California

Napolitano deserves boot over latest UC scandal

The University of California warned Californians early this year that if tuition weren't significantly raised or public funding increased, education at the 10-campus system — with its staff …

Emergency water restrictions will extend beyond end of California drought

Former White House chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most quotable words are frequently cited as the apogee of cynicism, but they simply point to reality in …

Yes, science, but how about a March for Math?

Tens of thousands of people marched in hundreds of cities last weekend as part of something billed as the March for Science. The event, which coincided with Earth Day, …

Free-market groups comment on California DMV autonomous vehicle rules

On behalf of the R Street Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TechFreedom and the International Center for Law & Economics, we respectfully submit these comments in response to …

ARTIC’s fiscal tundra is preview of other boondoggles

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin once allegedly remarked in private that: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic," which is something …

The ‘Teddy Bear and Toaster Act’ is device regulation done wrong

Should government to protect us from snooping teddy bears and untrustworthy toasters? The California State Senate seems to think so. With traditional devices on the decline, laptop and desktop …

Rewarding public employees with new tax hikes on the private sector

Under the “leadership” of Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats, the state government has increased its spending a dramatic $36 billion over the last six years, but never managed …

California high court sets stage for major pension ruling

The battle over reforming California's underfunded system of pension benefits does not involve any particular legislative proposal or initiative idea at this time, but is centered on a coming state …

State court punches union-backed ‘judge’ in the head

If you're wondering how far unions and California officials will go to kill any reform of the state's overburdened public-pension system, wonder no more: consider instead the final chapter in …

San Clemente’s antics could make for a dark comedy

Between binge-watching some Coen Brothers’ dark comedies, I’ve been perusing videos of state legislative hearings and city council meetings. The acting’s not as good in the political proceedings, …

A last nail in the GOP’s California coffin

The California Republican Party has been vanquished at the state level, with Democrats having control of every constitutional office (governor, treasurer, secretary of state, etc.) and supermajorities in both houses …

Bill handicaps the self-driving car industry

Regulating something before it even is exists is as tricky as it is ill-advised. But that's exactly what California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, wants to do with …

Democratic attorneys general are the true masters of vote suppression

California Democrats have in recent years complained bitterly about alleged voter intimidation by Republicans and have even gone so far as to open a “voter intimidation hotline” before the Nov. …

Letter to Contra Costa supervisors on e-cigarettes

The R Street Institute recognizes the negative effects of smoking and supports policies that move smokers toward less harmful alternatives. We believe that Contra Costa’s proposed anti-tobacco ordinance …

California break-up idea won’t go away — for good reason

Years ago, I was riding an Amtrak train from Virginia to New Jersey and was chatting with a couple from California, who were stunned at how rapidly the …

California split back in the news again

The latest news about California—a breakup plan touted by the leaders of Brexit—could serve as a case study of how mischaracterizations spread across the internet, and how many …

How to fund infrastructure fixes: Tax hikes or rearranging spending priorities?

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators are pitching a transportation-tax proposal they depict as the only means to fix California’s crumbling roads, freeways and bridges. One would be …

Massive road tax really is a pension tax

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators have caused a stir with their plan to increase taxes to pay for the state's unquestionably decrepit infrastructure of roads and bridges. Instead of …

Housing crisis is latest excuse to take aim at Prop. 13

There’s little question that California’s rapidly rising home prices have become something of a crisis for low- and middle-income people. “California is rapidly becoming a renter majority state,” …

Public employees — ever more untouchable

One of the most obnoxious trends in the nation, and one that is particularly acute in California, is the continued push to enshrine public employees as a special, …

Costly veterans’ homes not serving broad population

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been a font of scandal in recent years, with various reports showcasing the way the agency charged with caring for our nation's veterans …

Novato’s tobacco ordinance is discriminatory

The City of Novato’s recently enacted anti-tobacco ordinance—which will go into effect in 2018, but is subject to reconsideration next week—would give landlords a tool with which to discriminate …

Estate-tax plan is another example of Trump-spite

Economists sometimes talk about a fictional $1 million tax on, say, beagles to illustrate the perverse effects of a poorly designed tax code. In theory, the tax could …

The ever-expanding reach of anti-tobacco zealots

San Francisco’s rent-control and tenant ordinances are so oppressive that thousands of apartment units sit vacant in a city where fierce housing demand has pushed rents for tiny apartments to …

Is California estate-tax proposal real or latest anti-Trump response?

