Police Violence: The symptoms of deeper societal issues?

The rash of police-on-civilian and civilian-on-police violence has once again brought to a boil the question of why a nation founded on the very idea of limited government …

Self-driving cars could cut parking revenues

There were groans all across Sacramento when the City Council approved yet another expansion of parking zones around Golden 1 Center, the city’s new $507 million arena. The …

Will appeals ruling sober up state’s pension abusers?

California’s hardy band of pension reformers show many of the symptoms of “battered spouse syndrome.” No matter how often they are beaten and ridiculed, they cling to hope. …

R Street Institute responds to Goodlatte internet sales tax proposal

WASHINGTON (Aug. 25, 2016) – The R Street Institute responded to today’s introduction of draft legislation by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. The “Online Sales Simplification …

PROP 56: Tobacco initiative fails to make crucial distinctions

The attached policy short was co-authored by R Street State Programs Director Cameron Smith.  As the United States’ failed experiment with Prohibition was drawing to a close, two major groups fought …

California’s misguided anti-vaping measure will harm public health

WASHINGTON (Aug. 25, 2016) – California’s ballot initiative Proposition 56, which would increase the state’s cigarette tax by $2 a pack and apply comparable levels of taxation to …

ICYMI: Members of Congress publish essays on the state of Congress

The July 2016 copy of PS: Political Science and Politics carries essays by four members of Congress (one former and three current). This unusual and happy development was the work of Michael H. …

FDA Study: Cancer risks nearly nil for 1-2 cigars per day

The Food and Drug Administration, which now regulates cigars, has taken the position that "cigar smoking carries many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking."  The agency is …

Key House Republican to unveil sales tax plan for purchases across state lines

From the Wall Street Journal: Those efforts in the states have made the status quo shaky, said Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, a free-market think …

FEMA proposes fed-funded projects be built on higher ground

From Construction Equipment: Some groups are coming out in favor of the new regulations. R.J. Lehmann, senior fellow at R Street Institute said, 'Disaster-related spending long has been a …

Insurance rate rollback sets regulatory precedent

A spat between the California Department of Insurance and the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog over a recent news release left Sacramento insiders scrambling to understand the policy implications …

No, a child tax is not like a carbon tax

As a former philosophy major, I resent that the only time philosophers tend to get featured in the press is when they are saying something particularly ridiculous. For …

R Street Institute Hires Arthur Rizer as Justice Policy Director

WASHINGTON (Aug. 22, 2016) – The R Street Institute today announced the addition of Arthur Rizer as justice policy director and senior fellow. Before joining R Street, Arthur was …

Ed drama; the Ocean’s Hot Dog and Brookings teacher diversity study; fish porn; Kosar signs off

I am running low on laptop battery and conveniently left my charger in Washington, D.C. So I will keep this quick. Robert J. Bellafiore takes New York City Mayor Bill …

NHS approves an e-cigarette for use in smoking cessation

In another note of progress in the war against tobacco-related disease, the United Kingdom's National Health Service announced yesterday it has approved an e-cigarette to help people quit …

Down on the farm

From National Review: One particularly bad culprit is the harvest price option (HPO) crop-insurance policy. While traditional crop insurance protects farmers from catastrophic losses, those who can afford higher …

OC legislators help secure crucial ‘liberty’ reform

Last September, the state’s most powerful law-enforcement unions and lobbyists descended on the Capitol and derailed a sensible reform measure that had been sailing through the Legislature with …

Creating a foundation for a substantive debate on proxy-access proposals

If shareholder proposals on proxy access—that is, the ability of certain large shareholders to have their own slates of nominees to corporate boards included in the proxy materials …

Arthur Rizer

Why some congressional Republicans oppose rules meant to protect federal properties from flooding

From Inside Sources: Yet R.J. Lehmann, editor-in-chief of the libertarian R Street Institute, told InsideSources he doesn’t understand Mayer’s concern. “If you’re on a hill at a higher elevation, you …

The White House is using the SEC to crack down on fossil fuels

With just months left in office, the Obama administration appear set to get done by executive action everything it couldn’t get Congress to do over the past eight …

A welcome victory in the fight against asset forfeiture

From Reason: The California Assembly on Monday approved one of the most significant civil-liberties reforms of the legislative session. Remarkably, the bill—to put limits on the controversial practice of …

New FEMA Regulations Will Better Protect Americans from Flooding

WASHINGTON – A coalition of unlikely allies are supporting a proposed rule announced Friday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Organizations representing professional floodplain managers, insurance companies, fiscal conservatives …

More on school lunches; #PorgyPorn; DC teacher union heads denounce Wal-Mart for helping teachers; Feds expand educational quality through innovation partnerships

On Tuesday, I wrote about the federal school lunch program. What I did not mention was the status of the program’s reform. Legislation has moved this year to amend the program. …

Free-market think tank supports ‘fee’ for reducing pollution

From SNL Power Policy Weekly: Right-leaning policy research group the R Street Institute said a "simple and transparent fee" is the best way to reduce pollution that affects a …

White House overreaches with SEC climate disclosure plan

As has been expected for months, the Federal Emergency Management Agency this coming morning will publish in the Aug. 19 edition of the Federal Register its regulations implementing …

Pueblo should consider nuclear power plant

Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission received an earful from Pueblo residents at this week’s public hearing over a proposed 4.8 percent rate hike by Black Hills Energy. While Pueblo’s local …

What Louisiana’s floods say about America, and America’s future

While most of America is focused on the Olympics or the latest campaign controversies, Louisiana is in crisis. Flooding in parts of the state during the last week is …

Shock: Legislature does right thing on a liberty issue!

Our left-leaning Legislature isn’t exactly known for its commitment to protecting the constitutional liberties of the citizenry, which is an understatement of great magnitude. When I speak to …

Iron Chancellor was a good actuary too

Sir, “Retirement age for young Germans will have to rise to 69, central bank warns” (Aug. 16). That is a quite reasonable, even generous, retirement age if you …

HEA rulemaking; Utah loosens teaching occupational licensure; ICYMI: China and ed reform

Care about which institutions' students can get Higher Education Act grants? You know, ones like Pell grants, the Federal Pell Grant program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, …

Low-tar cigarettes had merit, said American Cancer Society; So do e-cigarettes

E-cigarette opponents routinely claim that e-cigarettes benefit from industry-promoted consumer health misconceptions, in the same manner that so-called "light" cigarettes soared in popularity years ago, when, it is …

Types of organized electricity markets

Regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (RTO/ISOs) deliver reliable electricity through organized competitive markets. These markets reduce the costs to operate the grid and send long-term investment …

Traditionally regulated vs. competitive wholesale markets

In the 1990s and 2000s, U.S. states chose either to restructure their wholesale electricity markets fully or partially, or to retain regulation of vertically integrated monopoly utilities.[i] Generally, …

The impact of silence: The incarceration of children who have committed no crime

The following op-ed was co-authored by Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. Congress has recessed for the summer without passing any justice reform—not in the criminal nor juvenile-justice …

Civil libertarians and police embrace asset-forfeiture compromise

From Public CEO: The California Assembly on Monday approved one of the most significant civil-liberties reforms of the legislative session. Remarkably, the bill – to put limits on the …

Backlash against sharing economy worthy of the Luddite label

From Daily Caller: "A widely publicized report commissioned by the Freelancers Union in 2014 found what appears to be strong evidence of a growing gig economy: About a third …

Fixing Congress Through More Powerful Committees?

WASHINGTON (Aug. 17, 2016) – In addition to being viewed negatively by a record number of Americans, Congress increasingly is shifting from a body that generates and develops …

Microsoft’s leaky ‘boot’ offers another reason to preserve encryption

Gandalf: A Palantír is a dangerous tool, Saruman. Saruman: Why? Why should we fear to use it? Gandalf: They are not all accounted for, the lost Seeing Stones. We do …

A case for stronger congressional committees

The attached policy study was co-authored by Adam Chan, a summer 2016 research assistant at the R Street Institute. With congressional partisanship at record highs and congressional approval ratings at …

R Street: Conservatives must develop alternatives to left-wing environmental policies

From GHG Daily Monitor: It is well past time for conservatives to meet liberal environmentalism with alternative policies based on their fundamental beliefs, according to a new paper from …

Holt trolls Johnson on student loans; The Daily Caller trolls Michelle Obama and school lunches; Turtle porn

Maybe it's a sign the Gary Johnson-Bill Weld ticket is serious, or possibly a writer was looking for something to troll. Either way, Johnson gets assailed by Alexander …

Civil libertarians and police embrace asset-forfeiture compromise

The California Assembly on Monday approved one of the most significant civil-liberties reforms of the legislative session. Remarkably, the bill – to put limits on the controversial practice …

Three cheers for school advertising

The recent State Impact piece on advertising by public schools was interesting on a couple of counts, but missed an opportunity: Schools will start soon, but where you live doesn’t necessarily …

Federal oversight of snitch scandal is long overdue

The latest twist in the ongoing “snitch” scandal involving Orange County’s district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department further reinforces critics’ fears about problems in the nation’s criminal justice …

Are vaping taxes about revenue rather than health?

From ChurnMag.com: The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 is slated for the initiative ballot this November, but it’s already raising questions about vaping taxation. …

These songs are our songs

There are certain songs that live in our hearts as quintessentially American; songs that have taken their place in history and encapsulate the American spirit. Two of these …

Climate change and Gisele, the law of the land

From Insurance Journal: Insurance subsidies exacerbate climate change risks. That comes from Washington, D.C.-based R Street, a typically conservative nonprofit public policy research organization that supports free markets, and a …

FDA’s e-cigarette rules are a public-health hazard

Since they first were introduced in the United States in 2006, electronic cigarettes have helped millions of U.S. smokers to cut down or quit and diverted teens from …

Todd Myers

An Appeal for a Conservative Approach to Conservation

WASHINGTON (August 11, 2016) – Although environmental conservation is a fundamentally conservative principle, modern conservatives have ceded the debate to the political left, according to a new policy …

A conservative approach to environmental principles

The lyrics of the classic hymn “America the Beautiful” – written by the poet Katharine Lee Bates during an 1893 trip to Pike’s Peak – testify to the …

A smokeless history lesson for vaping advocates

E-cigarettes are under siege by federal health authorities and NGOs, aided and abetted by countless university researchers funded generously by the National Institutes of Health. Many of their …

Welcome to Virginia, where the whiskey’s strong and the government’s stronger

Craft distilling may be undergoing a renaissance, but in the shadow of George Washington’s Mount Vernon (home to one of the nation’s first distilleries), you can barely get …

The status quo for music licensing is far from perfect, but it works

The U.S. Justice Department last week concluded its multiyear review of consent decrees for the two largest performance rights organizations (PROs), the American Society of Composers (ASCAP) and …

Nearly 70 percent of European vapers have quit or reduced smoking

Misperceptions about the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes abound, yet each new piece of research shows increasingly positive results. The latest study by Konstantinos Farsalinos and colleagues surveyed …

Letter to California Supreme Court on Hassell v. Bird

The attached letter was co-authored by R Street General Counsel Cameron Smith.  Re: Hassell v. Bird, 247 Cal. App. 4th 1336 (Court of Appeal Case No. A143233) Dear Hon. Justices, The …

New FDA vaping regulations will harm public health

Going back to the nation's founding, cigarette smoking has wreaked havoc on U.S. public health and contributed to an astronomical death toll. According to the Centers for Disease …

Would adding more members to Congress make it function better?

Writing for Aeon, David V. Johnson says a legislature should be "large enough to reflect the interests of an entire people." He notes that James Madison, the architect of …

No, a new study does not say Uber has no effect on drunk driving

The first rule of science journalism is to read the study before you write about it. Alas, that hasn't stopped media outlets from routinely misreporting, exaggerating or exercising …

Economic characteristics of electricity

The physical fundamentals of energy inform the economic fundamentals of electricity. Power plants that generate electricity face both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs do not vary with …

Physical characteristics of energy

Power vs. Energy: Power is the instantaneous flow of electricity, or current – that is, the rate of electricity production, transfer or demand. Under the International System of …

Coalition Submits FOIA Request to IRS on Clean Coal Subsidies

From Morning Consult: A coalition of groups, including Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the R Street Institute, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for …

Bay Area Making Life Difficult for Tech Firms

From Public CEO: In most of the country, a region’s “big” industry – think automotive companies in Michigan’s heyday, the oil business in Houston and entertainment in Los Angeles …

Bay Area making life difficult for tech firms

In most of the country, a region’s “big” industry – think automotive companies in Michigan’s heyday, the oil business in Houston and entertainment in Los Angeles – is …

Porn isn’t for kids, but we don’t seem to care

America isn't doing enough to protect our children from the impacts of pornography. As the father of three young boys, I know my sons are going to encounter …

‘Commercial’ bank is misnomer. ‘Real estate’ bank is more apt

Comparing banking in the 1950s to today, we find giant changes that surely would have astonished the bankers of that earlier time. What's the biggest and most important …

Harm Reduction Perspectives in Public Health and Policymaking

Rayburn House Office Building

Rayburn House Office Building

R Street’s voting guide for SXSW policy panels

Here at R Street, we’ve put together some great policy panels for next year’s SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. But we need your support to get in the …

Florida has been hurricane free, but still the insurance rates go up

Florida's property insurance market — long among the nation's biggest basket cases — has enjoyed an unprecedented streak of good fortune on two different fronts. The better known …

Greenhut talks California initiatives on KQED

R Street Western Region Director Steve Greenhut joined KQED radio's "Forum" program recently for a discussion about ballot initiatives in California, including the whopping 17 initiatives that Golden State …

The federal government’s $500 million subsidy to magazine publishers

Few people love magazines more than I do. At last count, I have a half-dozen subscriptions, down from the baker’s dozen of a few years ago (with four …

How far a ‘freedom’ city has strayed

The presidential race has become an all-consuming affair on social media, as Americans debate which candidate will do less harm to the republic and our freedoms. I remain …

When is the next financial crisis due?

House prices, commercial real estate prices, stock prices and bond prices are all very high. Remarkable asset-price inflations have been induced by the low, zero or negative interest-rates …

Melissa Dunlap

Protectionism Will Not Relieve The Plight Of The Working Class

From ValueWalk: He’s not wrong to be worried. “The problem of labor market non-participation is particularly severe among men,” writes Eli Lehrer, president and co-founder of the R Street …

Can the European Project Survive?

Protecting the Financial System From Panics

R Street responds to DOJ review of ASCAP and BMI consent decrees

WASHINGTON (Aug. 4, 2016) – Following a two-year review of the antitrust consent decrees that govern coordinated action by the major performing rights organizations the American Society of …

Marketplace for energy drives lower costs

The following op-ed was co-authored by Rev. Mitch Hescox, the president and CEO of Evangelical Environmental Network. When it comes to energy generation, business as usual is hurting Missouri. …

Direct Democracy: California’s last hope?

One of the most far-reaching ideas advanced by 20th century progressives was the reemergence of direct democracy. And no state has taken the idea further than California. In 1911, …

10 States Where It Costs the Most to Insure Teen Drivers

From TheStreet: "Driving well takes practice, and since all teens are new drivers they make all sorts of mistakes that more seasoned drivers can avoid," says Eli Lehrer, president …

Unnatural Monopolies: Do power companies have to be crony capitalists?

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Electricity Policy Manager Devin Hartman. When Lord Acton warned about the corrupting tendency of power, he wasn’t thinking of electricity. The …

Revised Rules for Whiskey Labeling? Proceed With Caution

From American Spectator: Craft distillers often complain about the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 Code of Federal Regulations 5), a set of labeling rules enforced by the …

Is the 114th Congress getting things done?

Source: PopVox.com Yes, writes Marci Harris and her team at PopVox: The 114th Congress has passed a significant number of major policies into law: from ending a Medicare physician payment …

Growing a better farm safety net

Congress is not scheduled to reauthorize the farm bill until 2018, but the farm lobby is already signaling its strong resistance to reform. To combat constant lobbying and …

Law would require Uber to pay a nickel for every ride to help the taxi industry

From Boston Globe: But the idea that the companies should pay an assessment that will in part assist their competition caught the attention of the libertarian think tank R Street …

Maryland’s Soviet Liquor County

From The American Spectator: Maryland’s Montgomery County is a nice place. Its western border runs along the Potomac River, and its southern territory abuts Washington, D.C. Many folks who work …

California push for coal divestment raises concerns

Unlike the sellers of most other products or services, insurance companies receive payments from their customers in exchange for future promises. If you wreck your car, they will pay …

The DOJ and the future of music

Music fans might be understandably puzzled by how it is that new revenues from the online streaming services like Pandora and Spotify could top $2.4 billion last year, yet …

Federal Power Act and organized electricity markets

Organized electricity markets that allow competition have evolved considerably since their inception in the late 1990s. A host of policy, market and technological developments have altered their outcomes …

R Street adds Sasha Moss as technology policy fellow

WASHINGTON (Aug. 2, 2016) – The R Street Institute announced today it has added Sasha Moss as technology policy fellow. Sasha previously served as counsel to U.S. Rep. …

QUICK DOWNLOADS

From POLITICO Morning Tech: R Street Institute has picked up Sasha Moss as a new technology policy fellow to specialize on copyright, patent and other intellectual property issues. Moss …

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

From POLITICO Morning Cybersecurity: Sasha Moss has joined the R Street Institute as a technology policy fellow. She had been serving as counsel to Rep. Blake Farenthold. …

Conferees agree to legalize ridesharing in Massachusetts

In a marathon negotiating session that wrapped up at the literal 11th hour, Massachusetts lawmakers have reached agreement on legislation that would formally legalize transportation network companies in …

Revised rules for whiskey labeling? Proceed With caution

Craft distillers often complain about the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 Code of Federal Regulations 5), a set of labeling rules enforced by the Tax …

OFR points to low interest rates without mentioning the Fed

In the July 2016 edition of its Financial Stability Monitor, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Financial Research (OFR) points out multiple times that exceptionally low interest rates …

What the GOP platform gets right about agriculture

Regardless one's thoughts on the 2016 Republican Platform’s planks on international trade, marriage equality, immigration and so many other issues, libertarians and small-government conservatives should be cheered that …

The lukewarm case for climate action

I usually try to avoid writing about the science of climate change. For one thing, it’s boring. Start writing about climate science, and the next thing you know, …

A Soviet drinks monopoly in Maryland

Maryland’s Montgomery County is a nice place. Its western border runs along the Potomac River and its southern territory abuts Washington. Many folks who work in the district …

On what does the U.S. House spend its appropriations?

The following post was co-authored by Nicholas W. Zeppos. A version originally appeared on LegBranch.com. There is a short and unsurprising answer: mostly, it spends on staff.  Personnel expenses amount to …

Use e-cigarettes? Moffitt Cancer Center wants you to be ‘Forever Free’

The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, is recruiting smokers who vape (i.e., dual users) for a clinical trial that, according to spokesman Vani Nath Simmons, aims to answer …

The EU’s misguided call to ban zero rating

The net neutrality debate has come to Europe. Following a go-ahead European Parliament in October 2015, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) is writing the …

California coal-divestment push mostly about politics

California voters in 1988 dramatically expanded the power of the state Department of Insurance and turned the insurance commissioner post into an elected position. The Proposition 103 initiative …

Parks in Disarray: An allegory for California

Many of us who stay in California do so, in part, because of its beauty. As friends and neighbors plot moves to lower-tax, lower-regulation and higher-sanity places, such as …

Idaho Pension System Off-Target For Second Year In A Row

From Idaho Reporter:  Greenhut, the western region director for the R Street Institute and author of a book about public pension reform, said Idahoans should worry about PERSI’s poor performance. “Defenders …

R Street response to BEREC on zero-rating and net-neutrality guidelines

  This letter represents a response by R Street Institute to recent public comments on your proposed guidelines for network-neutrality rules. Because R Street interprets some of these comments …

How does the U.S. House divide its money between members, committees and leadership?

The following post was co-authored by Nicholas W. Zeppos. A version originally appeared on LegBranch.com. In order to think clearly about legislative capacity, or the lack thereof, we need a …

Appreciating Police Officers, Challenging Police Unions

From FLASHREPORT: Civil libertarians and fiscal conservatives have disagreements with police unions which were summed up quite well recently by guest columnist Steve Greenhut, writing in the Orange County Register. …

Who will pay for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s huge losses?

The government's pension insurance company, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), is broke. Because its creditors can't demand their money immediately, it won't have spent its last dollar for …

California’s Coal Divestment Initiative Puts Politics before Good Policy

WASHINGTON (July 26, 2016) –The California Department of Insurance’s recently announced “Climate Risk Carbon Initiative,” which calls for insurers who operate in the state to divest “voluntarily” from …

Marking kids for life on sex offender registries

The following op-ed was co-authored by Nicole Pittman, director of the Center on Youth Registration Reform, and Stacie Rumenap, president of Stop Child Predators. For decades, our country has been putting …

Coal divestment and the California insurance industry

California voters in 1988 dramatically expanded the power of the state Department of Insurance and turned the insurance commissioner post into an elected position. It also gave the …

Capping crop insurance subsidies is a long overdue initiative

To hear the agricultural lobby and farm state representatives in Congress tell it, making any cuts to the subsidies farmers receive from the federal government to help them …

Time to pass long-term ridesharing reforms in Pa.

"Never laugh at live dragons," warns the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, a reminder to avoid premature celebrations before an adventure has truly ended. It's a timely …

Despite lack of hurricanes, claims abuse driving up Citizens insurance premiums in Florida

Last year, Florida marked 10 years since it was last hit by a hurricane. This “drought,” coupled with responsible reforms enacted by lawmakers in recent years, has allowed …

Q&A: Conservatives debate clean energy approaches in Minnesota

From Midwest Energy News: Tonight in Minneapolis, the non-partisan Citizens League joins with the newly formed Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum to hold a panel discussion billed “Conservative Approaches to …

CalPERS’ earnings flop means belt tightening

Earlier this year, I watched in horror as my 401(k) earnings started a freefall right before I planned on shifting some assets into a lower-risk fund. Things corrected, …

Negative real interest rates are politics

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Jason Zweig cites Harvard's Carmen Reinhart as rightly pointing out that "low interest rates will keep transferring massive amounts of wealth …

Generation Gap: The age of nuclear retirement

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Energy Policy Director Catrina Rorke.  At a meeting of the National Association of Science Writers in New York in 1954, the …

Six energy-policy reforms conservatives should embrace

The U.S. House demonstrated last month that the politics of climate solutions remain intractable. With bipartisan support, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution describing a carbon tax as, “not …

Mike Godwin

Food insecurity and national security

No one would deny that a vibrant and stable agriculture economy is important for national security. Across the globe, unstable food supplies are associated with turmoil, crime and …

Unions are root cause of policing problems

Even before the chilling murders of police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Kansas City, most conservatives had been rallying around the “boys in blue,” defending law enforcement …

Insurance Subsidies Exacerbate Climate Change Risks

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2016) – Years of government involvement in property insurance markets have led to artificially low rates that mask the true risk of living in regions …

Subsidized insurance increases vulnerability to climate change

Texas’ coastline is a source of economic strength and vitality. From oil-and-gas production to shipping to tourism, the region provides billions in economic value to the state. But …

In Cleveland, pro-environment Republicans warn of political bloodbath over environment

From Creative Loafing: Catrina Rorke, energy policy director for R Street Institute, another Libertarian think tank, said conservatives ought to have the political will to present good environmental policies …

Adams talks driverless cars on ABC 10 Sacramento

R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams joined ABC 10 in Sacramento, California, recently to talk about the future of driverless cars and what they could mean for auto …

Democrats’ climate agenda deserves a conservative response

As the Democratic Party looks to advance what has been characterized as the “most progressive platform in the party's history,” there's never been a more urgent time for …

Clean Tax Cuts Takes Off at the GOP Convention

From American Spectator: The first of those smart people to reach out to me, simultaneous with the publication of my column, was Eli Lehrer, President of the R Street Institute. Eli …

Demand Response Promises More Competition and Reliability

WASHINGTON (July 19, 2016) – Demand response (DR) – a system under which customers are able to reduce their electricity usage in exchange for compensation – promises a …

Man vs machine the future of self driving cars

From ABC10 KXTV: Ian Adams is a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank based out of Washington D.C. that's been studying the ins and …

Congress’ tendency to cannibalize itself

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Why is Congress loath to increase its staff, and sometimes eager to cut it? Anthony J. …

Pathways to competition in demand response

Demand response (DR) holds great promise to improve the competitiveness, reliability and environmental performance of the electricity system. DR refers to a system under which end-use customers earn …

Police debates need more focus on policy, not emotion

The latest debate over policing understandably has become an emotional one, following the horrific murder of five police officers in Dallas and the deeply disturbing videos of police …

Preparing for unforeseen opportunities outside academia

Upon entering graduate school, my plan was simple: land a tenure-track job at a university, and live the life of the mind. An old Volvo would carry me …

Is the House of Representatives deinstitutionalizing?

The following post was co-authored by R Street Governance Policy Director Kevin Kosar. In an important recent paper, Jeffery A. Jenkins’ and Charles Stewart III re-evaluated Nelson Polsby’s classic analysis that …

MEDIA ADVISORY: R Street’s Catrina Rorke to address conservative sustainability forum

CLEVELAND (July 15, 2016) – R Street Energy Policy Director Catrina Rorke will highlight conservatives' record in promoting sound environmental policies that advance clear, predictable, market-oriented results, as …

Trump’s Likely VP Doubts Climate Change

From ClimateWire: “Gingrich would reflect more of an openness to big, sometimes bold, ideas, which might include climate change,” said Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a conservative think …

Most of the world still isn’t online, and that’s a problem

According to the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union, 4.2 billion people –nearly two-thirds of the world's population – have no internet access. This massive untapped population – largely …

A guide to a fishing boat of one’s wishes

Recently, I have been stricken with a terrible affliction. I want a fishing boat. The sickness took hold of me a few months ago, and the longing hounds me …

Copyright Stakeholders Praise Senate Confirmation of Librarian of Congress

From Washington Internet Daily: The R Street Institute believes "it is a relief to see that an institution as important as [the LOC] will be run by an experienced administrator …

Here’s what a conservative climate-action agenda would look like

From Grist:  "Pro-market folks support cutting it, and if it happens to have climate co-benefits, that’s welcome,” says Devin Hartman, a senior fellow for the R Street Institute, a center-right …

Will Congress claw back power from the regulatory state?

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Sean Speer, who also serves as a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a Canadian think tank. One upside …

Cyberwar: What is it?

From POLITICO Morning Cybersecurity: Also on the Hill today, Reps. Ted Poe and Zoe Lofgren will launch the Fourth Amendment Caucus, accompanied by a panel discussion of an independent Fourth Amendment …

Senate Confirms Librarian Of Congress Over Absurd Conservative Opposition

From Right Wing Watch: Last week, Zach Graves of the libertarian-leaning R Street Institute summarized the campaign that Heritage Foundation fellow Hans von Spakovsky launched against Hayden. Dismissing Hayden’s accomplishments, …

Praise for new librarian of Congress

From The Hill: NEW LIBRARIAN WINS PRAISE AFTER CONFIRMATION: Carla Hayden received applause from a number of groups Wednesday after the Senate confirmed her to be the next librarian of Congress. …

Housing Finance: Two strikes, and now?

Memories fade. So while trying to draw conclusions about going forward, we should also do our best to remember our past expensive lessons in politicized housing finance. It should …

Science Committee broadens witch hunt against nonprofits

The U.S. House Science Committee has subpoenaed the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the presidents of some other left-of-center advocacy groups like Greenpeace to testify …

New York homebuyers are overpaying on title insurance

Homebuyers in New York State overpaid on the cost of their title insurance to the tune of $155.3 million last year, according to a new report from OneTitle …

Internet governance and the free market

With the U.S. government set to relinquish its last vestiges of its control over the internet's functions through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), R Street hosted a panel …

Graves Statement on Carla Hayden’s Confirmation

WASHINGTON (July 13, 2016) – The U.S. Senate today confirmed Carla Hayden to head the Library of Congress by a vote of 74-18. Hayden was nominated for the position five months …

Pollock testifies on CHOICE Act before House Financial Services

R Street Distinguished Senior Fellow Alex J. Pollock testified July 12, 2016 before the House Financial Services Committee about the CHOICE Act, legislation that proposes to loosen regulatory …

Warren Buffett versus the three-tier drinks system

In Texas, as in much of the nation, alcohol is regulated under the so-called “three-tier system,” which requires alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers to be separate and independent …

POLITICO Morning Cybersecurity: Cyberwar: What is it?

From POLITICO Morning Cybersecurity: NO WARRANTS SHALL ISSUE, BUT UPON PROBABLE CAUSE: Also on the Hill today, Reps. Ted Poe and Zoe Lofgren will launch the Fourth Amendment Caucus, …

Why does nuclear energy account for less than a fifth of our national energy mix?

Even though the United States has more nuclear-electricity generating units than any country in the world, nuclear power makes up less than 20 percent of our nation’s energy …

Millennials paid into the system and get nothing: #tellusatoday

From USA Today: Let people voluntarily settle their claims on Social Security for 77 cents on the dollar. — @RSI …

Republican Dodd-Frank Replacement Plan Gets a Workout

From Morning Consult: Alex Pollock, a distinguished senior fellow at the center-right R Street Institute, bolstered that argument by noting that the International Monetary Fund has estimated that a 9.5 …

Conservatives shoot selves in foot by obstructing librarian of Congress vote

President Barack Obama recently nominated Carla Hayden – a career professional library administrator – to serve as the retiring James Billington's successor as head of the Library of …

Testimony to House Financial Services Committee on the CHOICE Act

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waters and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I am Alex Pollock, a senior fellow at the …

Austin, Texas Residents Rally in Support of Uber

From Heartland Institute:  Josiah Neeley, a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, says TNCs improved Austin’s public safety. “When they were debating the [TNC] ordinance, Austin law enforcement actually came …

POLITICO New York Health Care: SMOKED

From Politico New York Health Care: SMOKED - Dr. Joel Nitzkin, writing in the Oxford Journal, examines the justifications the FDA is using to regulate the e-cigarette market. http://bit.ly/29tW7wC …

POLITICO PULSE: R Street blasts FDA tobacco control policy

From Politico Pulse: R Street blasts FDA tobacco control policy. According to the conservative think tank's Joel Nitzkin, the agency is inappropriately working to pull e-cigarettes and vaping devices from …

As my sons slept, was their country tearing itself apart?

That night, my three boys slept peacefully down the hall. I couldn’t. Sitting in a dark room, the television casting an eerie electric glow, I watched news coverage …

Seven steps to housing-finance reform

The attached policy brief appeared in the Housing Finance Reform Incubator report published in July 2016 by the Urban Institute. The giant American housing finance sector is as important politically …

Immigration challenges that aren’t demogoguery

Back around the turn of the century, a few of us who toil in the public-policy vineyards guessed that privacy was going to be the overwhelming pubic-policy issue …

Coalition calls for open hearings on proposal to expand FBI surveillance authority

Dear Chairman Chuck Grassley and Chairman Richard Burr, The undersigned civil society organizations and trade associations write to urge you to hold open hearings on the Federal Bureau of …

Why I voted ‘No’: Deception dodges transparency

From Fresno Bee: Steven Greenhunt wrote in a column in The Orange County Register that the Legislature’s proposal “pretends to deal with the 72-hour transparency issue, but critics say it’s …

In tracking homeownership, marriage matters

The following op-ed was co-authored by Jay Brinkmann, retired chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Homeownership long has been considered a key metric for economic well-being in the United …

Mismatch has led us into trouble many times before

Financial events cycle and financial ideas cycle. Here the United Kingdom is again, with real estate generating financial stress. As Patrick Jenkins rightly points out (“Open-ended property funds …

What drives tobacco-control policy?

This is a follow-up to the presentation by Dr. David Ashley of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) at the March 2016 meeting of …

Full committee hearing on ‘Making a Financial Choice: More Capital or More Government Control?’

IANA transition delay would increase ‘inherent distrust’ in multistakeholderism, NTIA official says

From Washington Internet Daily: NTIA Associate Administrator Fiona Alexander cautioned Friday against Congress using its legislative powers to delay the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority transition. Congressional intervention against the …

The Library of Congress needs a professional librarian, not a ‘scholar-in-chief’

From Bill of Rights Defense Committee: In the months following incumbent Librarian of Congress James Billington’s retirement, some conservatives have coalescedaround the idea that the next person to head the …

San Fran threatens Airbnb

It's ironic that San Francisco, the city so closely identified with the burgeoning sharing economy, would be defending an onerous law that undermines one of the tenets that …

Under control, for now

Is crime spiraling out of control in America? Are we letting too many dangerous people out of prison and jail? Is the nation retreating from the policies that …

Officials ‘drone’ on about issues they don’t understand

From Reason: One of the most frustrating things about America circa 2016 is there is virtually nothing any of us can do—start a business, invent a technology, remodel our …

CDC data show fewer vapers and smokers in 2015

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 National Health Interview Survey – the source for national smoking estimates – reveals some surprising e-cigarette facts, summarized in this …

Eliminating federal waste means swimming upstream

Advocates for fiscal responsibility often find, when it comes to killing even the most wasteful and unnecessary programs, they must swim upstream. As a case in point, consider …

Another revolting attack on our liberties

During a recent stroll around the west steps of the state Capitol, I eyed a group of “Yes California Independence Campaign” handing out the state flag. The flag …

The Library of Congress needs a professional librarian, not a ‘scholar-in-chief’

In the months following incumbent Librarian of Congress James Billington's retirement, some conservatives have coalesced around the idea that the next person to head the library ought to …

R Street hires Ryan Call as Central Region director

WASHINGTON (July 7, 2016) – The R Street Institute announced today that it has hired Ryan Call as senior fellow and Central Region director, a role in which …

Canada’s legislature begins to strengthen itself

Last month’s Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration directive was a positive development for those determined to restore the paramountcy of the legislative branch in U.S. political …

The perfect antidote to Dodd-Frank

To overhaul the Dodd-Frank Act, here is a radical and really good idea from House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. The Financial CHOICE Act, Hensarling's bill, says to …

The European Union is obsolete

The world is still dealing with the effects of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. After being a member of the E.U. and its predecessors …

Why can’t the US reform its housing-finance sector?

The attached policy brief appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Housing Finance International, the quarterly journal of the International Union for Housing Finance (IUHF). It is sobering to …

Ryan Call

Due Process Act Promises Necessary Civil-Asset Forfeiture Reform

WASHINGTON (July 5, 2016) – H.R. 5283, also known as the Due Process Act, would implement necessary reforms to federal civil asset-forfeiture procedure, and marks the latest the commendable …

Curbing civil asset-forfeiture abuse

An encouraging legislative development of recent years can be found in the way policymakers in Congress and across the states continue to pursue criminal-justice reforms in a bipartisan …

House websites knocked offline; provider suggests link to Dem protest

From SC Magazine: Data contained on the House network would be an attractive target to state actors or state-backed groups, Nathan Leamer, a policy analyst at Washington, D.C.-based think …

A Fourth of July reflection on Brexit

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to resume among …

Droning on about issues they don’t understand

One of the most frustrating things about America circa 2016 is there is virtually nothing any of us can do - start a business, invent a technology, remodel …

Should we build a wall or choose life along our Gulf Coast?

The waves just keep coming. As I learned about "living shorelines" at an educational event in Fairhope, Alabama, I couldn't get past the fact that the waves never …

Massachusetts ridesharing bill moves into final stretch

Transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft would be legally sanctioned to operate in Massachusetts, governed by a set of mostly reasonable regulations, under legislation approved this week …

Will the CDC let us drink in peace this Fourth of July?

As Independence Day approaches Monday, one wonders if the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will follow its recent pattern and release some scary anti-alcohol …

The U.S. Postal Service needs a ‘Brexit’ from government

From The Federalist: The postal service also lacks needed oversight due to a managerial crisis: what should be an 11-member board has been reduced to one postmaster general, one …

CEA plans to fix what isn’t broken

The California Earthquake Authority has had some great shopping luck this year. According to a report from Insurance Insider, the state-backed residual market pool was able to buy …

Taxpayers Subsidies Don’t ‘Feed the World’

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2016) – Recent debates over the structure and extent of the federal farm-support system have been governed by romanticized notions of the role American farmers …

Hill salary increase proposal won’t amount to much

From Roll Call: Such expenses squeezed Nathan Leamer and his wife Amanda out of their congressional jobs when they found out they were expecting their second child in 2013, …

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service

R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar recently joined James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation and Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute in an expert panel moderated by Cato's …

Crumbling roads? Let’s build bike lanes!

