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LETTER: Support Lee-Gardner Amendment to S. 1405

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson: Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., have introduced an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act that would …

Testimony to USTR on NAFTA renegotiation

Chairman Gresser and members of the Trade Policy Staff Committee of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My …

Assembly speaker shelves single-payer health bill

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, an avowed supporter of single-payer health care, nevertheless announced last week that he was pulling the plug on a Senate-passed measure that would …

America’s upper middle class problem

Richard Reeves’ new book "The Dream Hoarders" (Brookings, 2017) forwards a thesis that should disturb all Americans who hold professional or managerial jobs. A Brookings Institution scholar and …

The Fed should be required to provide Congress a regular savers’ impact analysis

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Moore and Members of the Committee, Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I am Alex Pollock, a senior fellow at the R …

The Market Advantage: A Q&A with Joe Bowring

The PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that administers competitive wholesale electricity markets. Monitoring Analytics, PJM's independent market monitor, evaluates PJM's markets and monitors the behavior of …

Union dues hike spotlights need for high-court intervention

A recent action by one of nation’s largest public-employee unions illustrates the importance of an Illinois case that might make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court sometime …

R Street initial post-technical conference comments to FERC

The R Street Institute (RSI) hereby submits comments on the critical matter of state policies affecting ISO-NE, NYISO and PJM. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission” or …

The FCC and Quasi-Common Carriage: A case study of agency survival

The attached article, co-authored by Brent Skorup of George Mason University, originally was published in Vol. 18, Issue 2 of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology.  The …

A three-step plan to promote consumer privacy

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Tech Policy Associate Joe Kane. Congress’ decision to use the little-utilized Congressional Review Act to repeal broadband privacy regulations the Federal …

Want to deploy more broadband? Get government out of the way

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Technology Policy Associate Joe Kane.  Despite living in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, millions of Americans lack access …

Gutting the state’s tax board is bad news for taxpayers

When I first learned about the existence of something called the California Board of Equalization, it sounded like something that might have existed in the novel, “Animal Farm.” …

Senate should seek to retain its ‘blue slip’ tradition for judicial nominees

The "blue slip" process for judicial nominations—one of the Senate’s most obscure customs in a body known for its arcane rules and esoteric parliamentary practices—soon may be destined …

There’s a reason Americans can’t all get along, and it isn’t Trump

As much as we need to tone down our rhetoric and behave like adults, Americans are not going to get along, sit around the campfire and sing "Kumbaya." …

Today’s whiskey is not yesterday’s — thank goodness

Some years ago, I attended a tasting where the representative of a well-known Scotch company claimed the whisky his firm makes today tastes the same as it did …

House legislative branch appropriators will vote tomorrow on legislation to release all non-confidential CRS Reports to the public

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2017) – The House Appropriations Committee announced today that its Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee will vote tomorrow to allow public access to all nonconfidential Congressional Research Service reports as …

Distressed city exits bankruptcy, but more distress ahead

Officials for the decrepit city of San Bernardino are touting the great news that, after five long and tumultuous years, the city this week officially exited bankruptcy. Starting …

Self-driving cars are setting the stage for regulatory battle between feds and the states

The autonomous future is coming, provided regulators don't kill it first. Of particular concern on that front is a growing turf battle between the federal government and the …

Effects of BAT on life insurance and annuities

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellows Ian Adams and R.J. Lehmann. Descriptions of the formulas and regression models used to conduct this analysis can …

Is California budget as ‘balanced and progressive’ as Gov. Brown suggests?

The California Assembly and Senate have until Thursday to approve the budget deal announced by Gov. Jerry Brown last week, but there’s little uncertainty about the outcome. The …

Youth smoking is down, but thanks to what?