This year’s California legislative session has been thus far dominated by two persistent themes: the desire to stand up to the Trump administration and the pursuit of new tax dollars …

The New Gender Battle: Tampons versus whiskey

It’s getting increasingly difficult to mock the California Legislature given the fusillade of nearly unbelievable legislation that makes its way through the Capitol’s hallowed halls. In the old days, when …

California high court says public records are public, even on a private email

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court unanimously overturned an appeals court decision that had provided a large loophole in the state’s public-records act. The case, City of San Jose …

Is Anaheim police fracas the result of ‘blue privilege’?

Everyone who watched the video of the recent fracas between an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and a group of teens in front of his Anaheim home should …

DMV truck-test backlog sparks bipartisan privatization bill

California state officials are worried about a shortage of certified truck drivers to meet the state’s growing transportation needs, yet a reported testing backlog at the California Department …

College officials need swift lesson in academic freedom

There’s something creepily totalitarian about Orange Coast College’s handling of the now nationally known incident involving 19-year-old Caleb O’Neil, who was suspended from the college for two semesters …

New identity for a master of identity politics

The most entertaining local news story this week was a puff piece in the Sacramento Bee about one of California’s most-powerful politicians, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de …

State watchdog agency points to flaws in bond oversight

The Oroville Dam’s near disaster has ignited a long-overdue debate about the condition of California’s infrastructure, and the need for additional investments in its creaky system of dams, levees, …

Pot shop reinstatement is a black eye for police

If you’re wondering why police officers sometimes lose the trust of the communities they serve, forget about the overheated rhetoric from Black Lives Matter and focus instead on …

At UC Berkeley, it pays well to worry about inequality

Former Clinton-era Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a public-policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has warned that “we are heading back to levels of inequality …

Trump should force California to pay for its own earthquake risk

The brewing conflict between President Trump and the state of California has captured headlines. The nation’s chief executive threatened to “defund”  the Golden State, while California politicos promise …

With old warnings unheeded, Oroville Dam problems threaten valley

  A Sacramento Bee story published Monday succinctly described the disaster unfolding at the nation’s tallest dam, where flaws in the Oroville Dam’s concrete spillway are forcing water onto …

Dues case spotlights unfairness of funding one’s foes

In an oft-quoted scene from “The Godfather,” Michael Corleone and family consigliere Tom Hagen discuss a planned hit on a competing mobster and dirty cop. Michael assures Tom, …

Trump spite leads to defense of idiocy

The leader of the California Senate recently used his closing remarks in a Senate hearing to downplay how concerning it is if illegal immigrants engage in identity theft, …

Self-driving cars should disengage from public reporting

New data released last week by the California Department of Motor Vehicles offered bright news for fans of autonomous vehicles. Based on so-called “disengagement reports” submitted by developers …

Is lack of competition leading to costly electricity glut?

A top California utility official once quipped that he was one of the few executives in the country who earned a profit merely by remodeling his office. He …

Latest DA scandal cries out for far-reaching reform

The government’s foremost responsibility is to administer a system of justice. Without a just system — due process for the accused, trustworthy trials, fair-minded judges, police and prosecutors …

Wackiness aside, unions still our biggest problem

When non-Californians think about what’s wrong with our lovely but dysfunctional state, they tend to think of some of the wackier stuff that routinely makes headlines here. The …

California high court gives insurance commissioner vast new powers

President Donald Trump’s spate of executive orders has jump-started a national debate about the wisdom of executive edicts, especially those that stray into the area of lawmaking. While …

Newport deal shows how pensions are rigged against taxpayers

  A former Newport Beach deputy police chief’s parting pension deal may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of his lifetime — and serves as …

Jerry Brown’s alternative state of the universe

By California’s low standards, Gov. Jerry Brown generally has been a voice of reason in the state Capitol, despite his occasionally unhinged rhetoric about the existential threat posed …

Short-term rentals: Are they compatible with residential communities?

Internet-based short-term rental companies such as Airbnb have built a burgeoning industry connecting homeowners with vacationers, who rent out rooms or entire houses for short-term stays. It’s a …

GOP tax plan could boost prices for Californians’ insurance

Donald Trump has only been president since Friday, so it’s too early to know what his “America first” policies will mean economically. But an ongoing debate from the …

What a relief: Rohrabacher can retreat to his ‘safe space’

Conservatives love to mock liberal college students who clamor for “safe spaces,” where they can hide from ideas that run contrary to their politically correct sensibilities. Yes, these …

Trump was right: There is no drought

Donald Trump might not have gotten all the details right when he declared in Fresno in May that California isn’t really suffering from drought, but his basic point …

New report: Cal high-speed rail faces 50 percent cost overruns

California’s ongoing “high-speed rail” project connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco continues to run up against the same, recurring problem since voters gave the plan initial bond funding …