In his State of the State address earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to California’s deferred infrastructure maintenance as “staggering” and put the price tag for repairs at …

State subsidies and competitive wholesale electricity markets

On June 10, 2016, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman, sent a …

Farmers feed the world

As the U.S. Senate debated the farm bill in 2012, one of the measure's authors – Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. – took to the floor to defend it …

History Revised: Meet the slave responsible for Jack Daniel’s whiskey

From Men's Journal: Kevin Kosar, senior fellow at the R Street Institute think tank and author of Whiskey: A Global History, says it’s a difficult task to accurately tell …

Lessons from the downfall of a $150M crowdfunded experiment in decentralized governance

Hype around blockchain has risen to an all-time high. A technology once perceived to be the realm of crypto-anarchists and drug dealers has gained increasing popular recognition for …

Upward mobility in the on-demand economy

The following remarks were delivered at the June 29, 2016 R Street event "Boost or Barrier? Upward mobility in the on-demand economy." The mutual-fund prospectuses that I quickly direct …

INTERNET GOVERNANCE AND THE FREE MARKET

R Street institute

Brexit: A summary

When Britain first at Heaven's command Arose from out the azure main, This was the charter, the charter of the land And guardian angels sang this strain: Rule …

Report: Texas utility-scale solar to double this year

From SmartGridNews: In April, a report from non-profit The R Street Institute indicated that although Texas' solar-power potential outpaced that of nearly every other state, the state's potential remains …

Forum highlights how you can be both conservative and sustainable

From American Sustainable Business Council: The forum will feature panels on sustainability as a competitive advantage, enhancing national and environmental security, and building an ecosystem of sustainability entrepreneurs and …

Could an Article V convention fix Congress? Maybe

It's fashionable in some quarters to herald an “Article V” convention as a potential panacea for all that ails Congress. Article V is the provision of the U.S. Constitution …

Republican Voters Evenly Split on Climate Change, Poll Finds

From Morning Consult: Most voters, including about half of Republicans, believe the climate is changing and the federal government should step in to cut greenhouse gases, according to new polling …

Reforming penalty interest in Texas insurance claims

There are few things that undermine the purpose of legislation more readily than the simple passage of time. Conditions in society may change substantially, but a law's wording …

The ‘no fly, no buy’ gun control policy is actually modern day McCarthyism

The following op-ed was co-authored by Jason Pye, director of communications and the director of justice reform for FreedomWorks. Having watched their Senate counterparts try and fail to get …

20 groups support the House Tax Reform Working Group’s Blueprint

Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady, On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to applaud the efforts of the House Tax Reform Working Group. The Blueprint you have …

Even Sacramento Nazis have rights

In the 1979 comedy movie classic "The Blues Brothers,” Jake and Ellwood Blues undertake an odyssey to put their band back together, all in an effort to raise …

State officials addicted to nicotine taxes

The last time I wrote about tobacco-related measures, I concluded that California legislators and health advocates have let a bit of Puritanism get the better of them. Why …

Virginia’s infamous food-beverage ratio prioritizes cronyism over consumers

Virginia may be for lovers, but the state's draconian liquor laws make nights out on the town not so lovely. The commonwealth is home to some of America's worst …

To reduce carbon emissions, U.S. should embrace nuclear power

This month, the first new nuclear reactor in the United States in two decades came online. The new reactor at the Watts Bar power plant in Tennessee is …

Amendments to Rule 41 and What Is Happening to Stop Them

From DeepDotWeb: Dozens of websites have started running the “Reject the Rule 41 Proposal” banner on their sites, as well as joined with the EFF in signing a letter to …

Wisconsin Supreme Court shoots down Milwaukee home-rule claim

The world looked on last week as the people of the United Kingdom consider whether to loosen the grip that a reported 40,000-plus Brussels bureaucrats have over their …

Federal law hurting growth of electric vehicle market

It’s summer and you’re on a family vacation cruising down the interstate listening to the Eagles. Your child interrupts that peaceful easy feeling by declaring an immediate and …

Be careful what you vote for

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley.  Rarely has a vote had such an immediate effect. On May 7, Austin residents elected not to …

Paths not taken

If angst, lovesickness, and ennui alone made for half-decent poetry, just about every moody high school student would be in the running for the Pulitzer Prize. Although strong …

Do we still need the three-tier system for alcohol?

The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which repealed Prohibition, left it up to the states to regulate the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. The states did …

Study: New York has 2nd lowest rate hike for teen drivers

From Newsday:  Driving well takes practice, and since all teens are new drivers they make all sorts of mistakes that more seasoned drivers can avoid,” Eli Lehrer, president of the …

R Street to the Senate: Top 5 reasons to support PROMESA

With additional Puerto Rican defaults probable on July 1, just a week away, the U.S. Senate faces a pressing vote on how best to resolve Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. While no …

Lavish Pension Hikes True Cause of Growing Liabilities

From Reason: The Orange County grand jury's report on the state of the California county's pension plans painted a bleak but not unexpected snapshot of a challenging long-term fiscal …

A first step toward Anglosphere

By voting (by a narrow margin) to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom has decided that near-term economic pain is a price worth paying in exchange for …

Minority media should ‘get in the game’

From the Washington Informer: Government advertising can be controversial if it conflicts with citizens' views about the proper role of government, said Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow and governance …

First among equals

To see it, you need to ascend to the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wend your way to the northernmost corner. Here is the …

Some U.S. doctors buck health authorities to recommend e-cigarettes in clinical practice

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2016) – The rapid rise in popularity of e-cigarettes and other nicotine vapor devices has led some American doctors to begin to incorporate them into …

Key lessons from Austin’s ridesharing debacle

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley. Rarely has the effect of a vote been felt so quickly. Austin citizens voted May 7 not …

Kelsey Smith’s parents watched with hope, but bill named for slain daughter was doomed in Congress

From Kansas City Star: Nathan Leamer, a senior policy analyst for the R Street Institute, a conservative research center in Washington, was driving home on Sunday, May 22, the …

Even booming Bay Area sees an exodus

When asked whether he wanted to have dinner at a particular restaurant, Yogi Berra famously quipped, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” It’s easy to apply that …

Democrat sit-in protests Constitution’s due process on gun rights

Congressional Republicans are arguing the merits of constitutional Due Process while Democrats are staging a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to champion a Bush-era …

Policy Forum on Conservative Thought and Sustainability

Cleveland Marshall College of Law Atrium

Cleveland Marshall College of Law Atrium

June 22 roundup

From Overlawyered: Zach Graves, “Optometrists Push For State Laws Blocking Online Eye Exams” [TechDirt] …

Congress didn’t pass bill named for their slain daughter. Why not?

From San Luis Obispo Tribune: Nathan Leamer, a senior policy analyst for the R Street Institute, a conservative research center in Washington, was driving home on Sunday, May 22, …

Adding a teen driver to your auto policy? Colorado not as costly as other states

From the Denver Post: “Driving well takes practice, and since all teens are new drivers, they make all sorts of mistakes that more seasoned drivers can avoid,” said Eli …

Doctor’s Orders: E-cigarettes in U.S. clinical practice

E-cigarettes and related nicotine vapor devices have become extremely popular among smokers in the United States, while attracting remarkably few nonsmokers to continuing nicotine use. According to a …

LA’s onerous rental rules threaten consumer privacy

The Los Angeles Planning Commission is considering onerous new regulations regarding short-term rentals. Here is a letter that R Street sent to the commission: I am the Sacramento-based Western …

Chicago’s spacesharing and ridesharing rules: Not as bad as they almost were!

Maybe it was the Summer Solstice, although more likely it was Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's playing a bit of hardball with dissenting aldermen. Whatever it was, the Chicago City Council …

Congress didn’t pass bill named for their slain daughter. Why not?

From McClatchyDC: Nathan Leamer, a senior policy analyst for the R Street Institute, a conservative research center in Washington, was driving home on Sunday, May 22, the night before …

We made the message loud and clear: Stop the Rule 41 updates

From Electronic Frontier Foundation: Today, the Internet has come out in full force. Dozens of websites are running the “Reject the Rule 41 Proposal” banner. Over 50 organizations and …

The Senate needs to pass the House’s Puerto Rico bill

The government of Puerto Rico is broke. It now has multiple defaults on its record, most recently for $367 million in May. More and bigger defaults are on …

Why the Senate should reject expanding National Security Letters

The following post was co-authored by R Street Internet and Tech Policy Fellow John Arzinos. The U.S. Senate will vote today on the “ECTR Fix” amendment to the Commerce, …

Policymakers should focus on ways to encourage the gig economy to grow

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2016) – Contrary to claims both from critics and supporters of the so-called "sharing economy," there is little to no evidence the United States is …

The future of work

The attached policy study appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of National Affairs.  In recent years, more than a few Americans in public life have spoken of a revolutionary …

House staff numbers decline outside D.C.

From Roll Call: Data compiled by the R Street Institute show that Senate and House staffers in D.C. have hovered around 6,000 from 1987 to 2014. Over the same period, staff …

R Street and Americans for Tax Reform urge the Senate to pass H.R. 5278 (PROMESA)

June 21, 2016 Dear Senator, On behalf of the undersigned free market organizations, we urge you to vote “Yes” on the House-passed H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and …

Godwin talks anti-SLAPP laws at CKI panel

R Street Innovation Policy Director Mike Godwin joined a number of other notable panelists to discuss strategic lawsuits against public participation ("SLAPPs") and what legal and legislative strategies are …

MAIL CALL! Green Scissors to Senate Finance leaders: No carbon capture, pls.

From Politico Morning Energy: Green Scissors, an advocacy coalition that brings together Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The R Street Institute, wants the Senate Finance Committee …

SLAPPing Back: Addressing the legal threats to online free speech

From Medium: “We have traditions of strong protections of anonymous speech, and the First Amendment provides enough freedom to allow for anonymity,” added Mike Godwin, the director of innovation …

R Street adds Rebecca Coffman as media director

The R Street Institute announced today it has enhanced its communications team with the addition of Rebecca Coffman to serve in the newly created role of media director. Rebecca …

A plea to Congress not to ‘fix’ a music market that isn’t broken

Dear Congress, By now, maybe you've read the "Dear Congress" letter that many music companies and individual artists have signed asking you to "fix" the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—a …

Gov. Cuomo needs to veto terrible short-term-rental bill

Forces aligned against short-term rentals are on the cusp of victory in their battle to harm the ability of spacesharing services like Airbnb and HomeAway to conduct business …

 ICYMI: Gov. Cuomo needs to veto terrible short-term-rental bill

Forces aligned against short-term rentals are on the cusp of victory in their battle to harm the ability of spacesharing services like Airbnb and HomeAway to conduct business …

Austin sharing-economy rules headed to court

Recent controversies involving the sharing economy in Austin are about to enter a new phase, as lawsuits challenging city regulations of ridesharing and short-term rentals have been filed. Over …

Lavish pension hikes cause of O.C.’s exploding debt

The Orange County Grand Jury’s report on the state of the county’s pension plans painted a bleak but not unexpected snapshot of a challenging long-term fiscal situation. The …

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service (CATO Institute)

Rayburn House Office Building

Rayburn House Office Building

Rayburn House Office Building

As Congress weighs anti-SLAPP legislation, stories abound on chilled free speech

From Washington Internet Daily: Historically, free speech, libel and First Amendment laws have been about the institutional press, but now such laws apply to all people, said Mike Godwin, …

House kills zombie earmark (again)

From National Taxpayers Union: NTU was pleased this year’s vote of 268-153 garnered broad bipartisan support, growing by 16 new backers. In addition to NTU, this amendment was supported …

Testimony before the Texas House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development

Good morning. My name is Josiah Neeley and I am the Texas director for the R Street Institute, which is a nonpartisan research organization. The R Street Institute …

My Father’s Day drinks wish list

Man does not live by bread alone. And a father, well, he needs even more, what with the middle-of-the-night wake-ups, the tantrums and the exploded filthy diapers. I …

California lawmakers mobilize to weaken transparency initiative

From Reason: Almost everyone has some idea for fixing whatever is wrong in Sacramento, ranging from new campaign spending limits to a requirement that legislators wear NASCAR-style sponsor logos. …

The American Civil Liberties Union rightly rejects the No Fly List for gun control

Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) thinks there's a problem using the No Fly List to prohibit gun purchases. According to ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, "The …

Six energy-policy reforms conservatives should embrace

The U.S. House demonstrated last week that the politics of climate solutions remain intractable. With bipartisan support, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution describing a carbon tax as, “not …

Pennsylvania’s drinks reform changes too little

From American Spectator: The Keystone State’s Legislature could have gone big. Instead, it settled for a bill that is about as potent as near beer. Only the politicians are …

Want to add a teen driver to your auto policy? It’s going to cost you

From the Pasadena Star-News: Eli Lehrer, president of the nonprofit R Street Institute, agreed. “Driving well takes practice, and since all teens are new drivers they make all sorts of mistakes …

Will we ever really get flying cars?

If you listen to some entrepreneurs and investors, the flying car – a longstanding staple of science fiction – is right around the corner. Working prototypes exist. At …

Worry about bad marijuana—not Big Marijuana

From Brookings Institution: The three-tier system aimed to deter the vertical integration of the tied-house days, but now is controversial with critics who argue that the distribution tier is …

Secrecy lobby runs amok at State Capitol

Last week, I reported on an ominous development in the California Capitol — an effort to criminalize a political point of view. Democratic leaders authored a bill that …

Weiner: What makes Tony run?

Long before the name "Anthony Weiner" became synonymous with the seven-term congressman who accidentally tweeted a picture of his junk, it already was a punchline. Watching Weiner, the …

Here’s why the Boy Scouts of America received federal recognition 100 years ago

From Time: But few know that a century ago, then-President Woodrow Wilson signed a unanimously-approved Congressional charter that gave federal recognition to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), stating …

The FBI isn’t Santa Claus: Fix your lists and check them twice

The recent tragedy in Orlando has set off yet another contentious debate over the issue of gun control. On a June 13 conference call Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., …

Boost or Barrier? Upward mobility in the on-demand economy

The Loft at 600 F

The Loft at 600 F

Here’s how Secretary King is living up to a 50-year-old promise

From Education Post: Kevin Kosar, a fellow at a conservative think tank, wrote a blog post for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute aimed at Education Secretary John King’s proposed …

Levity at the lake

From the Advocate: Adding their party presence were Dr. Margie Kahn and David Graham, the above Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Ana and Dr. Juan Gershanik, Sue and Jack Jernigan, …

Puerto Rico: The process works, so far

From the Library of Law & Liberty: Miraculously, the bill recites the constitutional authority on which it rests: not the Bankruptcy Clause of Article I, but the Territories Clause …

Let my Nevadans go

More than 3,000 years later, another desert exodus is upon us. Customers yearn to break free from NV Energy, the sole electricity provider in most of Nevada. Escaping …

The gig economy could defy regulation

Austin, Texas, has been taking a lot of heat after passing a proposition that essentially regulated Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing companies out of town. This is unfortunate …

80+ groups support H.R. 5053 and eliminating the IRS Schedule B form for 501(c) organizations

June 13, 2016 Dear Member, As organizations that represent the interests of millions of taxpayers across the country, we write in support of H.R. 5053, the “Preventing IRS Abuse and …

Lawmakers mobilize to thwart transparency initiative

Almost everyone has some idea for fixing whatever is wrong in Sacramento, ranging from new campaign spending limits to a requirement that legislators wear NASCAR-style sponsor logos. Such …

Some Ag Committee members draw millions in farm subsidies

Who benefits from farm subsidies? R Street long has been critical of our federal farm-support system, a massive boondoggle that disproportionately funnels taxpayer dollars to wealthy agribusinesses rather …

The Grand Oil Party: House Republicans denounce a carbon tax

From the Guardian: It’s odd that not a single House Republican voted against the Resolution, because as long as the revenue is returned to taxpayers (also known as “revenue …

How do you explain the Orlando massacre to your kids?

"Daddy, why are all those police lights on TV?" My family and I were eating lunch in Birmingham, and my oldest noticed the CNN broadcast on one of the …

Recommendation to: Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice

From the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice: Sources: “Raised on the Registry, The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US,” Human Rights Watch, 2013; …

How Congress should proceed on the Kelsey Smith Act

In June 2007, 18-year-old Kelsey Smith was tragically abducted and murdered in Kansas. For various reasons, it took four days for law enforcement to access the location coordinates …

Why Republicans should reconsider their blanket opposition to a carbon tax

As House Republicans take up a resolution declaring they are against ever considering the possibility of a carbon tax, it bears noting that there are good reasons for …

Amodei skewers Allard over land bill — McBee, Madison group join Gulen case — Rebecca Coffman to R Street

From Politico Influence: — Last night at R Street Institute's Alice-in-Wonderland themed party at Wonderbread Factory, as the libertarian think tank celebrated its 4th birthday — Rebecca Coffman and …

Conservative carbon tax backers see silver lining in house opposition

From InsideEPA.com: "We are having some traction, so that is why the politics are rearing their ugly head this week on the House floor condemning the carbon tax as a …

GOP to rule out carbon tax

From The Hill: Catrina Rorke, director of the energy program at R Street Institute — which supports a tax that would return revenues to taxpayers — said if Republicans …

House message: No carbon tax under Clinton

From Politico: Eli Lehrer, the president of the free-market think tank the R Street Institute, agreed. “In the long run, a carbon tax or something like it is probably …

WHY ELIZABETH WARREN won’t be HRC’s V.P. – BLEAK HOUSE: GOP bigwigs more bearish on Trump chances — HOW PEOPLE CHEAT in Fitbit challenges — B’DAYS: Joe Trippi, Jeff Zeleny

From Politico Playbook: --REBECCA COFFMAN is joining R Street Institute as media director. The RNC alum comes from Freedom Partners, where she was communications manager and was previously national press …

School funding is a civil right

From U.S. News: In two essays (available on Flypaper and his own blog), Kevin Kosar argues that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is an anti-poverty measure …

Comments on the supplemental guidelines for juvenile registration under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

We, the undersigned organizations, represent a diverse and bipartisan alliance called “Just Kids.” Our national coalition is made up of legal experts, child advocates, juvenile justice policy experts, …

Pro-carbon tax conservatives make their case ahead of House vote

From ClimateWire: A carbon tax "uses small-government principles," said Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy and senior fellow with conservative think tank the R Street Institute, during a call …

Power, independence and guessing

The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve is an informative and provocative history of the Fed and its remarkable evolution over a hundred years’ time: a complex …

Liberty extinguished

From Daily Journal: And that’s too bad, since as Steven Greenhut of the R Street Institute points out, a study from the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Physicians notes …

The end of the free speech consensus

What happens when the consensus for free speech evaporates and those with political power become willing to use any means necessary to silence people who hold unpopular views? …

Pennsylvania’s drinks reform changes too little

The Keystone State’s Legislature could have gone big. Instead, it settled for a bill that is about as potent as near beer. Only the politicians are likely to …

Debate Flares Up: Was the first federal education law a civil rights statute?

From Education Week: Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a Washington think tank that promotes free markets and limited government, says: No, it wasn't. On Monday, …

Pennsylvania’s awful alcohol laws turn rational citizens into criminals

I am a criminal. I regularly break the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At least once a month, I drive across the border to New Jersey, pull …

Civil rights data deluge

From Politico's Morning Education: Speaking of ESSA and civil rights: Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, made quite a splash Monday when he wrote [http://bit.ly/1UCZOCt ] in …

Amicus brief for Apple v. Samsung

Five years ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit construed a statute in a way that led to one of the most disastrous episodes …

Letter to Congress: Oppose Congressman Scalise’s resolution on carbon taxes

Dear Member of Congress, Congressman Scalise (R-LA1) has sponsored a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the economy of the United …

The PBGC: A broke insurance company sponsored by your government

Imagine an insurance company with assets of $88 billion, but liabilities of $164 billion. It has a huge deficit: a net worth of a negative $76 billion, and …

Should police know your cellphone location anytime they want?

From Alternative Daily: The Kelsey Smith Act would have allowed law enforcement to quickly access cell phone locations when a person is abducted or a life is in danger. …

DC takes aim at Airbnb, hits existing rental industry

From The Freeman: The DC-based R Street Institute, which has graded cities by their friendliness to short-term rentals in its Roomscore index, notes that as short-term rentals have spread across …

The best solution for ‘wicked’ environmental problems

Some environmentalists claim that more environmental protection always or almost always is a means to a stronger economy. That’s silly. Digging coal out of the ground, burning natural gas …

Secretary King is wrong: ESEA was not a civil-rights law

As Flypaper readers know all too well, newly arrived Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., is in hot water with Congress, state governors, and various school reformers. The …

Status seen virtually unchanged in Congress’ online sales tax debate

From Washington Internet Daily: Parties in the online sales tax debate have largely been engaged in a "waiting game" in recent months, and particularly in the Senate, said R …

Coalition blasts DOE’s funding of Texas Clean Energy Project

From SNL Energy: Green Scissors, which includes Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The R Street Institute and which describes itself as a coalition of free-market, taxpayer …

Does the Federal Reserve know what it’s doing?

The attached policy study was published in Cato Journal,  Vol. 36, No. 2. The Federal Reserve is the most financially dangerous institution in the world. It represents tremendous systemic risk—more …

Bourbon can be made anywhere — even Ohio

Sitting on my desk is a tumbler of bourbon. Its deep amber color shines out through the dewy glass. Tom’s Foolery is its whimsical name. It is 90 proof (45 …

More harassment of gun owners in California

From Reason: The latest round of gun-control bills speeding through the California legislature should offer a reality check to those of us who own firearms: Democratic leaders will never …

Illinois moving to loosen occupational licensing rules for ex-offenders

When persons with “backgrounds” in Illinois want to turn their lives around, "we want them to be as productive as possible as quick as possible," state Rep. Marcus …

Ohio’s attempt at power-plant bailouts should alarm conservatives

This piece was co-authored by Dick Munson, Midwest clean energy director for the Environmental Defense Fund. In a recent victory for consumers, federal regulators blocked bailout plans by two of …

SLAPPED AROUND: LEGAL THREATS TO ONLINE FREE SPEECH

Dock 5 at Union Market

Dock 5 at Union Market

How high are real house prices?

“Home prices are back to near-record highs across the U.S.” declared the Wall Street Journal in a June 1 front-page story. They are, indeed, when measured in nominal …

When it comes to solar, average isn’t everything

This summer, the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative will reach its halfway point. Established in 2011 as a ten-year project, the program aims to make solar "fully …

House spending data show where the staff are

As DemandProgress' Daniel Schuman reports, the U.S. House just began publishing its spending reports online as data. The House's "Statements of Disbursement," which show how much money Congress spends on its …

Why deleting the FDA’s ban of e-cigarette flavors is good for public health

In what should be taken as a note of common sense amid the highly contentious debate surrounding the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of tobacco products, reports have …

Scandal dampens Sacramento’s world-class designs

I have a simple observation after years of writing about local-development issues: Whenever civic boosters talk about creating a “world-class city,” their city is by definition not one …

Top-two primary limits voters’ choices

If a California-style "top two" primary were in place for presidential races in 2008, the nation’s voters would have had to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton …

Recap of R Street’s May 26 GSE reform conference

Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have essentially no capital, have been in government conservatorship for nearly eight years and are totally dependent on the taxpayers. As Congress …

Some American values may be dimming, but transparency continues to shine bright

Attending a Memorial Day ceremony in my little city yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened all of the sudden to make it palatable for so many …

Should we just take the nicotine out of cigarettes?

The short answer is…not yet. In the United States, the ultimate goal of tobacco-control programming long has been a “tobacco-free society.” This goal is clearly articulated in the most …

One Senator’s War on Innovation,” by the American Spectator’s Steven Greenhut

From Politico California Playbook “One Senator’s War on Innovation,” by the American Spectator’s Steven Greenhut: “But while the vast majority of California legislators have been willing to approve bills …

More harassment of gun owners by Sacramento

The latest round of gun-control bills speeding through the Legislature should offer a reality check to those of us who own firearms: Democratic leaders will never be satisfied …

I created Godwin’s Law in 1990, but it wasn’t a prediction – it was a warning

Earlier this month, my email and social media alerts starting going off when friends let me know a pseudonymous number-cruncher had "proved" Godwin's Law. This struck me as odd, …

Dorie Miller: The mess hall machine gunner of Pearl Harbor

When Lt. Cmdr. Shigeharu Murata launched the first of nine Japanese torpedoes to hit the U.S.S. West Virginia, Doris "Dorie" Miller had just finished breakfast mess duty and …

Liberals and libertarians sunk Kelsey Smith Act in the U.S. House

From Topeka Capital-Journal The R Street Institute, a libertarian think-tank, encouraged members of Congress to vote against the Kelsey Smith Act on Monday, calling it "yet another expansion of government surveillance …

‘Ethics’ commissions about politics more than oversight

One of my proudest moments as a columnist came in 2008 when the Orange County Board of Supervisors launched the Office of Independent Review to monitor the Sheriff's …

Dope by mail: Another challenge for the Postal Service

The U.S Postal Service’s financial and other operational challenges regularly are in the news. Less well-known is its illicit drug problem. Thanks to the internet, anyone can now become …

Pennsylvania lawmakers bat around regulations for self-driving cars

Not unlike curious cats, lawmakers often show inordinate interest in the newest and shiniest objects to pass their field of vision. In Pennsylvania, recently hailed as a center …

Coalition letter on the USDA catfish inspection program

Dear Senator Ayotte, As organizations that represent millions of taxpayers across the country, we write to support your efforts to repeal the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish …

Interview with District 9 council candidate Sarah Saez

From San Diego Union-Tribune Take them from what Steven Greenhut called, indentured servitude, actually comparing it to sharecropping where people worked the farms, but could never own the farms, …

Bill named after murdered Girl fails House vote. Thank goodness.

From Reason Current law already allows telecom providers to share info with police in emergencies if the user has given permission or if law enforcement clears a few existing …

U.S. Senate fumbles with Facebook, fairness and free speech

Let's just assume that the rumors are true. Imagine a world in which Facebook actively promoted liberal stories and suppressed conservative ones. Let's go a step further and …

One senator’s war on innovation

The California Legislature is well-known for its heavy-handed approach to business. The state recently scored dead last in Chief Executive magazine’s survey of CEOs, which isn’t even newsworthy, …

Advisory: IWF announces 2016 Women LEAD Summit

From Independent Women's Forum Independent Women's Forum (IWF), the leading organization for center-right women focused on economic issues, today announced its agenda for its annual Women LEAD Summit taking …

The House takes a small step to make Congress great again

Something remarkable happened a week ago: a committee in Congress voted to spend a little bit more money on congressional staff. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., offered the amendment …

As rocket wars wage in DC, a cautious move towards competition makes sense

On the morning of Aug. 12, 1998, a Titan IV-A rocket exploded about 40 seconds after launch. The explosion – caused by a short circuit in the guidance …

Can Puerto Rico be saved?

House Democrats, Republicans United To Tank Kelsey Smith Act Floor Vote

From Communications Daily A last-minute lobbying effort questioned the bill's implications. "While written with the best intentions, this bill would breach the privacy of millions of Americans by giving …

Coalition opposes Section 236 in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill

Dear Representative, We, the undersigned groups, representing professional floodplain managers, insurance companies, fiscal conservatives, and environmental groups oppose inclusion of Section 236 in the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development …

13 orgs to Energy and Commerce Committee: Support the Consumer Review Fairness Act

Dear Chairman Burgess and Ranking Member Schakowsky: Each day, online review sites encourage millions of Americans to share their experiences and opinions on the businesses and services they depend …

R Street Institute to Congress: Vote NO on H.R. 4889, the Kelsey Smith Act

The R Street Institute encourages all members to vote no on H.R. 4889, the Kelsey Smith Act. This bill is expected to be considered under suspension of the …

Turnabout is still foul play in politically motivated subpoena fight

House Republicans’ recently announced effort to probe the activities of environmental groups and foundations like the Rockefeller Family Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists is wrong. And it’s wrong for almost …

Reforming Fannie & Freddie: What can Congress do now?

Room B-369

Room B-369

Room B-369

The 21st Amendment continues to choke the drinks trade

Tennessee recently passed a law limiting any company from owning more than two liquor-store licenses. Why? Well, current holders of liquor licenses don’t want out-of-state grocery chains to …

Elizabeth Warren’s next crusade

From New Republic Second, Warren endorses the idea of making benefits portable—an idea endorsed byNick Hanauer and David Rolf on the left and Ian Adams of the R Street …

Time for Congress to vote in the new Puerto Rico bill

A revised bill to address the intertwined debt, fiscal and economic crises of Puerto Rico has just been introduced in the U.S. House. H.R. 5278 proposes "to establish …

MEDIA ADVISORY: 2014 Farm Bill Didn’t  Produce ‘Savings’ for Taxpayers

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2016) – The 2014 farm bill's projected "savings" in federal spending on agriculture programs have evaporated completely in the two years since the bill was …

This crowd believes it can run your life

There’s only one time I recall California officials significantly reducing regulations on anything. That was in 2012, when legislators voted to let physician assistants, midwives, nurses and plumbers …

Google to France: We can’t pick this Bonaparte

Today's announcement from Google that the company will appeal a French agency’s order to abide by France’s version of the so-called "right to be forgotten" all over the …

Industry shouldn’t rely on government for innovation

From Houston Chronicle "Other groups, including Friends of the Earth, called on Moniz to suspend all clean-coal projects. The Department of Energy would do better to concentrate on funding …

The mythical ‘savings’ of the 2014 farm bill

Shortly after the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was unveiled, text of the legislation, which promised to raise the nation’s debt limit and set spending levels through September …

The robust public-health case for tobacco harm reduction

Last year, Margarete Kulik and Stanton Glantz proclaimed in Tobacco Control that there is no public-health basis for telling smokers about smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes as safer cigarette …

Growth is green

Global 2000, a report published by the Carter administration in 1980, offered a bleak forecast for the human race. It predicted “the world in 2000 will be more …

Coalition of 17 free-market groups urges Congress to reject DOL overtime rule

Members of Congress: On behalf of the undersigned organizations and the millions of Americans we represent, we write to express our strong support for S. 2707 and H.R. 4773, …

DOE draws criticism over continued support for large CCS projects

From Inside EPA "This administration has prioritized an elusive breakthrough in developing carbon capture and sequestration over their commitment to the taxpayer. A successful innovation strategy is driven by …

Green Scissors coalition urges U.S. Department of Energy to withdraw funding from the Texas Clean Energy Project

Dear Secretary Moniz: The Green Scissors coalition is deeply concerned by the U.S. Department of Energy’s ongoing support for the Texas Clean Energy Project. As a coalition of free-market, …

California’s vaping law puts puritanism above health

I like to quote H.L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” It often applies in the Capitol, with one of the …

Scientists questioned RICO strategy, FOIA emails show

From E and E News "The RICO stuff touches a sore spot with conservatives," he wrote. "Andrew Moylan, the executive director of R Street stood up at Whitehouse's [American …

Three reasons proxy access proposals fail

From Agenda “[This] shows that shareholders are starting to think a little clearer about proxy access even though there is still a lot more work to be done in …

Flood cover bill makes progress in Congress

From Business Insurance Ray Lehmann, senior fellow at free-market advocacy group R Street Institute in Washington, which is a member of SmarterSafer, called the bill a "step toward a …

Arizona flips the narrative, legalizes spacesharing statewide

Did you see the one in which the terrorist organization recruits a kid to destroy a government facility, killing millions of innocent bureaucrats in the process? What about …

36 groups to Energy and Commerce Committee: Hold hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Pallone: The undersigned organizations encourage you, as soon as possible, to hold a Committee hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). We believe …

Iowa, Alabama pass ridesharing bills; could Pennsylvania be next?

It's been a busy week and a half on the ridesharing front, as legislation setting out statewide rules for transportation network companies moved forward in Iowa and Alabama, …

Citizens’ anger is palpable, global, often misdirected

An awesome 6.7 percent of Iceland's resident population took to the streets last month to demand the resignation of their prime minister. The rallying cause was his perceived …

R Street encouraged by legal challenge to FDA deeming rules

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2016) – The R Street Institute is encouraged by news that Nicopure Labs LLC, a Tampa-based manufacturer of nicotine e-liquids and vaping devices, has filed …

Does America need more political dynamism?

We have all heard the railings of the presidential aspirants about the federal government: that it’s corrupt; that it’s rigged by the malevolent establishment against the common man; …

Uber approves first non-union drivers group in NY compromise

From Christian Science Monitor "This is important not only for the gig economy, but because you might have a new kind of labor organization coming out of this," Eli …

Make Austin Uber-less!

From The Advice Goddess As R Street Institute's Josiah Neeley has explained, Austin doesn't prohibit taxi driver applicants who have been convicted of "a criminal homicide offense; fraud or …

Uber and Lyft leave Austin over fingerprint requirement

From Cato As R Street Institute’s Josiah Neeley has explained, Austin doesn’t prohibit taxi driver applicants who have been convicted of “a criminal homicide offense; fraud or theft; unauthorized use …

Austin may move to deregulate taxis

It’s been a busy week for vehicles-for-hire in Austin. This past weekend, the city's voters rejected a proposal that would’ve blocked new restrictions on ridesharing passed by the …

Capping premium subsidies won’t kill crop insurance

The federal crop insurance program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA), serves as the largest single source of federal support for farms …

Study shows people still love inappropriately referencing Nazis online

From NPR Mike Godwin first noticed the phenomenon in the 1980s: People on a message forum called Usenet really, really liked referencing Hitler. In 1994, in an essay for …

Uber recognizes first drivers association in New York City

From Washington Post Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington that is an enthusiastic supporter of the sharing economy, also welcomed …

Pennsylvania’s bad beer regulation system lives on

Eight years down the road, supermarket beer sales are changing the entire alcohol beverage sales category in Pennsylvania, and not for the better. Given our state's comically byzantine …

Free-market groups to Energy and Commerce Committee: Move quickly to pass HR 2058

Dear Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Pallone and Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, On behalf of the undersigned, we urge you to move quickly to pass legislation (H.R. …

Puerto Rico: A big default—what next?

Rexford Tugwell, sometimes known as “Rex the Red” for his admiration of the 1930s Soviet Union and his fervent belief in central planning, was made governor of Puerto …

China’s self-driving future

In Beijing, a young car culture is going through teething pains. The pressure of urban density, in combination with growing demand for personal transportation in an ever-more-affluent city, …

Thoughtful, puritanical, or just plain “huh”? How the media reacted

From ECigIntelligence And in the neoconservative magazine The Weekly Standard, Eli Lehrer – president of the R Street Institute think tank – seemed to see the whole issue as …

Let’s Make Congress Great Again

2226 Rayburn House Office Building

2226 Rayburn House Office Building

2226 Rayburn House Office Building

Can E-Cigarettes Survive The War Against Vaping?

Joel Nitzkin, former cochair of the Tobacco Control Task Force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians, who is now a fellow at a free-market think tank …

Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group

FDA moves to kill e-cigarettes

If Congress has any self-respect or desire to preserve its own prerogatives, it needs to overturn the FDA's new proposed regulations on e-cigarettes. The regulations, announced last week, would …

Texas should step in to resolve cities’ ride-hailing disputes

Austin voters this past weekend forced out two of the city’s most innovative and popular companies. On Saturday,Austinites rejected Proposition 1, a citizen-led ballot initiative that would’ve continued …

Seattle regulators go after rideshare driver privacy

From Competitive Enterprise Institute Last year, Seattle city council passed an ordinance that allowed drivers to form groups that could have the power to negotiate pay and conditions with …

Clean Power Plan isn’t only EPA rule endangering electric reliability

Back in February, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) pending resolution of various legal challenges against the rule. The …

A bill Trump the developer would love

I love when the powerless get fed up with a corrupt establishment, defy political correctness and fight back. It’s why I’ve admired Vera Coking, the feisty widow from …

The government crackdown is here: What the FDA regulations mean for e-cigarettes

“If the FDA’s current approach is implemented, producers would be required to remove every single product from the market and submit expensive and burdensome applications for the chance …

Experts Savage FDA’s Most Recent Claim That Killing 99% Of An Industry Spurs ‘Innovation’

“In order to preserve this growing market and allow continued innovation in the vapor-product industry, it’s essential that Congress act to amend the grandfather date set out in …

Texas cities shouldn’t block short-term rentals

The past few years have seen the rise of the “sharing” economy. First, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft allowed thousands of drivers to earn extra cash (and …

FDA imposes rules for e-cigarettes in a landmark move

From New York Times “In terms of the health of the public, this action is a disaster,” said Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin, senior fellow for tobacco policy at the …

Shareholders continue to be misinformed about the costs and benefits of proxy access

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York City Comptroller’s Office both continue to use a deeply flawed CFA Institute report as support for their …

Captain America: Civil War – Bring the popcorn

At points over the past year, it looked like the worm was beginning to turn on the dominance of comic-book movies. Sure, Avengers: Age of Ultron finished as the …

Should the Fed act as the world’s central bank?