We received some welcome news this week from the Food and Drug Administration: Cigarette smoking by high school students has been cut in half since 2011, from 15.8 …

Fed is far too dangerous to be unaccountable

I would replace the headline of your editorial "An independent Fed had never been more crucial" (June 16) with a different thought: "Making the Fed accountable has never been …

Governor, legislators spend more and ignore obstacles to reform

Legislators announced a budget deal last week that spends a record $125 billion in the general fund. But most interesting isn’t what’s in the deal, but what isn’t. There’s …

From toll roads to toll rivers

Much of the news coverage stemming from the White House’s recent “infrastructure week,” an effort to push for a $1 trillion infrastructure package, focused on hot-button topics like …

Regulatory harmonization between the United States and Canada

Renewed interest in regulatory reform in Washington is a necessary and positive development. A decadeslong accumulation of red tape and burdensome regulations imposes significant costs on the U.S. economy. …

Among House staff, women are well-represented. Just not in the senior positions.

Congress has a gender imbalance. Of 435 members of the House of Representatives, just 83, or 19.1 percent, are women, putting the United States at 101st in gender …

The Fed: Can the world’s biggest S&L get back to normal?

The balance sheet of today’s Federal Reserve makes it the largest 1980s-model savings and loan in the world, with a giant portfolio of long-term, fixed-rate mortgage securities combined …

Letter to Savannah Mayor: Oppose temporary stay on short-terms rentals

I am writing to oppose the resolution imposing a temporary stay on short-term-rental registrations. Savannah is an attractive vacation destination because of its historic character and great urbanism. According …

Regulators should think twice before cracking down on ‘augmented reality’

A Milwaukee County regulation requiring special permits to use digital apps in county parks is facing a First Amendment challenge from the makers of augmented reality app Texas Rope ‘Em. In a …

Brown’s union ploy shows unions still fear end to mandatory dues

On first blush, the latest effort by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators to give public-employee unions access to public agencies to hold “orientation” seminars with new hires …

Legislature and Gov. Ivey pass bottle on tax hike to ABC Board

We don't need the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Alabama. It's a bureaucratic dinosaur waiting for its extinction-level event. Now, the ABC has done the dirty work of …

FDA misinterprets massive victory on teen smoking

As detailed this morning by the Food and Drug Administration, cigarette smoking by U.S. high school students has been cut in half since 2011—from 15.8 percent to 8.0 …

FTC vs. Qualcomm: No license, no chips

It's not every day that the government and the tech industry agree on intellectual property policy, but both interests are united in their opposition to San Diego-based Qualcomm …

Kids shouldn’t be charged as sex offenders

Corey Walgren, a 16-year old honor roll student from Naperville, Illinois, recently stood accused by a school resource officer of some dishonorable behavior: allegedly showing friends a cellphone recording …

Indiana doubles down on warm beer

Indiana lawmakers recently announced that they plan to study the state’s outdated alcohol laws this summer with an eye toward reforming them for the 21st century. While this …

Harm reduction is about making better choices, not perfect ones

Dr. Mark Boom, president and CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system in Texas, suggests in a recent piece in The Hill that proponents of vaping are simply …

Four takeaways from Sessions’ Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Attorney General Jeff Sessions competently defended himself before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, as he answered a range of questions about the Trump campaign and his actions during …

Setting the record straight on copyright modernization

There’s a lot to be said for the adage that "we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good." While true in many situations, it also …

Could economic liberty litigation ‘free the booze?’

The attached policy study originated as a three-part blog post series for the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy. The South Carolina Supreme Court recently struck down a …

R Street comments on NAFTA renegotiation

Founded in 2012, the R Street Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit pragmatic free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. We support limited but effective government. We believe that …

Prison unions are punishing California taxpayers … here’s how

If you ever wondered what’s wrong with California’s state government, then mull over this simple example: While California cuts its prison population and staff, it’s increasing the amount of money …

PACE Act would prosecute teen sexting as kiddie porn

Crimes against children, particularly those that involve sexual exploitation, are beyond the pale. But while society needs to make sure it protects children from sexual abuse, recent legislation …

N.C. lawmakers again scuttle bill to reform rate bureau

Most of the auto insurance industry has for several years been trying to convince North Carolina's lawmakers to eliminate the last vestiges of the once-common "rate bureau" system, …

Glass-Steagall never saved our financial system, so why revive it?

