr. Conservative of California—Interview with Don Rogers

2008 April 14

Former California State Senator Don Rogers served in the California Legislature for 18 years and, as a senator, represented over 700,000 people living in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. While serving in the California Legislature, Senator Rogers wrote the initiative and led the successful campaign to abolish the California inheritance (death) tax and gift tax. As he tells the story,

When campaigning for the legislature, I heard from people all over the district complaining about the California death tax (Inheritance Tax). Here is how it worked: if a husband had owned a business, like a farm or a ranch, and the husband died, then the wife would inherit his estate. But then she would be forced to pay the high death tax, despite the farm or ranch not having enough cash available to pay that tax. So the widow would be forced to sell part of the farm, ranch, or business to raise the money to pay the tax. In my campaigning for Assembly, I made a promise to try to abolish this death tax. The first bill I introduced after being sworn in was that bill [January 1979].

The Assembly's Revenue and Taxation Committee, made up of a large majority of Democrats, was the first to hear his bill. The Committee immediately killed the bill. In January 1980, I introduced the bill again. And the same committee immediately killed it again.

Fortunately, California is a state that has an Initiative Process, which means that if you get a sufficient number of voter signatures, you can get an initiative on the ballot. So after having his bill killed two years in a row, I then wrote an initiative, Proposition 6, to abolish both the death tax and the gift tax, and led the campaign to get enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

The initiative qualified for the ballot, and in June 1982 the two taxes were abolished by a 65% vote of the people, a two-to-one margin! From 1982 to the present, eliminating these two taxes has saved California families over 50 billion dollars, by my estimation.

I am the only legislator in the state of California who has ever gotten rid of a tax, —and I got rid of two taxes at the same time.

Senator Rogers graduated from Louisiana State University, is a registered geologist in the State of California, and currently owns and operates an oil-producing company there. He has done geological work in Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and Texas. He also holds a commercial pilot’s license and is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Senator Rogers has been a featured speaker for many groups and has appeared on many radio and television programs. He is especially knowledgeable about the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Preamble and Constitution, misleading facts being bandied about on global warming, extreme environmentalism, and campaigns to eliminate onerous taxes.

Melinda outs Ronald Reagan: the 1975 UROC resolution withdrawing support.

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