The need for public justification is a vital, if overlooked, check on power. If an institution cannot convincingly explain why it does what it does, consequences naturally will …

Nasty politics may kill drinks reform in Colorado

Colorado loves its drinks. It is the home of Stranahan’s whiskey and great microbrews too numerous to list. The Rocky Mountain State also is the home of the …

Cal Fire’s corruption of public service

When it comes to firefighters, most Americans are satisfied thinking of them as “heroes” who run into burning buildings and battle forest fires — and leaving it at …

FDA wants more people to die of lung cancer, moves to stamp out vaping market

If the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) statutory purpose is to protect public health, why is the agency using its regulatory power in a way that stands to …

Let’s end discrimination in the drinks market

Everyone has heard this basic truth many times: the amount of alcohol is the same in a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor, a 4 ounce glass of wine …

R Street calls on Congress to amend FDA rules for e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2016) – The R Street Institute expressed deep disappointment with the Food and Drug Administration’s final rule, published today, calling for all electronic cigarette products …

FDA’s deeming rules could be step backward for public health

This morning saw the release of long-awaited regulations from the Food and Drug Administration that extend its authority over all tobacco-related products, including the broad spectrum of electronic …

Congress, not DOJ or the courts, should decide whether to update music-copyright framework

Tom Lehrer’s famous recording of his song “New Math” begins with the joke that, in teaching basic mathematics in the New Math way, “the important thing is to …

Funding ideology, not research, at university labor institutes

One of the ongoing stains on the integrity of the University of California system is its publicly funded labor institutes. They are union-controlled “think tanks” that are about …

Floridians cannot afford to see their flood insurance wash away

Nearly 2 million Floridians depend on the National Flood Insurance Program for their flood insurance coverage, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all policies issued by the federal …

Uber’s surge pricing is like watching a bald eagle eat a cat

When I see the lightning bolt on my Uber app, I almost instantly feel a hateful resentment toward the corporate overlords standing between my next destination and me. …

Risk doesn’t stand still

Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe explores the movement and transformation of risks in adapting, self-referencing systems, of which financial systems are …

Pollock talks Puerto Rico on CCTV

R Street Distinguished Senior Fellow Alex Pollock was interviewed in a recent segment by CCTV America on the Puerto Rican debt crisis and steps Congress should take to …

Broad coalition supports bill to curtail forum shopping in patent litigation

Dear Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, On behalf of the undersigned civil-society and public-interest organizations, we write to express strong support for …

Historic tax credits: A 45% government subsidy wearing a mask

My apologies for interrupting the glowing love fest for Alabama's historic preservation tax credit that's set to expire next month, but there are a few things you should …

US House unanimously passes flood insurance bill

From SNL Financial  "Catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, coupled with the $20 billion-plus debt of the NFIP and its $1.1 trillion of total property exposure make …

AGs redefine climate dissent as “fraud”

From Overlawyered “While I think that climate change is both human-caused to a significant extent and likely to be a problem, I would warn my environmentalist friends about the …

R Street statement on selection of David Altmeier as Florida insurance commissioner

The following statement may be attributed to R Street Florida Director Christian Camara: The Cabinet had a difficult task in selecting a replacement for Kevin McCarty, Florida's first appointed …

House passes private Flood insurance bill

From National Underwriter “The NFIP remains more than $20 billion in debt to U.S. taxpayers and has been on the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office’s list of high-risk federal programs …

Californians can build their way out of the housing shortage

From Reason If there were 30 loaves of bread and 50 people who wanted them, you can guess what would happen. Prices for those loaves would rise, from, maybe, …

Lessons from Prince’s legacy and struggle with digital music markets

Undeniably, Prince’s death last week marked the loss of a true musical genius and maverick. In his life, he was known for being a talented musical innovator with …

Despite the threat of bankruptcy, Stanton Is spending millions to build one park

From OC Weekly Steven Greenhut laughed when told about the city's decision to build Central Park in the midst of financial crises. "What's that old saying about the first …

Cloture filed on energy-water spending bill

From Congressional Quarterly While such "buy American" mandates generally stir little controversy, spending hawks urged senators "who care about fiscal discipline" to vote against her amendment, according to a …

Let’s free the antique alcohol market

From American Spectator It seems like every month, I get an email or two from strangers asking me the same question. They read something like this: “Hi. My elderly …

R Street Institute Commends Passage of H.R. 2901

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2016) – The R Street Institute today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for its passage of H.R. 2901, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and …

Royal College of Physicians: E-cig switch benefits smokers

The United Kingdom's Royal College of Physicians issued a groundbreaking report this morning on electronic cigarettes which concludes that encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes is likely to …

Is Jerry Brown California’s savior?

It may be news to many of us living here, but California — according to a recent Newsweek issue — apparently no longer faces intractable budgetary, debt, infrastructure, business, …

Environmentalists’ attack on free speech

I'm a former employee of the Competitive Enterprise Institute who disagrees with the organization's take on the subject of climate change. I'm nonetheless outraged that CEI now faces …

Less than 10% of Farmers Would Feel Effects of Cap on Premium Subsidies

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2016) – Less than 10 percent of farms that plant major cash crops in some of the largest farm states would feel the impact of …

Oregon town ponders onerous short-term rental rule

The Hood River, Oregon, City Council has delayed its decision until May 9 on an ordinance that would restrict short-term rentals to a family’s primary residence and ban …

Where is OCC in court battle over state usury limits?

The following op-ed was co-authored by William M. Isaac, senior managing director and global head of financial institutions at FTI Consulting. A surprising decision of the Second Circuit Court of …

Limiting premium subsidies for crop insurance

One of the most persistent inaccurate claims made by some farm-lobby advocates, not to mention elected representatives with agricultural constituencies, is that any change to the Federal Crop …

Vincent Smith

Statement from R Street Institute’s Policy Analyst Nathan Leamer on the unanimous passage of HR 699

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2016) - The R Street Institute is pleased by this strong statement of unanimous support from the House. Most of our lives are on our …

Bryn: Texas rains bring people together

From Pasadena Citizen That is precisely why many others, from ExxonMobil to reliably conservative think tanks in Washington like the R-Street Institute, continue to point out that any carbon …

TWIA shifts on reinsurance

Texas’ state-created windstorm pool is looking at changes to the way it would cover losses in the event of a major storm. Last week the Actuarial Committee of …

Dear Philadelphia, Uber isn’t ISIS

One of the most disappointing aspects of being involved in politics is the tone one consistently encounters. Differing opinions are rarely given the benefit of the doubt. Do you …

Bipartisan coalition to Rules Committee: Recommend to Senate that Dr. Carla Hayden be confirmed as Librarian of Congress

Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Schumer and Members of the Committee: We are organizations, businesses, libraries, coalitions, and associations from across the political spectrum and around the country that …

67 organizations and companies to Congress: Support the Email Privacy Act

Dear Representative, We, the undersigned civil society organizations, companies and trade associations, write to express our support for the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699). The Act updates the Electronic …

R Street Institute urges Congress to vote yes on H.R. 2901, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act of 2015

Dear Representative, The R Street Institute urges all members to vote yes on H.R. 2901, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act of 2015, sponsored by Reps. Dennis …

Rideshare rules could cost Austin coveted ‘Smart City’ designation

Austinites will vote next week on how to regulate ridesharing companies in the city (early voting began Monday). On the ballot is Proposition 1, which would continue the …

Lehrer at the Aleph Institute’s ASKS Summit

R Street President Eli Lehrer took part recently in the Alternative Sentencing Key Stakeholder (ASKS) Summit, hosted in Washington by the Aleph Institute. Eli moderated a panel March …

Amicus brief for Impression Products v. Lexmark International

According to the patent exhaustion doctrine, once a patentee sells an article embodying the patented invention, “the patentee may not thereafter, by virtue of his patent, control the …

Betsy’s page: cruising the web

From Betsy's Page Eli Lehrer details some of the reasons why Harriet Tubman is such an admirable role model. In addition to her work leading 300 slaves to freedom …

10 rising stars in the energy and environment world

From The Hill Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy, R Street Institute Rorke has become a champion of a controversial idea: that taxing carbon dioxide emissions is a conservative solution to …

The idea of a public good

One of the key concepts needed to better understand the economic argument for environmental protection is the idea of a public good. When economists talk about public goods, they …

Build a way out of high housing prices

If there were 30 loaves of bread and 50 people who wanted them, you can guess what would happen. Prices for those loaves would rise, from, maybe, $2, …

Nonprofits urge high court to hear patent exhaustion suit

From Law360 EFF, along with Public Knowledge and the R Street Institute, said the Federal Circuit’s decision in Lexmark International Inc.’s infringement suit against Impression, a printer cartridge refurbisher …

California GOP blathers about freedom, but mostly backs ‘secrecy lobby’

From Reason In one of my favorite Far Side comic strips, the first panel offers what people typically say to dogs: "OK Ginger I've had it. You stay out …

R Street Institute welcomes Uber settlements in California, Massachusetts

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2016) – Concluding a legal battle that began last year, ridesharing company Uber announced it will pay $100 million to settle two class-action lawsuits initiated …

Nina: Not racist, just terrible

Among all the many problems that bedevil Nina, the Nina Simone biopic that finally comes to theatres this Friday nearly two years after making its debut at the …

#65 Government Transparency

From TechFreedom These days, it costs almost nothing to publish information online. So why isn’t more government information available to the public? Taxpayers spend $100 million a year on …

Five climate lies the attorneys general aren’t investigating

The attorneys general of 20 states have launched an investigation into groups they suggest have misled the public on the dangerous reality of climate change. Caught up in …

Free-market groups to Congress: Oppose federal bailouts for Florida’s government-run property insurance plans

Dear Representative, On behalf of the millions of citizens represented by the undersigned groups, we write in strong opposition to H.R. 4947, the misleadingly titled “Homeowners Insurance Protection Act” …

California’s Soviet-like kangaroo ‘courtroom’

It’s hard to spend time on Facebook without finding examples of “Godwin’s Law”: The longer an online discussion goes on, the higher the likelihood someone will use a …

Realizing Texas’ Clean Energy Potential

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2016) – Texas’ solar-power potential outpaces that of nearly every other state. But according to a new R Street policy brief, that potential remains largely …

Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill? Hell yeah

Harriet Tubman is a good choice to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Jackson, the first Democratic president, is exactly the sort of overheated, …

Improving the market for clean energy in Texas

The last few years have seen an incredible decline in the price of technologies that provide clean energy or increase energy efficiency. The cost of solar power has …

SCOTUS protects electricity competition, strikes down Maryland subsidies

Tuesday’s unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating Maryland's subsidy program to encourage building new power generation marks a welcome defense of the principles of competition in electricity …

Let’s free the antique alcohol market

It seems like every month, I get an email or two from strangers asking me the same question. They read something like this: “Hi. My elderly father died, …

Broad coalition to House Financial Services Committee: Oppose federal bailout fund for state-run insurance programs

Dear Chairman Hensarling: As a coalition of leading taxpayer advocates, environmental organizations, housing and mitigation groups, and insurance interests, we write to urge your opposition to a bill recently …

What drives tobacco-control policy?

The attached policy brief has been accepted for publication by the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. This is a follow-up to the presentation by Dr. David Ashley of the FDA’s …

Conservative Groups Back Puerto Rico Bill

From Speaker Paul Ryan This week, many conservative groups came out supporting H.R. 4900, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), introduced by Rep. Duffy and …

The administrative state faces a legitimacy crisis: so fix Congress!?

From Brookings The newly formed Legislative Branch Capacity working group, formed by Drutman and Kevin Kosar, which seeks to operate as a central hub for this kind of thinking, …

A deeply flawed CFA Institute report on shareholder empowerment

The following oped was coauthored by R Street Senior Fellow R.J. Lehmann. Over the past year and a half, the shareholder-empowerment movement has been deeply enamored with an August …

Alabama Legislature could turn BP settlement into roadkill

Rather than paying off money they've already spent, our politicians always seem to find one reason or another to spend on something else. Six years after the Deepwater …

Optometrists push for state laws blocking online eye exams

Billing itself as a sort of Uber-for-eye-exams, telemedicine startup Opternative recently came on the scene offering a quick, inexpensive alternative to traditional optical exams that uses your computer …

Billionaire ‘farmers’ rake in big taxpayer bucks

When it comes to agriculture subsidies, the farm owners who need your money least are the ones getting the heftiest government payouts. Analysis published this week by our friends …

R Street urges House Appropriations Committee to pass amendment changing predicate date for tobacco-related products

Dear Chairman Rogers and Members of the Committee on Appropriations, R Street Institute is a free-market think tank focused on a pragmatic approach to public policy challenges. As advocates …

Sonoma should step back from punitive tobacco law

A version of this post also appeared as a letter to the editor in the April 19, 2016 edition of the Press Democrat newspaper.  The Sonoma County Board of …

Punitive tobacco law

Sonoma County supervisors still can step back from their overly punitive anti-tobacco ordinance as it comes before the board for a second reading today. This ordinance is designed primarily …

California’s pension hubris

Instead of addressing the estimated $600 billion in unfunded liabilities in California’s beleaguered public-employee pension system, Democrats in Sacramento have instead decided to “solve” a growing pension crisis …

Oklahoma lawmakers propose taxing new bill on online sales

From Heartland Andrew Moylan, executive director and senior fellow of the R Street Institute, says the proposed bill makes “mincemeat” of tax policy. “Oklahoma’s Internet sales tax bill makes mincemeat …

You, too, should celebrate the end of the Google Books litigation

If you felt a vibration in the air this morning, it may have been the final sigh of relief so many of us heaved when the U.S. Supreme …

Some in GOP yield to Sacramento’s secrecy lobby

In one of my favorite “Far Side” comic strips, the first panel offers what people typically say to dogs: “OK Ginger I’ve had it. You stay out of …

Treat kids like kids until 18

The following oped was coauthored by Marcy Mistrett, chief executive officer at the Campaign for Youth Justice. The state Senate should be ashamed of itself. For the second time in …

Orange County’s political divide has officials seeing red

The real division in the Golden State isn’t between Northern California and Southern California; it is between the coastal cities and the grittier inland. That’s true even at …

Stop trying Michigan 17-year-olds as adults

In states across the nation, some bold Republican lawmakers are putting aside party affiliations and joining with Democratic colleagues in a bipartisan effort to reconsider previously accepted “tough …

Puerto Rico: Time for Congress to act

The finances of Puerto Rico's government are unraveling rapidly. With the commonwealth government broke and scrambling, its Legislative Assembly already has empowered Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to declare …

R Street warns Jolly bill would be a giant ‘beach house bailout’

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2016) – The R Street Institute today expressed its concern about the reintroduction of a deeply flawed legislative proposal to create a taxpayer-backed federal reinsurance …

¿Cuánto sube mi seguro de auto por una multa?

From Al Dia Dallas “El asunto de fondo es que entre más riesgoso sea un conductor, más caro sale asegurarlo”, dijo Eli Lehrer, presidente de R Street Institute, una …

Should the Fed act as the world’s central bank?

CCS credit credit backers see ‘new level’ of support on Hill despite FAA setback

From Inside EPA The groups -- Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the R Street Institute -- also cite what they argue are hundreds of millions of dollars …

Dumping water in the middle of a drought recovery

What would happen if the communists took over the Sahara Desert?” William F. Buckley asked during a discussion in 1972. “Nothing for 50 years. Then there will be a shortage …

Free-market groups support American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016

Dear Chairman Brady, On behalf of our organizations, we write in support of your legislation, the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016,” which would revise and improve the process …

The Washington Post’s neo-prohibitionist movement

From American Spectator I enjoy Christopher Ingraham’s writing for the Washington Post. His Wonk Blog posts are data-heavy, which makes them interesting. Like Ingraham, I have serious concerns about America’s …

People deserve second chances, even in the insurance industry

Two years ago, the online health-insurance broker and human-resources portal Zenefits hired an insurance agent with a criminal record. Now the San Francisco Chronicle is attacking the firm …

How high does your insurance rate accelerate when you’re caught speeding?

From Dallas Morning News “The bottom line is that the riskier a driver is, the more expensive he or she is to insure,” said Eli Lehrer, president of R …

Regulators requested data on 12M Uber riders and drivers, transparency report shows

From SC Magazine “Uber's transparency report doesn't add much fuel to the fire in terms of general criticism from the EU regarding Privacy Shield,” said Mike Godwin, director of …

It’s time for Uber’s regulators to be as transparent as the company is

This post was coauthored by R Street Policy Analyst Nathan Leamer. Recent years have seen a range of internet companies release “transparency reports” that attempt to detail, to the …

Searching for loyalty and prudence

In his provocative and knowledgeable new book, Other People’s Money: The Real Business of Finance, John Kay considers the complex ways that financial systems operate in between the …

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

Blocking remittances wouldn’t make America great again

Donald Trump has become the Republican frontrunner based on a promise to build a giant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. However, candidate Trump has until recently been vague …

Suggested guidelines for state and local regulation of e-cigarettes

Tobacco cigarettes are by far the most addictive and hazardous nicotine-delivery products. The tar in cigarette smoke, not the nicotine, causes cancer and heart and lung disease. E-cigarettes …

Puerto Rico bill proceeds with oversight board and no bailout

The House Natural Resources Committee is taking testimony today on its bill to address the Puerto Rico debt crisis, and could send a finished bill to the full …

R Street urges House Judiciary Committee to pass Email Privacy Act

WASHINGTON (April 13, 2016) – As the House Judiciary Committee moves today to mark up electronic privacy legislation, the R Street Institute believes the manager's amendment forwarded by …

Mindy Finn Project

From Politico Empowered Women, founded by Mindy Finn (formerly of Twitter and the RNC), [will announce] today it will host its first Leadership Retreat, #OwnYourPower, June 6-8 ... featuring …

Mississippi AG to ‘re-evaluate’ Google probe after 5th Circuit vacates injunction

From Washington Internet Daily Hood will need to make a "political decision" whether to continue to pursue his office's Google investigation, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Mitch …

Regulatory Dark Matter: Why Regulatory Reform Efforts Must Address Interpretive Rules

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2016) – While increased national debate surrounding regulatory reform is commendable, recent discussions have focused largely on the traditional rulemaking process that includes publication in …

Interpretive rules are missing piece in regulatory-reform debate

The attached policy short was co-authored by Daniel J. Richardson. Regulatory reform has garnered significant attention lately, both in Congress and on the campaign trail. Republican nominees for president …

Testimony on ‘raising the age’ in Louisiana

Thank you Chairman Gary Smith, Vice Chairman Ronnie Johns and the rest of the committee for allowing me to submit the following testimony in support of S.B. 324, …

Iowa’s ridesharing bill is good for bankers, bad for Iowans

When I was a child, the notion of “staying up all night” was a sort of Holy Grail. In my elementary school-aged mind, successfully doing so was tantamount …

Encryption: Balancing the needs of law enforcement and the Fourth Amendment

My name is Mike Godwin and I’m director of innovation policy and general counsel for the R Street Institute, a free-market public-policy think tank based in Washington. I’m …

When did the Imagineers lose their imagination?

In a recent storyline of FX's "The Americans," the show's protagonists – Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, and their children Paige and Henry – were set to take a …

Al Gore’s climate gestapo seeks to punish political dissent

AG's United for Clean Power should embrace the more appropriate moniker, "Climate Gestapo." The coalition assembled by former Vice President Al Gore and 17 state attorneys general appears set to …

Better ways to handle unwanted animals

The last time I was in an animal shelter, I adopted a furry 8-year-old puss named Gus. The shelter was clean but depressing: It was filled with whelping …

ADAPTATION: Republicans open to working on climate resilience

From ClimateWire "It's a mom-and-apple-pie issue. How could anybody say, 'It's a bad idea to make people safer against extreme weather'?" said Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, …

Cyber Insurance: A functioning free market

When a few high-profile hacking incidents hit household-name firms like Target and Home Depot in 2014 and 2015, some in the insurance industry – and more than a …

Court’s rebuke to FSOC was well-deserved

Patrick Jenkins, in “MetLife ruling poses threat to drive towards global financial stability” (Inside Business, April 5), says that the court’s decision in the MetLife case is “a …

Don’t just get kids off the sex offender registry. Abolish it.

From CounterPunch For instance, CYRR is collaborating with Eli Lehrer, of the free-market think tank R Street; he is also a signatory of the conservative Right on Crime initiative. Flagged on …

Anaheim targets people using homes as short-term rentals

From Reason I first got to know Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in the early 2000s, when we were battling a perverse city ordinance that forced low-income people—typically, folks one …

Burr-Feinstein anti-crypto proposal would undermine digital security everywhere

We at R Street have known for a while that Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. were planning to propose anti-encryption legislation that would be truly …

Senate could sneak wasteful energy subsidies into FAA reauthorization

What does the Federal Aviation Administration have to do with renewable-energy subsidies? Not much, except that senators are trying to sneak extensions of expiring green-energy tax credits into …

No adults left in the State Capitol

After his first incarnation as California governor in the 1970s and ’80s, Jerry Brown spent a few years in the 1990s as a radio talk-show host. His Oakland-based …

Mississippi and West Virginia governors both sign ridesharing laws

Mississippi and West Virginia have become the 30th and 31st states to pass legislation to create a statewide regulatory framework for ridesharing services offered by transportation network companies …

R Street and Center for Democracy & Technology comments to U.S. Copyright Office on safe harbor provisions

See attached PDF. …

Letter to Senate Rules Committee on public access to CRS reports

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Schumer: We write to urge the Committee on Rules and Administration to schedule a markup of the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

A conservative case to ‘raise the age’ in Michigan

In recent years, conservative policymakers in states across the nation have come to question whether the one-sizefits-all “tough on crime” approaches adopted in the 1980s and 1990s are …

‘Raising the age’ in Michigan would offer economic, public safety benefits

WASHINGTON (April 6, 2016) – In most states, individuals aren't generally tried in criminal courts as adults until they reach age 18. A new R Street study from …

Letter to Alaska Legislature on e-cigarettes

Dear Alaska State Legislator or Legislative Staff Member: I am a public-health physician who has been involved in tobacco control since the 1970s. I have been a local health …

14 free-market groups call on Secretary Lew to address the inversion issue through tax reform

Dear Secretary Lew, On behalf of the undersigned organizations we write to urge you to address the inversion issue by working with Congress to pass tax reform. In addition, …

Why Policymakers Should Protect Public Speech Online

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

2253 Rayburn House Office Building

Why Congress is Best Positioned to Craft Music Licensing Reform

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2016) – Debate over how best to reform the United States’ music licensing system has increased, following the Department of Justice’s recent inquiry into the …

Seven steps to housing finance reform

The giant American housing finance sector is as important politically as it is financially, which makes it hard to reform. From the 1980s on, it was unique in …

Nevada study on rideshare background checks turns up nothing…literally

Would it surprise you to learn that government sometimes asks people to do the impossible? Last year, Nevada passed legislation that allows transportation network companies such as Uber and …

MetLife: Win for Const. Gov’t, Bad for Bureaucrats

From Real Clear Markets Do the bureaucrats who run government agencies long to increase their power?  Are they ambitious to extend their reach over private institutions and citizens?  Of …

Private Retirement Plan a Cover for Bloated Public Pensions

From Fox and Hounds Daily California’s Democratic leaders announced a “landmark deal” Monday to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Yet it may be overshadowed by another milestone …

Competition, ratepayers lose big in Ohio

In a unanimous vote, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) moved March 31 to accept modified plans from investor-owned utilities FirstEnergy Corp. and American Electric Power Ohio …

Update on U.S. property prices in the Fed’s brave new world

  The attached policy short was published in the Spring 2016 edition of Housing Finance International, the quarterly journal of the International Union for Housing Finance. Readers of my last …

Now you can see what reports have been published by the Congressional Research Service

Did you know the Congressional Research Service has published reports on the federal defense budget, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits, changes to hemp-growing restrictions and porcine …

As tax day approaches, more families should enjoy the benefits of the EITC

As the April 15 tax-filing deadline approaches, nearly 30 million low-income families will receive more than $64 billion in tax breaks from the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Policymakers …

Service-animal fraud throws the ADA to the dogs

A wave of animal friendliness has swept, and continues to sweep, the nation. Once relegated to waiting for his owner to return from a trip to the store, …

Why Congress mustn’t postpone vital flood insurance reforms

A new measure introduced by U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Gus Bilirakis, both R-Fla., that would postpone vital reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program, while well-intentioned, also would …

Has the Federal Reserve gone too far?

On Puerto Rico, Congress is moving in the right direction

The draft bill to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis – released late last week by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah – marks a step in …

Your retirement dream may require working much longer

A recent Citigroup monograph, "The Coming Pensions Crisis," begins with some questions very much in the spirit of our time:  “What’s your dream for retirement?  Is it living …

Re:Create Coalition comments on DMCA safe harbor provisions

Pursuant to the notice of inquiry published by the Copyright Office (the Office) in the Federal Register at 80 Fed. Reg. 81, 862 (Dec. 31, 2015), later extended …

The Washington Post’s ‘Reefer Madness’ campaign against booze

I enjoy Christopher Ingraham’s writing for The Washington Post. His WonkBlog posts are data-heavy, which makes them interesting. Like Ingraham, I have serious concerns about America’s long war on …

Free trade makes dollars and sense

Trade has become a huge issue on the campaign trail this year. The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald J. Trump, has made trade one of his …

A defender of property rights now a foe of short-term rentals

I first got to know Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in the early 2000s, when we were battling a perverse city ordinance that forced low-income people – typically, folks …

Deregulate taxis to allow them to better compete

From OC Register Spitzer told me he came up with the idea after reading Steven Greenhut’s Register column a week ago about state legislation and lawsuits aimed at grounding …

Improving Outcomes with EITC: Strengths and Weaknesses of Current Reform Ideas

House Visitor Center – Room 200

House Visitor Center – Room 200

Lawsuits, legislation threaten the ‘sharing’ economy

As an occasional cab rider in Sacramento, I've noticed something that isn't always a given: fleets of newer cabs, polite drivers and the use of modern credit card …

MetLife decision a win for constitutional government, loss for ambitious bureaucrats

Do the bureaucrats who run government agencies long to increase their power?  Are they ambitious to extend their reach over private institutions and citizens?  Of course they do …

New bill designed to stop egregious venue shopping by patent trolls

This piece was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. Abusive patent litigation siphons tens of billions of dollars from the economy every year. In addition to burdening …

Moylan talks Roomscore on the Tech Policy Podcast

R Street Executive Director Andrew Moylan sat down recently with Evan Swarztrauber, the host of TechFreedom’s Tech Policy Podcast, to Roomscore, R Street's new report and website looking at …

A few crumbs for private workers

California’s Democratic leaders announced a “landmark deal” Monday to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Yet it may be overshadowed by another milestone from …

‘Quill’ in states’ crosshairs as new Nexus standards enacted

From Bloomberg BNA Voters also are divided on the issue. Stitzel pointed to a national poll conducted by the R Street Institute in October 2015, which found that “by …

Rash Ratemaking: Lessons from Nevada’s NEM reforms

In a December 2015 order, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) made drastic changes in its policies governing net energy metering (NEM), the process under which consumers …

Nevada net energy metering reform is cautionary tale for states

WASHINGTON (March 31, 2016) — Increased consumer adoption of renewable-energy technologies has led to a rise in public utilities’ use of net energy metering (NEM), a model under which …

Is Bernie Sanders’s nuclear phaseout plan a hippie pipe dream or smart policy?

From New Republic That’s also the view of Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager for the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank, and a former energy market analyst at …

15 groups to Congress: implement a regulatory cost budget

Dear Members of Congress, The undersigned organizations call on Congress to implement a regulatory cost budget to address federal regulations, which frequently have the effect of tax increases. Like …

Congressional Data Coalition Meeting

As anti-SLAPP moves in Kansas, federal action still needed

The Kansas House of Representatives earlier this week passed the Enacting the Public Speech Protection Act (HB 2054) by a nearly unanimous 123-1 margin. If its overwhelming support …

A maddening whiskey shortage

Tennessee is known for many things: country music, Elvis’s Graceland estate, beautiful mountains, and fine liquor. The state produces both moonshine (some of which is now being made …

Job Listings

Neeley talks net metering on Bloggingheads.tv

R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley sat down recently with Kevin Glass of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity to chat at Bloggingheads.tv about net energy …

U.S. should look to Canada and Australia as examples of robust global energy markets

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2016) – Congress' decision to lift the decades old ban on exports of U.S. crude oil should make the U.S. energy sector an attractive target …

Predatory foreign investment and domestic energy security

The attached paper was co-authored by John Roberts. U.S. energy markets started 2016 with good news. The 40-year-old oil-export ban, which long has hamstrung one of the world’s …

Ariel Cohen

What do all of the regulations facing Airbnb and Homeaway really mean?

From Texas Monthly In Austin, the code enforcement division in charge of short-term rentals recently tripled in size: from two people alllllllll the way up to six, who are tasked …

Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group

Congressional Data Coalition

Make Congress great again!

Tibor Machan, a strong voice for liberty

From Orange County Register “Tibor’s contributions to the freedom movement were as towering as the man himself,” said Steven Greenhut, a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. “We know his …

CFA Institute report on proxy access deeply flawed, R Street policy short finds

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2016) – As the 2016 corporate proxy season gets underway, shareholders should be skeptical of high-profile claims that proxy access conveys value, according to a …

Let’s make Congress great again

Lawsuits, legislation threaten ‘sharing’ economy

As an occasional cab rider in Sacramento, I’ve noticed something that isn’t always a given: fleets of newer cabs, polite drivers and the use of modern credit card …

Moylan talks Roomscore on the In the Tank podcast

R Street Institute Executive Director Andrew Moylan joined John Nothdurft and Donny Kendal of the Heartland Institute's In the Tank podcast to discuss Roomscore, R Street latest report …

Critiquing the CFA Institute’s report on proxy access

Is proxy access – that is, the ability of certain privileged shareholders to have their own slate of director nominees included in the proxy-solicitation materials public companies must …

What’s in your mail? Even more unwanted ads

As you probably have heard, the U.S. Postal Service is in a bad way. The Senate has not bothered to vote on appointees to the USPS board. Thus, …

Editorial: California Public Records Act needs more muscle

From Fresno Bee Linder authored the bill after being contacted by a constituent who complained about the roadblocks faced after filing a public-records request, San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Steve Greenhut …

Why the Supreme Court stay hasn’t stopped states’ CPP compliance plans

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told lawmakers earlier this week that 25 states are still working on Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance plans. This may come as …

Adjust the EITC for cost of living

This oped was co-authored by Zackary Hawley. With the presidential election season in full swing, lots of candidates are making lots of promises, many of them short on details …

Florida and the RESTORE Act: A progress report

INTRODUCTION Almost six years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, states along the Gulf Coast continue to deal with the spill's aftermath. In October 2015, BP and the U.S. …

How do you manage retirement in the freelance economy?

From Consumer Affairs The R Street Institute, a Washington think tank, has studied the problem, concluding that reforms are needed to create a retirement system less tied to employers …

France fines Google for failing to forget

France's data-privacy authority announced today that it will impose a fine on Google for failing adequately to comply with the so-called "right to be forgotten." (For background on …

Legislators belatedly discover supply and demand

A former colleague who recently moved from California to Texas regularly posts photographs on Facebook showing what $300,000 buys over there, compared to here. One could buy a …

Reforms should put control of retirement-savings back in employees’ hands

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2016) —  As a growing number of Americans take part in the so-called “gig economy,” in which a single worker may simultaneously fill part-time and …

Reimagining retirement for the gig economy

The emergence of the so-called “gig economy” – employment situations in which a worker may spread his or her labor among several part-time or freelance arrangements with several …

Look to Canada for lessons on cutting red tape

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a border-state representative who has about an eight-hour drive to Canada. He has good personal relationships with Canadian conservatives and has spoken …

FBI would rather crack terrorist’s iPhone itself

From Tech News World "Those of us who are watching both the technology arguments and the legal arguments are somewhat skeptical of the claim that the FBI suddenly discovered …

South Dakota opens the door to ridesharing

South Dakota has become the 29th state to implement statewide rules governing the operation of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, with news that Gov. Dennis Daugaard …

Trump recommends the cutting edge in failed 1980s urban renewal

In a March 21 chat with the Washington Post's editorial board, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump offered his vision for how to turn around the fortunes of struggling …

Beyond the box

If you subscribe to pay TV, the odds are 99–1 you have what the TV industry calls a “set-top box.” Even greater are the odds that, if you …

Congressional Data Coalition testimony to House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee

Dear Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz, and Representatives Amodei, Rigell, Jenkins, Palazzo, Farr, and McCollum: Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on legislative branch funding priorities …

Deepwater Horizon settlement money will go far in Texas

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig set off one of the largest oil spills in human history. For 78 days, an uncontrolled …

Mile-for-mile, TNCs beat taxis hands down

It's always a pleasure to have one’s intuition confirmed. Last week, we at R Street were mighty pleased when a new working paper from the National Bureau of …

FBI’s sudden move in Apple case isn’t really a surprise

The following post was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. After an abrupt “motion to vacate” Monday evening, the U.S. Justice Department has won postponement of …

Wind PTC’s creator says credit’s end is nearing

As we’ve said before, the federal wind-energy production tax credit (PTC) is a wasteful and harmful subsidy that has lived far beyond its expiration date. Last week, new …

Paying for a better watchdog

R Street recently signed on to a bipartisan coalition letter, addressed to the chair and ranking member of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, expressing support for additional …

R Street comments to FEMA on proposed ‘disaster deductible’

The R Street Institute thanks the administration for the opportunity to comment on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's proposed reforms to the federal disaster-declaration process. We welcome the …

Would a President Trump make a deal on climate?

What would energy policy look like under a Donald Trump presidency? It’s a question worth considering. While the race to pick a Republican presidential nominee remains undecided, the …

Anti-party law turns innocent kids into criminals

Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker got into GOP politics because of his “belief in individual liberty, limited government and a free market,” according to the party’s …

These are the best and worst cities for Airbnb

From Marketwatch “Our assessment is that the picture is not a pretty one,” said Andrew Moylan, author of the study, conducted by R Street, a non-profit public policy research …

5 Charts showing state of short-term rental regulations in U.S. cities

From Skift Take Atlanta, for example. The city has no legal framework for short-term rentals such as single bedroom rentals within apartments or homes, yet it has some of …

Why the poor get trapped in depressed areas

From the New Republic Enrico Moretti of the University of California, Berkeley, and Eli Lehrer and Lori Sanders of the R Street Institute have proposed broader grants to better …

Detroit receives friendly Airbnb ranking

From Mackinac.org A new study from the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank with a pragmatic approach to public policy, gives Detroit an A-minus grade for its regulatory …

Congress passes permanent ban on Internet access taxes

From Heartland Institute Andrew Moylan, executive director and senior fellow of the R Street Institute, says PITFA and MFA had little in common. “Taxpayers should be happy that the House …

How regulators quietly drive up costs

California political observers are understandably fixated on the goings-on in the state legislature, which is the living embodiment of what New York Judge Gideon Tucker wrote in an 1866 …

A column for the politically stranded conservative

These days, I feel like a politically stranded conservative, and I know I'm not alone. I could blame it on one presidential candidate or another, but it's more …

Trouble brewing in emerging markets

How serious is the present turmoil in emerging market economies? Could it become a crisis and lead to a renewed global recession? And how responsible is the Federal …

Texas rideshare rules are headed to the voters

All across Texas, battles are raging between the fans and foes of ridesharing. Ridesharing mainstay Uber officially suspended operations in Corpus Christi March 13 after the city passed …

Lehrer talks free-market environmentalism with The Energy Gang

R Street President Eli Lehrer sat down recently with Greentech Media's The Energy Gang podcast to discuss the institute's work on carbon pricing, the ongoing market transition to distributed sources …

5 environmental topics a new GOP working group should tackle

At what would prove to be the final presidential primary debate in which he'd participate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was asked to respond to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s …

Amid Airbnb debates, Arizona offers sensible solutions

Ronald Reagan famously summed up the federal government’s view of the economy as, “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, …

The Libertarian view on the distributed energy transition

From Green Tech Media It wasn't just science that got Eli Lehrer to accept the reality of climate change. It was insurance markets. As a free-market expert on insurance …

Austin behind the curve on short-term rental regulations, report says

From Austin Business Journal The report, from Washington, D.C.-based R Street, graded major U.S. cities on their regulatory and policy structures regarding short-term rental properties. Generally speaking, cities that …

Fannie and Freddie and the 10% moment

The U.S. Treasury began rescuing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008, ultimately pumping $187.5 billion into the two mortgage giants. In return, it received new issues …

California already is building a wall — of debt

During a speech Monday to union organizers at a Sacramento dinner, California Gov. Jerry Brown made one of his characteristic off-the-cuff jokes. “If (Donald) Trump were ever elected, …

Why are farmers telling kids what to eat?