The Banking Act of 1933 was passed in an environment of crisis. In March of that year, all of the nation’s financial institutions were closed in the so-called …

Dual-class shares and the shareholder empowerment movement

The shareholder empowerment movement has renewed its effort to eliminate, restrict or, at the very least, discourage use of dual-class share structures—that is, classes of common stock with …

Are we just fascists waiting for our turn with the hammer?

We all know control freaks. You may be one. It's not uncommon. A fascist is basically a control freak with a government hammer. The hammer makes all the …

The Swedish miracle continues

A special report on tobacco and e-cigarettes published by Eurobarometer—the official polling organization of the 28-nation European Union—underscores the remarkable success of what researchers call "The Swedish Experience." According …

Does the Paris agreement matter?

In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris climate accord, many on the left seem to be writing an obituary for the planet. “Trump …

Homeowner insurance abuse needs to be addressed

As Gov. Rick Scott acts on legislation that was passed during the final weeks of this year's regular legislative session, there is one bill noticeably absent from his …

Who is to blame for the Seven and Seven?

R Street Vice President of Policy Kevin Kosar badgers the Toronto writer Adam McDowell. Kevin Kosar: Congrats on the publication of Drinks: A User’s Guide (Tarcher, 2016). It’s a smart-looking book, and I …

A ‘third status’ for the gig economy

The rise of the so-called “gig economy” — loosely defined as a market of freelance, self-employed and contract workers, often with low-to-median skill levels, who make a living …

Forget Paris. Clean energy could be our next moonshot.

When President Donald Trump announced his plan to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the sanctimonious outrage from liberal environmental activists began to froth and boil. Tom Steyer …

The next security risk may be your vibrator

The following op-ed was co-authored by Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy manager and global policy counsel for Access Now.  Until hackers discovered the internet of things, a maker of kitchen appliances didn't …

Don’t include vaping in bans on flavored-tobacco sales

San Francisco Bay Area residents often are proud of the region’s progressive approach to social issues to a degree that approaches smugness. Unlike those rubes in the nation’s …

The lost genius of the Post Office

In 1897, a year when mail was still largely delivered by horse and wagon, construction began on an innovative scheme beneath the streets of Philadelphia. Using an intricate …

Theresa May’s plan to regulate the internet won’t stop terrorism; It might make things worse

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street National Security and Justice Policy Director Arthur Rizer.  In the wake of Saturday's horrific attack on London—the third high-profile terrorist incident …

Vape flavor ban threatens San Francisco’s legacy of harm reduction

The following op-ed was co-authored by Brian Fojtik, a senior fellow with the Reason Foundation. San Francisco has proudly led the nation in successfully implementing harm-reduction tools for at-risk communities. …

Is Assembly speaker playing game of chicken over 72-hour rule?

California voters in November overwhelmingly passed Proposition 54, a constitutional amendment to promote transparency by requiring all bills in their “final form” to be published online for 72 hours …

Testimony on flood insurance reform: a taxpayers perspective

Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters and members of the committee, My name is R.J. Lehmann, and I am the editor-in-chief, co-founder and a senior fellow with the R Street …

Prison unions punish California taxpayers

If you ever wondered what’s wrong with California’s state government, then mull over this simple example: While California cuts its prison population and staff, it’s increasing the amount of money …

How Congress became colonized by the imperial presidency

Ever since Arthur Schlesinger’s 1973 book coined the phrase, the so-called "imperial presidency" has been a perennial topic of our national political discourse. At a time when the …

Everyone should be getting Wikipedia for free

Internet providers should be able to experiment with giving subscribers free stuff, such as access to Wikipedia and other public information and services on their smartphones. Unfortunately, confusion …

Border-adjustment tax would cost North Carolinians dearly

The following op-ed was co-authored by Kory Swanson, president and CEO of the John Locke Foundation. A controversial proposal Congress is considering as part of comprehensive tax reform could lead …