Moorlach wants to take pension reform back to the future

There isn’t anything fundamentally significant about 1990, from an ecological standpoint. Nonetheless, California officials long ago set that year as the benchmark against which greenhouse-gas-emissions reductions are judged …

Self-driving car bill would authorize Cal DMV to do what’s already done

New legislation introduced in the California Assembly would mandate the state Department of Motor Vehicles revoke the registration of any autonomous vehicle that isn't operated in compliance with …

Stormy Weather: Brown’s budget holds infrastructure hostage

My neighbors and I just survived a week of flood dangers, as something called an “atmospheric river” led to massive rains throughout northern California. The warmth of the …

Scientists rebuke Coastal Commission over desalination

The Coastal Commission’s stated concern that a proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant’s intake pipes pose a threat to small and microscopic plankton has been rebutted in a letter …

O.C. legislator overstates law, but his column goes viral

California Republicans face a discouraging dilemma, as GOP numbers wither in the state Capitol. Democrats gained supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, which leaves the remaining Republicans …

The Democrats’ successor to Hillary

Republicans preparing to deal with a potentially rebuilt Democratic Party in 2020 ought to take solace in at least one of the names bandied about as an up-and-coming …

California cities facing growing pension costs in new year

After two years of minuscule investment returns, the nation’s largest state pension fund – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System – has once again lowered its expected rates …

Will Trump call California’s bluff?

Believe it or not, but the incoming Trump administration is a godsend for California’s increasingly left-wing political leadership. Note how Democratic elected officials are tripping all over themselves, …

Sacramento Bee errs twice with fake news on e-cigarettes

The Sacramento Bee on Jan. 21 published a column written by a hearing aids company executive.  Titled “E-cigarettes may also cause hearing loss," the piece asserted that “damage to inner …

Raft of new state laws are going–or have gone–into effect

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 898 bills into law last year. Most take effect Jan. 1, but others go into effect in coming years. The majority of new laws deal …

Desalination foes putting tiny critters above people

It’s getting increasingly difficult to exaggerate the degree to which some environmental activists and bureaucrats have placed the needs of California’s critters above the needs of its growing …

State Farm and the commissar

Critics of California’s business climate routinely complain about the state’s high tax rates, its large and costly government, its coddled and overpaid class of government workers and its …

CalPERS considers – then rejects – efforts to end tobacco divestment

As the nation's largest state-based pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System is known for using its massive investment muscle to promote various social-investment causes. So-called ESGs …

Anaheim’s election means victory over crony capitalism

While political observers wait to see whether President-elect Donald Trump will fulfill his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Anaheim’s new council majority is ready to do …

In California, an about-face on tobacco

The nation’s largest state-based pension fund, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), has long been known for using its investment muscle to push for “socially responsible” investments …

2016 Insurance Regulation Report Card

Welcome to the fifth 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 …

Santa Ana’s sanctuary policies are just symbolism

I took a photograph years ago of downtown Santa Ana for a magazine article I had written about the city. When I raised the camera to my eye, …

New legislative session puts bail-bonds industry under microscope

At a press conference in the Capitol Monday morning, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom explained that, although he has long championed various reforms to the state’s criminal-justice system, …

Ruling casts doubt on fairness of OC ‘justice’ system

The California Court of Appeal’s 53-page ruling late last month in the ongoing jailhouse “snitch” scandal was the latest court rebuke of the local “justice” system. The blowback …

California GOP’s final death throes

The final vote tallies are in for a handful of tight legislative races. It’s now clear that California Democrats have gained supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, …

Police-reform spotlight shines on the local level

The presidential campaign focused some attention on the long-simmering debate over policing and the appropriate uses of force, but as is typical with national campaigns, the nuances got …

Lou Correa’s opportunity in Washington

In the 1939 movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Jimmy Stewart portrays an idealistic man from a Western state who is appointed to fill a U.S. Senate seat. …

When lunatics run the asylum, you get Monty Python

California’s pension funds continue to face a fusillade of bad news, including new reports showing that retirement benefits consume 20 percent of Los Angeles’ general-fund budget. Put another …

Letter to Palm Springs mayor on short-term-rental law

I'd like to express concern about the restrictive short-term-rental ordinance the Palm Springs City Council will consider at its Nov. 30 meeting. I write as the Western region …

CalPERS staff nudges board to consider lower return rates

There’s bad news coming down the pike for California municipalities following several days of board meetings for the nation’s largest state-based pension fund. Although no action has been …

Charter ‘witch hunt’ does disservice to vulnerable kids

Most of us know the legend: German-born physicist Albert Einstein struggled with the regimented curriculum in his elementary school, yet later proved to be one of the world’s …

California the new redoubt of secessionism?