The attached policy short was published in the March 17, 2016 edition of Politico.   The law governing America’s school lunches is up for renewal this year, and the 210-page …

Financial experts look back on FCIC report, five years later

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2016) – Five renowned financial experts offer a look back at the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that Congress …

Sizing up the FCIC report five years later

Ongoing debates about the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 keep reminding us that economics is not a science. It can’t be used by governments to manage economic …

Saloon Series: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day right with Irish drinks old and new

Some years ago, I lived in New York and had two friends recently arrived from Ireland. Neither of them thought well of America’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Considering …

Bureaucrats are remaking the energy economy, not necessarily for the better

The Obama administration is determined to transform the energy economy in its last year in office, and now the White House is calling in reinforcements from our neighbors …

It’s really tough to move out of a dead-end town

From Newsday Another thing keeping people in dead-end towns is government benefits. Eli Lehrer and Lori Sanders of the conservative/libertarian R Street Institute argued in a 2014 article that …

America’s best (and worst) cities for Airbnb

From Watchdog.org The report was released Wednesday by R Street, a free market think tank based in Washington, D.C. Although the short-term rental market is complicated and relatively new, …

111 groups support a Senate vote on Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015

Dear Senator McConnell: The undersigned organizations support a Senate vote on H.R. 1105, the House passed Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015. The House of Representatives passed Congressman Brady’s (R-TX) …

Ridescore 2015

Roomscore 2016

State quietly pushes cost-raising insurance regulations

California political observers are understandably fixated on the goings-on in the state Legislature, which is the living embodiment of what New York Judge Gideon Tucker wrote in an …

Dispatching the federal government’s ‘zombie’ spending

Congress spent $310 billion last year on more than 250 programs that were no longer authorized. This week, the House Republican Conference took important steps to kill these …

Galveston, Savannah offer nation’s best rules for short-term rentals

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2016) – As services like Airbnb and HomeAway grow in popularity, a new study from the R Street Institute of 59 of the largest U.S. …

Roomscore 2016: Short-term-rental regulation in U.S. cities

See the report's full methodology and results at Roomscore.org. In recent years, discussion of the so-called “sharing economy” has dominated local politics in many cities across the country, and …

Coalition to Congress: Support the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act

Dear Chair McMorris Rodgers: On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our organizations, we write in support of the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2016. Your legislation is needed …

AEI DISCUSSION: “How Should the Federal Reserve Respond to the Escalating Emerging Market Risks?”

AEI (Wohlstetter Conference Center-12th Floor)

AEI (Wohlstetter Conference Center-12th Floor)

AEI (Wohlstetter Conference Center-12th Floor)

AEI (Wohlstetter Conference Center-12th Floor)

EU platform regulations may hurt consumers and European startups and lock in dominance of U.S. companies

In the response we at the R Street Institute provided to the European Commission’s survey on “Digital Single Market” regulation of what the commission calls “online platforms,” we …

When copyright law jams your toaster

It seems clear enough that copyright law ought not prevent users from programming a digital device that they own outright. We at R Street have said this before …

Oregon energy bill is long on symbolism, short on smart policy

Oregon's S.B. 1547, signed into law last Friday by Gov. Kate Brown, has all the hallmarks of top-down, government-directed industrial policy. But when it comes to weighing costs …

The reductio ad absurdum of central banking

Common sense once held that negative interest rates were absurd and impossible. But the European Central Bank has just made its once unprecedented negative deposit rate even more …

Violence at Trump rallies: an American Nazi precedent

From Newsweek In recent weeks, America’s presidential campaign politics have gotten uglier. Much uglier. The protests have gotten out of hand. Showing up at political events to call candidates’ supporters …

Former Speaker John Boehner mows his lawn, people lose their minds

// My first cut of the year. My grass is perfect!!! Posted by John Boehner on Saturday, March 12, 2016   John Boehner might be done as speaker, but seasonal work on …

Raise the smoking age to 21?

To the Editor: The scientific evidence for the bill raising the legal smoking age to 21 in California is strong and is based on an Institute of Medicine …

Dear America, please remember Skokie

In recent weeks, America’s presidential campaign politics have gotten uglier. Much uglier. The protests have gotten out of hand. Showing up at political events to call candidates’ supporters names …

California anti-nicotine package vaporizes common sense

The California Legislature this past week approved a far-reaching package of anti-nicotine bills. Republicans objected, but Democrats insisted the state – despite having some of the lowest smoking …

Flawed ridesharing bill moving in Massachusetts

Consider a world in which your morning commute and the afternoon drive to drop your children at soccer practice each required a separate license from your state government. …

Filtering out bad solutions to Flint water crisis

At what was already the umpteenth Democratic presidential debate – March 6 in Flint, Michigan – Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders both vowed to use government muscle …

Barron’s Mailbag

The Feb. 27 Editorial Commentary (“Money Yields to Progress: Cash Is Obsolete”) mentioned that in 1950 a penny still had value—at least that of a penny candy. But …

Desperate rail gambit

San Francisco’s colorful former mayor Willie Brown caused a stir three years ago by writing some disturbing truths about major government infrastructure projects. The city’s Transbay Terminal project—billed …

Slaying the dragon of occupational licensing

It’s rare to see Republicans and Democrats united on solutions to address poverty. But when it comes to reining in excessive occupational licensing laws, both sides are starting …

California proposal to let Uber drivers, other sharing economy workers, unionize

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez's latest high-profile legislative effort has been billed as a fairly modest measure to provide a "safety net" for workers in the growing sharing economy. "All …

New Report: Opposition to Free Basics plan in India is shortsighted

WASHINGTON (March 11, 2016) – February's victory by net-neutrality activists to shut down Facebook’s Free Basics initiative in India might kill the country's best near-term hope to address …

Charting a path forward for Internet access in India

The attached policy short was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Sharada Srinivasan.   When India’s network-neutrality activists won an overwhelming victory in February, their first impulse was to celebrate on …

Are underqualified Congressional staff impeding oversight, wasting agencies’ time?

From Government Executive “This lack of internal capacity empowers lobbyists since they are who the staff turn to for policy expertise,” wrote the five signatories: Lee Drutman, senior fellow in …

Digital eyes on the prize

Shortly after the news flurry surrounding the public dispute between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple Inc., the American Enterprise Institute’s Gus Hurwitz argued in a Feb. …

Saloon Series: Exploring the whiskey world at Whisky Live USA

Whisky Live USA, the fabulous salute to a marvelous drink, rolled into Washington this past week. A month previous, Whisky Live USA was in New York and come …

R Street disappointed in onerous Corpus Christi ordinance that hurts ridesharing drivers and riders

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2016) – The R Street Institute is disappointed at news that ridesharing company Uber will cease operations in Corpus Christi, Texas, due to onerous regulations …

As another company moves away

After the 2013 death of the founder of Carl’s Jr. — the ubiquitous California fast-food restaurant chain — the Orange County Register published an obituary that captured the …

With Florida ridesharing reform going nowhere, Hillsborough is back to ticketing drivers

After a six-month reprieve, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission – the agency that regulates taxicabs and limousines in Florida's fourth-largest county, which includes the City of Tampa …

Texas setting positive example on RESTORE Act priorities

AUSTIN, Texas (March 10, 2016) – As the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill approaches, Texas should serve as a model for taking measures to ensure …

Texas and the RESTORE Act: A progress report

As we approach the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is coming up on April 20, states along the Gulf Coast continue to deal with …

How to block a SLAPP

"We're going to open up those libel laws so when The New York Times writes a hit piece we can sue them and win money," Donald Trump said …

Sixteen years later, just how ‘bubbly’ was the tech-bubble peak?

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the very top of the notorious tech-stock bubble, which in retrospect, was truly remarkable for its illustration of “irrational exuberance." On March 10, …

Congress must invest in its own capacity again

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan and Democratic Leader Pelosi: We the undersigned, as close observers of Congress deeply invested in the health of the institution, …

Juveniles don’t belong on the sex-offender registry

At the age of 17, Mark O. of Grand Rapids, Mich., got his then 15-year old girlfriend pregnant. Taking responsibility for his actions and agreeing to provide support, …

Insurance markets in environmental regulation

“The tort system will take care of it” long has been the go-to response of classical liberals and libertarians when asked how a “free market” will mitigate harmful …

Coalition supports Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act

As organizations committed to the availability of information about our government and its transparency, we write to express our support for the Equal Access to Congressional Research Service …

Texas hail and wind claims: We’re No. 1!

Texans like to brag that “everything’s bigger in Texas,” but sometimes that’s not something to be proud of. According to data recently released by State Farm, Texas led …

The specter of a Trump presidency makes a very strong case for investing in congressional capacity now

From Vox The fact that congressional Republicans have so struggled to respond to Obama's executive actions should be a clear signal that they can't succeed with what they have. …

R Street’s guide to policy events at SxSW 2016

Every year, tens of thousands of people swarm to Austin, Texas for SxSW – one of the biggest annual gatherings of technologists, activists and entrepreneurs in the country. Here …

Letter to R.I. Senate Judiciary Committee on S. 2107

Dear Sen. McCaffrey: I am a public health physician who advises the R Street Institute on tobacco-related policy. Detail on my background and how I arrived at my position …

Free-market groups to Congress: Don’t grant IRS authority to license tax preparers

March 8, 2016 Dear Representative: The 12 undersigned organizations together ask Congress to oppose H.R. 4141 and similar efforts to grant the IRS new powers to license tax preparers. As …

Private flood insurance would ease red ink for federal program

From Business Insurance Proponents of privatization hold that opening the market to private insurers would ease pressure on the NFIP.   “The NFIP is not only an unnecessarily burdensome program for …

Conservative groups oppose licensing of tax preparers

From Accounting Today A group of mostly conservative public policy organizations have sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives asking them to oppose legislation that would …

On regulatory reform, look to Canada, paper argues

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2016) – As the White House prepares to receive Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a state dinner this week, there are key lessons the …

Regulatory Budgeting: Lessons from Canada

American conservatives have not tended to look to Canada for inspiration. Canada has been derided as a land of big government, high levels of taxation and, of course, …

State lawmakers seeking ways to grapple with ‘big data’ in insurance

Insurance is about information. Outside of the technology industry itself, few sectors are better situated to seize the advantages of so-called “big data” than insurance. Such was the …

Whiskeys have to age for years, so how do distilleries make money?

From Marketplace Storing whiskey  in wooden barrels can enhance its flavor – kind of like salt.  Soon, “aging whiskey became more popular just because whiskey became more popular,” said …

The list

From New Yorker She was dejected, and weighed giving up, but when she won last-minute funding from the Stoneleigh Foundation she moved her operations to Oakland, California, and launched …

Thoughtless bureaucrats and driverless cars

California’s Legislature set out in 2012 “to encourage the current and future development, testing, and operation of autonomous vehicles on the public roads of the state”—but now, the …

Sean Speer

R Street Institute statement on Senate passage of S.B. 1044

The following statement can be attributed to R Street Institute Florida Director Christian Cámara regarding the passage of S.B. 1044 on civil forfeiture reform: S.B. 1044 is a commonsense …

‘Protecting’ consumers by forcing them to pay more

A Depression-era trade law – now the subject of debate in the West Virginia Legislature – is a reminder of how “consumer protection” laws often do little to …

Let’s keep remembering the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

Search-engine giant Google announced earlier today that it has expanded its implementation of the European Union’s "Right to Be Forgotten." I get why the company made this choice, …

Zootopia: Adults will love it, but will kids?

"This isn't some insipid cartoon musical where you sing some stupid song and everything's going to be OK." That line is delivered in Zootopia, the 55th feature film from …

Apply now for an innovation policy fellowship at R Street

The R Street Institute is now accepting applications for its 2016 Google Policy Fellowship. R Street’s Google fellow will have the opportunity to contribute op-eds and blog posts, …

Justice for Juniors: How should courts deal with kids and crime?

How should we treat children who get into trouble with the law? For more than a century, American attitudes have shifted between sometimes-wild extremes. Between the 1970s and early …

New bill would open CRS reports to the public

According to one assessment, some 27,000 copies of Congressional Research Service reports are scattered about the Internet. However, there is no one website where the public can find …

Obamacare’s state impacts dominate spring NCOIL meeting

Even with Sen. Ted Cruz also in town, the struggle between state lawmakers and regulators over who would take the lead on health-care policy continued to dominate the …

Free-market and environmental groups to Congress: Support crop insurance reforms in the 2017 Budget

March 3, 2016 Dear Member of Congress, As taxpayer and environmental advocates, we write to express our unified support for the cuts to the federal crop insurance program outlined in …

Would ‘100 percent licensing’ unshackle the market for music, or make it worse?

As we’ve covered in recent months here at the R Street Institute, the U.S. Justice Department is in the midst of its review (and possible modification) of the …

Congress should consider federal anti-SLAPP protections, new paper finds

WASHINGTON (March 3, 2016) — Congress should examine ways to extend the protections afforded by state-level laws against "SLAPPs" – strategic lawsuits against public participation – to the federal …

Democrats under the influence

In late August 2014, five California legislators were photographed having a fun-seeming time on the balcony outside of the legislative chambers. At the center of the scene was …

Could Trump work with Congress? Could Congress work with Trump?

From Newsweek Donald J. Trump had a pretty super Super Tuesday. He won more delegates than any other Republican contender and his lead has expanded considerably. The model put together …

Could Trump work with Congress? Could Congress work with Trump?

From Newsweek Donald J. Trump had a pretty super Super Tuesday. He won more delegates than any other Republican contender and his lead has expanded considerably. The model put together …

SLAPPed for raising questions about fraud

The attached policy short was co-authored by R Street Legal Intern Moriah Mensah.   In 2009, Angelique Smith and other parents of students at Agora Cyber Charter School began questioning …

R Street commends House committee for expanding private flood insurance options

WASHINGTON (March 2, 2016) — The R Street Institute today commended the House Financial Services Committee for its markup of H.R.2901, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act, …

Joint brief from libertarian groups on U.S. Copyright Office software study

The attached brief was co-signed by Ryan Hagemann of the Niskanen Center and Wayne T. Brough of FreedomWorks.  The signatories listed below are libertarian organizations whose mission is to engage in …

Could this year’s election revive the First Branch?

Donald J. Trump had a pretty super Super Tuesday. He won more delegates than any other Republican contender and his lead has expanded considerably. Final results are still …

Study: Tax credit favored by Obama, Ryan should be boosted in big cities

From Washington Examiner In a new study published Tuesday, researchers for the R Street Institute, a right-leaning think tank, reports that the Earned Income Tax Credit, a major U.S. …

The Earned-Income Tax Credit Is worth far less in San Francisco. Should we fix that?

From Wall Street Journal But national income limits for the tax benefit make it far more valuable to the working poor in low-cost parts of the country, and far …

R Street beefs up communications and outreach staff 

WASHINGTON (March 1, 2016) – The R Street Institute today welcomed two new staffers in its communications and outreach departments. Ben Carnes will assume the role of communications …

Ben Carnes

Federal EITC should reflect cost-of-living disparities across U.S. cities

WASHINGTON (March 1, 2016) – The Earned Income Tax Credit has been shown to be an effective incentive to work, but those benefits are lost in cities with higher …

AEP and FirstEnergy proposals undercut competition and ratepayers

FirstEnergy Corp. and American Electric Power (AEP) are looking to undo Ohio's electricity market reforms in an effort to extract more revenue from Ohio ratepayers. The companies’ proposals, which …

Caroline Kitchens

The Oscars are a lesson in liberal compassion — or lack thereof

Sunday night, as per usual, I watched the Academy Awards so that you don’t have to — and I have to admit, as far as Oscar nights go, …

Local labor markets and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit

The attached policy study was co-authored by Zackary Hawley. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which offers relief from federal income-tax payments for a targeted group of taxpayers, is based …

R Street taps Steven Greenhut as western region director

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Feb. 29, 2016) – The R Street Institute is pleased to welcome Steven Greenhut as its new western region director, based in Sacramento. In his new …

Steven Greenhut

Internet of no privacy

From Washington Examiner: Steven Titch for the R Street Institute: I've supported the right of private-sector companies to collect personal information on individuals who voluntarily agree to disclose it. …

Comparing Trump to Hitler Is worst kind of hate speech

From Huffington Post Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy at R Street Institute, created his ownGodwin's Law to call out these Nazi comparisons, which are commonplace online. Godwin's Law …

Free-market groups argue to make CRS reports public

Dear Chairman Miller, Chairman Blunt and Vice Chairman Harper, As a coalition of 12 conservative, free-market organizations we urge you to expand public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) …

Kosar talks CRS with Grover Norquist

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar sat down with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform to discuss the Congressional Research Service and why its taxpayer-funded reports should be …

Happy Fair Use Week from the R Street Institute

Every time anyone create a meme or posts a gif to social media that makes use of someone else's original idea, he or she is engaged in "fair …

Congress can, and should, check the EPA’s power grab

The Clean Power Plan – the Obama administration’s policy to reduce emissions from the nation’s power plants – has a whole host of problems that have been discussed …

Dealing with children in trouble

This piece was co-authored by Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. Since officials in Cook County, Illinois established the nation’s first juvenile courts 117 years ago, …

Inappropriate Appropriations: How Congress spends without authorization

Congress spent $310 billion last year on some 250 agencies and programs that were no longer — as required under the law and Congress's own rules — authorized …

The Constitution that protects us from ourselves

"If Barack Obama wins another term, we'll have passed the point of no return for America." I heard plenty of that in 2012. One presidential election meant the …

The next crisis will come; Is your bank ready?

Banks, and credit unions, too, are loudly objecting to the Financial Accounting Standards Board's attempts to increase loan loss reserves. They have "slammed the FASB," in The Wall …

Heroin in Ithaca

Ithaca, New York—an Ivy League town that proudly styles itself America's "most enlightened city"—provides a home for plenty of unusual ideas from the political left. The most recent …

Saloon Series: The government is crushing the wine industry, literally

On Dec. 10, 2015 in Creedmoor, Texas, the U.S. government destroyed more than 500 bottles of wine. The image of a massive sledge falling upon bottles of wine, …

Gates sees both Sides in Apple vs. FBI ruckus

From E-Commerce Times If Apple does what the FBI wants done, it will set a dangerous precedent, maintained Nathan Leamer, policy analyst at the R Street Institute. "You're compelling a …

President Obama reportedly vetting Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval for SCOTUS

Brian Sandoval's office says it's the first he's heard of it, but sources "close to the Nevada governor's office" are saying that the Obama administration has begun the Supreme Court …

Comments to U.S. Copyright Office on embedded software

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization (“think tank”), whose mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets …

Political realignment in black and white (and brown)

Throughout U.S. history, we have seen political realignments roughly every 30 or 40 years. The history books often will assign some precise date or event to mark these …

R Street to Congress: Support H.R. 2901, “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act of 2015”

Feb. 24, 2016 Dear Member, We commend the House Financial Services Committee for taking up H.R.2901, Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act of 2015, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Ross …

Encryption Briefing: Apple, Encryption and the Future of National Security

RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

How tort reform helped crack down on polluters

In the war against environmental degradation, politicians and pundits all-too-often rally behind grand initiatives with colorful acronyms. But what if large reductions in toxic releases could be achieved …

Could the former NSA director be encryption’s friend?

It isn’t every day that civil libertarians and national security hawks agree on policy, but the encryption debate has created an unlikely alliance. I have rarely (scratch that…never) found …

Ross Marchand

Donate to R Street, get a signed Godwin’s Law poster

For a limited time, make a tax-deductible donation to R Street of $100 or more and we’ll send you a free original poster of Godwin's Law signed by …

The courage to gamble

Ben Bernanke’s new book, The Courage to Act, demonstrates throughout its 579 pages the fundamental uncertainty faced by central bankers, Treasury officers, and everybody else when dealing with …

Why R Street is engaging on international Internet policy

  This post was co-authored by R Street Innovation Policy Director Mike Godwin. Readers may notice that R Street has been increasingly vocal on international Internet-policy and tech-policy issues. …

Technological advances spur need for deregulated electricity market

WASHINGTON (Feb. 22, 2016) – As more consumers adopt photovoltaic solar and other forms of distributed energy resources (DERs), policymakers will need to scrap outdated rules for electricity …

Alternatives to Net Metering: A pathway to decentralized electricity markets

The traditional regulated monopoly model for electric utilities is outdated and limits both innovation and product and service development in the power sector. One current example is the …

Countries don’t go bankrupt? The 20th century proves otherwise

How risky is sovereign debt? One memorable answer, "Countries don't go bankrupt," is attributed to Walter Wriston, the most prominent banker of his day and the chairman of Citibank …

A reversal of belief in central banks is healthy

Sir, John Plender bemoans central banks’ waning credibility (Insight, Feb. 17). In fact, belief in central banks was foolish in the first place and its reversal is healthy. …

Lynne Kiesling

SXSW Policy Happy Hour

Oklahoma ponders ‘California model’ for earthquake insurance

Oklahoma lawmakers are in the early stages of considering legislation to create a state-level “earthquake reinsurance program” that its author claims will be modeled on the California Earthquake …

Why scientists shouldn’t make laws

A century from now, the great evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould may be best-remembered for his 1997 essay “Nonoverlapping Magisteria.” In it, Gould argues …

Why Is the Post Office Still a Thing?

From Vice Kevin Kosar is a senior fellow at the D.C. think tank R Street Institute, but before that he covered postal issues for the Congressional Research Service for …

New Mexico lawmakers beat clock to pass ridesharing

The New Mexico Legislature closed out its 2016 session Feb. 18, but not before passing legislation to legalize and regulate ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Just hours after …

The invisible wounds of occupational licensing

At the same time the Buckeye State was celebrating the 200th anniversary of Columbus as the state's permanent capitol last week, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation …

Saloon Series: The resurgence of Irish whiskey

Midway through 2015, something remarkable happened in Dublin—a whiskey distillery opened. The city, which is world renowned for its bibacity, had been without an operating distillery since the …

With CPP on hold, what’s next?

A fortuitous 5-4 judgment by the Supreme Court puts on hold the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s greenhouse-gas-reduction program until the court has a chance to review the …

Congress should act to ensure e-cigarettes aren’t pulled from the market

WASHINGTON (Feb. 18, 2016) – Congress should act to pass legislation to keep e-cigarettes and other vaping products on the market, as their removal would jeopardize millions of …

H.R. 2058 and the regulation of e-cigarettes

H.R. 2058, recently introduced in May 2015 by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., draws the attention of policymakers to the structure of the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory …

SCOTUS relieves nation from an EPA power grab

Last week, while all attention was focused on the New Hampshire primary, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order that could have far-reaching consequences for the destiny of …

The temptations of housing finance bubbles

A version of this policy short originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the journal Housing Finance International. Running up the leverage is the snake in the housing …

A revived Congress?

Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 2011, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has made many of his colleagues crazy. Unwilling to go along to get along, Lee has …

Apple’s pro-user, pro-privacy stand gets the issues right

This piece was co-authored by R Street Innovation Policy Director Mike Godwin.    A federal magistrate took the unprecedented step yesterday of issuing a court order for Apple Inc. to …

Apple is fighting the government to protect your privacy—and it goes way beyond your iPhone

From Rare “What the FBI wants here is more like a golden key that would allow access to private data decoding encrypted material,” says Nathan Leamer, a policy analyst at …

Replacing Scalia: What part of ‘advice and consent’ is confusing?

With the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the political universe—which was already a dumpster fire—is ablaze with talk of the president's prospective nominee, who will almost certainly …

Fixing South Dakota’s offender registries

My name is Eli Lehrer and I’m here to testify on H.B. 1244. I am president of the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank headquartered in Washington. I …

Mensah talks SLAPP on the Tech Policy Podcast

R Street policy intern Moriah Mensah sat down recently with Evan Swarztrauber, the host of TechFreedom’s Tech Policy Podcast, to discuss strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) and public …

Cloudy crystal ball

The Federal Reserve, that alleged master of financial “systemic risk,” completely failed to forecast the biggest credit event of current times: the collapse in oil prices. Of course, …

Obama says no to recess appointment to SCOTUS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already said he is unlikely to approve any Supreme Court nominee before November, and it seems the White House would rather …

Virginia gets A rating on insurance industry report card

From Augusta Free Press Virginia joins four other states given an A on the 2015 R Street Institute’s Insurance Regulation Report Card for 2015. The report is an annual …

A defense of ‘Presidents Day’

Today is President’s Day. Or is it? For a long time, I was one of those annoying people who, when you wished him a “Happy Presidents Day,” would solemnly …

Nonpartisan think tank supports NCUA’s FOM proposal

From Credit Union National Association Nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization R Street Institute wrote to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) in support of the agency’s field-of-membership proposal. …

You’ll never guess who’s targeting federal disaster spending

Politicians of both parties have learned in recent decades the perils of being seen handling a disaster poorly — as was the case with George W. Bush following …

Is privacy possible in the Internet of Things?

In past policy reports, I’ve supported the right of private-sector companies to collect personal information on individuals who voluntarily agree to disclose it. Whether it was Google, Facebook, …

Senators, Stakeholders Optimistic About PITFA Deal Ahead of Thursday Vote on Customs Bill

From Washington Internet Daily Industry PITFA supporters said Wednesday they're cautiously optimistic McConnell's deal with Durbin will allow HR-644 to pass the Senate with PITFA intact but are more …

The e-cigarette barn door is open

The health of America's 42 million smokers, whose lives will be cut short an average of ten years by their continued use of combusted cigarettes, is being held …

A tale of two Internet tax bills

Poll after poll demonstrates clearly that Americans oppose Internet taxes. Yet even as Congress is poised to act on a wildly popular bill to bar states from imposing …

Leamer talks FISA Section 702

R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer sat down with Evan Swarztrauber, the host of TechFreedom's Tech Policy Podcast, to discuss Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, …

Taxpayer advocates and industry to Congress: Oppose the president’s proposal to alter reinsurance tax provisions

February 9, 2016 Dear Chairmen Brady and Hatch and Ranking Members Levin and Wyden: The undersigned members of the Coalition for Competitive Insurance Rates and others are writing to express …

Conservative groups, legislators square off over online sales tax

From Salt Lake Tribune "Utah lawmakers would do well to listen to the loud and clear message and mountain of evidence that voters oppose misguided Internet sales-tax bills," said …

Alabama pays 14 workers more for mileage than cost of a car

In Fiscal Year 2015, Alabama paid 14 individuals enough in-state mileage reimbursement to literally buy each of them a new car. Nobody pays much attention to the details of …

U.S. Supreme Court blocks implementation of Obama’s carbon rule

In a 5-4 order, the conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of President Barack Obama's carbon rule while litigation is ongoing. The court issued the order …

EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard deceit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants Americans to pay more for their groceries. That's the only way to explain the agency's decision to mandate the use of corn-based …

R Street Institute statement on Supreme Court’s delay of Clean Power Plan

The following statement can be attributed to Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy for the R Street Institute: While it's unclear how the legal challenge will pan out, the …

Congress should clarify intent of U.S. Postal Service’s “ghost ship” board

WASHINGTON (Feb. 9, 2016) – Congressional inaction on nominees to the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors has left the agency under the control of a Temporary Emergency …

The U.S. Postal Service’s ghost ship board

The attached policy study was co-authored by Daniel J. Richardson.    To appreciate democratic dysfunction, one need look no further than the U.S. Postal Service. That single agency is home …

Greens tangled in the Evergreen State’s political thicket

Washington state's environmental community continues to fail to escape the tangle of its own political allegiances, even when it comes to addressing a crisis that, by its own …

Insurance differences stall progress on ride-hail regulation

From Tampa Tribune Instead, they support the House version by Rep. Matt Gaetz, HB 509, which passed out of the House with a supermajority vote of 108-10 and vast …

Seven years ago today, WikiLeaks published 6,700 CRS reports…and nobody was hurt

Feb. 8, 2009 began like any other Sunday for me. I was up early taking care of a young child, gulping coffee and scanning the news. The New …

Video of panel ‘The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report: Five Years Later’

To mark the fifth anniversary of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report, R Street hosted a Feb. 4 panel featuring commission members Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute …

A tale of two sovereigns

Canute was a king of Denmark who ruled over an empire that included large parts of Sweden, all of Norway and almost all of England. He ruled over …

David Bowie’s legacy on copyright and the future of music

The following was co-authored by R Street Innovation Policy Director Mike Godwin. Amid the steady stream of "hot takes" the past few weeks on the legacy of the late …

Bill legalizing ridesharing moving through West Virginia House

What a difference a year makes in the world of ridesharing. Just 18 months ago, only one state (Colorado) had passed comprehensive legislation legalizing and regulating the emerging …

Modernizing Regulation Key To Insuring Sharing Economy

From Insurance Information Institute How free are insurers to provide the insurance products consumers want? That’s a key question that the R Street Institute’s Insurance Regulation Report Card seeks to …

After latest F-35 setback, time to consider a replacement

Just when the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter project appeared it couldn’t get any worse, it went and did exactly that. The case study in how not to …

Margin between keeping, removing PITFA from customs bill down to ‘handful of votes’

From Washington Internet Daily "It's somewhere north of 50, but it's going to come down to a handful of votes." R Street Institute Executive Director Andrew Moylan told us he's …

What grade does your state get for its insurance regulation?

From Property Casualty 360 North Carolina went from bad to worse in R Street's annual rankings of state insurance regulation. Coming in at No. 49 last year in the R …

Utah citizens: Internet sales tax system works fine, don’t mess with it

From NetChoice “The new NetChoice-Vrge Analytics research finds conclusively that among ordinary Utahns, such proposals are viewed as little more than a power and money grab. These findings largely …

Cameron Smith talks New Hampshire Primary

R Street State Programs Director Cameron Smith appeared on the Feb. 4 edition of the Matt Murphy show on 1070 WAPI in Alabama to discuss the GOP Presidential …

The tension between hedge fund activism and corporate law

The attached paper was presented at a Jan. 22, 2016 symposium honoring the work of Henry G. Manne, sponsored by the Law & Economics Center at George Mason …

Here’s who was wrong about Rand Paul

From Politico “And, even though it's still early, I think that there's a good case that Paul's early support may turn into something real. In other words, he's a …

20+ Conservative Organizations to South Dakota Legislature: Oppose Online Sales Tax Proposal

February 2, 2016 Dear South Dakota State legislator: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of citizens we represent, we write in strong opposition to the online sales tax …

Labor and Employment Issues: The sharing economy

From Opportunity America: Eli Lehrer president, R Street Institute 'What’s in it for the employer? We need to provide an incentive for employers to participate in a portable benefits system. …

How Manhattan made a mockery of Prohibition

"It should not be forgotten," writes historian Ellen NicKenzie Lawson, "that one possible derivation of the word Manhattan is the Native-American word manahachtanienk, which translates as 'place of …

New poll echoes R Street finding that Utah residents oppose Internet sales taxes

WASHINGTON (Feb. 4, 2016) – A new poll released today shows that Utah residents overwhelmingly oppose Internet-sales-tax collection schemes at the federal and state level that would require …

Fueling the e-cigarette ‘gateway’ crusade with tax dollars

In an extraordinary leap of logic, a report in Tobacco Control links "ever" use of e-cigarettes – even a single experimental puff – to subsequent "ever" use of …

Don’t blame business for government mandates

People rightly rail against the evils of big government. But just as serious a problem is what might be called "hidden government," when regulation becomes so pervasive that …

What about agriculture?

From The American Conservative Lori Sanders of the R Street Institute explains the bill’s importance: Tucked neatly away in Sec. 32205, on Page 1,143 of the 1,301-page bill, is a …

Shut up, explained the businessman: how consumers like you get SLAPPed down

From Reason Representatives from eight free market, pro-consumer groups just sent today a letter in support of the SPEAK FREE Actto the House Judiciary Committee. The groups involved include …

Lefties who moved right

I very much enjoyed reading the "Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century" (Simon & Schuster, 2016), which details the movement of …

Meet your unauthorized federal government

From Politico “They tried to clamp down on [permanent reauthorizations] because they thought if we quit doing that, we’ll have to actually stop and take the time and do …

Philly taxi cartel’s ‘public-private partnership’

Regulators have a long and lamented history of picking winners and losers among businesses and industries. But they typically at try to appear to be demonstrating impartial judgement …

How Republicans weakened Congress and strengthened the presidency

From Washington Monthly But the truth is, when it comes to the shift of power away from Congress and to the President, we’ve been walking down that path for …

Free­-market, pro­-consumer groups support federal anti-­SLAPP legislation

On behalf of the undersigned free­-market organizations, we write to express our strong support for H.R. 2304, the SPEAK FREE Act, and urge you to move it swiftly …

Will the needless secrecy surrounding CRS reports end this year?

  Not quite a year back, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., sought to do a little good for the American public. He offered an amendment to an appropriations bill that …

FCC targets cable set-top boxes — why now?

  With great fanfare, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler is calling for sweeping changes to the way cable television set-top boxes work. In an essay published Jan. 27 …

Support streamlined regulation for transportation innovation in Missouri

Dear Missouri Legislator, We urge your support for S.B. 991 and H.B. 2330, which seek to provide a streamlined regulatory paradigm for transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber …

Commissioner Jones’ call for coal divestment is just the latest gesture

From Divestment Facts As for Commissioner Jones’ announcement itself, it appears to be lacking in substance. According to the think tank R Street Institute, it falls flat for two …

Women of The Federalist weigh in on feminism

From The Federalist Federalist contributor Lori Sanders, who doesn’t identify as a feminist, said that women are thriving today. “The women in my generation are so successful, and you know …

A cost curve that bent way down

Warby Parker is the most celebrated of the online optical shops upending the traditional eyeglass business. In a market where the average price for a pair of prescription …

Congress scrambles to settle US-EU data spat this weekend

Having procrastinated beyond all reason in its duties to help resolve a pressing international disagreement over how U.S. companies use Europeans' data, the rush is now on for …

Cosplay and the courts

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...cease and desist order? This week, a panic spread among cosplayers that a recent Supreme Court case on copyright infringement might have …

New Mexico tries once again to legalize ridesharing

New Mexico is the latest state to undertake an effort to make the operation of ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, legal within its borders. With the blessing …

American Action Forum

First Class! Here’s How Bernie Sanders Might Be DESTROYING The Post Office

From The Daily Caller But no matter how aggressive the new watchdog is, it is questioned whether the board can actually manage all of its duties – whether that’s analyzing IG …

Insurance debate flares as climate change boosts wildfire risk

From E&E News "That's a huge deal," said Ian Adams, senior fellow and Western region director of the conservative R Street Institute. "By making the coverage in the FAIR …

California regulator looks to open the FAIR Plan’s floodgates

In those periods of respite when the State of California is not rocking and rolling atop its various fault lines, it’s often quite literally on fire. In fact, of …

Governance experts contribute to R Street study on broken legislative branch

WASHINGTON (Jan. 28, 2016) – Five experts concur that the legislative branch is broken and has ceded too much power to the executive, and they have different ideas …

How To Address Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Restoring Congress as the first branch

In late 2014, the R Street Institute launched the Governance Project. Its task is large: to assess and improve the state of America’s system of national self-governance, with …

Who’s responsible for the rise of the Trumpire?