Huntington Beach tries to squelch democratic reform

After giving a speech a few years ago, I was approached by an activist who wanted to tell me about what he believes is California’s most significant political …

Centralized climate planning like Paris wasn’t going to work anyway

Beware of hyperbole: President Donald Trump “canceling” Paris doesn’t mean much. All the hand wringing about the wavering U.S. commitment to climate diplomacy misses the larger message. International …

California needs to think twice about banning flavored e-cigarettes

Drug use can kill people. Smoking can kill people. But these behaviors don’t have to, and Californians know it. California—especially the Bay Area—has been a leader in promoting proven …

A solar energy trade war may be looming

A petition recently filed with the International Trade Commission by an Atlanta-based solar manufacturer could cause solar prices in the United States to skyrocket, raising thorny questions for …

Remarks on the fifth anniversary of R Street

Let me start by saying “thank you” to Caroline Kitchens and Patricia Simon for their hard work in organizing this party. If you’re having a good time, thank …

Sacramento discovers a housing ‘crisis’

Nineteen years ago, I made the trek from a small, industrial city in Ohio to Orange County, California, to take a job at a large daily newspaper. Oddly …

New internet privacy bill would bring European-style regulations

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Research Assistant Joe Kane. As debate over the future of internet regulation drags on, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., chairwoman of …

Eight good pieces of news about Congress

It is not breaking news that most Americans are pessimistic about Congress. This negativity is reflected in Congress’ dismal 20 percent approval rating and another equally telling statistic that 79 percent of …

Gov. Brown’s pension plan gets mixed reviews from reformers

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature mostly have avoided tackling the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, even though these taxpayer-backed debts to pay for pension promises to state and …

Police misconduct undermines justice and costs taxpayers plenty

News reports last week suggest the city of Oakland may be ready to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the teenage woman at the heart of a sex-abuse …

Embracing baseload power retirements

A wave of coal and potential nuclear retirements has prompted extensive political controversy over the future of "baseload" power plants and the effects such retirements could have on …

Voters hold officials accountable for deficits in many countries. Just not here.

Wouldn't it be nice if voters punished politicians who increase budget deficits? Well, according to one research paper, they do. Adi Brender (Bank of Israel) and Allan Drazen (University of Maryland) crunched data from …

On Memorial Day, remember them, but also remember why

For Memorial Day, I'd planned to write about remembering our men and women in uniform. It's a respectful sentiment but, the more I thought about it, I realized it's …

Nevada and other Western states should make the most out of their vast mineral resources

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Catrina Rorke. For Nevada, President Donald Trump’s ongoing review of national monuments signals an economic opportunity that won’t just …

Hard to remove the politics from the snitch scandal

There are few politicians who have been on the receiving end of my sharp pen more often than county supervisor and former Assemblyman Todd Spitzer. If you don’t …

Tough questions for Alabama’s crowded Republican Senate primary

We're already seeing Senate Republican primary campaign ads hit the airways as candidates vie to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We all know where this is going. Every …

The Bloody Mary: An unlikely breakfast of champions

Mmmm, breakfast. What appeals to the mouth and stomach at the early hour when the birds are singing and the sun’s rays are spraying over the horizon? Something …

Loophole lets law enforcement bypass state laws on civil asset forfeiture

Advocates of civil asset forfeiture reform, stymied in recent years at the federal level, continue to make steady progress in the states. Alas, a loophole in current law …

Sessions opts to enforce drug laws Congress fails to address

Critics bemoaning Session's recent guidance to prosecutors are missing the point: It's time for Congress to do its job and overhaul our approach to federal drug policy. Many states …

Embarrassment of Riches: Reversing U.S. minerals import dependency

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Catrina Rorke. As recently as 1990, the United States was the world’s largest producer of minerals—a collection …

Senate should either fix or get off the pot on Copyright Office bill

The U.S. Senate is about to consider mostly pointless legislation that would make the nation's register of copyrights—the individual who heads the U.S. Copyright Office, officially a part …