The most enjoyable part of the Trump victory has been watching people here in liberal northern California suddenly discover that some of the ideas libertarians and conservatives have …

Bail reform tops criminal-justice efforts in next legislative session

California has long been known as a law-and-order state, particularly following the crime spikes of the 1980s. The state passed the toughest “three strikes” law in the nation …

Vapescore 2016: Regulating vapor products in U.S. cities

The attached study was co-authored by R Street Research Associate Dan Semelsberger  Americans' use of tobacco cigarettes has declined over the past decade from 20.9 percent of adults in 2004 …

California voters defy trend – by voting as expected

Whereas the national election results shocked and surprised pollsters and many media observers, California’s results from Election Day conformed almost exactly to pre-election polls and predictions. Some of …

California misses another electoral wave

It’s hard to overstate the significance of Donald Trump’s improbable presidential victory Tuesday, yet the GOP tide barely fazed the nation’s most populous state. Democrat Hillary Clinton won …

‘Two Californias’ ruled by one distorted vision

Some pundits were aghast after a federal jury acquitted Ammon Bundy and several others for their roles in an armed standoff at a wildlife refuge in desolate eastern …

Ballot measures would legalize pot, end death penalty, create single-payer health care

While this year’s explosive presidential politics have drowned out battles at the state level, voters across the country nevertheless face a daunting number of weighty ballot questions on Nov. …

San Diego council chief trying to quickly push through Airbnb ‘ban’

A common spectacle takes place at the state Capitol at the end of every session. Legislative leaders who have been unsuccessful advancing their bills through the usual system …

It’s rational to be ignorant about plethora of initiatives

You’ve got to wonder whether voters, many of whom don’t know the names of their own legislators, should determine whether revenue bonds for major infrastructure projects should be …

Bureaucracy, funding no cure for homeless problem

My office is located in a part of downtown Sacramento that the Sacramento Bee recently referred to as a “blighted and foreboding stretch of K Street.” It’s not that the …

Election time in a one-party state

After George W. Bush was declared winner of the 2000 presidential election, I headed from our newspaper offices to the Orange County Republican Party election event, where I …

Competing death-penalty measures revive old feud

Thirty years ago, California voters did something unprecedented (and not seen since): They bounced Chief Justice Rose Bird from the state Supreme Court. Two other state high-court justices …

Insurers vow ‘muscular’ response to over-regulation

Insurers aren’t known for their aggressive pushback against overly meddlesome regulations. American insurance companies – like any massive industry – have a large lobbying presence. But they tend …

We Can Build Our Way Out of the Housing Crisis

In 1998, I left a small city in Ohio for Southern California, trading one of the nation's lowest-priced housing markets for one of its highest. The trade-off was …

California Moves Against ‘Public Threat’ Of E-Cigarettes With A Tax

Voters in California will decide on a contentious ballot initiative aimed at regulating the electronic cigarette industry and hiking tobacco taxes. Proposition 56 would raise the tax on tobacco …

California Aborting Free Speech Rights

In signing a bill that criminalizes the distribution of a “confidential” video of a “health-care provider,” Gov. Jerry Brown has at least dispensed with the notion that California’s …

State watchdog agency pushes for occupational licensing reform

One of the rare issues where politicians on the left and right increasingly agree involves occupational-licensing requirements – the oftentimes cumbersome government-approval processes that many workers must go …

Free-market coalition calls for improvements to California self-driving car regs

The California Department of Motor Vehicles' second round of draft regulations on testing and deploying autonomous vehicles are better than the iteration the department previously introduced last December, …

We can build our way out of housing crisis

In 1998, I left a small city in Ohio for Southern California, trading one of the nation’s lowest-priced housing markets for one of its highest. The trade-off was …

Teams kneel at the altar of tax subsidies

The debate over standing for the national anthem is back on center stage this week, now that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been given the greenlight …

Union appeal focuses attention on pension precedent

A decision by four Marin County public-employee associations to appeal a pension-related case to the California Supreme Court could ultimately determine whether localities have the tools needed to rein …

Direct democracy not always the ideal approach

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Western Region Director Steven Greenhut. Colorado and California are among the states most accustomed to direct democracy: the initiative, …

Private eye’s guilty plea offers hope for accountability

At first glance, high-profile police controversies each generally present themselves as isolated events. Various police shootings have been in the news, and have sparked angry protests. The Associated …

Harm-reduction initiatives violate Hippocratic Oath

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Western Region Director Steven Greenhut. Most of us have heard the dictum, "First, do no harm." It's often thought of as …

At what point is California a lost cause?