I get it. You're a principled conservative, anti-abortion advocate, or evangelical Christian against Trump for any number of good reasons. Maybe you're a policy expert who cares deeply …

Randomized trial of reduced-nicotine standards for cigarettes

The article by Donny et al.[1] and the accompanying Perspective article by Fiore and Baker[2] have prompted considerable discussion. Until the results of this study are replicated in a …

Video introduction to the Re:Create Coalition

The video below was filmed to introduce the world to the Re:Create Coalition, a broad collection of groups from across the ideological spectrum who agree on the need …

R Street welcomes former FERC analyst as electricity policy manager

WASHINGTON (Jan. 28, 2016) – R Street is pleased to announce the addition of Devin Hartman as electricity policy manager and senior fellow. In his new role, Hartman will conduct …

R Street praises Florida House for legalizing ridesharing, urges Senate passage

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2016) –The R Street Institute is pleased with the Florida House of Representatives' overwhelming 108-10 vote to pass H.B. 509, legislation creating a regulatory …

American Enterprise Institute

20+ conservative organizations to Utah State Legislature: Oppose online sales tax proposal

January 27, 2016 Dear Utah State legislator: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of citizens we represent, we write in strong opposition to the online sales tax proposal …

Uber for welfare

This oped was co-authored by Cesar Conda, founding principal and policy adviser of Navigators Global. In this presidential cycle, the “gig economy” has been under attack, notably from Democrats like …

Broad coalition calls to open hearings on FISA Section 702

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers, The undersigned organizations appreciate the promise you made during the debates on USA Freedom to hold hearings on Section 702 of the …

Exit Right: A Discussion With Author Daniel Oppenheimer

R Street Institute grades 50 US cities on transportation regulations

From Americans for Tax Reform In R Street Institute’s new study “Ridescore 2015: Hired Driver Rules in U.S. Cities” researchers Andrew Moylan and Zach Graves evaluate the regulatory environments …

Understanding the GOP’s civil war over off-the-grid energy

If politics makes for strange bedfellows, few issues make for more peculiar sleeping arrangements than that of distributed energy. There aren’t many others that put former Republican congressman …

Puerto Rico needs a financial control board

The government of Puerto Rico is broke. Having run a long series of constant budget deficits, financed by escalating borrowing, it has accumulated about $71 billion in debt …

45 organizations sign on in bipartisan show of support for permanent ban on Internet Access Tax

Dear Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid, The undersigned organizations, which represent millions of American consumers, strongly support the permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) in …

No, you decide

It's been half a decade since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which had been drilling the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, suffered a catastrophic blowout. Over 87 days between April …

Jones’ coal divestment call is irresponsible, blatantly political

In the early 1990s, the insolvencies of three major life insurers – Executive Life, Mutual Benefit and Confederation Life – rocked the industry and threatened to bring about …

Broad coalition urges support for H.R. 4350, bipartisan legislation to repeal harmful cybersecurity provisions

Dear Representative, On behalf of civil liberties and government accountability organizations from across the political spectrum, we encourage you to support H.R. 4350, introduced by Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., …

Devin Hartman

Comments to NCUA on association common bonds

Dear Mr. Poliquin, My name is Eli Lehrer and I am president of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank committed to finding real solutions to public-policy problems. I …

Clean Power Plan ruling puts states in a bind

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday denied requests to delay implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. At least 27 states have challenged …

DC Circuit Court refuses to halt EPA’s carbon rule

If you thought the courts were coming to the rescue to stop President Barack Obama's greenhouse gas restrictions, think again. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. …

EPA foes threaten Supreme Court battle to freeze climate rule

From ClimateWire "Failing to stay the rule puts pressure on states to develop compliance plans for a regulation that may very well turn out to be illegal," said R …

R Street disappointed in court ruling allowing EPA rule to go into effect

WASHINGTON (Jan. 21, 2016) – The R Street Institute expressed deep disappointment in today's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit not to stay …

No, the rest of the world doesn’t use ‘single payer’

There’s plenty of reason for free marketers to be skeptical of proposals, like the ones emanating from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and hinted at by Republican Donald …

Copyright Week: R Street’s greatest hits!

Advocacy groups and think tanks across the nation are celebrating Copyright Week this week, intended to highlight a series of discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright …

Postal reform a painful but necessary step, says R Street’s Kosar

WASHINGTON (Jan. 21, 2016) – Reforming the U.S. Postal Service will require making some tough cuts, but is a necessary measure to take sooner rather than later, according …

Testimony to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on postal reform

My name is Kevin R. Kosar, and I am director of the Governance Project at the R Street Institute, a think tank here in Washington. Some of you …

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Oh, Sarah

It’s hard to believe the 2008 campaign was so long ago. But it’s easy to remember the unbridled excitement we all felt when that plane from Anchorage landed …

R Street welcomes proposed reforms to FEMA disaster assistance program

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2016) – The R Street Institute welcomed the announcement, published in today’s Federal Register, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking to make reforms …

Should it matter that Ted Cruz was born in Canada?

I have it on high authority that President Barack Obama is a Kenyan and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a Canadian. By high authority, I mean that I …

Congress actually dealt with climate change in the 2016 budget bill. Really.

From Inside Climate News The new flood risk standard "is something that makes sense from a climate change point of view, but it is also something that makes sense …

Former Chicago Home Loan Bank president to lead R Street’s financial services work

WASHINGTON (Jan. 19, 2016) -- The R Street Institute is pleased to welcome Alex J. Pollock as the institute's newest distinguished senior fellow. In his new role with …

Alex J. Pollock

The Unbearable Lightness of Donald Trump; or, Trump is Hitler

From Stanford Arts Review Mike Godwin, an attorney and author in 1990, now a director of innovation policy and general counsel for The R Street Institute, has himself written …

New and Improved: The late medieval epic gets an English update

To the medieval Europeans who built magnificent cathedrals and oversaw the greatest flowering of Western culture since Rome, few stories had more resonance than that of Troilus and …

The split screen

The headline for a New York Times piece by Peter Baker this week used the metaphor of a split screen, contrasting President Obama’s State of the Union address …

Postcom national news

From Postcom The Postal Service Board of Governors is not well-structured to provide competent oversight of USPS executives and the massive USPS apparatus. The agency has a half-million employees …

BCFC announces top ten most egregious examples of unfair government competition for 2015

From Business Coalition for Fair Competition San Antonio's CPS Energy, the city-owned utility, began a solar rent-a-roof program, SolarHost, a pilot program that would pay CPS customers, homeowners and …

How to fix Fannie and Freddie

This op-ed was co-authored by James K. Glassman, a former under secretary of State and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In the midst of the financial panic …

Daniel Semelsberger

Obama’s disappointing regulatory reform record

In his final State of the Union, President Obama declared his belief that "a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy," which he paired with the …

Coalition letter to House Oversight Committee on NSA surveillance of Congress

Jan. 14, 2016 The Honorable Jason Chaffetz Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2157 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 The Honorable Elijah Cummings Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2471 …

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Newsmax’s 30 most influential Republicans 30 and under

From Newsmax Lori Sanders — As outreach director and senior fellow at the nonprofit R Street Institute, Sanders helps promote free markets and limited, effective government. Previously, she was …

Calling Texan conservatives: cut taxes, cut carbon

From Pearland Journal Libertarian groups like R-Street and economists like Resources for the Future have studied the benefits of doing a tax swap, i.e. lower corporate and income taxes …

‘Dig once’ could lead to smarter broadband

The following was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. The hardest part of building broadband Internet just might be figuring out how to get more wires into …

Cameron Smith on the Dale Jackson show

From Dale Jackson show AL.com's Cameron Smith comes on the show to give his thoughts on the State of the Union address and Mike Hubbard. Follow link for audio …

DFW Local Officials Symposium

Dallas Marriott Suites Medical/Market Center

Bootleggers, Baptists and e-cigarettes

E-cigarette users should be concerned about proposed Food and Drug Administration regulations that may eliminate most brands of these potentially life-saving cigarette alternatives, leaving only those products marketed …

Five things you might have missed in President Obama’s State of the Union address

I have to be honest: I watched the State of Union on digital video recorder so that I could fast-forward through the clapping, and get straight to the …

SmarterSafer reform priorities for the National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is up for reauthorization in 2017, and the SmarterSafer coalition believes the program should be reauthorized and reformed to ensure it is …

Portland’s sees big gains in transportation market freedom

Portions of Portland’s transportation-for-hire market – that is, the market for taxis, limos and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft – have improved faster this year than in …

Cruz, Rubio trade barbs over tax-reform plans; GOP divided

From Wall Street Journal The tax fight between the two senators reflects a “fascinating decadeslong struggle among conservatives and libertarians. Do we prize efficiency and growth potential or do …

The definition of SIFIs must Include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve banks and Open Market Committee and large federal credit programs

The attached policy study, offered as a response to MIT Center for Finance and Policy's SIFI Contest, was co-authored by Thomas H. Stanton of the American Enterprise Institute. The Financial Stability …

American Action Forum

Austin Tech Republicans January Meeting – EPA vs the Cloud

Big Daddy’s Burgers & Bar

Republicans might actually be willing to do something about climate change

From Washington Post Earlier in the year, both the R Street Institute and the Niskanen Center, two think tanks with unimpeachable conservative libertarian credentials, touted free-market plans for pricing carbon.  These coalitions …

Does the USPS even need a board of governors?

The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors is supposed to have 11 members. It currently has three: one governor, the postmaster-general and the deputy postmaster-general. By law, the board …

These are not the free market rates you’re looking for

This piece was co-authored by R Street Digital Director Zach Graves.  America’s music-copyright world was shaken up in December when the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issued its long-awaited rate …

Fingerprint background checks: not as reliable as you think

The Austin City Council last month passed rules mandating fingerprint-based background checks for prospective ridesharing drivers. These new requirements were part of wider changes to Austin's ordinance regulating …

Reform the sex-offender registry

In 1972, at the age of 21, Phillip Garrido had his first arrest. The charge: sexual assault of a minor. Four years later, he kidnapped and raped Katherine …

Mr. Smith takes on the regulatory state

By a 245 to 174 margin, the U.S. House this week passed the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act of 2015, also known as …

The awkward truth about President Obama’s ‘tough’ actions on guns

When President Barack Obama announced his intent to impose unilateral gun control measures through executive fiat, Republicans loaded for bear—or at least, aggressive overreach from a lame duck president. The …

What’s the cost of caution?

Everyone cares about safety. And no one can agree on what that term means or what it entails. That was the only bit of consensus to be found during …

Vegas transportation reform: the proof is at the cabstand

Any city looking to host conventions for more than 170,000 people, like this month's Consumer Electronics Show, needs some serious infrastructure and sufficient transportation options. But until Nevada lawmakers …

Congress could run out the clock on Obama’s regulatory reign

Welcome to 2016. By now, you should have noticed that it's a presidential election year. (Either that, or political punditry from average citizens of Iowa is at an all-time …

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report: Five Years Later

Metropolitan Club

R Street statement on resignation of Florida insurance commissioner

TALLAHASSEE (Jan. 5, 2016) – The following is a statement from R Street Institute Florida Director Christian R. Cámara on today's announcement by Kevin McCarty that he will …

Kevin McCarty to resign from insurance post

From Tallahassee Democrat "Indeed, while we may have been critical of some of his regulatory decisions over the years, he has effectively overseen the state's complex and politically charged …

Nashville tops national ridesharing scorecard with innovative attitude

When it comes to an inviting regulatory environment for transportation innovators like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, Nashville is the best city in the nation. According to a report recently …

Texas’ insurance rankings are cause for concern

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, this is true of the monthly insurance bill. Premiums for homeowners’ insurance are the third highest in the nation, with premiums …

Rethinking sex-offender registries

The attached was published originally in National Affairs Issue Number 26 - Winter 2016.   As they bicycled and scootered back to their homes from a trip to the local …

Attack on e-cigarettes as gateway products draws from same old playbook

False claims that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking dissuade smokers from switching to safer smokeless products, leaving them at greater risk of fatal disease. The prohibitionists' playbook …

2016: A look ahead at the year in government

From San Diego Union-Tribune “The safety gains of self-driving cars — as well as the associated savings in health care, litigation and insurance costs — are tied closely to …

Reflections on a year gone by

It's dark and quiet at my house right now. Alabama just won the Cotton Bowl with a shutout. My wife and I watched the ball drop in New …

Comments to FDA on regulating tobacco products as drugs

Summary Recommendations: FDA should redefine smoking as a behavior, not a disease, and regulate all tobacco-related and nicotine-delivery products accordingly. FDA should migrate all regulation of tobacco-related and nicotine-delivery products …

Postal union chief calls for post office banking

From Heartland Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, says postal banking is an outdated idea, better left in the history books. “The postal banking system was …

Make a year-end donation to R Street, get a free gift!

Get the mug everyone has been talking about. Make a tax-deductible donation to R Street of $50 or more and we'll send you your choice of these premium …

China, US signal a cyber policy ‘arms race’

From SC Magazine “It's race to the bottom,” said Nathan Leamer, a policy analyst and the outreach manager for the R Street Institute, in speaking with SCMagazine.com. “We've opened …

Kasich signs Ohio TNC bill into law

Ohio has officially become the 28th state to pass legislation regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, as Gov. John Kasich signed H.B. 237 into law Dec. …

DMV won’t unleash robocars on CA roads

From CalWatchdog Beltway observers hoped to land objections to the California regulations that might reverberate at the federal level in the future. “As currently constructed, these proposed rules work at cross-purposes with …

Price controls will slow drug innovation

From San Diego Union-Tribune Navigating the regulatory regimen is “hugely expensive,” said Ian Adams, Sacramento director of the R Street Institute, a right-of-center think tank. This is “some of …

Season’s greetings from R Street

All of us here at the R Street Institute would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; a Chag Chanukah Sameach; a Cheerful Maunajiyaras; a Joyous …

Gov. Bentley’s beach house blunders

The 2010 BP oil spill damaged plenty of things along Alabama's Gulf Coast. The governor's beach house wasn't one of them. But here we are, spending BP money to …

ExxonMobil and Sierra Club agreed on climate policy—and kept it secret

From Bloomberg Business Over the last seven years, the Obama administration has written rules that govern climate pollution, from tailpipes to smokestacks. Libertarian conservative groups such as the Niskanen …

DC Gets Top Marks For Uber-Friendly Policies

From District Source DC, the top-rated city in 2014, again came out on top with a seven-way tie for “friendliness to vehicle-for-hire transportation” among 50 of the largest U.S. cities, …

DMV is off track on proposed rules for self-driving cars

The rise of self-driving vehicles is not the much-feared rise of the machines that some make it out to be. But try explaining that to the California Department …

E-cigarette flavors needed to keep vapers from returning to smoking

WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2015) – The variety of flavors available for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) like e-cigarettes are a component that keeps many users from returning to …

The role of flavoring in tobacco harm reduction

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY One of the great public health controversies of our time surrounds the debate over what role Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), of which e-cigarettes are the most …

Embracing the 21st century employee

From The Manhattan Institute Ian Adams of the R Street Institute agrees, as forcing courts to classify the growing category of independent workers as either employees or independent contractors …

Missouri behind the curve on ridesharing laws, report says

From St. Louis Business Journal Missouri is one of about 20 states in the United States that don’t have a some form of statewide legislation creating a regulatory structure …

Letter to President Obama on OMB open-government plan

Dear Mr. President: We, the undersigned organizations, are concerned about the failure of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comply fully with a presidential memorandum on transparency …

DC Legal Hackers’ Le Hackie Awards

The Loft at 600 F

Politics of Star Wars panel

Back on Dec. 9, R Street hosted a panel on "The Politics of Star Wars." Among the topics: was Han Solo the first Uber driver? Was Tatooine a failed …

ABQ hails passing grade on ride-for-hire market — with room to improve

From Albuquerque Business Journal Ridescore, a study by Washington, D.C.-based public policy research organization R Street Institute, looked at 50 cities across the U.S. and gave them a transportation …

Rep. Riggs pleased to see Ky. named a top state for effective insurance regulation

From Berea Online The 2015 Insurance Regulation Report Card is issued annually by the R Street Institute, a think tank that, according to its study, advocates for an “open …

Commonwealth gets A on insurance regulation report card

From Richmond Register Kentucky is among the top five states when it comes to the home, auto and workers compensation insurance market, according to a new study. The Commonwealth was …

Louisville scores high on taxi friendliness

From Courier-Journal In a survey of 50 large American cities, Louisville received the top score for friendliness -- according to the study released this week by the R Street Institute …

R Street alarmed by Austin City Council’s hostility toward TNCs

AUSTIN, Texas (Dec. 18, 2015) – The R Street Institute was dismayed by the Austin City Council’s adoption of an ordinance last night that would require all transportation …

A chat with Congress’ only ex-CIA officer about surveillance

Technology has enabled a dramatic increase in interconnectivity and sharing of new ideas. Yet this increased communication and online engagement has also brought about new and difficult tests …

Last GOP Debate of 2015 marks divide on civil liberties

If Republicans had any questions about which presidential candidates are willing to sacrifice individual liberty for a perceived increase in national security, the last Republican debate of 2015 …

Effect of further cigarette tax increases on youth smoking appears minimal or nil

Most states and many cities have in the last 20 years initiated or raised tobacco excise taxes.  The fact that both the amount and rate of tax increases differ widely across …

Coalition opposes the Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act

Chairman Charles Grassley Ranking Member Patrick Leahy Committee on the Judiciary U.S. Senate We, the undersigned human rights and civil liberties organizations and trade associations, write to convey our significant concerns with …

Ridesharing lessons from the Buckeye State

One wonders if Ohio Gov. John Kasich, before he made his way back home following Tuesday's CNN presidential debate in Las Vegas, might have noticed how the local …

Apple Car, Google Car must have a driver, rules California

From Seating Chair YouTube, Android, advertising, maps, and search are part of the Google unit. The new rules aim to push them into the roll-out phase. That guidance — …

California DMV stops short of fully embracing driverless cars

From the Press Chronicle Libertarian think tank R Street calls out California for requiring vehicles be tested and certified by third-party testing bodies that don't now exist, and that …

For energy markets, tax and budget talks include good, bad and ugly proposals

R Street has a longstanding commitment to highlight wasteful government spending, programs and market restrictions. The end-of-year negotiations on the budget deal and tax extenders have highlighted some …

California DMV’s proposal hits the brakes on driverless cars

From The Next Web Plus, manufacturers will be barred from installing features to allow cars to drive themselves to parking lots after dropping passengers off at their destination. That’s not …

California wants to keep autonomous cars from being autonomous

From The Verge Libertarian think tank R Street calls out California for requiring vehicles be tested and certified by third-party testing bodies that don't currently exist, and that autonomous vehicle …

Congress ties controversial cybersecurity bill to key spending package

From Huff Post Tech Free market advocates, including Freedom Works, TechFreedom, The R Street Institute and Niskanen Center, expressed deep concerns with these developments and with CISA itself. "There is …

Is Congress about to expand govt surveillance? Critics claim ‘sneaking’ this rider into massive, must-pass spending bill will do just that

From The Blaze The provisions in the omnibus spending bill likely to be approved this week “are unlikely to increase the government’s ability to detect, intercept, and thwart cybersecurity …

Ryan urged to leave cyber threat sharing bill out of omnibus

From Inside Sources Conservative groups including FreedomWorks, TechFreedom, the R Street Institute and the Niskanen Center joined critics in opposing the legislation as a rider late Tuesday. “The provisions contained …

Seven cities top R Street annual ‘Ridescore’ for transportation friendliness

WASHINGTON (Dec. 17, 2015) - In the second year of analyzing data from 50 of the largest U.S. cities, seven cities received the top score for friendliness to …

Ridescore 2015: Hired driver rules in U.S. cities

The attached policy study was coauthored by R Street Digital Director Zach Graves.  R Street researchers last year embarked on an ambitious project to assess 50 of America’s largest …

California gets it very wrong on self-driving cars

Nearly a year since its last workshop on autonomous-vehicle regulation, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has released draft regulations for consumer-oriented self-driving cars. While patient deliberation is …

The EPA’s illegal propaganda

The Environmental Protection Agency misused tax dollars in the service of public propaganda, according to a legal opinion just handed down by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The …

Don’t include CISA in omnibus

Today, R Street joined the Niskanen Center, FreedomWorks and TechFreedom in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., opposing any attempt to add CISA (the Cybersecurity Information …

Free-market groups oppose CISA being added to the omnibus package

Dear Speaker Ryan, We, the undersigned free market organizations, wish to express our deep concern over the extra- procedural revision of three bills related to cybersecurity and information sharing: …

Seattle picks a fight with Uber

Under federal labor law, drivers for transportation-network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are currently considered contractors, not employees — and thus they don't have a right to …

Outsourcing oversight through open government data

Congress has a big problem when it comes to oversight. The federal government has grown vastly larger over the past century, but Congress has done little to empower …

Sure, call Trump a Nazi. Just make sure you know what you’re talking about.

First, let me get this Donald Trump issue out of the way: If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer …

Midland, Texas lawmakers consider putting the brakes on Uber

From Heartland Josiah Neeley, a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, says lawmakers should make it easier, not harder, to earn a living. “What we see is that when …

With eyes on Paris, DC stayed busy on energy issues

The international climate negotiations in Paris – formally, the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21 –might have been the media focus the last two weeks, but Congress and …

Hurd at R Street: A Conversation on Privacy and Security

State insurance given a D grade

From American Press A recent report from R Street Institute, a Washington D.C.-based conservative think tank, gave Louisiana’s insurance department a D grade on its 2015 insurance regulation report …

Surveillance bill masked as ‘cybersecurity’ close to completion

From Truth in Media “Let me be clear that we do not support any of the three bills and believe that cybersecurity legislation could actually make us more vulnerable to …

Beware state legislators seeking limitless tax authority

From Huffington Post Understandable they would want to keep online sales tax under the radar. The bills are widely unpopular with voters across the spectrum. According to polling conducted …

Librarians join privacy groups, as industry sources react to cybersecurity draft

From SC Magazine The letter (PDF link) called the closed discussions an “undemocratic process,” and said the in-conference legislation “loses any advantages and improvements in the Homeland Security Committee's own …

Louisiana gets ‘D’ grade for insurance regulation, cites ‘politicization’

From Times-Picayune Louisiana has received a "D" grade and is ranked 49th nationwide in the 2015 insurance regulation report card released annually by R Street Institute. It's the second year in …

Support permanent Internet tax freedom – Vote ‘yes’ on H.R. 644

Dear Member of Congress, On behalf of the millions of members of our organizations, we strongly urge you to support the conference report to H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation …

Liberated women and contraband cocktails: Thanks, Prohibition!

In case you missed it, the 82nd anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal (1920-1933) was Dec. 5. I myself celebrated with a glass of bourbon and a few microbrews at …

Coalition urges repeal of USDA catfish inspection program

Shaun DonovanDirectorOffice of Management and Budget725 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20503 Dear Mr. Donovan, As organizations that represent millions of taxpayers across the country, it is with great concern we …

Farenthold’s R Street Doubleheader

From Politico Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold’s name continues to pop up more in the tech policy space, and he’s pulling double duty today. Farenthold is the opening speaker at …

Which States rate best on insurance regulation? Not North Carolina.

From WRIN According to R Street Institute’s Regulation Report Card, eight states received an A or A minus rating based on scores in areas such as monitoring solvency, policing …

Privacy is not the problem

In the wake of last month’s monstrous terrorist attacks in Paris and the recent massacre in San Bernardino, national security hawks wasted no time in declaring their verdict …

Practicing what we preach on smoking cessation

R Street’s work on tobacco harm reduction matters a great deal to us. On these matters, we’ve taken a position different from many other libertarian groups. It might …

A conservative answer to climate change

The Paris climate change negotiations won’t end until later this week, but we already know what will happen. The parties will reach a toothless agreement pledging to reduce emissions …

Coalition letter to White House and Congress on cyber security

Dear President Barack Obama and Members of Congress, The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose the newly negotiated “conference”  legislation that purports to resolve differences between H.R. 1560, which …

The pitfalls of just saying ‘no’ to EPA’s carbon rule

If states like Alabama don't submit a carbon-reduction plan or request an extension by Sept. 6, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will impose what amounts to a …

House GOP’s Cramer floats interest in a carbon tax

From ClimateWire Eli Lehrer, president of the free market-focused R Street Institute, said Cramer could be proposing a constructive alternative that could be the basis to repeal and replace …

Crazed conspiracy theories contribute to gridlock

From Washington Monthly That is basically the same story Kevin Kosar told in his article in the Washington Monthly titled: Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service. …

Opening comments at ‘The Politics of Star Wars’ event

My name is Eli Lehrer. I'm president of the R Street Institute and I'd like to welcome all of you to our offices. I'm also a huge Star Wars …

15 reasons Congressional Research Service reports should be made public

From Taxpayers Protection Alliance I worked at the Congressional Research Service for 11 years as an analyst and manager. I greatly enjoyed supplying congressional staff, committees, and members of Congress …

This is what the social safety net could look like for on-demand workers

From Washington Post And then there are those, like the conservative R Street Institute, that want to to create a “safe harbor” for on-demand companies to experiment with offering employment-like benefits …

Congress to protect worst bureaucratic outrage you’ve never heard about

From Daily Caller “The Email Privacy Act isn’t by any means a complete solution to the problem of overreaching government powers to seize our email,” R Street Institute General …

More transparency is necessary in the music royalties system, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (Dec. 8, 2015) – Musicians and songwriters are hampered in their ability to profit from emerging digital music models by an opaque system in which online streaming …

Transparency in music licensing and the statutory remedy problem

The modern conversation about music copyright has been shaped by the emergence of new digital business models. As these new markets for music open, one might expect the …

A small silver lining in Ex-Im renewal’s black cloud

As it had long been clear he would, President Barack Obama has signed H.R. 22, the five-year, $305 billion federal highway bill that also revives from the dead …

Saloon series: Should we be worried about “Big Beer?”

From American Spectator Last month, AB InBev and SABMiller announced they had agreed to join forces. The proposed $106 billion deal would unite the makers of two of the …

On tether to fossil fuels, nations speak with money

From New York Times Eli Lehrer, the co-founder of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington, said the oil industry did not need many of the …

Statewide ridesharing rules ready to go in Florida House

State legislators descended on Tallahassee last week for their final round of interim committee hearings – also the last time they will meet before the official start of …

Did Chris Rock have the answer to gun violence?

I love Chris Rock. Or I should probably say, I love Chris Rock, the standup comedian. The record of Chris Rock, the actor and filmmaker, is decidedly more mixed. …

Austin shifts into reverse on sharing economy

The last few years have seen an incredible expansion in what’s known as the sharing economy. Digital media has made it easy to sell belongings online, rent out …

Gun violence, control and the left’s true intentions

For America's political left, the problem in San Bernardino, Calif., wasn't terrorism. It wasn't pure evil perpetrated by extremists. Many liberals see the fundamental cause of the murders …

White House rezones poorer areas to generate economic mobility

From Deseret News But as the White House economists focus on residential mobility, Eli Lehrer and Lori Sanders of National Affairs magazine propose another solution: perhaps policymakers should not encourage home …

Study finds consumers benefit from aftermarket crash parts

There’s a good chance that you are paying more for repairing your vehicle after an accident than you need to be. A new study has found that car …

Comments to U.S. Justice Department on BP spill consent decree

On Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a final settlement with BP stemming from its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/Macondo Well oil spill. …

The future is in the futures markets: an interview with Richard Sandor

Richard Sandor has a relatively painless solution to climate change. It relies on the financial markets, not onerous regulation. It even has a track record. He talked to …

The last budget deal had some small reforms–that politicians are now trying to kill

From Rare The R Street Institute’s Lori Sanders concurred, pointing to Congress’s recent reversals here and on the Ex-Im bank. “They say that no good thing ever lasts,” she …

Joi Washington

Transportation bill would undo billions in crop insurance savings

The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) is aptly named, but for all the wrong reasons. The process for getting to final passage for the federal transportation …

Onerous new FDA rules will increase smoking

This piece was co-authored by R Street State Programs Director Cameron Smith.   New rules from the Food and Drug Administration could wreck the consumer-driven market for a broad range …

Best, worst states for insurance regulation

From Insurance Journal: Vermont, Utah, Iowa, Virginia and Kentucky get an “A” and North Carolina an “F” in one think tank’s annual grading of states on how they regulate …

The 9 worst states for insurance regulation: report

From Insurance Business America North Carolina is the worst state in the nation for free market-promoting insurance regulation. That’s the finding from the 2015 Insurance Regulation Report Card, issued by …

California improves by not getting worse

Sometimes, small victories are worthy of celebration. A qualified celebration of just that variety is in order at the California Department of Insurance headquarters in Sacramento to mark …

Broad coalition supports ECPA reform

Dear Chairman Grassley, Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Leahy, Ranking Member Conyers and Members of the Committees: We, the undersigned, write in support of a simple principle: that law enforcement …

Vermont leads nation in effective insurance regulation, North Carolina least effective, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (Dec. 1, 2015) – The R Street Institute has released its annual report card on insurance regulation, awarding Vermont and four other states with a grade of …

Congress should publish Statutes-at-Large as open data

Two years ago, Congress began publishing the U.S. Code in the XML markup language, a remarkably versatile format that can be read both by people and by machines. …

State’s insurance regulation earns a B

From Hartford Business Journal Hartford may have one time been known as the "Insurance Capital of the World," but when it comes to regulating the industry, the state earns …

Vermont ranks high in study

From New England Business Journals This article also appeared in the Rutland Herald and the Times Argus MONTPELIER — For the fourth straight year, Vermont has led the nation in …

NRDC: Congress Wrong to Try to Block Federal Flood Standards, New Interactive Mapping Tool Shows

From eNews Park Forest: “The standards aren’t just good environmental sense, they make good fiscal sense too,” said Eli Lehrer, president and co-founder of the R Street Institute, a …

2015 Insurance Regulation Report Card

Welcome to the fourth edition of the R Street Institute’s Insurance Regulation Report Card, our annual examination of which states do the best job of regulating the business …

How states can use the Clean Power Plan to cut taxes

With the latest round of climate talking getting underway, all eyes are on Paris. Yet back in the United States, states are already considering how to reduce greenhouse …

The real history and meaning behind ‘the State of Jefferson’

Green flags emblazoned with a yellow circle encompassing twin Xs are an increasingly common sight in the Gold Country. That standard belongs not to a county or a …

R Street at the Thanksgiving table

Every year, various publications wish their readership a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Some go further. They provide their readership with advice about how to navigate political conversations around …

In wake of record fine, Pennsylvania lawmakers scramble to legalize ridesharing

The Pennsylvania Legislature is having to act fast to settle on a way to regulate transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. That’s because administrative law judges for …

Why wait until tomorrow? How to speed innovation

There was no such thing as a self-driving car in 2003. That's when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced its first Grand Challenge, with a $1 million …

Free-market groups to Congress: Continue risk corridor’ restrictions

Speaker Paul Ryan H-232, The Capitol Washington, D.C. 20515 Majority Leader Mitch McConnell S-230, The Capitol Washington, D.C. 20510 Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell, As you begin negotiations over legislation to continue government …

An open letter to Congress: Beware of reinsurance tax hikes as ‘pay-fors’

Dear Member of Congress: As the 2015 session winds down, lawmakers are seeking a variety of "pay-fors" to offset the costs of legislation whose passage is deemed urgent. Although …

Should we be worried about the big beer merger?

Last month, AB InBev and SABMiller announced they had agreed to join forces. The proposed $106 billion deal would unite the makers of two of the best-known American …

Time for a progressive approach to insurance regulation

It’s time for a truly progressive approach to insurance regulation in California. Unfortunately, the state’s deeply Democratic blue politics conceal an unexpected pocket of regulatory conservatism. California adopted Proposition …

Here’s how to make the Congressional Research Service more transparent

From Washington Examiner "The policy is irrational, inefficient, and costly," writes Kevin Kosar, a former CRS analyst and manager. Kosar notes that there is no reason why CRS reports …

Letter to congressional leadership on federal flood standards

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader Reid: SmarterSafer, a coalition of environmental organizations, taxpayer advocates, insurance representatives, housing organizations and mitigation experts that advocates for environmentally …

No matter what the kids say these days, the sky is not the sea

A Washington state court has found that navigable waterways are linked to the planet’s atmosphere to such a great degree that the law governing one must apply to …

Post office continues sinking as the band plays on

From Newsweek The U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $5 billion this past year, according to itsyear-end financial results. As in recent years, the agency did not make the legally required …

Ethan Bishop

Understanding the crusade against e-cigarettes

Two recent public comment letters from Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco finally lay bare the myth that underlies the public-health crusade against e-cigarettes …

Massachusetts lawmakers go home for holidays; no action on ridesharing

In the home of the Pilgrims, lawmakers have gone home ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Massachusetts Legislature has adjourned for 2015, having failed to move on any …

Noteworthy at the NAIC, Nov. 20

From SNL Financial Morning technology chatter Early risers can get breakfast with a side of tech talk at an early morning panel discussion on online insurance distribution. The Nov. 20 …

R Street Institute

The Politics of Star Wars

Could restitution play a role in criminal justice reform?

It is widely acknowledged that the United States has a problem with mass incarceration. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the nation has more than 1.5 million …

Logos

Logos

Logos and graphics

Readopted credit-scoring model highlights NCOIL’s annual meeting

Cyber insurance, international regulatory efforts, the sharing economy and the successful state credit-scoring model dominated the agenda of this past week's National Conference of Insurance Legislators meetings in …

Gillibrand proposes reinsurance tax gimmick to fund 9/11 victims

In his seminal 1987 work Crisis and Leviathan, economic historian Robert Higgs traces the pattern of government growth as a response to catastrophic events. The federal government, in …

Leamer talks ISIS on The Big Picture

R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer appeared on the Nov. 17 edition of RT's The Big Picture, to discuss the Paris attacks, ISIS, Syrian refugees, digital privacy and congressional …

Americans still move, just not enough

From Bloomberg View In a 2014 article in National Affairs, Eli Lehrer and Lori Sanders of the conservative/libertarian think tank R Street agreed that housing prices -- and the zoning …

Whistleblowers for innovation

From Marginal Revolution Derek Khanna at the R Street Institute suggests a similar system to reward innovators (pdf). Imagine a research team developed a cancer drug that could save the federal …

Texas shouldn’t wait to address EPA carbon rule

WASHINGTON (Nov. 18, 2015) – The option to use carbon fees to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan could produce enough revenue for Texas to …

Facing up to government sprawl

Reducing the size of the federal workforce has become a hot political issue this year. When the House and Senate drew up their budget plans this spring, both chambers …

The Texas Path: Preserving energy sovereignty to cut taxes

Texas faces some tough energy choices. Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), Texas is expected by 2030 to have reduced carbon dioxide (CO2 ) …

An unrealistic smoking ban

The regulations proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development described in the Nov. 13 Federal Eye column, “Plan to snuff smoking in public housing” [The Fed Page], …

Music policy briefing & breakfast

Rayburn HOB

Public housing smoking bans won’t work

While the Sun is right to draw attention to the significant health dangers of cigarette smoking, your editorial's implication that the experience of existing public housing authorities in …

Remarks prepared for Re:Create Coalition briefing

In the sweaty summer of 1787, our Founding Fathers created the oldest working written constitution in the world. This document, as those of us on the political right …

Will we carve ‘safe spaces’ out of free speech?

Public college campuses strive to have plenty of safe spaces for students. That's just a fact. If students aren't safe, schools won't be successful for very long. But recent …

Dr. Ben Carson vs. Dr. Jill Biden

From Washington Examiner R.J. Lehmann for the R Street Institute: Ben Carson has surged ahead to become the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. Carson now has the …

Replace Patents With Prizes To Spur Innovation, Create Savings: R Street

From ValueWalk As R Street’s Derek Kanna points out in a recent policy study: “Even when they work properly, patents limit competition by granting a 20-year legal monopoly.7 De …

Dispatch: Sunshine State looks to a new conservative future

From The Telegraph They were firm friends," said Christian Camara, a Florida lobbyist and a personal friend of Mr Rubio. "They worked together very closely." …

Should oil firms be held liable in earthquake lawsuits?

Holding companies liable for damages caused by fracking-induced earthquakes is an unreliable way to manage this new risk. The courts simply aren’t equipped to handle this issue in …

Feds to punish public-housing tenants for smoking in their own apartments

Sometime in the next two years, if Obama administration bureaucrats get their way, public-housing tenants who smoke in their own apartments will face sanctions, fines and perhaps even …

As Congress remains gridlocked, the USPS loses

The U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $5 billion this past year, according to its just-released year-end financial results. As in recent years, the agency did not make the …

Paris Attacks: Do the bad guys win in the real world?