The FCC’s computer inquiries: The origin story behind net neutrality

The battle over whether and how government should regulate the internet is once again coming to the fore. The Federal Communications Commission currently is weighing proposed rules designed …

Teachers’ unions losing the long war over parental choice

Supporters of charter schools, homeschooling and other forms of school “choice” are so used to fighting in the trenches against the state’s muscular teachers’ unions that they often …

Nebraska should be on the cutting edge of spacesharing

Nebraska’s fame as a place for innovation and leadership is legendary. Even before Warren Buffet became the “Oracle of Omaha,” Nebraskans had invented CliffsNotes, the Reuben sandwich, Vise-Grip …

Congress should act to stop states from battling over online sales taxes

In recent years, a multitude of states have attempted to impose sales taxes on purchases made over the internet and to set regulatory standards that would apply to …

Bail-reform needed given justice system’s realities

Virtually every American has watched enough TV cop dramas to know about the Miranda warning (“You have the right to remain silent …”) to understand that defendants are …

Another bright idea from Mitch Daniels

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels was in Washington last week to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from the government of Japan at …

A conversation on ‘Democracy’ with Condoleezza Rice

So many intellectually gifted political figures are about as warm as a slab of granite in a blizzard. As we sat down to discuss her book, Democracy: Stories from …

Sessions’ charging memo underscores need for Congress to pass reform

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' memorandum instructing federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” against defendants signals a desire to return to a tough-on-crime …

OPEN Government Data Act moves to Senate floor after markup

Legislation requiring federal agencies to publish their data online in a searchable, nonproprietary, machine-readable format has been cleared for the Senate following a May 17 markup by the …

What would Jesus do about criminal justice reform?

One of the more noteworthy political shifts of recent years is the degree to which prison reform has become a cause for conservatives. After decades of bellicose rhetoric …

Wanted: A few good free-traders

On almost no other issue has President Trump's public position been more consistent than the subject of trade. The president has been making claims about the failure of …

Impact of a border-adjustment tax on the North Carolina insurance market

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street’s Ian Adams and R.J. Lehmann. As a state on the Southeast Atlantic Coast, North Carolina is vulnerable to the punishing …

Licensed out of a job

This month and next, millions of graduating high school and college seniors will head out into the world to make their marks. As “Pomp and Circumstance” plays at …

San Francisco sues Uber in battle over driver privacy

The City of San Francisco filed suit last week against the ridesharing service Uber after the company filed a motion in court to block the release of a …

Forget fiscal responsibility: Jerry Brown embraces pension shell game

The Jerry Brown administration last week released its revised May budget and, lo and behold, it has finally decided to (kind of, sort of) tackle the state’s massive and growing …

A conservative looks at climate change

My name is Eli Lehrer. I grew up in a home with a Ronald Reagan doormat, a stream of progressive direct mail and a regular parade of leftist …

California crackdown on brand advertising hurts state’s newcomers

California is an ethnically and culturally diverse state, and it is becoming more so with each day. That diversity brings with it economic strength, but also a need …

Testimony: Support Texas H.B. 100

Chair Nelson, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am the Texas director for the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that works on issues related …

Florida’s insurance market is a template for the country

The National Flood Insurance Program is in deep debt. A handful of big storm years, particularly in 2005 and 2012, along with the artificially low rates charged to …

Idaho vacation-rental law is a model for the nation

Most neighborhoods will experience the occasional problem resident. There’s the person who throws a loud party late into the night, leaves junk in the front yard, lines the …

How a border-adjustment tax would hurt Louisiana’s insurance market

Louisiana already has some of the highest property insurance rates in the nation. But they could creep higher still—an estimated $1.11 billion higher over the next decade—should congressional …

Big names weigh in on FCC’s net-neutrality rules

We seldom see a cadre of deceased Founding Fathers petition the Federal Communications Commission, but this past week was an exception. All the big hitters—from George Washington to …