A pseudonymous writer named Decius sparked a debate throughout the conservative media with his argument that this presidential election echoes “Flight 93” — the aircraft that crashed in …

New rules for driverless cars aim to fix what ain’t broke

The folks at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) are a lot like other regulators: When they see that a given power exists, they covet it. Charged with …

Gov. Jerry Brown signs host of significant legislation

The 2016 legislative season is officially over, with Gov. Jerry Brown having signed 900 bills while vetoing 159 byFriday’s deadline. Some of the recently signed bills are far-reaching and will …

Ignoring pension past, state risks future problems

It’s one of the oldest ploys. After officials at a government agency or business are caught in an embarrassing situation, it’s typical for them to deny there’s anything …

California’s draft self-driving car regulations: second time’s a charm?

Quietly slipped in to the Friday afternoon news dump were updated draft regulations from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that signal a pivot from the much-maligned rules …

Contra Costa pilot program will put fully autonomous cars on the road

Vehicles without steering wheels and pedals will soon be on California’s roads, if only in very specific areas, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown's signature on A.B. 1592, sponsored …

California legalizes rental cars for ridesharing

Gov. Jerry Brown this week gave a small but significant boost to the ridesharing industry by signing A.B. 2763, which allows drivers for transportation network companies such as …

California’s moral superiority complex

I was drinking a beer recently in a bar in a small northern California town when a woman came in and demanded to know if any of the …

California’s roads improve, but still are troubled according to new study

Despite its well-documented inefficiencies and travails, California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has managed to improve the state’s system of roads, bridges and freeways incrementally in recent years, according …

Pension mess can’t go on; that’s no reason to ignore it

President Richard Nixon’s economic adviser, the late Herbert Stein, still is known for his dictum: “If something cannot go on forever, it won’t.” It should be the rallying …

Suddenly, a shifting pension paradigm?

Last month, I wrote a dour column for the Spectator doubting that a significant new appeals court decision in a major pension case would ultimately change the financial …

Stanford’s batty booze ban

The mercury is trending downward, the leaves are turning red and orange and fresh faces flood campuses across our nation. Autumn is back. It’s a lovely annual recurrence. At …

NHTSA forces Cal DMV to walk back self-driving car rules

The California Department of Motor Vehicles attempted to force one of the most promising automotive innovations in history to do what people waiting to register their cars do …

Gov. Brown mulls bills overseeing psychotropic drugs for foster kids

California’s foster-care system has long been plagued with unaddressed problems, but a recent exposé about the system’s alleged over-prescription of psychotropic drugs has propelled the Legislature into action. Gov. …

Anaheim’s parks program raises surveillance debate

On Tuesday, Anaheim became the latest in a growing list of California cities to install police-monitored cameras in public places — in this case, three public parks. The …

They’ll never learn: Liberal policies boost poverty

I was perusing the real-estate listings for Palo Alto, California, and spotted a stylish, remodeled midcentury ranch house with a whopping 1,700 square feet on a postage-stamp lot …

Michigan makes its play to be center of self-driving car universe

In the race to innovate, there often are rewards for being first. Just as technology firms and automakers vie to roll out the first scalable autonomous vehicle, so …

Prop. 53 could have far-reaching consequences for state project financing – or not

Most California voters are unfamiliar with the inner workings of the municipal-bond process. Many are likewise unfamiliar with the differences between, say, “general obligation” bonds and “revenue” bonds. …

Coastal Commission abuse smacked down by OC court

During a 1997 speech to the American Planning Association in Monterey, Peter Douglas, the longtime executive director of the California Coastal Commission and main author of the 1972 …

Court smacks down California regulators over broker/agent ruling

An Orange County, California court has given the state’s Department of Insurance a stunning smack down in a long-running case about the “broker fees” charged by some insurance …

PC segregation still on the rise

It's the start of a new school year, so it’s time to hear bizarre stories from the nation’s universities — those politically correct hothouses where seemingly intelligent people …

Tobacco tax one of the most heated for November ballot

There’s broad agreement that the 17 initiatives on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot cover some of the most significant public-policy issues to come before voters in more than a decade. …

Is ruling too late to fix California’s pension mess?