It was a long night in Paris, and they'll have many more. My wife and I stayed up watching the horrible events unfold. The chaos, confusion and pain were …

Adventures in opaque polling

Poll after poll show that ordinary Americans simply don’t cotton to the idea of an Internet sales tax, such as those proposed by the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” …

Embattled #Mizzou prof Melissa Click got grant to attend Twilight convention

You are, no doubt, familiar with Melissa Click, the embattled University of Missouri professor who kind of resigned this week (from the journalism school, where she had a …

Tech companies, labor advocates and think tankers of all stripes call for sweeping reforms of the social safety net

From the Washington Post The idea was fleshed out in a follow-up brief by the conservative R Street Institute, which described a private benefits exchange through which companies with …

A new gin for a new century

Gin has had a weird and wild ride over the past 500 years. The Dutch were producing the piney drink in the 1500s, but adding herbs to liquor …

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership

Funding

Funding

Funding and expenditures

On-demand app companies propose new model for worker benefits

From PC World The signatories to the statement, including representatives of groups such as the Freelancers Union, National Guestworker Alliance and R Street Institute, have proposed as an alternative …

Surprising allies join together in support of tech gig workers

From Silicon Valley Business Journal Although well short of a formal policy proposal, the statement is notable for some of its unlikely collaborators. In additional to tech and investment …

Federal prize incentives to innovation could save money and lives

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2015) – The federal government should establish an “innovation savings program” (ISP) – rooted in familiar prize structures in the public and private sectors – …

Using prizes to spur innovation and government savings

In myriad sectors of the U.S. economy, from military technology to medical care, the federal government serves as the single-largest spender. As such, many of the innovations, inventions …

How Texas can get more time on EPA rules

Last Friday, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency formally published its Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations requiring a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from American …

Houston’s public potty problems flush out a lack of pragmatism

The smell is dissipating from what ultimately became a referendum on public potty policy in Houston, Texas, but this isn't the last we'll see of this type of issue. The ordinance …

The college Frankenstein

Monday morning, embattled University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned, after pressure from student groups over a series of "racial incidents" that apparently marred the campus experience to …

Red flag for vapers: avoid some flavoring agents

As a health professional, I started telling smokers to switch to smokeless tobacco in 1994, based on decades of definitive epidemiological evidence for the relative safety of smokeless …

The next big thing: ‘gig economy’ workers’ rights

From The Weekly Standard: Two statements released this week—an open letter organized by a Silicon Valley nonprofit and a policy brief from the R Street Institute—launch a new and …

Kind, Sensenbrenner Introduce Bipartisan Crop Insurance Reform Legislation

From Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the AFFIRM Act will save approximately $24.4 billion over the next decade, and the legislation enjoys bipartisan support from …

Where taxpayers pay ($100 million a year) but interest groups benefit

It seemed like a silly question, but as the new guy, I was obliged to ask: “Can I e-mail a copy of my report to my mother?” Mom had …

R Street brief refines principles for the future of work in the sharing economy

WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2015) – Stable and flexible benefits are good for workers, business and society and public policy should encourage firms to compete across all dimensions to …

The flexible future of work

Working with partners from the worlds of business, labor and academia, the R Street Institute recently took part in crafting an open letter to policymakers that lays out …

Companies are best equipped to regulate themselves

The last thing that this nation needs is a more active regulatory state, but once again, an incalculably stupid firm – in this case, Volkswagen – has given …

Chicago still isn’t giving Uber a fair shake

Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services will be permitted to pick up passengers at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports under a plan approved by the City Council in …

How not to be Paul Krugman

One of my favorite bloggers is Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex. In a recent post, Scott wrote about the inability of small children to conceive that other …

Nevada power markets need more competition

Nevada’s power markets need more competition. Plagued by continued reliance on the outdated regulated utility model, Nevadans pay more for electricity than all but four states west of the …

Ohio dodged a bullet on ‘legal’ pot

Ohio voters last week voted down legalized recreational marijuana use, but the state also may be taking a first step toward exploring the medical research and ameliorative capability …

The ninja are among us

Ninjas. Just the word can send a shiver down one's back. Originating in feudal Japan and reaching their peak during the Sengoku era that spanned the 16th and 17th …

Speak now or forever hold your peace on Deepwater Horizon oil spill

By now, it's no secret that many coastal residents aren't happy with the proposed settlement between BP, the federal government and the five Gulf Coast states. They have …

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Ten Years Later

Liberal Arts North #142

Obama’s disappointing keystone rejection

President Barack Obama's rejection of Keystone XL is far from surprising. That doesn't stop it from being extremely disappointing. Debate over the pipeline morphed over time into a completely …

R Street frustrated by White House rejection of Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON (Nov. 6, 2015) - The R Street Institute was disappointed by today's decision from President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would …

DOD spent millions so sports teams would ‘support the troops’

I have, at least as far as I can tell, never been paid to be patriotic. I mean, it's not as though I've wanted to be paid to hang …

Youth e-cigarette bans increase youth cigarette smoking

Smoking increased significantly among teens aged 12 to 17 in states that banned e-cigarette sales to minors compared with states that didn’t impose bans, according to a study …

Northeast states offer only modest discounts in insurance bundling, according to new study

From Insurance Business America: Nevertheless, Eli Lehrer, president of the nonprofit research organization The R Street, said that bundling is an effective tool in selling policies. “Bundling insurance saves money …

The House Freedom Caucus wants looser party control on the floor. This is what would happen if they did.

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was often attacked by fellow Republicans for influencing House processes …

Bernie Sanders doesn’t like Uber; uses it literally all the time

Bernie Sanders is the champion of the little guy, the downtrodden and the oppressed victims of (big "C") Capitalism who have found themselves trapped in the lower-middle class …

Create. Innovate. Reform.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Prop F fails, but news not all rosy for Airbnb on home turf

On a night of statewide and city races across the country, the highest-profile vote may have occurred in San Francisco. There, voters decided by a 55 to 45 …

Group disappointed that Keystone XL will be delayed again

From Ohio.com: Having already waited seven years for a decision from the U.S. State Department, the R Street Institute was disappointed at yesterday's news that TransCanada was forced into …

CEA, Zenefits, Yelp and R Street Institute brief congressional staff on negative impacts of SLAPPs

From Virtual-Strategy Magazine: On Monday, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® along with CEA members Yelp, Zenefits, and R Street Institute briefed Congressional staff, businesses and advocacy organizations on the chilling …

Adams talks SLAPPs in CEA hangout

R Street Western Region Director Ian Adams joined an online Google Hangouts panel put together by the Consumer Electronics Association to discuss SLAPPs -- that is, Strategic Lawsuits Against …

Free speech advocates support CRFA

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson: Every day, countless Americans use consumer review sites to share their experiences and opinions on the businesses and services they rely upon. …

Federal government should follow Florida’s lead on flood insurance crisis

Hurricane Wilma’s 10th anniversary on Oct. 24 came and went without much fanfare. But for Floridians, it’s a marker that divides two very different chapters in our state’s …

Free-market groups support CRFA

As free-market organizations, we write to express our strong support for your committee’s ongoing efforts to defend commerce and freedom of expression. In particular, as advocates for a free and …

End of Doom: How Free Markets Are Canceling the Environmental Apocalypse

Austin Ale House

The Irish House

Sales tax online? Debate in Cincinnati lingers

From Cincinnati.com A 2013 poll by the firm Mercury for the national Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute showed that voters opposed Internet sales-tax proposals such as the Marketplace Fairness Act 57 …

Study: NY Times calls Jill Biden ‘Dr.’ much more often than Ben Carson

From NewsBusters R.J. Lehmann at the R Street Institute tried a little searching on the Nexis news database and discovered that Jill Biden is more than three times more …

R Street disappointed that government regulation delays Keystone XL pipeline once again

WASHINGTON (Nov. 3, 2015) – Having already waited seven years for a decision from the U.S. State Department, the R Street Institute was disappointed at yesterday's news that …

Bench-slapped by anti-SLAPP

Judges occasionally descend from the august pedestals on which they sit to offer decidedly human rebukes to the parties before them. Among attorneys, these moments have a tongue-in-cheek …

Modeling the health effects of expanding e-cigarette sales

A modeling study by Sara Kalkhoran and Stanton A. Glantz published in the Oct. 1, 2015 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine can reasonably be interpreted as demonstrating the …

Portland’s ridesharing pilot could come crashing down

The Portland City Council demonstrated remarkably good judgement when it instituted its transportation network company pilot program back in April, allowing firms like Uber and Lyft to operate …

A landslide of bad ideas

Landslides are a problem for which the United States has yet to come up with an answer. A recent essay by Penn State University law professor Christopher C. …

Breaking the link between conservative worldview and climate skepticism

From Blue Nation Review: Conservative think tank R Street, started by former Heartland Institute staffer Eli Lehrer, is actively searching for conservative methods for addressing the issue. …

CEA Anti-SLAPP Briefing

Rayburn House Office Building

Coalition urges Congress to reject tax increases

Dear Congressman: As the end of the Congressional session approaches, you will face many calls to raise taxes in order to "pay for" higher levels of spending and debt. …

The publicly funded reports you can’t read

From Politico: Kevin Kosar, a former CRS researcher, said it was unfair to the public that the CRS keeps its front door closed while the reports can legally move …

Congress temporarily extends Internet access tax ban

From The Heartland Institute: “This bill would reduce disruptions to interstate commerce, consistent with Congress’ constitutional authority,” Moylan said. “In doing so, it would protect consumers from having to …

Study: Laws banning e-cigarettes increase teen smoking

From The Daily Caller: "If banning e-cigarette sales to minors [is] causing more of them to take up smoking, then the current policy trend is almost certainly a net …

Consumer Watchdog should want a more dynamic, competitive market for California insureds

Yesterday, I published a paper about, and titled, "The troublesome legacy of Prop 103." Shortly thereafter, an organization called Consumer Watchdog published a startlingly quick response. The speed of …

How bitcoin can help get money to refugees in need

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have grown in influence and usage the past few years. People looking for an alternative to government-issued fiat currencies, or who simply don't trust …

Gin and regulation: a lesson in a bottle

There is a bottle that sits on my desk which serves as irrefutable proof that less regulation is better than more. Pull the stopper top and a remarkable aroma …

How many Americans smoke?

In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, an annual report the CDC has used for half a …

Free Market Groups to Congress: Support Agriculture Savings through Modifying the Standard Reinsurance Agreement

Oct. 28, 2015 Dear Member of Congress, While each of our organizations' positions differ on the myriad components of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015, we write with one voice …

GOP struggles to attract tech and cyber talent

From SC Magazine: In early 2013, Nathan Leamer, a congressional staffer working on the Hill, had an “Aha” moment. He was reading an article about the self-imposed challenges that …

NYT calls Jill Biden a doctor 3 times more often than Ben Carson

From The Free Beacon: The New York Times referred to Jill Biden as a ‘doctor’ three times more than Ben Carson, according to the Weekly Standard...   …

Reforms needed for troublesome Prop 103

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Oct. 28, 2015) – Reforming California's Proposition 103 regime to promote a competitive auto-insurance system would lead to a healthier and more consumer-friendly insurance environment, finds a new …

The Chicago Way: Bringing a subsidy to a fight over ridesharing

Uber became so popular so fast because it filled voids the regular taxi industry did not: its drivers would go into non-touristy neighborhoods, pick up African-American customers and …

Jill Biden 3x more likely than Ben Carson to be called ‘Doctor’ by NYTimes

From The Weekly Standard: Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is a doctor of education. Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate, is a medical doctor. But in …

Study: Shoring up Florida’s property insurance market

From SaintPetersBlog.com: STUDY: SHORING UP FLORIDA’S PROPERTY INSURANCE MARKET via R.J. Lehmann of The James Madison Institute – Florida has subsequently enjoyed a hurricane-free decade, representing the longest period on record without …

Dr. Who? The New York Times has a ridiculous Ben Carson double standard

From The Federalist: According to a national poll released Tuesday morning from CBS News and The New York Times, Ben Carson has become the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. Carson now …

The troublesome legacy of Prop 103

In 1988, California voters approved Proposition 103 by a slim margin, 51 percent to 48 percent. Over the more than a quarter-century since its passage, implementation of the measure has …

Study: E-Cig bans on minors lead to higher smoking rates

As electronic cigarettes have proliferated and spawned a sub-culture of their own—vape shops, chai-latte-flavored vaping fluid and even the "sport" of cloud chasing—few policies have seemed as intuitive …

Right reform for the prison system

As recently as 1990, America’s federal prison system contained too few inmates and sent many serious criminals away for sentences that were too short. In recent years, however, …

Whom does The New York Times consider a doctor?

According to a national poll released this morning from CBS News and The New York Times, Ben Carson has surged ahead to become the leading contender for the …

The many, many, many flaws of CISA

There are two basic problems with the so-called Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which is scheduled for possible amendment in the Senate on Tuesday. The first is everything the …

The federal government’s information machine

The following piece was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and on the faculty of the Manship School …

Shoring up Florida’s property insurance market

Hurricane Wilma’s Oct. 24, 2005, landfall in Collier County capped an historic two-year period during which Florida reeled under the unrelenting blitz of seven back-to-back major hurricanes. Six …

Storm insurance reforms still needed, expert says

From FloridaPolitics.com: The James Madison Institute and R Street Institute released a policy brief last week,”Shoring Up Florida’s Property Insurance Market,” in which the organizations argue for the Legislature to …

15 reasons CRS reports should be public

I worked at the Congressional Research Service for 11 years as an analyst and manager. I greatly enjoyed supplying congressional staff, committees, and members of Congress with nonpartisan …

Marco Rubio’s ambition, and sharp elbows, fueled his rise in Tallahassee

From the New York Times: Don Brown, a Republican legislator who had been helping the man who was Mr. Rubio's biggest rival for speaker in Florida, Dennis A. Ross …

Hangout: Don’t Get SLAPP’ed! Protecting Online Free Speech and the Honesty of Opinions

Coalition letter supporting Leahy-Franken amendment to CISA

Dear Senator, We, the undersigned open-government, civil-liberty and privacy groups, write in opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act ("CISA") and to urge passage of the proposed amendments from …

An open debate about compulsory voter registration is critical

Assembly Bill 1462, signed earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, will utterly transform California's electorate, adding 6 million new voters overnight. Whether this transformation will be for the …

Kosar talks transparency in CRS reports

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar joined a panel with former U.S. Chris Shays, R-Conn.; Prue Adler, associate executive director of the Association of Research Libraries; and Stan Brand, a …

Cameron Smith talks Ryan, Clinton on Matt Murphy Show

R Street State Programs Director Cameron Smith made another of his regular appearances this week on The Matt Murphy Show on 1070 WAPI-AM in Birmingham, Ala. to discuss Hillary …

Finding a path to fix unsustainable federal spending

Some time next month, the federal government is set once again to hit its debt limit. If Congress does not agree to raise the statutory debt ceiling, the …

Support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

We are writing to voice our support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S.2123). As conservative and faith-based organizations, we applaud your thoughtful deliberations resulting …

Don’t strangle the cyber insurance market in its cradle

We live in an era of disruption. Technology redefines our world on a regular basis, as the wonders of networks that allow data to be transferred virtually without …

On Back to the Future Day, eight bold predictions for 2045

Oct. 21, 2015 at 4:29 p.m. marks the date and time 30 years in the future that Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive in Stephen Spielberg's "Back To …

How Johnnie Walker became India’s whisky of choice

From Eater: Frank Coleman, the senior vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group, told Time, "Indians are preordained whisky drinkers. They’ve developed a …

GAO opens up about secret reports

Most of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s reports are freely available to the public via GAO.gov. For decades, however, the agency has kept a minority of these reports …

Asset-forfeiture reform: No more margarita machines!

"We can neither confirm or deny if we have the mayor’s possessions." That was reportedly the statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento to Stockton, Calif. Mayor …

How should libertarians think about intellectual property?

Watch R Street's Sasha Moss along with Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute, Wayne Brough of FreedomWorks and Eli Dourado of the Mercatus Center in a panel moderated by Reason's …

So… this is Nixon’s fault?

Anyone watching Congress trying to negotiate the U.S. budget might wonder who could possibly have designed such a process. Thanks to an endlessly complicated scheme of resolutions and …

The estranged legislative and executive branches

Hugh Heclo’s A Government of Strangers, published 40 years ago, described the very different worlds of high-level federal appointees and the civil-servant worker bees they purportedly manage. Today …

Benghazi and shopping for health care

From Bloomberg: Kevin Kosar and Anthony Madonna look at a Senate that is increasingly difficult to govern without sharp restrictions imposed by the majority leader -- measures that Republicans blamed …

SXSW Panel: Zombie SOPA: A New Threat to the Open Internet

SXSW

SXSW Panel: Autonomous Vehicles Are Here. But Are We Ready?

Google Books is good for everybody

In 1990, Pierre N. Leval, then serving as a federal judge, ran across an unexpected stumbling block while crafting a Harvard Law Review article about the “fair use” doctrine …

Hey NFL, leave my GIFs alone!

It appears the National Football League is cracking down on the unauthorized proliferation of GIFs and Vines of league-owned content. Sometimes these snippets are of funny incidents or for …

Flipping out

Baseball's ongoing debate concerning the propriety of exuberant behavior exhibited by players in the throes of celebration has been settled. The final verdict was rendered to thunderous applause …

Imbalanced ‘incentives’ hurt creativity more than they help

From TechDirt: Are lawyers the driving force behind artistic freedom? Astonishingly, that's the impression you get when you read the Copyright Alliance's account of a recent panel on music …

Gridlock governing

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Director Kevin Kosar. Autumn is shaping up to be a very trying time for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Highway …

Surprise! The Trump campaign is broke

Reviewing the third quarter presidential campaign filings, one finds that Donald Trump runs his presidential campaign much like he ran his casinos – in the red. The Trump campaign …

Surprising themes in my first grader’s public school reading

"They're using the standards to raise good little Soviets." It might be hyperbole, but that's the kind of thing that makes your ears perk up as a parent. Over …

What does Uber’s return to Broward mean for the future of TNCs in Florida?

Ridesharing giant Uber returns to Florida's second-largest county today after a two and one-half month hiatus. This development both appears to resolve the at-times nasty public battle over …

Transparency Caucus Briefing: Public Access to CRS Reports

Rayburn HOB

Rayburn HOB

Rayburn HOB

Democratic policies hurt working women, experts say

From the Washington Free Beacon: Lori Sanders, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute and herself a young mother, recalled working part-time at a children’s clothing store in …

Despite veto threat, Congress moves closer to lifting crude export ban

The U.S. House late last week voted to lift the politically contentious 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. This sends debate over to the Senate, which already has …

Global Internet Policy

Immigration

Labor Issues

Education

Criminal Justice →

Agriculture

Carbon Pricing

Spacesharing

Ridesharing

Public Health →

Commercial Freedom

Auto Insurance

Workers Comp

Property Insurance

Flood Insurance

Tax Reform →

Trademark

Energy →

Government Spending

Music Licensing →

Copyright

Patents

Western Region

Southern Region

Northeast Region

Midwest Region

From the CIA to Capitol Hill: A Conversation with Rep. Will Hurd

R Street Institute

Congressional Data Reception

Google DC

Lunch Briefing: Restoring Congress as the First Branch

US Capitol Building

Bringing Republicans to the climate change table

From the New York Times: Eli Lehrer, who runs the R Street Institute, a fairly conventional conservative research firm except that it supports a carbon tax to combat climate …

Jersey City brings legal spacesharing to New York area

With average hotel rates upward of $350 a night, Manhattan is perhaps the costliest tourist destination in the United States. Thankfully, much more affordable accommodations are available just a …

CFP 2015: Internet content blocking by the ITC

From Rebecca Tushnet's 43(B)log: Mike Godwin, General Counsel, R Street Institute: We are pushed to treat IP right violations as if they were subject to theft laws, or in …

‘Jersey Smart’ is better than ‘Jersey Strong’

Earlier this week, I covered South Carolina's "1,000-year storm," questioning whether we can actually say with any kind of certainty that such events are, in fact, all that …

Chaffetz as speaker could revive Internet tax

From the Washington Examiner: Andrew Moylan, executive director of the nonprofit R Street Institute, elaborated on that perspective to the Washington Examiner. "Chaffetz as speaker would likely mean an …

Legislation to #LiftTheBan passes House with bipartisan support

From Speaker John Boehner: WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement applauding House passage of H.R. 702, legislation to lift the 1975 ban on …

Keep kids off the sex-offender registry

It’s time to rethink the wisdom of including juveniles on sex-offender registries. There is abundant evidence—reviewed in a new paper from my organization—that the social costs far outweigh …

Imbalanced ‘incentives’ hurt creativity more than they help

Are lawyers the driving force behind artistic freedom? Astonishingly, that's the impression you get when you read the Copyright Alliance's account of a recent panel on music copyright …

Coalition opposes the Export-Import bank discharge petition

Dear Representatives: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of Americans we represent, we write to express our deep concern about efforts to resurrect the Export-Import Bank. Ex-Im is …

The Ex-Im Bank battle continues

Conservatives declared victory this summer when the Export-Import Bank closed up shop because Congress refused to renew the government-backed bank's charter. Those in the free-market movement view this …

New report on Senate procedures show increased use, need for strategy

From Brookings: In a new paper, “Could the Modern Senate Manage an Open-Amendment Process?,” Kevin Kosar and Tony Madonna address this debate. Using an extensive new dataset from amendments …

Washington state could set conservative example on climate-change action

When it comes to climate-change action, conservatives like me find ourselves today in the same position we occupied during the health-care debate: opposition coupled with no alternative vision. …

U.S. Senate’s rules place any majority leader in untenable position

WASHINGTON (Oct. 8, 2015) – The U.S. Senate's unique parliamentary rules have, in the hyper-partisan era of the 30-second attack ad, placed anyone who would take on the …

Could the modern Senate manage an open-amendment process?

The attached paper was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. At the start of the 114th Congress, newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced …

Is ridesharing saving lives in Austin?

On March 13, 2014, a car plowed through a barrier in downtown Austin and into a crowd of SxSW festival-goers. The crash resulted in four deaths and two …

Shareholder activism of the worst kind

For investors focused on maximizing portfolio value, there are some significant questions raised by recent empirical research indicating that shareholder proposals submitted by public-pension funds and labor-union-related entities …

Anthony J. Madonna

Letter to President Obama on the right to encrypt

As organizations committed to free markets and limited government, we urge your administration to take a clear stand in support of the individual's right to protect his or …

Up in Vapor: The real story behind the formaldehyde-cancer link

Vapers, rest easy about e-cigarettes and formaldehyde. As a pathologist with 28 years' formaldehyde exposure via workplace inhalation, I have both a professional and a personal interest in whether …

Insurance working group explores multistate solution

From Lagniappe Weekly: But Lars Powell, the Whitbeck-Beyer Chair of Insurance and Financial Services at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and CIWG member, warned the coastal band would create …

YouTube Kids is not a regulatory problem

Google has continued to fine-tune its YouTube Kids application amid complaints that the family-friendly interface, a free download for smartphone and tablets, is not as family-friendly as claimed. The …

Airbnb isn’t killing hotels, after all

Much as Uber and Lyft are transforming the taxi industry, Airbnb is transforming the lodging industry. Airbnb connects hosts to guests. Hosts can rent out anything from a …

Solar needs competition, not government ownership

CPS Energy, San Antonio's city-run electrical utility, launched a new program this month to install solar panels on residents' homes. The plan calls for residents to receive fixed …

Twitter lights up over mag declaring Kardashians the ‘first family’

Cosmopolitan is not the world's foremost political magazine. Not by a long shot. Occasionally, yes, it tries to take itself more seriously than it has any right to do, …

Sasha Moss

The Washington Daybook

From Federal News Service: October 13, 2015 The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds a briefing on "The Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and …

Voters hate the Internet sales tax

With reports building that there might be an attempt to attach misguided Internet sales-tax legislation to a budget deal or to an extension of the commonsense ban on …

R Street urges fiscal responsibility in use of BP spill money

WASHINGTON (Oct. 6, 2015) – In light of today's announced $20.8 billion settlement between the federal government, Gulf Coast state governments and BP, the R Street Institute is …

R Street and Third Way urge declassification of electronic surveillance bill records

Dear Chairman Burr, Chairman Nunes, Ranking Member Feinstein & Ranking Member Schiff, As you well know, Congress plays a vital role in overseeing our nation’s intelligence programs. Beginning in …

The F-35 isn’t the only military procurement failure

When people want an example of how broken the military-procurement system really is, most usually point to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That program has become a textbook …

The Republican base would welcome the right messages on energy policy

Even as Democratic candidates for president prattle endlessly about energy issues – Hilary Clinton couldn’t resist a dig at the Keystone XL pipeline during her Saturday Night Live …

Opportunity Denied: How overregulation harms minorities

From U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee: These numerous examples are anything but isolated incidents and are the rule with respect to the paralysis in our regulatory system, not the exception. Studies …

A ‘1,000-year flood’ almost certainly isn’t

Over the weekend, the nation saw the horrific toll of massive flooding across South Carolina, which has left at least nine dead. The Charleston area got nearly a …

Colorado utility looks to charge solar customers for energy they don’t use

The laws of supply and demand are straightforward. Prices reflect the interplay between what people want and how realizable what they want is. But in the world of …

R Street’s primers on music-licensing laws, decisions and terminology

To aid legal, media and policy discussions about ongoing issues in the worlds of music licensing and copyright, R Street has prepared what we hope will prove a …

Poll: Clean-energy issues pretty popular among conservative base

Some new findings on how conservative voters think about energy issues from a bevvy of top-tier GOP pollsters ought to be required reading for the eventual Republican presidential …

Join us for a reception following the Congressional Hackathon

Join the Congressional Data Coalition, the R Street Institute, Demand Progress and the OpenGov Foundation for a reception at Google D.C. following the Congressional Hackathon. WHEN: Friday, Oct. 23, at 5:30 …

No, e-cigarettes aren’t recruiting teens to smoke

Writing in the Sept. 8 edition of JAMA Pediatrics, Dr. Brian Primack and team reported on a portion of the data from a national survey of U.S. teens …

R Street encourages using RESTORE funds for coastal planning and coordination

WASHINGTON (Oct. 1, 2015) – The R Street Institute filed comments this week in Texas, Alabama and Florida on the Funded Priorities List (FPL) released by the Gulf Coast …

Legislation Guide

Case Law Annex

Glossary of Terms

Of Trump and sausages: confessions of an ex-radical

My transformation into a political radical happened in what would probably seem, to many, a highly unlikely venue: working in the public relations department of that grandmamma of …

Copyright Act of 1790

Copyright Act of 1909

Sound Recording Act of 1971

Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995

Telecommunications Act of 1996

Copyright Extension Act

Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002

Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008/Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009

Copyright Act of 1976 (Appendix A)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (Appendix B)

Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004 (Appendix C)

Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Appendix D)

Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004 (Appendix E)

Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (Appendix F)

Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (Appendix G)

Early streaming services

Rate Court

Mechanical copies

Terrestrial radio

Parody

Sampling

Analog and digital services

Federal Communications Commission

Copyright terms

Publishing terms

Digital service terms

Facebook’s basic instincts

Facebook’s announcement last week that it is rebranding its Internet.org initiative—a bundle of free Internet services that has been rolled out, step by step, in developing countries over …

Re:Create Coalition urges Congress to modernize Copyright Office

We write today to discuss Copyright Office modernization, an important issue with serious implications for all Americans. We represent all parts of the “information ecosystem”—creators, innovators, users—and, consequently, …

New e-cigarette study likely to prompt calls for more regs, despite lack of evidence

From Watchdog.org: No, says Joel Nitzkin, a policy analyst for R Street Solutions, a free market think tank based in Washington, D.C., who has followed the ongoing national e-cigarette …

SCOOP: Copyright Office shouldn’t be independent, Re:Create says

From Politico: On a related note, members of the newly formed Re:Create coalition are firing off a letter to the House Judiciary Committee outlining their desires for Copyright Office …

Tech groups question plans for independent copyright agency

From The Hill: The Re:Create coalition on Wednesday said no one has put forward a convincing explanation that the office’s current technological deficiencies would be corrected if it left …

Endgame proposals and a wake-up call to the tobacco-control community

The recent endgame review by Patricia McDaniel and her team in the Aug. 28 edition of Tobacco Control demonstrates a major flaw in thinking within the tobacco-control community. The …

The social costs of juveniles on sex-offender registries far outweigh benefits

WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2015) – The net social cost of applying sex-offender registration and notification laws to those who commit offenses as juveniles could be as high as …

The costs and benefits of subjecting juveniles to sex-offender registration and notification

Every state and territory in the United States has registration and notification laws that apply to adults convicted of, and juveniles adjudicated delinquent for, certain sex offenses. Most …

Neeley letter to GCERC on Texas Funded Priorities List

The R Street Institute is encouraged by the inclusion within the initial Funded Priorities List (FPL) released by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) of the six …

Richard B. Belzer

E-cigarettes and recruitment of teens to nicotine addiction

Writing in the Aug. 18 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Adam Leventhal of the University of Southern California and his team survey teens about …

Emissions bill failed at capitol for a reason

For a Sacramento administration unaccustomed to failure, the end of the state’s legislative session had an air of unique disappointment. An effort backed by Governor Jerry Brown and …

Camara letter to GCERC on Florida Funded Priorities List

The R Street Institute is encouraged by the proposed projects contained within Florida's initial Funded Priorities List (FPL) released by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (council). Florida's coast …

How lasting will the American experiment be?

A recent three-day family vacation brought me to the impressive Seattle Art Museum, where I marveled over the collection of artifacts from around the world and what they …

Coalition urges strong opposition to Washington takeover of state gaming rules

Dear Chairman Goodlatte: We appreciate your steadfast support of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution and your leadership in the face of constant threats from both political parties. We …

How the American government is trying to control what you think

NASA tweeting that Congress should give it more money so our astronauts won’t have to ride on Russian rockets. Recovery.gov reporting overly optimistic statistics on jobs saved and …

Politico’s ‘The Agenda’ magazine offers wonky package on education

From Education Week: And in "Kill the Department of Ed.? It's been done.," Kevin Kosar, an education policy historian, recounts how Congress created a federal Education Department in 1867 …

The phantom numbers of Uber’s union critics

From American Spectator: And an exception he must be. As Ian Adams, Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute, told this writer, “While Mr. Gobena's situation is unfortunate, it …

Congress, not agencies, to blame for regulation delays

From The Hill: Just how bad is the current regulatory delay crisis? A new website from Public Citizen shows that proposed rules held up at the U.S. Office of …

Don’t let shutdown fight undo spending limits

Every day closer to Oct. 1 marks another step toward a potential government shutdown. Even though Republicans maintain control of both the House and Senate, there has been …

Smith letter to GCERC on Alabama Funded Priorities List

The R Street Institute is encouraged by the eight Alabama-focused projects contained within the initial Funded Priorities List (FPL) released by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (council). …

You can take America back, but I don’t want to go

In 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama expressed his desire to "reclaim the American dream." Right now, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump plans to "make America great again." For most of my …

Kill the Department of Ed? It’s been done

When Washington’s education bureaucracy comes under political attack, it’s common to pin responsibility for its existence on Jimmy Carter. He signed legislation to establish the Department of Education …

How ridesharing has helped the taxi industry

The taxi industry has been perhaps the biggest, and unquestionably the most forceful, critic of the emerging ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Taxis see the upstarts unregulated …

R Street joins Wifi Forward coalition to expand Wi-Fi availability

WASHINGTON (Sept. 23, 2015) – The R Street Institute announced today it has joined a host of technology companies and public-policy groups in the Wifi Forward coalition. The …

France’s privacy regulators want to dictate what you (Yes, you!) can find online

Whether you're an American sitting at laptop in Hawaii or a Japanese citizen using your smartphone in Kyoto, French privacy regulators believe they have the authority to block …

The growing conservative case for strengthening Congress

From Vox: Now comes along another strong conservative case for congressional re-assertion from Kevin R. Kosar, a senior fellow at the free-market R Street Institute, whose new essay, "How …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

4 reasons why it matters that a few House Republicans are calling for climate action

From The Grist: The GOP leadership has yet to show any signs of moderation on climate change, and they control the agenda. The threat to House Speaker John Boehner’s …

How to strengthen Congress

After last November's elections left Republicans with control of the Senate and an expanded advantage in the House, triumphant party leaders announced their intention to do the hard …

R Street Music Licensing and Copyright Glossary

R Street Music-Licensing Case Annex

What the GOP contenders got right about climate change

The marathon second Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley California will be remembered for many revelations: Jeb Bush smoked pot 40 years ago …

Park Service takes heat for e-cig ban

From The Hill: The National Park Service is under pressure to reverse its decision to ban electronic cigarettes in all places where tobacco smoking is prohibited on federally supervised …

Coalition urges Congress to keep BCA spending limits in place

Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of members we represent, we urge you to ensure that any legislation providing discretionary funding for Fiscal …

Letter to National Park Service on e-cigarette policy

This note is in response to the National Park Service news release dated Sept. 14, 2015, about subjecting electronic cigarettes to the same rules imposed on combustible tobacco …

Free-market coalition to Congress: Repeal the Crude Oil Export Ban

On behalf of our groups and organizations, together representing millions of Americans, we urge you to end the Crude Oil Export Ban. Repealing this antiquated government mandate will …

Of course federal agencies hate search-warrant requirements for email

Unsurprisingly, witnesses who testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act stressed that the law, passed before the down …

Benefits of fracking outweigh the risks

WASHINGTON (Sept. 16. 2015) – A review of the literature on commonly cited environmental hazards of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," demonstrates that the process' economic benefits far outweigh …

The green side of fracking

Originally patented in 1949, hydraulic fracturing – known colloquially as "fracking" – is a process to recover oil and gas from shale rock. In the fracking process, water, …

The legislative branch’s big oversight problem

The federal government has seen a century of growth. In 1915, the government had only a handful of departments, 400,000 employees (half of whom worked for the U.S. …

R Street urges Austin City Council not to hinder the tourism economy

AUSTIN, Tex. (Sept. 15, 2015) – The R Street Institute today expressed deep concern about proposed regulations currently before the Austin City Council that would restrict short-term rentals …

Texans shouldn’t need a license to earn a living

Earlier this summer, the Texas Supreme Court overturned state licensing requirements for threading, the hair removal process most commonly used on eyebrows. The court found that the requirements, …

Shareholder democracy isn’t what it’s cracked up to be

A decade ago, when then-President George W. Bush proposed a partial privatization of Americans' Social Security accounts, public debate largely centered on whether the change actually would mitigate …

The infuriating reason that car repairs are so expensive

From the New Republic: “There’s a clear free market rationale for patent reform, and a consumer protection rationale,” said Ian Adams of the R Street Institute. “It’s a place …

Our inboxes, ourselves

An ancient email privacy law might finally be updated. Congress needs to get it right. A federal law protects some of your email from government snooping without a warrant. …

Open letter to House and Senate on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

On behalf of our organizations' members across the country, we urge you to create a path forward for miscellaneous trade bills (MTBs) in H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation …

The conservative case for patent reform

From National Review: There’s a myth going around Washington that “real” conservatives should oppose patent reform. But as R Street’s Zach Graves has noted, patent reform actually has a …

Kim Davis highlights the left’s ‘rule of law’ hypocrisy

It's nice to see so many Democrats and liberals produce eloquent remarks and social-media posts about America being a nation of laws. I knew it was a matter of …

How ridesharing could help the poor

Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are very popular among millennials. The ease of ordering a car service directly from your smartphone is very appealing to those who …

Finding the future’s free-market advocates

It's interesting to contrast the nightly news dispatches on the increasingly juvenile presidential campaign with the solid work of an organization composed of actual young adults -- high …

Contemporary thinkers featured in new online resource

Isaiah Berlin. John Maynard Keynes. Leo Strauss. Michel Foucault. James Q. Wilson. These are some of the influential intellectuals whose life and work are featured at the newly …

Discouraging Marriage: The hidden cost of means-tested government ­benefits

The following piece was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Neil Gilbert.   Traditional marriage is in big trouble in the United States. Between 1960 and 2011, the share of …

California should keep its energy incentives straight

A quietly crucial debate is going on within the California Public Utilities Commission about the future of distributed electricity generation. At stake is the Self-Generation Incentive Program. Created in …

The business case for Cambodian Internet freedom

Riven by Marxist-inspired genocide only a few decades ago, Cambodia now aspires to both democracy and something like a free market—at least, in theory. But the country’s ruling party, …

Let’s reclaim the glory of being a ‘maker’

The following piece was co-authored by R Street State Projects Director Cameron Smith.   As summer draws to a close, millions of parents will drop their children off at schools …

More than 80 orgs to Missouri Legislature: Right-to-work benefits states

Dear Members of the Missouri State Senate and General Assembly: We represent organizations from across the country dedicated to promoting worker freedom. Our organizations’ nonpartisan analysis shows that increasing …

New York City, a climate change leader, challenges enlarged flood maps

From ClimateWire: In most places, that would be considered folly, said Eli Lehrer, an insurance expert and president of the conservative R Street Institute. Building expensive infrastructure to protect …

Do welfare programs penalize marriage?

From The Wall Street Journal: When it comes to marriage, the U.S. tax code is roughly neutral: The number of people penalized for being married is roughly the same …

Poor families face marriage penalties as high as 32 percent

WASHINGTON (Sept. 7, 2015) – At a time when marriage rates are down in the United States and across the West, a new R Street Institute study shows …

Marriage penalties in the modern social-welfare state

This study was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Neil Gilbert.   Marriage rates are down in the United States. Indeed, they are down throughout almost all of the West. …

R Street Primer on Copyright Legislation

California Supreme Court and the coming assignment-of-benefits gold rush

The California Supreme Court recently decided to break with its own precedent and declare that insurers can't stop policyholders from assigning the benefits of their policies before a …

North Carolina boy charged with possessing indecent pictures of himself

A 17-year-old North Carolina quarterback is charged with possession of sexual images of a minor. The minor is himself. But he is being charged as an adult. So …

Breaking news from the CDC: smoking plummets in Q1 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 15.2 percent of American adults smoked during January to March of this year. This is not only the …

Delta’s plan to get ahead by leading from behind

For the aviation industry, air shows are a showcase of the best manufacturers can muster, where cutting-edge aircraft like the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are put …

GOP lawmakers and the ‘gig economy’

The partisan battle over the "gig economy" — epitomized by ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft and space-sharing services like Airbnb — has crept into the early stages …

Calling all presidential campaigns

At the R Street institute, we value the unique impact presidential campaigns have on public policy discourse. We have some of the smartest, most capable experts in the …

The EPA’s propaganda machine

A little over a century ago, U.S. Rep. Frederick Gillett, R-Mass., read something in The New York Times that vexed him. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of …

Take kids off the sex-offender registries

At age 10, Maya R. did something that would disturb just about anyone: “Me and my step-brothers, who were ages 8 and 5, ‘flashed’ each other and play-acted …

Need for dialogue on tobacco harm reduction

What is now needed, if we are to ever secure the personal and public health benefits that e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction can offer, is honest and sincere …

Carly Fiorina celebrates ‘Women’s Equality Day’ by paying women as much as men

Feminists long have struggled with the concept of "equal pay." Although most social justice-y gender studies majors demand that "equal pay" mean "totally, statistically equal," that standard is …

If you don’t support the party line, don’t speak

I am extremely disappointed to announce that my invitation to speak at the fall conference of the Council of Institutional Investors has been withdrawn. The conference organizers have …

Ohio considers the crony side of cannabis

Ohio produced the first airplane pilot and the first man on the moon. This week, we are blessed with the consensus No. 1 preseason pick of college football …

Protect taxpayers from another Fannie/Freddie bailout

We, the undersigned organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans fed up with government spending and overreach, urge members of Congress to pass H.R. 1673, the Enterprise …

British government backs e-cigarettes for smokers

Public Health England last week became the first national government agency to endorse e-cigarettes as safer options for current smokers. Its report also dispelled several bogus anti-tobacco claims. PHE …

The elephant in the room: The GOP’s tech dilemma

Fifteen months ahead of the presidential election, a number of the 17 Republicans vying for their party’s nomination have invested considerable energy courting Silicon Valley. These candidates are …

Call for public access to Congressional Research Service reports

We write in support of expanded public access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. Longstanding congressional policy allows members and committees to use their websites to disseminate CRS …

Letter to National Credit Union Administration

My name is Eli Lehrer and I am president of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, with offices in Tallahassee, Fla.; Austin, Texas; …

Higher ed/industry disconnect a workforce wakeup call for Alabama

"Workforce development" is such a widely used term that it's easy for most of us to ignore. Unfortunately, it might be one of the most critical challenges facing Alabama. …

Should we make it easier for people with criminal records to find work?

From the Deseret News: While ban the box laws are designed to encourage employers to keep an open mind when evaluating people with criminal records, there is no evidence …

August: Season of rules

From Politico: Though 15 major rules in a month might seem like a lot, in fact the bigger problem with rulemaking right now is just how far behind regulators …

Courts need a better appreciation of the principles of depreciation

Post-World War II, the United States experienced a simultaneous boom of babies and buildings. To keep pace with the need for new development, homes literally could be ordered …

John Kasich wants to abolish teachers’ lounges instead of the DOE

John Kasich has had a difficult time differentiating himself from the Republican field. Not only are there other, more recognizable moderates, but John Kasich is basically the kind …

Landmark study finds e-cigs 95% safer than smoking

In landmark news, a systematic review of available literature by Public Health England on the health and safety implications of electronic cigarettes concludes that their use is about …

Florida insurance chief calls on NFIP to hand over its data

In his ongoing efforts to foster a competitive private flood insurance market in Florida, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, recently requested help from the state's Office of …

Former CRS researcher calls for public access

From the Project on Government Oversight: We reached out to Kevin Kosar, former CRS researcher of 11 years, to talk about the concerns we heard from Hill staffers regarding …

Bridging the separation of powers

The separation of powers is a hallmark of democratic systems. Power is divided among different branches or units of government. The legislature legislates, the executive executes and the …

Remembering Whitney Ball

Whitney L. Ball, who died Sunday at 52, was one of the true heroes of the conservative movement. Like just about everyone else who heads a conservative organization, …

Should young drivers stay on their parents’ auto policy or get their own?

From Huffington Post: Intriguingly, gender doesn't appear to play a significant role in the study's findings. For instance, an 18-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man will both pay 18 …

States should consider using carbon-fee option to offset other taxes

WASHINGTON (Aug. 18, 2015) – The option to use carbon fees to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan could allow some states to offset a …

Using the Clean Power Plan’s carbon fee option to offset state taxes

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of its Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units. Known colloquially …

California Earthquake Authority prepares to go into ‘hyperspace’

The California Earthquake Authority – the state's quasi-public earthquake insurance pool – long has had a problem with take-up. Only about 10 percent of homeowners in this most …

When it comes to EPA standards, California has a gas problem

California's reaction to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan has been a collective mix of self-congratulation and confidence in the state's ability to comply with the rule's demands. …

Four charts explain the Postal Service’s financial struggles

The U.S Postal Service reported a third-quarter loss of more than $500 million. If you are wondering whether this is news you're already heard, it is. The USPS …

Regulation deadlines created by Congress are meaningless, report says

From the Washington Post: A new study by R Street, a D.C.-based libertarian think tank, analyzed every regulatory deadline mandated in law by Congress in the last 20 years. …

Kosar talks Trump on Dubai’s Al Arabiya

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar sat down with Dubai's Al Arabiya news network -- one of the largest news sources in the Arab-speaking world -- to …

Fracking drives NAIC earthquake conversation

Hydraulic fracturing – the process of extracting oil and gas resources that requires breaking rock through the high-pressured injection of liquid into the ground, popularly known as "fracking" …

Reducing prison time for violent offenders may significantly reduce mass incarceration

From UPI: Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank, cautions that policy changes directed at reducing prison time for violent offenders must be handled …

So what do Uber drivers actually think?

Are taxis becoming extinct? Is creative destruction a good thing? Are Uber and Lyft drivers fulltime employees entitled to benefits or are they independent contractors? Should municipalities cap …

Thoughts on a klansman

Last month, as but one marker of the sudden and somewhat unexpected public outcry to remove from all manner of public life flags and memorials honoring the Confederacy, …

Split works debate raises thorny issues for music companies (and for the rest of us)

The following piece was co-authored by Google Policy Fellow Sasha Moss. Michael Corleone would understand. Just when music companies and their performance-rights organization (PROs) thought they were getting out …

R Street Institute meets with NH GOP activists

From the AP Planner: President of R Street Institute Eli Lehrer meets with Republican activists to discuss an alternative solution to climate change: carbon pricing as part of broader …

Copy of Postal Service audit shows extent of mail surveillance

From the New York Times: Kevin R. Kosar, a former analyst at the Congressional Research Service who worked on postal issues, said he found it surprising that the Office …

Public pension funds should not be used to further political agendas

WASHINGTON (Aug. 13, 2015) – It’s crucial that public pension funds focus on shareholder-wealth maximization and not furthering a political agenda, concludes a policy brief released today by …

Public-pension funds play with newest toy in corporate governance

Shareholder-wealth maximization generally is accepted as the default objective of an investment fund, though there are exceptions to the rule. For example, an investment adviser might create a …

TWIA raises rates ahead of board restructuring

Now that we're a good two-and-half months into hurricane season, it would be a good time to check in on the financial situation of the Texas Windstorm Insurance …

An EPA-inspired muscle car renaissance

USA Today recently proclaimed "the golden age of muscle cars is now." Based upon sales numbers of large-displacement and high-power motors, it's hard to say they're wrong. New automotive …

Appeals court considers ITC bid to be Internet cop

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments this week in what might otherwise be described as an obscure patent case, ClearCorrect v. International Trade …

EPA causes environmental disaster in Colorado

The Environmental Protection Agency often justifies its own existence by noting that corporations – who see profit as their goal, rather than environmental protection – are ill-equipped (or …

Donald Trump isn’t challenging political correctness; he’s just rude

And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it's fun, it's kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. Here's another idea, Mr. Trump—my six-year-old …

Is Carly Fiorina Silicon Valley’s friend?

By all accounts, Carly Fiorina gave a strong performance at the Republican Party presidential debates last week. I initially missed the "undercard" event in which she participated, but …

Int’l Trade Commission decision threatens borderless Internet ecosystem

From Watchdog.org: A recent letter penned by the R Street Institute and Niskanen Center, and joined by FreedomWorks, criticized the ITC’s decision, arguing that “treating cross-border digital transmission as …

Bernard Sharfman

Ending the Uber wars: How to solve a special interest nightmare

From The Fiscal Times: Unfortunately, the United States is far from immune from this political favoritism, though thankfully the experience is not quite so extreme. The R Street Institute, …

Today: Court hears ‘zombie SOPA’ case

From Politico: But plenty in the tech world are challenging that notion. Public Knowledge has called the case “Zombie SOPA,” saying if the ITC is able to regulate data …

SXSW policy panels you should vote for

We at R Street have put together what we think are some great policy panels for next year's SxSW conference in Austin, Texas. But we need your help …

Hillary wants debt-free college (just like Bernie!)

Bernie Sanders is racking up rallies on the West Coast this week, kicking off his Pacific jaunt with a rally for 20,000 Bernie-maniacs in Portland. Even though Bernie's …

Appeals court to hear US agency’s decision to block digital imports

From IDG News: There is “absolutely no need to manufacture new agency powers over digital data,” free-market groups the Niskanen Center, the R Street Institute and FreedomWorks wrote in …

A Bush/Rubio ticket would be complicated, not impossible

They would, in some senses, appear to be the dream ticket. One is the more moderate elder statesman; one is the brash young firebrand. One is the darling …

Letter to the Editor: Carbon pricing’s time has come

From the New Haven Register: Just consider all the conservatives who have already called for carbon pricing: George Shultz, Greg Mankiw, Bob Inglis, Eli Lehrer and others at R …

Drought or no drought, Texas must prepare for water future

After years of enduring one of the fiercest droughts on record, Texas officially became completely drought free in July. Texas’ no drought status didn’t last long; on Aug. 3 …

Tech industry recommends FTC take laissez-faire approach to regulating sharing economy

From Communications Daily: R Street Institute Senior Fellow Ian Adams suggested in comments that "consumer-protection mechanisms must be narrowly tailored, both as to their depth and breadth." …

Has the Clean Power Plan abandoned energy efficiency?

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday released the final version of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which mandates a 32 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from the U.S. …

Republican presidential candidates: Show us you can #FixGov

Presidential debates inevitably send the Beltway a-dither. Who will win? Which aspirant will deliver the best zinger? Who will look like a lost puppy or have an ugly …

Finding a General Fund budget out of Alabama’s shell game

If you're getting the feeling that Alabama's General Fund budget is more and more like a carnival shell game, you're not alone. Just keep your eye on the ball …

Clean Power Plan begs for a better conservative response to pollution control

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Designed to curb U.S. carbon emissions, conservatives predictably don’t like the …

Federal agencies missed 1,400 regulatory deadlines

In the waning days of 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The statute made myriad changes to postal law and tasked the Postal Regulatory Commission …

How the Clean Power Plan is like the Death Star

Trigger warning: Nerdy analogies; some discussion of taxes. On Monday, the Obama administration released the final version of its “Clean Power Plan,” which mandates a 32 percent reduction in …

White House finalizes CPP, but will it stand?

President Barack Obama yesterday released long-awaited regulations intended to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent by 2030. The stakes are high. Designed under decades-old …

Study: Agencies miss rulemaking deadlines half the time

From The Hill: Federal Agencies have missed half of their Congressional deadlines in the last two decades, according to a new study released by the R Street Institute on …

Federal agencies missed half their congressional deadlines

WASHINGTON (Aug. 4, 2015) – Federal agencies over the past two decades have a less than 50 percent success rate in complying with congressional rulemaking deadlines, according to …

Federal agency compliance with congressional regulatory deadlines

The final years of the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, have been characterized by acrimonious debates over executive power and accountability. Regulatory deadlines are just …

White House offers tepid response on email privacy

As we have previously noted, proposed reforms to the Electronic Communication Privacy Act recently have received increased attention. Congress appears on the verge of finally restoring email privacy …

There’s a government form for your moon expenses

As far as government paperwork goes, this might just be the best ever filed. According to the federal government, employees embarking on government-sponsored missions for which there are billable …

The REINS Act: A constituent’s question receives a vote in Congress

In Washington, it's not every day legislation actually begins with a constituent's idea. The REINS Act is one of those ideas. The House last week passed H.R. 427, also …

The three dumbest “conservative” objections to patent reform

From Townhall: Zach Graves of the R Street Institute already eviscerated this argument at some length, and some of his choicer passages deserve to be repeated here: Patent reform enjoys …

R Street Institute disappointed by President Obama’s energy plan

WASHINGTON (Aug. 3, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed disappointment at the energy plan released today by President Barack Obama, noting both the increased costs and unworkable …

Alabama facing political gut check, not a budget shortfall

Listen to any Alabama politician discussing the General Fund budget. You'll undoubtedly hear the phrase, "budget shortfall." The use of those specific words is intentional. It creates the impression …

EFF tells federal appeals court: Google subpoena threatens online speech and innovation

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Shortly thereafter, Google sought protection from a Mississippi federal court, asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the Attorney General from enforcing …

New White House report gives states a license to deregulate

Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on a lot these days. But if a recent report released by the White House on occupational licensing is any indication, we may …

Mississippi is on the wrong track with telemedicine

Recent years have seen plenty of debates about misguided health and safety regulations, but the current one in Mississippi threatens to frustrate one of the brightest trends in …

Free-market groups urge International Trade Commission not to assert authority over digital transmissions

Dear Chairwoman Broadbent, On behalf of the undersigned free-market organizations, we write to express our deep concern about the International Trade Commission's April 9, 2014 decision in investigation 337-TA-833. …

Another case for lowering the drinking age

From Overlawyered.com: Very few countries have a national age as high as 21, argues Jeffrey Tucker at Newsweek (originally FEE), and women of college age may be more vulnerable …

R Street applauds challenge to French ‘right to be forgotten’ rules

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2015) – The R Street Institute applauded today's request by Google Inc. to the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) of France to …

Clinton emails missing two months, but have plenty of classified information otherwise

The U.S. State Department has been busy releasing Hillary's emails, and while they contain a lot of notable insights into her personal development — including, but not limited …

Ant-Man: A hero for criminal justice reform?

Last weekend, I managed to talk my wife into seeing Ant-Man, Marvel's latest superhero movie. Not exactly at the top of anyone's superhero pantheon, to the extent the …

Green Scissors Coalition letter to former Gov. Jeb Bush

Dear Gov. Bush: The Green Scissors Coalition, made up of environmental, taxpayer and free-market groups dedicated to eliminating wasteful spending that harms the environment, applauds your recent comment that …

Proposed changes to California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Hard as it may be to believe, we’re beginning to hear rumblings of sensibility from California’s electricity markets. Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison both have …

Google fights France on extending ‘right to be forgotten’

From USA Today: Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy and general council at the R Street Institute, a think-tank whose motto is "Free markets. Real Solutions," said the "right to be forgotten" …

Je ne suis pas Google

The French government's privacy-regulation agency decided in June to order Google Inc. to remove (or "delist") from all Google websites worldwide – not just those in France or …

55 orgs to Missouri Legislature: States benefit from right-to-work

Dear Members of the Missouri State Senate and General Assembly: We represent organizations from across the country dedicated to promoting worker freedom. Our organizations' nonpartisan analysis shows that increasing …

Scott Atherley

City of Chicago hits taxpayers with new ‘Netflix Tax’

From the Heartland Institute: Steven Titch, a telecommunications policy analyst with the R Street Institute, says Chicago’s expansion of the tax is arbitrary and “an incredible overreach.” Undefined Terms “Chicago made …

‘Gov’ knows best

No one likes a controlling, overbearing boyfriend. You know the guy I’m talking about. Incessantly checking in, sticking his nose into every and any decision, disapproving of anyone …

It’s time for dialogue, not demagoguery, on price optimization

Social activist Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals" was written as a how-to guide for community activists looking to compel political change. Yet …

Lowering the drinking age will have some bad effects. We should do it anyway.

For the first time in decades, the legal drinking age is back in the news, and nearly all the credit for that belongs to the Amethyst Initiative. Signed …

Patent reform is not a left wing thing

From the The Beacon: Over at R Street, Zach Graves has a good piece up looking at the American Conservative Union’s opposition to patent reform pending in the Congress. …

Leamer talks Trump on The Big Picture

R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer participated -- along with  Neil Sroka of Democracy for America and Sean Noble of American Encore-- in The Big Picture host Thom …

Cities, states keep piling on the Internet taxes

The City of Chicago has the dubious distinction of becoming the first jurisdiction to apply a sweeping tax to "cloud-based" services, ranging from streaming video to tax preparation. Beginning …

5 reasons to support the REINS Act

The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, also known as the REINS Act. Introduced …

Congress’ plan to pass energy bills: Make them boring. But will it work?

From the Washington Examiner: "We've been waiting for this legislative action to turn into something for a while. On the House side, it's not the sexiest bill they could …

Senate still debating transportation bill with last-minute record-secrecy provisions

From Marketwatch: In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate considered amendments to a transportation bill, a must-do by Friday before funds run out, without deciding on others related …

Coalition to Congress: Support PTC Elimination Act

Dear Representatives, On behalf of the millions of members that our organizations represent, we encourage you to support H.R. 1901, the PTC Elimination Act, introduced earlier this year by …

McConnell’s highway bill robbery

Before I start into the GOP-on-GOP war that took place last night while I was zoning out watching a David Crosby-lookalike save puppies on Animal Planet, I want …

Congressional Internet Caucus and ‘fractally complex’ music licensing

Speaking at a July 17 discussion hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus on music streaming and Congress' role in the world of music licensing, caucus Advisory Committee Executive …

A liberal nightmare: What if GMOs were the solution to climate change?

From the Daily Caller: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that GMOs are more environmentally friendly. Josiah Neeley, a senior fellow at R Street Institute, writes that “existing GMO crops …

GMOs help fight climate change, but will anyone care?

Last Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported on a new study that ties together two highly charged issues in the ongoing political battles over science: genetically modified organisms …

In the Bible Belt, Alabama politicians look to tax “sin” and spend

If you're a politician who promised not to raise taxes in Alabama, increasing the amount of "sin taxes" or creating new ones violates that pledge. We already have some …

Coalition urges removal of FOIA exemptions from transportation bill

Dear Senators McConnell and Reid: On behalf of the undersigned organizations concerned with government openness and accountability, we are writing to urge the removal from H.R. 22 of the …

North Carolina Senate passes ridesharing bill

Yesterday was a big day for ridesharing in North Carolina as the state Senate passed S.B. 541, which creates a regulatory framework for transportation network companies. The bill …

6 charts to debunk fear-mongering about contractors and the Uber economy

From the Foundation for Economic Education The headlines are, by now, depressingly familiar: “more Americans are stuck in part-time work” or “part-time jobs put millions in poverty... …

And then there were three: Obamacare forces health insurer consolidation

In the latest in what has become a roller coaster of mergers and acquisitions in the health insurance sector this month, No. 2 insurer Anthem Inc. announced this …

Uber dust-up shows the Empire State has an innovation problem

Unless you live under a rock, it was hard to miss the showdown this past week in New York City between Mayor Bill De Blasio and ridesharing platform …

Labor roundup

From Overlawyered.com: “6 charts that debunk the ‘gig’ economy” [R.J. Lehmann, R Street Institute] …

Solar bailout? Don’t bet on it

Is the U.S. solar energy market in a bubble? Analysis suggesting that the burgeoning industry is overvalued certainly aren't new, and the list of observers who have deigned …

The dysfunctional federal workforce

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar.   The Survey on the Future of Government Service, released last week by Vanderbilt University's Center for …

Letter to Congress: Support the PREPARE Act

On behalf of the undersigned free-market and taxpayer organizations, we urge you to join Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and Leonard Lance, R-N.J., in supporting the Preparedness and Risk …

6 other federal agencies you don’t want creeping on your life

The Electronic Communication Privacy Act, first passed back in 1986, is badly in need of an update. For instance, current law allows federal civil agencies to obtain any …

On highway bill, good governance and bipartisanship head in opposite directions

A recent Senate deal marked a win for bipartisanship, but at the cost of responsible governance. After a highway bill was finalized Tuesday afternoon, a vote for cloture …

E-cigarettes used by 4.2% of men, 3.4% of women in 2014, as smoking declined

Last week, I announced first-ever national estimates, generated from new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, of U.S. e-cigarette users in 2014, almost 2 million of whom …

TNCs, price optimization and roofing fraud top agenda at NCOIL

Model legislation governing insurance for transportation network companies may have headlined the summer meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, but other topics – from "price optimization" …

SCOTUS’ mercury decision probably won’t end EPA overreach

Conservatives have spent the past month rejoicing over the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to appropriately account for industry costs when deciding to …

Making oversight win-win

Mere mention of the word “oversight” can make a public administrator queasy. It’s not because bureaucracies inevitably have something tawdry or corrupt to hide. Indeed, government agencies often …

6 charts that debunk the ‘gig’ economy

The headlines are, by now, depressingly familiar: "more Americans are stuck in part-time work" or "part-time jobs put millions in poverty." Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently …

Map of State TNC Laws

Map of state-level ridesharing laws

To capitalize small business, let’s free up 401(k)s

Something has gone wrong with small business in America. For the first time since statistics were kept, the rate of business failure now exceeds the rate of business …

TNC rain dance shows how NCOIL is all wet

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance." – Unknown Cowboy aphorisms have a lot to offer contemporary culture, in spite of their dubious …

There’s no good reason to delay conservation compliance

Even as the U.S. Department of Agriculture was reporting a record 98.2 percent of farmers and ranchers have met new "conservation compliance" guidelines required to qualify for federally …

Conferees should spike IP czar language in customs bill

With customs bills having passed both chambers of Congress, it's now up to conferees to decide if the final legislation will include language from the Senate bill to …

Tallahassee City Commission right on Uber vote

Last week, the Tallahassee City Commission showed that even a broken clock is right twice a day. I have oftentimes taken issue with its decisions over the years …

In the tanks

From National Journal: As the new director of energy policy at the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank, Catrina Rorke hopes to persuade fellow conservatives that a tax …

30 under 30

From Red Alert Politics: Lori Sanders is the outreach director and a senior fellow at the R Street Institute. In this role, she is responsible for R Street’s coalition …

Policy Studies

Dear Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville welcome Uber…why can’t we?

With a unanimous vote, Mobile's City Council affirmed amendments to the city's vehicle-for-hire ordinance, enabling app-based transportation companies like Uber to operate. Huntsville has also declared itself open for …

Wisconsin Supreme Court slams vicious, partisan ‘John Doe’ probe

For months, conservative donors, activists and groups in Wisconsin were terrorized by partisan district attorneys using loosely interpreted election law to comb through their finances, enter their homes …

Members of Congress warn against throwing patent system out of balance

From Watchdog.org: Citing the conservative Heritage Foundation, for example, the DC-based R Street Institute recently blogged that patent reform was “not just about the patent system.” “Patent-reform offers a case study for broader …

Judge fixes troubling court order in CloudFlare filtering case

I've written before to express skepticism about whether it makes sense for a federal court to order a content-delivery network like CloudFlare to filter its services proactively for …

Preserving energy access for distributed generation

ISSUE SNAPSHOT Moving our energy generation paradigm increasingly toward distributed generation and market choice provides many potential benefits. Regulations and state policy should ensure access to existing infrastructure at rates …

Support for the Innovation Act grows

From House Judiciary Committee: Below are excerpts from the letter sent by R Street Institute, Niskanen Center, Center for Individual Freedom, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Institute for Liberty, Small Business …

Letter supporting S.B. 602, California seismic retrofit financing

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit think tank headquartered in Washington. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, …

30 million U.S. adults have used e-cigarettes, unpublicized CDC data reveals

Analyzing fresh data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, which involved nearly 37,000 respondents, it can be estimated that 30 million American adults have used an e-cigarette …

Progressives turn their backs on the sharing economy

Santa Monica, Calif., is now spending $410,000 a year investigating, ticketing and fining residents who sublet their houses and apartments on Airbnb. In Key West, Fla., a new city …

Proxy access proposals do not maximize shareholder wealth, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (July 15, 2015) – Shareholder-sponsored proxy access proposals, which have passed at 39 of the 65 companies that have voted on them in 2015, do not maximize …

Proxy Access: Shareholder democracy or creeping mercantilism?

Following certain rule changes made by Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the 2015 proxy season has seen a deluge of shareholder proposals at U.S. public …

Texas Supreme Court strikes stupid licensing law

Last month, the Texas Supreme Court struck a blow for liberty. Progressives are predictably upset about it. In Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the court …

Free-market, taxpayer and consumer groups to Congress: Support the Innovation Act

Dear Representatives, On behalf of the undersigned free-market, taxpayer and consumer organizations, we write to express strong support for ongoing efforts to enact patent-litigation reform in the U.S. House …

Coalition for Tax Competition urges Congress to represent taxpayer voices in the OECD

Dear Senators and Representatives: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is rapidly working to rewrite global tax rules in the name of combating base erosion and profit …

Support civil asset-forfeiture reform in California

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets …

Two tables show how complicated music-copyright rate-setting is

Even after you’ve learned the basics of U.S. copyright law, once you delve into music copyrights, you discover an even more complex—I like to say "fractally complex"—framework at …

In midst of drought, Sacramento needs to prepare for flood

In the midst of a serious drought, it's time to become concerned about a coming flood. Orbiting high above the Pacific Ocean, a Japanese weather satellite has spied …

Should Congressional Research Service reports be public?

From Roll Call: “Making them public would make them publicly available more equally, more equitably,” said former CRS analyst Kevin R. Kosar, who penned an essay on his decision …

Clinton raps ‘gig’ economy as GOP rivals hail Uber

From Investor's Business Daily: "There is a little more of a backlash among liberals," said Andrew Moylan, executive director of R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank. "It's not …

Hillary Clinton, old person, does not like this newfangled Uber app

A week or so ago, my friend Lisa De Pasquale penned an article over at Breitbart about how this election cycle is shaping up to be Gen-X versus …

Tax pollution, not profits: a reply to Rep. John Delaney

The carbon tax is an elegant mechanism for imposing a price on carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector, especially when compared to the alternatives. The patchwork of federal …

Neeley talks climate change at EarthDay Texas

R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley sat down with Michael Quirke, executive director of the Climate Change National Forum, at the recent EarthDay Texas in Dallas to discuss …

What California’s anti-SLAPP law can teach the country about free speech

Once seen as a singular source of new and useful public policy ideas, California has slowly devolved into a judicial and business hellhole, with the inevitable loss of …

A misguided FDA crusade

From Brussels to Chicago to the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration in White Oak, Md., public health officials, antismoking crusaders and mayors are waging a battle …

The latest First Amendment fun

From Ann C. Logue: The power of California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which my lawyers used in my free speech defense against convicted felon Keith Gilabert’s suit. Full disclosure: I occasionally …

Texas’ risky decision on multiproperty insurance

Fifteen years ago, Texas faced a mold crisis. The crisis was caused not just by the fungus itself, but by ambiguous provisions in many homeowners insurance contracts that …

The Dodd-Frankenstein monster

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2010 as Congress' response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, with a goal of reducing financial risks …

Alabama Legislature to put Bentley’s special session on ice

An email sent to members of the Alabama House of Representatives from Speaker Mike Hubbard reveals plans to thwart Gov. Robert Bentley's abrupt call for a special session. The email shares plans …

RSS Feeds

(Some) Republicans get religion on climate

From Bloomberg Politics: His timing may be good. Two-thirds of Americans say they think the world would benefit from reducing carbon emissions, according to a March poll by Yale …

Airbnb faces trouble at home

Airbnb’s fate in San Francisco may soon be up for a vote. While the village that raised the 7-year-old company is not yet ready to abolish it completely, …

15 sheep explain the Chinese stock market crash

In the Chinese lunar calendar, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. Thus, what better animal to guide us through the market panic that has seen China's stock …

C.A. blasts lawyer over ‘Nazi’ references, overturns verdict

From the Metropolitan News-Enterprise: Bilotti not only violated the in limine orders, she also broke “Godwin’s Law,” the Internet adage invented by attorney and author Mike Godwin, Bedsworth went …

Vox Sentences: South Carolina waves the white flag

From Vox: Or you can have it explained to you with sheep GIFs. [R Street Institute / R. J. Lehmann] …

Feds spent $2 million to have wives nag men about chewing tobacco

From the Washington Times: “This is big government intervention for a small-risk lifestyle choice,” said Brad Rodu, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville. Mr. Rodu, who has …

Procedural quagmire dooms California vaping ban, for now

In a victory for commonsense, the California Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee has voted to amend a bill that would have classified vapor products as tobacco products. As a …

Michigan v. EPA: Pyrrhic victory or a sign of more to come?

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency hit a roadblock in its quest to enact new standards for mercury emissions from U.S. power plants. In Michigan v. EPA, the …

Florida fumbles ridesharing

After not taking up ridesharing legislation during either the Legislature’s earlier this year or its special session in June, Florida has left ridesharing companies subject to the often …

How conservatives should deal with climate change

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery Climate of Confusion: How Should Conservatives Think About Climate Change? Co-Hosted by The R Street Institute and National Affairs The Rayburn Building Washington, D.C. July 6, 2015 In 1980, …

Can this businessman’s green turn GOP green?

From the Washington Examiner: Andrew Moylan, executive director of the free-market think tank R Street, also believes that money isn't the difference-maker many assume. "The impact of political donations tends …

A new dawn for solar in Texas?

Something peculiar is happening in Texas. In 2011, Austin Energy, the electric utility for the Texas capital, began receiving electricity from Webberville Solar, a 30-megawatt photovoltaic plant, at a …

Government doesn’t need a ‘golden key’ to our communications

Encryption has a rich history in the United States, dating all the way back to the coded messages smuggled by George Washington’s network of spies. While the technology …

Pandora’s radio station purchase just latest twist in labyrinth of music rights

Anyone who follows the ongoing disagreements between Pandora and the publishers rights organizations (PROs, including the two giants, the American Society of Composers and Broadcast Music Inc.) is …

Health-care premiums about to spike again

The Affordable Care Act is about to get a little less affordable. Again. Health insurers have petitioned for rate hikes of 20 percent or more, because all the people who've …

Conservatives refusing to celebrate America should be ashamed

On a planet filled with more than 7 billion people, less than 5 percent have the privilege of calling themselves Americans. Yeah, that's right. It's a privilege. Yet this past …

For conservatives, it’s the ‘right time’ to discuss climate change

From ClimateWire: "Environmentalism is actually very fertile territory" for Republicans, Levin said at event co-hosted by his magazine and the R Street Institute. He said the way that conservatives …

How Jeb Bush handled risky business in a disaster-prone state

From ClimateWire: Eli Lehrer, president of the conservative R Street Institute and an insurance expert, described Bush's pursuit of a national backstop as the kind of populist promise made …

Sanders talks TPP on Thom Hartmann Show

R Street Outreach Director Lori Sanders appeared on the July 1, 2015 edition of the Thom Hartmann Show to discuss the role of intellectual property in the pending …

The Daily Dig for Saturday, July 4

From Bankless Times: Judge strikes down patent lawsuit against Kickstarter A small crowdfunding site claimed its idea of soliciting altruistic donations was covered by patent. Kickstarter disagreed and filed suit. …

Federal district strikes down crowdfunding patent

Earlier this week, my friend Trace, who is writing a book to inspire children with disabilities, reached his $5,000 goal on Kickstarter.com. Like Trace, who was born without …

Why did the pope condemn carbon credits?

Last month, Pope Francis released Laudato Si, a papal encyclical devoted to environmental issues. The document combines reflections on environmental ethics from a religious perspective with background descriptions …

Seven questions for how states will use the BP oil spill money

Today, the federal government and the five Gulf Coast states have reached an $18.7 billion settlement agreement with BP plc for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that …

Heritage on how conservatives should approach patent reform

The following post was co-authored by Zach Graves. Patent reform bills have cleared markup this session in both the Senate Judiciary Committee (S.1137, the PATENT Act) and the House Judiciary …

Study shows Airbnb has positive economic impact for New Orleans

Like many cities, New Orleans has struggled with whether and how to crack down on short-term rentals such as those offered through services like Airbnb. Some neighborhood activists …

High stakes for online poker

With the future of online poker hanging in the balance, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, refuses to fold. Entrenched in a legislative showdown with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Barton …

Kaiser Permanente’s not-so-negative take on smokeless tobacco

Kaiser Permanente might better call itself "Kaiser In Transition." A week ago I noted that the company’s website provides smokers with three grossly incorrect reasons to avoid e-cigarettes.  As …

The ‘cyberporn’ scare of 1995, and the early Web’s corrective power

From The 1995 Blog: One implacable critic of Rimm’s work was Mike Godwin, then staff counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who likened the study to surveying adult bookstores …

401(k) investments a potential alternative to small-business loans, study finds

From NerdWallet: A Washington, D.C.-based research group wants to make it possible for individuals to invest up to 10% of their 401(k) money in small businesses through intrastate crowdfunding websites. In …

A tale of two nations and one very important pig

We at the R Street Institute would like to wish our Canadian friends a happy Canada Day. Institutionally, R Street owes a debt of gratitude to Canada. A former …

America’s Greece

The world is watching the situation in Greece closely, in the wake of the nation's default last night on a $1.7 billion loan payment to the International Monetary …

After Supreme Court’s mercury decision, what now for environmental law?