From Reason: An August 17 California appeals court ruling rejected a public employee union's claim that its members had a right to "pension spiking," which the court described as …

Jerry Brown dirties the climate

Gov. Jerry Brown received some media attention last week after he left an angry message on Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims’ voicemail. Angry that Mims had signed a …

Court ruling opens avenue for pension reform

An Aug. 17 California appeals court ruling rejected a public employee union’s claim that its members had a right to “pension spiking,” which the court described as “various …

NAIC San Diego: Self-driving cars and regulatory renewal

Insurance regulators are a diverse bunch. Some are elected, while others are appointed. Some are Republicans, while others are Democrats. At the triennial meeting of the National Association …

Letter to CPUC on fingerprinting requirements

Dear California Public Utilities Commission, On behalf of the R Street Institute, I respectfully would like to offer comments on the commission’s consideration of a rule requiring fingerprinting as …

Great Park travails show the travesty of politics

One of the great fallacies of our modern world is the idea that development decisions should largely be made through politics and public input. That way all the …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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? …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

California is learning to pay its own way

California is a land of calamity. The ground shakes, it runs dry and, with underappreciated frequency, it catches fire. Surprisingly, the cost of modern life in the Golden State …

Whether they like it or hate it, conservatives must look to California

The State of California is fun to mock, easy to condemn and, particularly for many conservatives and libertarians, simple to write off. A little perspective from outside the …

The question of raising taxes

It was shrewd of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board to choose its words carefully when it called for tax reform (“There’s no time like April to talk about …

Fracking and quakes

Over the past decade, huge improvements in hydraulic fracturing techniques used to unlock natural gas deposits have lowered energy prices and boosted the economy. They’ve been great for …

Moving toward real water prices

Gov. Jerry Brown has taken a dramatic, but dangerous, step by issuing an executive order to cut non-agricultural water usage by 25 percent. The unprecedented and problematic step …

Testimony to California Senate Health Committee

Sen. Ed Hernandez Senate Committee on Health California State Senate Re: S.B. 140 (Leno) Electronic Cigarettes Chairman Hernandez: My name is Edward Anselm and I serve as medical director for Health Republic Insurance …

Testimony on California Earthquake Authority resolution

Chairman Daly, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, my name is Ian Adams and I am the Western region director of the R Street Institute. R Street is …

CEA says it’s seen no fracking-related earthquake claims

The California Earthquake Authority, the state-run insurance pool that is the primary source of residential earthquake coverage in the Golden State, says it hasn't received any claims that …

Could ridesharing shift to an ad-supported business model?

(This post was co-authored by R Street Western Region Director Ian Adams.) In a recent blog post, tech entrepreneur Andrew Chen discussed what a free, ad-supported service tier for …

The West not yet fully won for ridesharing

On the heels of last week’s cross-industry compromise on insurance requirements for ride-sharing drivers, and with some legislative sessions drawing to a close, it's a good time to …

NAIC rises above ‘No Action Is Contemplated’ on ride-sharing

Regular attendees of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' thrice-yearly meetings are known to joke that NAIC actually stands for “No Action Is Contemplated.” At the group’s latest meeting …

Tempest brewing around California uninsured motorist coverage

A tempest is brewing around California’s otherwise functional system of uninsured and underinsured automobile insurance. At an informational hearing held in the great Shakespearian tradition of dialogue capped …

Prop 103’s authors argue for changing Prop 103

Scottish poets from the 18th Century are rarely credited for their insights into California politics. Yet the architects of Proposition103, California’s 25-year-old attempt to rigidly control prices in …

Earthquake risks are rising, but take-up isn’t

The West Coast's risk of ruin is even greater than we previously feared. According to the just-released Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, the likelihood that California could …

TNCs, state flood insurance among hot topics at NCOIL spring meeting

For those whose travel plans weren't interrupted by the inclement weather, the spring meeting of the tri-annually convened National Conference of Insurance Legislators – held in Charleston, S.C. …

Move to ban e-cigs stifles innovation

California lawmakers aren’t afraid of innovation, or so they say. Members of the Legislature in Sacramento will have their commitment to innovation tested this session when an attempt …

Rocking homeowners

“California Rocks.” That’s the clever slogan for a new advertising campaign by the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), the state’s privately funded, publicly managed earthquake insurance fund. The message is …

California opens fast lane to approve TNC insurance products

The California Department of Insurance has approved the state's first private passenger auto policy endorsement specifically crafted to cover drivers for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. …

NAIC seeks input on TNC white paper

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has begun a 30-day comment period on a draft white paper (available here) that no doubt will shape the development in states …

R Street study outlines ways to expand number of Californians who purchase earthquake insurance

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2015) – Lawmakers need to find ways to expand the number of Californians who purchase earthquake insurance, given the extremely low take-up rate in …

Insuring a way out: Modernizing the California Earthquake Authority

California faces severe earthquake risk, yet consumers routinely choose not to purchase insurance products to cover this risk. Low earthquake insurance take-up rates create a scenario in which …

Obama dredges Sacramento’s mire for SOTU

California’s left-leaning political chattering classes were tweeting with enthusiasm last night as President Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address. To their delight, the president …

Politics, regulations are ruining state insurance market

Much has been made of the so-called California comeback, and it’s certainly true that the state’s economy is beginning to show signs of life. But in some ways, …

Seeking common sense in 2015

I was going to try to write something positive at the end of the year, to balance out what a scold I’ve been almost all year long about …

The CEA considers a tax by any other name

The California Earthquake Authority has a heady legislative agenda on-tap for 2015, and Californians without earthquake insurance coverage could be made to foot the bill. The CEA’s CEO, Glenn …

Fannie and Freddie: Proving that insanity is good for business

Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Even a casual observer of the U.S. economy since its collapse in 2008 is …

Rounding up NCOIL’s San Francisco meeting

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators is an organization founded with the goal of helping legislators make informed policy decisions. Over the course of three yearly meetings, members …

Fresno hits right note on for-hire ride services

When it comes to getting around town, Fresno has struck a good balance between regulation and innovation. A newly released study by my colleagues at the R Street Institute, …

CDI ready to review ride-sharing insurance

Reasonable observers of California government must give credit when credit is due. In this case, the good news is that the California Department of Insurance reports it is …

Ridescore 2014: Hired driver rules in U.S. cities

The attached paper was co-authored by Ryan Xue, Evan Engstrom and Zach Graves. Visit R Street's companion website, www.ridescore.org, for an interactive visual presentation of our regulatory scorecard. Over the past several …

Election post-mortem in California

If the key to success is maintaining low expectations, California Republicans had a great election night. Over the past several years, every objective measure of the party’s success has …

HomeAway goes to court over San Francisco’s ‘Airbnb law’

An old adage in the legal profession suggests: “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. …

Redefining ‘public interest’

For decades, trial lawyers, the insurance industry, and health-care providers have battled over how to set insurance rates and adjudicate medical-liability claims. In California this year, two ballot …

Earthquakes and home mortgage risk

The United States faces severe earthquake risk in many areas of the country, yet consumers routinely choose not to purchase insurance products to cover this risk. Low earthquake …

Does Prop 103 violate itself?

The history of the American administrative state has been filled with attempts to introduce “rationality” and “discipline” to circumstances in which markets, left to their own devices, allegedly …

Mandates, subsidies and political semantics

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the fate of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate in 2012, the nation was gripped by an intimate and personal political drama …

Gov. Brown forces AB 2616 to walk the plank

California’s workers’ compensation system is a political flashpoint that attracts the interest of labor, management, attorneys and insurers. Last session, a skirmish about expanding the scope of workers’ …

Airbnb regulated into legality

One of the many oddities of San Francisco is that the city is full of libertarians who love regulation. You can do your own thing, unless you’re a …

Earthquake coverage should be standard for mortgage loans

When it comes to California earthquake insurance, affordability is in the eye of the beholder. Californians are not convinced that earthquake risk is sufficient to warrant the purchase …

Rob Schneider: Makin’ enemies

In a decision that had to be as awkward as it was necessary, State Farm has cut ties with pitchman Rob Schneider, following a social media campaign to …

TNC battle ends with Gov. Brown’s signature

Gov. Jerry Brown has lent his signature to compromise legislation that clarifies how and when transportation network companies are commercially insured. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, A.B. 2293, …

Airbnb helps, not hurts, SF housing shortage

San Francisco is in the midst of a housing shortage, fueled by huge demand and exacerbated by decades of wrongheaded regulatory intervention and, more recently, by professional troglodytes. Firms …

Self-driving cars could require overhaul of insurance regulation

What is an autonomous vehicle? As demonstrated in a Sept. 15 California Department of Insurance informational hearing, that's a misleadingly simple question. Regulators' attempt to stay in front of …

The inequality of unisex pricing

Equality before the law is a foundational principle of American democracy. Many policymakers are proud to pursue efforts to realize that principle. Perhaps that is why, cloaked by …

California state funds continue to shake up cat bond market

California's recent "Winequake" brought the public's focus back to the state's significant vulnerability to seismic events. Fortunately, the tremors, while costly, did not tally a high human score. …

R Street taps Ian Adams for California state director

WASHINGTON (September 2, 2014) – The R Street Institute is pleased to welcome Ian Adams as senior fellow and California director. In this role, Adams will be responsible …

Can Prop 103 handle driverless cars?