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Michigan v. EPA will force the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate its recently promulgated rules governing mercury emissions by coal-fired power plants. …

R Street welcomes expiration of Export-Import Bank

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2015) – The R Street Institute welcomed last night’s expiration of statutory authority for the Export-Import Bank, halting the bank's ability to make new loans. Created …

Je suis Uber

Imagine you are approaching an airport using your chosen transportation-for-hire service in a foreign city, when suddenly a brigade of angry, savage men start attacking your car with …

The high cost of free college

While President Barack Obama was gathering victories critical to his legacy last week on Capitol Hill and at the Supreme Court, the D.C. Council worked on another of …

R Street RESTORE Act Scorecard

State and local officials charged with selecting and funding projects under the RESTORE Act must carefully prioritize. Toward that end, the R Street Institute has created a scorecard …

As video on-demand expands, TV regulation should shrink

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2015) – On-demand services that stream video instantly over the Internet already are radically changing the way we watch television. But rather than expand regulatory …

TV regulation in the age of digital downloads

Television viewing must now be added to the long list of activities the Internet has changed. The time when audiences across the country simultaneously experienced a televised event—such …

Letter to D.C. Council on e-cigarette taxes

My name is Dr. Edward Anselm and I am a senior fellow with the R Street Institute, a D.C.-based free-market think tank that takes a pragmatic approach to …

California committee stands up to the fourth branch of government

Like other myths and fairy-tales meant to conceal and excite, California's school children are taught to believe that there are three branches of government. In fact, there clearly are …

Supreme Court missed opportunity to clarify copyright law in API case

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2015) – The U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier today not to hear arguments in Google Inc. v. Oracle America Inc. represents a missed opportunity to …

R Street praises Supreme Court for affirming cost-benefit analysis in rulemaking

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2015) – The R Street Institute welcomed today's U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the requirement that federal agencies consider costs before determining whether a rule is …

SCOTUS sides against EPA and environmentalists

From Red Millennial: In 2012, there was a significant backlash from a group of Latino Democrats in the California Assembly, who were worried that California’s Cap-and-Trade law would hurt …

Nikki Haley signs bill legalizing TNCs in South Carolina

While the country was focused this past week on the flag that flies above the South Carolina statehouse, important work was being done inside its doors. In a major …

Email privacy bill could move by August recess

With its passage of the USA FREEDOM Act earlier this month, Congress declared a commitment to restore privacy protections that many feel have been violated. But civil libertarians …

The inside of John Roberts’s head

From The Economist: R.J. Lehmann, a senior fellow at R Street, a free-market think tank, sees a big smaller-government upside to Mr Roberts' Obamacare ruling. "Roberts has just opened …

‘Disloyal competition’ — here and abroad

Commuters on their way to Paris' major airports and train stations were disrupted this week by the presence of a rolling blockade. Taxi drivers, under pressure from competition …

John Roberts and the long con

Conservatives and libertarians aren't very happy with John Roberts right now, and for good reason. For the second time, the Bush-appointed chief justice has handed down a decision …

Obamacare’s CO-OPs proving to be one big money pit

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the IRS' decision to provide health insurance subsidies through the federal exchanges, it's important to analyze whether these subsidies …

Avoiding protectionist reinsurance tax key to ensuring low-cost insurance

As proposals are floated both in Congress and in the White House's budget plan to change the tax treatment of reinsurance purchased by U.S. insurers from offshore affiliates, …

Interpreting the law in 2015

Almost any high school textbook on U.S. government will tell you Congress makes the laws, the president approves the laws and the Supreme Court interprets the laws. Based …

Members and staff may use official resources to participate in open source projects, procure and publish open source software

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2015) — The OpenGov Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation and the Congressional Data Coalition (CDC) today announced that members, committees and staff within the U.S. House …

R Street welcomes bipartisan bills to encourage private flood insurance

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2015) — The R Street Institute welcomed today's introduction of bipartisan legislation streamlining the process for private companies to begin offering, and states to begin regulating, …

SXSW Interactive

Patent Reform Briefing

US Congress – Room TBA

R Street’s Anniversary Celebration

R Street’s Anniversary Celebration

Issues

Letter to Washington House Finance Committee on distributed generation

My name is Ian Adams and I am Western region director of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, with five offices spread throughout …

Power plant bill clears House, Capito says uphill Senate fight ‘worth happening’

From Energy and Environment Daily: In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, R Street Institute President Eli Lehrer wrote that while conservative criticism of the Clean Power Plan is warranted, …

How to fix the federal prison system

From the Washington Times: And grass-roots conservatives are enthusiastic about this movement, too. At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference the session on state criminal justice reforms was packed. …

Why can’t the federal government sell unneeded real property more quickly?

This piece was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. Consider the hut. Its real name is unknown. For all anyone knows, it might have been used …

Honor our Southern heritage by leaving the Confederate flag behind

It's easy to condemn a mass murderer fueled by hate; it's much harder to root out symbols, conventions and comments masquerading as innocuous relics of a time gone …

Letter to California Legislature supporting S.B. 602

The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets …

The moral case for fossil fuel taxes

One of the downsides of working in policy is that you end up hearing the same arguments over and over again. So I was excited to read Oren …

Don’t cast CloudFlare as copyright/trademark enforcer

You may be used to thinking of the Internet as being built of:  Services that directly connect you to the Internet; Services that offer their own content to the Internet; …

The GOP needs its own plan for climate change

The Obama administration’s ongoing campaign to regulate climate-change causing pollutants under the Clean Air Act deserves all of the withering criticism it has gotten from the political right. …

Internet consumers beware!

From FreedomWorks: Language in the bill also includes a provision that entangles all users of platforms such as Amazon or eBay. It specifies any use of an “electronic marketplace,” …

Freeing investor capital for small business

Something has gone wrong with small business in America. For the first time since statistics were kept, the rate of business failure now exceeds the rate of business …

R Street study examines potential sources of capital for small businesses

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2015) – Loosening qualified retirement plan rules to allow some investment in state-regulated securities could pave the way for many more small businesses to gain …

Supreme Court takes on raisins, Spider-Man and hotels, but not marriage and Obamacare…yet

There's only one more SCOTUS "Decision Day" left in June, and it's going to be a big one. On their second-to-last day before skipping town to enjoy their …

A practical approach to climate change

The attached policy study appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of National Affairs. Climate change resulting from human activity likely poses the biggest environmental risk modern society faces. Its …

Internet tax battle revived in Congress

From Watchdog.org: A coalition of conservative groups including R Street Institute and Americans for Tax Reform, however, denounced the Chaffetz’s bill as “a massive expansion in state tax-collection authority and dismantling a …

Wharton study finds disaster aid displaces property insurance

Federal disaster aid granted to communities hit by natural catastrophes causes demand for property insurance to fall by six times as much, according to a new issue briefing …

Good intentions and bad incentives in New York’s housing market

It’s a sad state of affairs when all sides agree a policy is bad, but none can muster the will to do anything about it. That's the situation …

A new era in government transparency

Ohio citizens can access an in-depth look at how their tax money is spent, thanks to a first-of-its-kind online "checkbook" launched last year by Ohio State Treasurer Josh …

Why does Congress diminish itself?

The Founding Fathers set up Congress as the most powerful of the three branches. Per the U.S. Constitution, Congress possesses "all legislative power." This includes the most fundamental …

Is the encyclical a measured document?

From National Review: Josiah Neeley has a very nice piece at First Things making the case that the Pope’s environmental encyclical is really “a more measured affair” than the …

GOP candidates bound to feel ‘climate shock’ on the campaign trail

From the Huffington Post: Though the connection between extreme weather and climate change is easy to hyperbolize (God's or Mother Nature's wake-up call?), the Weather Channel - owned by …

Let’s listen to the pope on climate

The Syllabus of Errors, issued in 1864 under the auspices of Pope Pius IX, famously ends by condemning the proposition that: The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile …

Utah TNC bill makes optional coverages mandatory

When Utah's brief legislative session came to a close in March, proponents of ridesharing services offered by transportation network companies rejoiced. The state had passed S.B. 294, sponsored …

Copyright lobby seeks new hammer to pound free speech in Florida

From Clay Today: Anonymity and pseudonymity have been key threads in the fabric of American life since the Colonial era. From arts to politics, from the Revolutionary era-tracts known …

Campaign of contradictions

During the first post-announcement speech of her second presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton took a page out of the book of the godfather of the welfare state himself, Franklin …

Obama’s $4bn clean-energy initiative: a big number hiding a bigger idea

From The Guardian: Granted, the Obama administration’s approach won’t make everyone happy. Eli Lehrer, founder of libertarian thinktank R Street, would prefer to see the government eliminate all energy …

California regulators say Uber drivers are employees. Here’s why that’s a big deal.

From Vox: Ian Adams, an analyst at the free-market R Street Institute, argues that the best solution would be to create a new legal category for people who work …

Washington state lawmakers should save solar for another day

Washington state's second special legislative session was made necessary by lawmakers' earlier failure to pass a budget that remedied the state's chronic shortfall in education funding. But some lawmakers …

Rep. Chaffetz, how could you?

From the American Spectator: But critics think the measure may go the way of the failed Marketplace Fairness Act, considered a predecessor of this bill, as it would dismantle …

Chaffetz swings and misses with Internet sales tax bill

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is the latest to step up to the plate to solve the vexing question of how to apply sales taxes to purchases made online …

Is Texas ready for a second round of tax cuts?

The Texas Legislature wrapped up its biennial legislative session last month by passing a $3.8 billion package of cuts to the state's property and business franchise taxes, which …

Muni broadband: sanity in Seattle, questions in Council Bluffs

The mayor of Seattle has shelved a plan to use city funds to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network after a feasibility study projected the cost could be as …

Donald Trump, stupid leaders and the Great Wall of Mexico

We're all tired of presidential politics, and we haven't even made it to the election year. We've heard it all before...and before that. Then, on a hot hazy Tuesday …

Obama administration ‘bans’ trans-fats

Our obesity epidemic is over. Although the science of "trans-fats" being ultimately responsible for Americans' untimely deaths and need for double airplane seats is questionable at best, and banning …

Reason.com subpoena is outrageous prosecutorial overreach

Just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Elonis decision in a case centered on online threats, a federal prosecutor issued a grand jury subpoena …

The troubling intersection of national courts and international censorship

Should national-level courts routinely assume or impose their jurisdiction on international entities when it comes to content? That's the question Daphne Keller of Stanford University's Center for Internet …

Oren Litwin

Congress introduces remote sales tax bill

From Accounting Today: However, a policy research group known as the R Street Institute expressed its opposition to the bill, claiming the RTPA would dismantle proper limits on state …

R Street spearheading coalition to fight the Remote Transactions Parity Act

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2015) – The R Street Institute today announced the formation of a coalition of nearly 20 groups representing millions of citizens opposed to a new …

Coalition letter opposing Remote Transactions Parity Act

Dear Representative, On behalf of the millions of citizens represented by the undersigned organizations, we write in strong opposition to the so-called Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA). Despite what …

Letter to House Education and the Workforce Committee on workforce mobility

Dear Committee Members, On behalf of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Washington and with offices in five states, I write to urge your support …

Free-speech advocates support SPEAK FREE Act

Dear Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Franks and Ranking Member Cohen: Every year, many Americans are sued for speaking out on issues they feel are important to express. …

Committee-passed Innovation Act includes significant litigation reforms

Now that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has successfully shepherded the Innovation Act through his committee, I'm heartened to note the significant major reforms that made …

R Street opposes new Internet sales tax bill

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed deep disappointment at today's introduction of new Internet sales tax legislation, the so-called "Remote Transactions Parity Act" sponsored …

‘If we don’t act now, we’re all going to pay’: 5 arguments for climate action that even conservatives can’t ignore

From Salon: Name: Eli Lehrer Why conservatives might listen: The former vice president of the climate denying Heartland Institute, Lehrer left to co-found the R Street Institute, and is currently …

Jeb Bush, climate-change equivocator

From the New Republic: Long before he even launched his campaign, Bush managed to raise hopes that he will be one of the few reasonable Republican presidential aspirants on climate change. …

Postal banking is an idea whose time has come—and gone

From 1911 through 1967, the old U.S. Post Office offered savings accounts. The enterprise started because private banks seldom insured deposits. The establishment of the Federal Deposit Insurance …

Saving Atlantic City: A mayor who thinks small may be the answer

Atlantic City, N.J. – Just about every morning when the weather is nice, Don Guardian rides his bike along the boardwalk and digs into the beach sand. "They're …

Coalition letter to Sen. Cardin on private prisons FOIA loophole

We, the undersigned 20 organizations committed to transparency and open government, write to thank you for your concern with the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) …

Coalition letter to OMB on evidence-based budgeting

We want to thank you, once again, for the important steps the Obama administration has taken over the last seven years to increasingly drive taxpayer dollars toward evidence-based, …

USPS should sell its real estate

The U.S. Postal Service's latest financial results have been released. They are not good. The agency booked a loss of $2.1 billion in the first half of the fiscal year, which …

Confronting public misconceptions about ridesharing

I had a conversation with my mother several months ago about how I commute on a regular basis around Washington. As many young Millennials would reply, I told …

Insurers could underwrite more terrorism risk, CBO says

From SmartBrief: Surplus capital in the reinsurance market means insurers could take on more terrorism risk than they are, Ray Lehmann writes, arguing that reforms passed by Congress this …

Obama admin wants ‘economic diversity’ for wealthy neighborhoods

The City of Chicago has an interesting Section 8 philosophy that mandates apartment buildings - even the really fancy ones - have a certain number of abodes set …

FTC should heed advice on the sharing economy

Regulation shouldn't be used to make new business platforms fit the rules crafted for older regimes. That was the consensus of policy experts, bureaucrats, economists and industry representatives …

Obama admin asks FISA Court to ignore ruling finding NSA actions illegal

Just a few short weeks ago, our elected legislators were very, very concerned about the future of the National Security Agency's bulk data-collection programs. Some were absolutely convinced that …

New paper: economic liberty requires patent reform

R Street Associate Fellow Derek Khanna has an excellent new paper on the economic case for patent reform. Writing for the free-market technology group Lincoln Labs, he argues not …

Jurassic Pork: A policy blockbuster

Much to the chagrin of The Newsroom's Will McAvoy, many Americans no longer get their news from prime-time news anchors like Walter Cronkite, let alone the humble messaging …

Wendler: A ribbon for everyone

From The Southern Illinoisan: Now, you say, this language is too strong and clearly an overstatement. Not really. It is nearly impossible to fire a federal employee, according to …

Indoor ban on e-cigs imminent

From Delaware Public Media: Other detractors, like Joel Nitzkin, a doctor and lobbyist for the libertarian R Street Institute found those short-term studies questionable. Nitzkin also says the ban could have unintended …

Democrats seek GOP support for carbon tax bill, face questions about jailing skeptics

From ClimateWire: Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank that supports revenue-neutral tax policies for carbon, asked how the senators could gain the …

CBO confirms private insurers could take on way more terrorism risk

I hate to say I told you so. Actually, scratch that. I love to say I told you so. I just wish it weren't necessary in this case. Back …

A buzzword glossary for tomorrow’s Innovation Act markup

The Innovation Act, a bill in the U.S. House that aims to reform patent litigation in the United States, has gotten a lot of bipartisan support, but has …

USTR doesn’t need an IP czar

In a Congress that is likely this year to pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation, aimed at making trade agreements easier, you may ask why pro-free-trade legislators also proposing …

Senate extension of Internet Tax Freedom Act ‘virtually certain’

From Washington Internet Daily: It's "virtually certain" that the Senate will pass some sort of ITFA extension, but "whether that's [S-431] ... is another story," said R Street Institute …

Lehrer talks climate change and insurance on the Weather Channel

On the Weather Channel recently, R Street President Eli Lehrer explained the most straightforward reason why those who believe in a free market ought to accept the reality …

Free trade doesn’t have to be a trade secret

Secrecy around the conduct of international trade agreements has been tightening, in what amounts to a disturbing and counterproductive trend. This lack of transparency gives additional fodder to …

Ex-Im Bank backs Boeing, but plane nowhere to be found

Suffice it to say, when it comes to crony capitalism, the Export-Import Bank's customers are some of the worst offenders. We may talk about how the state siphons …

Passage of fast-track trade authority for president is critical for our nation and Texas

From the Waco Tribune: The U.S. House has indicated that it’s likely to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority in the coming weeks. Also known as “fast-track” trade authority, TPA makes …

Busting the myth that patent reform is a left-wing idea

In a relatively short period of time, the debate over patent reform has transformed an arcane, low-salience issue into one that sparks fierce controversy and national headlines. Listening …

Trade authority is good for Texas

The U.S. House has indicated that it’s likely to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority, and that’s good for Texas. Also known as “fast-track” trade authority, TPA makes it easier for …

California’s conservatives should draw from the Tory playbook

California is a deep blue state, but there is reason for California conservatives to be optimistic. And it's not just that the structural apogee of liberal influence in …

Give federal employees bonuses for finding spending cuts

Congress seems to have a problem finding places to cut in order to get government spending under control. Budget deficits are a way of life in Washington, adding …

No, the America Invents Act did not cost ‘the economy’ $1 trillion

Congress will once again take up significant patent reform this week, with the PATENT Act – a version of which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday – …

Time to raise the oil spill liability cap

From the Muscatine Journal: Santa Barbara County is the latest seaside community to watch its coastline dirtied by an all-too-recognizable black sludge. Early estimates project that more than 100,000 …

How EPA’s ethanol cut could hurt taxpayers

Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed cutting the Renewable Fuel Standard's corn-ethanol mandate by 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This naturally prompted pushback from the …

Republican pledges $175 million to push party on climate

From Politico: "What's important to remember is that [climate change] doesn't really register as an issue with many Republican primary voters," said Eli Lehrer, who helped form the free-market …

Can ‘The Rock’ rescue the CEA?

The California Earthquake Authority long has had trouble getting Golden Staters to buy protection for the most devastating natural disaster most of them face. Indeed, if anything, California's …

No need to renew the Export-Import Bank

Statutory authorization for the $140 billion Export-Import Bank is set to expire at the end of the month. Created more than 80 years ago, the bank has far …

Raise oil-spill liability cap

From the Courier-Post: Santa Barbara County is the latest seaside community to watch its coastline dirtied by an all-too-recognizable black sludge. Early estimates project that more than 100,000 gallons …

Why you should care about the ‘third dimension’ of government information

From The Conversation: As one example, advertising contracts, estimated a Congressional Research Service report, totaled US$892.5 million in fiscal year 2013. These expenditures, said the author of the report, Kevin …

Supreme court dodges First Amendment issue, but still puts limits on criminalizing speech

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I first wrote about federal prosecutors' novel effort to prosecute repulsive Internet speech by using 18 USC Sec. 875(c), which prohibits "in interstate …

Yes, healthy congressional politics are transactional…and more

Jonathan Rauch has written both an impish and important report for the Brookings Institution, Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money and Back-room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy …

Metric, schmetric

Presidential candidate and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has promised he will switch the United States to the metric system in the exceedingly unlikely event he ends up in …

Bernie Sanders wants to spend $5B to employ 1 million young people

There's something you have to admire about Sen. Bernie Sanders: when he commits to something, he commits all the way. While most of his ideas might be half-baked, …

Leamer talks USA Freedom on Lars Larson Show

R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer appeared on the Lars Larson Show June 2 to discuss the USA Freedom Act. Appearing just moments after the U.S. Senate passed …

Raleigh restauranteur pushes local government to regulate sidewalk seating

From Reason: Lawmakers (or in this case, a particularly well-situated business owner) frequently cite “safety” or “public good” when advocating restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol (or …

It’s time to raise the oil spill liability cap

Santa Barbara County is the latest seaside community to watch its coastline dirtied by an all-too-recognizable black sludge. Early estimates project that more than 100,000 gallons of oil …

The debate over NSA spying is finished. Or is it?

From Advocates for Self Government: With the support of hawks in the Senate Republican Conference, McConnell proposed amendments that would have increased the transition period from three to six months, removed …

New Eurobarometer report supports the ‘Swedish Miracle’

How can the European Union continue to deny Sweden's success in tobacco harm reduction?  I have documented how Swedish snus has contributed to that country's world-record-low rates of …

On Alabama’s coast, preserve the environment or protect the economy?

Would you rather preserve the environment or protect the economy? What if I told you that, right here in Alabama, we're coming up with creative solutions that benefit both …

A gambling ban’s federalism problem

Even as the rise of the Internet has driven communications and economic growth to heights previously unimagined, some lawmakers are using that very explosion as pretext to expand …

More laws should have sunsets

The past weekend's Senate debate over the PATRIOT Act reminds us of the value of placing sunsets in legislation. For years, the National Security Agency had operated far …

R Street commends Gov. Scott for signing coastal preservation bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 3, 2015) – The R Street Institute today congratulated Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing H.B. 715, legislation that clarifies provisions of a key coastal preservation …

R Street praises Senate for passing USA FREEDOM Act

WASHINGTON (June 2, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the U.S. Senate today for passing the USA FREEDOM Act by a strong vote of 67-32 and for …

E-cigarettes ‘far, far safer’ than tobacco

The statements of Terry Towne in your recent article “Butt out: If you’ve got ’em, don’t light ’em,” (May 28) are wrong. Although Ms. Towne is to be …

A guide through Senate amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act

The attached policy brief was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. NSA apologists (we sometimes call them “the security hawks”) could use the USA FREEDOM Act as …

R Street urges veto of SB 900

R Street is a free-market think tank dedicated to limited, effective government, free markets and responsible environmental stewardship. One of R Street’s core focus areas is insurance reform …

DOJ collecting your ‘right-wing’ social media posts

One of the primary contentions of establishment Republicans and Democrats in defense of the National Security Agency's massive data-collection program was that the program was not only free …

Daniel E. Innis and Eli Lehrer join Log Cabin Republicans national board of directors

From Log Cabin Republicans: Washington, D.C. — The Log Cabin Republicans National Board of Directors has announced two new prominent and historic additions to its growing roster: Daniel E. Innis …

D.C. Circuit strikes down ‘cascading’ retrocession excise taxes

The federal excise tax does not apply to reinsurance or retrocession transactions between foreign insurers, even if the transaction covers U.S. risks, according to a May 26 decision …

Alabama’s budget breakdown

Contrary to recent political fear mongering, Alabama has enough money to pay its bills. All the state needs is leaders willing to make tough choices. Projected at over $6.2 billion, the …

Will McConnell’s amendments gut surveillance reform?

From the Michigan Standard: There are two other amendments that alter and weaken a couple of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court transparency issues that are vital to surveillance reform, …

A guide through Senate amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act

The following was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. As most anyone interested now knows, Congress last night allowed Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to sunset. …

R Street encouraged by sunset of Section 215, which will advance lawmakers’ ongoing privacy debate

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed encouragement over the sunset of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, fueling and expanding the ongoing debate over …

DOD spent millions on strippers and booze

The next time you ponder the defense budget, consider, beyond that they pay a ridiculous sum for things like toilet seats and hammers, that the people who get …

Ten years since its last hurricane, Florida more vulnerable to catastrophe than ever, experts say

From the Tampa Bay Times: Christian Cámara, director of the free market R Street Institute in Florida, said subsidized flood insurance has exacerbated the coastal population crunch, too. "When you …

One last chance to reform Texas’ spending limit this session

As the clock ticks down to the end of Texas’ legislative session, the fate of numerous major pieces of legislation remains unclear. From ethics reform to gun rights …

Lessons from the Rock

From The Economist: Previous seismic models had drastically underestimated the risks of earthquake damage. The R Street Institute, a think-tank, notes that the insured losses from the Northridge earthquake …

Free-market groups support Senate patent-litigation reform legislation

We write on behalf of the undersigned free-market organizations to express our strong support for your committee’s efforts to advance patent-litigation reform and applaud your balanced and judicious …

Why AB 24 is a bad idea

Just as a cook’s creation is only as good as the ingredients she uses, so too is public policy only as good as the premises that undergird it. That’s …

The Rock won’t save you from earthquakes; retrofitting might

It has been a big week for earthquake news in California. Hollywood gave us “San Andreas,” a thrill a minute dystopian drama starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) as …

Questions for the record on Restoring America’s Wire Act

Questions for the Record to Andrew Moylan Executive Director, R Street Institute "H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act" Hearing of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, …

Assurance contracts for indie films

From Marginal Revolution:  Most indie films and documentaries don’t get to most markets. It’s hard for a theatre to know which of the many indie films audiences really want …

Assurance contracts and the indie film market

In some ways, there has never been a better time for fans of independent film. The video on-demand revolution has led to thousands of titles becoming available for …

R Street praises Texas budget bill

AUSTIN, Texas (May 28, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Texas Legislature today for both providing tax relief and restraining spending growth in the new state …

Oracle v. Google: Dropping the ball

From RealClearPolicy: You probably already know it's baseball season, but you may have missed some particularly interesting inside baseball going on in the world of copyright law and policy. The …

Biloxi’s crude deal: Oil spill reparations are funding a baseball stadium in Mississippi

From Vice: "For something that is a 'combination event' where there are environmental and economic impacts, you should be looking at projects that have environmental and economic benefits," says …

Is regulatory reform a hopeless cause?

In short, no, although the reader of Charles Murray’s new book might come away with that conclusion. In By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission (Crown Forum, 2015), …

Daily fantasy sports and the case for legal online gambling

If daily online fantasy sports contests are legal, why aren’t online poker or other casino-type gambling games? I’m not against the idea of playing fantasy sports for money, I …

Oracle v. Google: We’re not screwed yet

From InfoWorld:  I think the Solicitor General's critique reflects the incorrect understanding of a non-programmer. An API is certainly written in code, but it's being used in a different …

There is no ‘conservative’ and no ‘liberal’ in wine politics

From Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog: I was reminded of this upon reading, “Free America’s Beverage Markets” by Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the right-leaning R Street Institute. …

Free America’s beverage markets!

It is difficult to understate just how politicized America’s alcoholic beverage markets are. And I say “markets” because the country does not have a single nationwide market. Rather, …

The federal government is looking to control your puddles

And lo, he of the name Obama shall have dominion over all of the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and the water that …

Congress looks to reduce the regulatory behemoth

The Code of Federal Regulations is more than 170,000 pages long. How did it become such a behemoth? Simple: every year, about 4,000 new regulations are proposed, and …

Comments to Federal Trade Commission on the sharing economy

Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the Federal Trade Commission's Sharing Economy Workshop. I offer the following comments on behalf of the R Street Institute, …

Solicitor General drops the ball in Oracle v. Google copyright case

You probably already know it’s baseball season, but you may have missed some particularly interesting inside baseball going on in the world of copyright law and policy. The most …

Tech groups seek targeted changes, if any, to PTO’s review process

From Politico: Four tech advocacy groups urged lawmakers Friday to avoid fundamental changes to the process for challenging patents at the USPTO — but they suggested a few ways …

Reagan thought taxing the poor was a bad idea; Alabama should too

Alabamians below the federal poverty line should not pay income taxes. In spite of the fact that almost 20 percent of Alabama's population falls below the poverty level, Alabama …

Letter to New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

My name is R.J. Lehmann. I am editor-in-chief, a senior fellow and a co-founder of the R Street Institute, a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Washington. I …

Nevada lawmakers send bill legalizing ridesharing to Gov. Sandoval

There was no rest for lawmakers in Carson City over the weekend as the Nevada Legislature was hard at work in the early hours of Saturday morning. The …

R Street urges Texas Legislature to oppose S.B. 900

R Street is a free-market think tank dedicated to limited, effective government, free markets and responsible environmental stewardship. One of R Street’s core focus areas is insurance reform, …

Coalition letter to Senate Judiciary Committee on the PATENT Act

Dear Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy, and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, We are proud to support the PATENT Act. We believe it is a well-rounded piece of …

The road less traveled: surveillance reform

Two years ago, major revelations about the National Security Agency’s massive intrusion into the lives of all Americans jumpstarted a renewed national debate about the right to privacy …

Remembering a victim of the War on Drugs

President Barack Obama has wielded his executive authority to reduce the amount of military equipment flowing to local cops. His action comes in response to demonstrations of force …

Federal storm policies put Florida in danger

The following piece was co-authored by Jay Liles, a policy consultant with the Florida Wildlife Federation, and Gary Appelson, policy coordinator of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Andrew. Charley. Wilma. …

General Motors says it’s just loaning you your car’s software

Imagine a world in which automakers declared that, even though you own most of the vehicle you purchased from your auto dealer, you don’t own the tires. No, …

How to reform Amtrak?

In an ideal world, Amtrak wouldn't exist. Transportation is one of those services best left to the free market. But the fact is that virtually all of America's …

Green power lines hogtie poorest Texans

From Watchdog.org: Josiah Neeley, Texas director of the market-oriented R Street Institute, acknowledges that even if SB 931 reins in the government-designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, Texans will be …

Shelby’s financial reforms could face problems on the floor

The Hill is reporting that the Senate Banking Committee's more moderate Democrats intend to vote against the financial services reform package put together by Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., …

Copyright lobby seeks new hammer to pound free speech in Florida

Anonymity and pseudonymity have been key threads in the fabric of American life since the Colonial era. From arts to politics, from the Revolutionary era-tracts known as Cato’s …

Tom Cotton blocks NSA reform measure

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was instrumental in saving some of Iraq's most precious feline assets, but that's about the only nice thing I can say about Tom Cotton …

Alabama GOP supermajority, governor should hold their noses and pass budget

Shameful. That's the word you're looking for. If Republican supermajorities in the Alabama House and the Senate can't pass a General Fund budget, put it on the Republican governor's …

Nevada should embrace disruption in energy markets

Things are changing rapidly in America's energy markets. The shale revolution of the past decade already has brought about enormous changes both in the price of energy and in …

Insurance bills could have a big impact on Texas

Most people find insurance regulation boring, and maybe that’s understandable. But in a state with some of the highest home insurance rates in the nation, Texans have good …

Jersey Strong…but not strong enough to pump gas

As a New Jersey native who has spent most of his adult life living elsewhere, I often find myself standing up to defend my much-maligned homeland against the …

It turns out people don’t like when the government spies on them

The past two years have seen a series of revelations about the National Security Agency's systematic mass-surveillance programs, prompting a national debate about the relevance of the Fourth …

Laffer: Keep protectionist reinsurance tax out of tax reform

A proposal to bar insurers from claiming a tax deduction for premiums ceded to offshore affiliates would cost the U.S. economy $1.35 billion in gross domestic product, with …

D.C. appeals court rules some iPhone trademarks invalid

A $930 million verdict against South Korean phone maker Samsung that claimed its Galaxy phone infringed patents held by Apple could be knocked down by as much as …

Congress continues to withhold Congressional Research Service documents from the public

From Techdirt: Like this request, which resulted in the CRS losing an analyst: Why is the US Postal Service "stockpiling ammunition"? That sort of question helped lead CRS analyst Kevin …

Nevada should take steps to foster a competitive electric market, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2015) – Nevada lawmakers have a unique opportunity to set a national example for how best to regulate distributed generation, according to a new policy …

Governance in distributed generation: A Nevada case study

Disruptive innovation has hit electricity markets. Just as disruptive technologies and services have revolutionized telecom and urban-transportation markets by expanding consumer choice, electricity customers can now take advantage …

Ninth Circuit strikes down order that YouTube take down ‘Innocence of Muslims’

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned an order that YouTube take down the infamous video "Innocence of Muslims," rejecting an actress' claim that her brief …

It really is hard to fire a fed

From GovManagement Daily: A recent report from the Merit Systems Protection Board challenges the perception that it's impossible to fire a federal employee. But in 1978 a Democratic Congress and …

Marketing maternity: Are we valuing the message over the medicine?

Imagine you're a woman who just found out she is going to have a baby. You see a hospital advertisement for maternity care that includes words and phrases …

Testimony to City of Sonoma on e-cigarette flavoring

Mayor Cook, ladies and gentlemen of the council, my name is Ian Adams and I am the Western region director of the R Street Institute. Thank you for …

New study shows how Florida Citizens subsidizes the rich

The policy subsidies offered by Florida's state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. flow disproportionately to the wealthy and, in concert with similarly regressive subsidies from the National Flood Insurance …

It really is nearly impossible to fire a federal employee

Some credulous Beltway media sure took the bait last week. Consider: “A lot of people still think it’s close to impossible to fire a federal employee, but that’s just …

House committee bars publication of reports by Congressional Research Service

From AllGov: “Even when we did find time and space to do serious research, lawmakers ignored our work or trashed us if our findings ran contrary to their beliefs,” …

Will self-driving cars need hacker insurance?

From Hopes & Fears: R.J. Lehmann, Policy Expert in Insurance, Co-Founder of R Street Institute It’s obviously a very complicated issue. Before you even get to what do you …

‘Beach Plan’ insurance needs to do no further harm

When he was speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis was fond of pointing to “the conservative revolution” that has taken hold in …

Coalition letter supporting the PATENT Act

Dear Sens. Grassley and Leahy, The undersigned organizations represent technology, small business, consumer and the public interests in the area of patent policy. We write to provide our views …

Yes, the U.S. Congress has a role in foreign affairs

As the U.S. Congress this week continues to debate legislation to address President Barack Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran, some critics howl that the bill would usurp …

Fixing the Texas tax-cut stand-off

As the Texas Legislature nears the end of its biennial session, the biggest issue on the table is how best to cut taxes. The state House has proposed a …

Odd couple asks EPA for carbon tax

From the Washington Examiner: That's what environmental group Friends of the Earth and the free-market R Street Institute advocated for in a Wednesday meeting with EPA officials. Neither organization would …

House renews ban on CRS publication of its reports

From Federation of American Scientists: Why is the US Postal Service “stockpiling ammunition”? That sort of question helped lead CRS analyst Kevin Kosar to leave his job, he explained …

R Street praises House for passing USA FREEDOM Act

 WASHINGTON (May 13, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised today's bipartisan vote by the U.S House to pass H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act. The measure represents an important …

R Street praises Texas Legislature for strengthening rights of property owners

AUSTIN, Tex. (May 13, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Texas Legislature for passing S.B, 1626, a bill to strengthen homeowners’ rights to choose how to …

Copyright, pharmaceutical enforcement shouldn’t be imposed on ICANN

Since 1998, U.S. policy has held that the Internet’s “IANA functions” — the technical functions collectively referred to as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, administered by ICANN.org — …

Legal ridesharing comes to Portland…sort of

Uber is operating legally in Portland, for now. A pilot program adopted by the Portland City Council has given transportation network companies the green light to operate for …

Hollywood celebrities aren’t abiding California drought rules

The California drought, that exceptional byproduct of an exciting, unnatural approach to preserving the lives of millions of tiny, endangered fish for no discernable purpose except to prevent their …

Uber, but for GOP hypocrisy

From the Daily Beast: Andrew Moylan, the executive director of the R Street Institute—a conservative think tank that works extensively on issues involving transportation network companies like Uber and …

Nevada Senate gives green light to ridesharing

With just three weeks to go in Nevada’s legislative calendar, a bill that will give the green light to hitherto illegal ridesharing activity has cleared an important hurdle …

If payday loans are horrible, what about federal student loans?

When I was researching payday loans, I came across an interesting statistic: Within three years of entering into repayment, 13.7 percent of federal student loans wind up in …

Audio from SxSW ‘Your Laws, Your Data’ panel

In the two decades that it has been managed by the Library of Congress, THOMAS -- the online record of Congress' activities, named for Thomas Jefferson -- has …

California: dry, earthquake zone, fire hazard

From the Washington Examiner: Ian Adams for the R Street Institute: California is a land of calamity. The ground shakes, it runs dry and, with underappreciated frequency, it catches …

Should Alabama have a flat tax?

They'll probably label it a tax hike. That's what always happens anytime anyone attempts to reform Alabama's mangled tax code. Alabamians hate tax increases. Just ask Gov. Robert Bentley. If …

Smoke-free tobacco can save lives

While our federal government dreams of a tobacco-free society, 42 million Americans continue to smoke cigarettes and nearly half a million die each year. That’s 1,300 smoker deaths …

IRS created tool to calculate Obamacare repayments, didn’t share with public

The Internal Revenue Service developed an online tool that would have helped Americans who received health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to better calculate their tax …

Washington Monthly was warning about domestic digital surveillance…40 years ago

Via Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog, we have a reminder of a December 1975 article in Washington Monthly that warned about the potential for government spooks to use the newfangled …

TNC bills could be on agenda for Florida’s special session

One of the consequences of the Florida House of Representatives' decision last week to commence an abrupt sine die adjournment, rather than play out an intractable battle with …

E-cigarettes are a friend to public health

Delaware lawmakers are now considered H.B. 5, a bill that would ban e-cigarette use everywhere smoking is prohibited. Experience as a public health physician has taught me to …

House appropriators look at legislative branch transparency

At last week’s full committee markup of the legislative branch appropriations bill, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., offered an amendment that set the stage for more transparency around Congressional …

Second Circuit declares NSA bulk collection illegal

There is exciting breaking news out of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers the states of Connecticut, Vermont and, most importantly, New York. A three-judge panel …

Uber’s not in Kansas anymore; will New Jersey be next?

The decision by the Kansas Legislature earlier this week to override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of onerous ridesharing legislation already is yielding its inevitable consequence. Transportation network company …

Kamala Harris aide was running a secret police force

Sen. Barbara Boxer plans to vacate her U.S. Senate seat in the next few years, and the Democrats are looking for the Next Great Hope of the party …