Earlier this year, Google announced the introduction of a completely driverless car. On this blog, Eli Lehrer took time to discuss the insurance implications of such a development. …

Lessons from Napa’s ‘winequake’

In the early hours Sunday morning, Northern California shook with the largest earthquake it has experienced since 1989. The South Napa Earthquake, as it is being referred to …

For insurers, California’s ‘diverse procurement’ is well-meaning and wrong

Under Section 927.2 of the California Insurance Code, insurers writing $100 million or more in annual premiums in the state are required to submit reports to the Department …

Pending gas price hikes make California lawmakers skittish

As the California Legislature wraps up its last few weeks of this year's session, some lawmakers are anxious to head off a scheduled gas price increase set to …

California’s incomplete prescription for reducing climate risk

The California Natural Resources Agency has just released its Final Safeguarding California Plan for Reducing Climate Risk. The roughly 350-page plan is designed to provide policymakers with recommendations …

Portable persistency and the Prop 103 roadblock

The emerging need to develop new insurance products to cover California's Transportation Network Company operators has spurred a reexamination of the nature of Proposition 103's quasi-constitutional status. In …

Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel launches online gambling in California

In the spirit of the adage that it's better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission, the Native American Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, Calif., has launched …

Anatomy of a Trojan Horse: California’s permissive single-subject rule

When it comes to winning at the polls, hoodwinking voters by confusing the issues is a strategy that has stood the test of time. This November, Propositions 45 …

Jerry Brown provides powerful argument for California separation

Gov. Jerry Brown's spokesman has raised questions about the feasibility of the Six States proposal, arguing that "the proposal has serious practical challenges." But does this position harmonize …

Lyft’s insurance move a first step toward regular TNC coverage

Even as it faces new regulatory headaches in New York, transportation network company Lyft is making news this week with a major announcement today that should quiet at …

R Street’s Adams on flood insurance in Sacramento

R Street Associate Policy Analyst Ian Adams joined host Bruce Maiman yesterday on KFBK radio in  Sacramento, Calif. to discuss the National Flood Insurance Program. In particular, Ian …

Some San Franciscans hopping mad over ReservationHop

ReservationHop is a start-up caught in the horns of controversy. Its business model places it at the intersection of San Francisco's built-in techno-libertarianism and urban third-estate populism. Is …

Prop 45: An internecine fight on the regulatory left

Ominously, Proposition 45, the "Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act," is heading for California's November ballot. If voters approve the Consumer Watchdog-sponsored initiative, health insurers would be …

California Senate panel lowers insurance requirement for TNCs

California's A.B. 2293 – sponsored by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord – crossed another hurdle Wednesday by earning approval of the state Senate Insurance Committee. Having earlier been amended …

No easy fix for California’s replacement parts regs

Henry Ford would be gratified to see how far mass production has come. Entire cars are constructed in a matter of hours. He would be somewhat less impressed …

University of California has strong opinions on peer-to-peer business

Earlier this week, the University of California's Office of the President (UCOP) determined that, as a result of a perceived shortfall in regulation, it would not reimburse faculty …

The fight over TNCs in California

Legislation regulating so-called "transportation network companies" in California passed the state Senate Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee by a unanimous 8-0 vote earlier this week, amid a row …

Sacramento’s soggy redevelopment plan

Those unfortunate enough to have attended California Gov. Leland Stanford's 1862 inauguration likely had to commute to the Capitol Building as he did – by boat. Sacramento is, if …

The California Earthquake Authority: A confused success story

This year, the California Senate Insurance Committee has hosted two informational hearings on earthquake risk, bringing together stakeholders, regulators and thought-leaders. The fact is that Californians are overexposed and …

Prop 103’s troublesome legacy

It's been more than a quarter-century since California voters passed Proposition 103. Spurred on by questionable analysis of the causes of high auto insurance premiums, five competing insurance-regulation …

TNCs fight for footing in California’s legislature

A recent R Street post by Zachary Cohn laid out three steps that transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar should take to solidify their place in …

Analysis of S. 637, the Earthquake Insurance Affordability Act

PDF Download Text S. 637, introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would displace an existing private market by replacing private reinsurance with a federal government …

Connecticut reforms reinsurance collateral, California could be next

Connecticut is the latest state to liberalize collateral requirements for foreign-based reinsurers, and California could be next on the list, after a similar bill passed that state’s Senate. Connecticut …

Letter from Washington: ‘Hurricane Hukill’ and fixing the University of California

More than one-third of the U.S. Senate has already signed onto a letter that calls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, …

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