U.S. needs to recognize serious flaws in Paris climate pact

Will they or won’t they? The past few weeks have seen a flurry of reporting on the internal White House struggles over whether to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The …

Fight over ‘commies’ shows ongoing Capitol silliness

When I was a precocious teenager, I worked at a book store in a shopping mall and was responsible for stocking the politics section with books. For sheer …

The effort to undo Obama regulations is ending with a whimper

Wednesday seemed to offer a somewhat dispiriting conclusion to what had been a hopeful period for regulatory-reform advocates. Senate Republicans were unable to muster the 51 votes needed …

Make the CFPB accountable by increasing presidential power

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the brainchild of then-Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren  created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as part of the Dodd-Frank Act—may finally …

How Scott Gottlieb’s ‘boring’ approach could transform the FDA

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, confirmed earlier this week by the U.S. Senate to become the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has a pragmatic—some might even say …

In reshaping U.S. energy policy, Perry’s best model is his home state

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a high-stakes conference May 1 and 2 to address the contentious interplay of state policies and interstate wholesale-electricity markets. The week …

Ridesharing a victim of Alaska’s budget battle

As Alaska's legislative session ends, some perplexing in-house political gamesmanship has kept a popular bipartisan measure from making it to the House floor. It’s a shame, because freedom-loving …

UC’s Napolitano digs a deeper hole

University of California President Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor and secretary of Homeland Security under Barack Obama, showed off her political skill at a joint legislative oversight hearing last …

Vaping in the UK

Comedian-cum-philosopher Stephen Colbert has opined: "Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything." Actual British researchers have gone a step further, finding that, with e-cigarettes and vaping, perception …

Do criminal courts threaten privacy more than FISA courts?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Daniel Oglesby, a technology research assistant with the R Street Institute. Privacy advocates long have accused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) of being …

California looks to finally end the Cold War

The Cold War ended decades ago, but vestiges of the conflict still surround us. In the California Legislature, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, has introduced Assembly Bill 22, which …

CRS should stop fighting access to its own reports

The Congressional Research Service plays an essential role in policymaking and oversight. It makes Congress smarter about issues and teaches new legislators how to legislate. I would not …

Why risk and reliability matter more than fuel diversity

Policymakers often presume that diversity in electricity supply is inherently beneficial, even a necessity. This presumption manifests in industry catchphrases, campaign slogans, government policy objectives and beyond. It …

Why the carbon tax is an idea that won’t go away

Using a carbon tax to fight climate change has long been a popular idea among economists, but November's election results seemed to render carbon-tax advocacy something of a …

Auditor spurs calls to combat disabled-parking spot abuse

California has nearly 25 million passenger vehicles, yet hands out a whopping 2.9 million disabled-person parking plates and placards. Anecdotal evidence—i.e., watching those healthy-seeming drivers parking in the disabled …

Fierce debates dominate D.C.’s first E-Cigarette Summit

If you imagined an e-cigarette conference full of policymakers at a Marriott in Washington would be a tame event, you would be wrong. I suppose I shouldn’t be …

Trump’s FDA nominee faces steep climb to reform tobacco regulation

As the U.S. Senate weighs whether to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb—President Trump's pick to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration—there is an important question that he …

Cheers to promoting free-market principles in liquor sales

The Florida Legislature last week acted to join the majority of states in modernizing its alcohol sales laws. Senate Bill 106, which currently awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature, …

Fixing California’s bloated sex-offender registry

R Street just signed a letter calling for commonsense reform of the California sex-offender registry, based on a bill proposed by our friend and Legislative Advisory Board member …

Credit Where It’s Due: D.C.’s forward-looking liquor laws

For those outside the Beltway, Washington is often a punchline for bloated and dysfunctional government. In fact, cynicism toward the nation’s capital often feels like one of the …

Democrats snub working poor, killing licensing reform

California Democrats prattle endlessly about helping the working poor, but their latest vote against a bill that would tangibly help financially struggling people shows that Democratic leaders are more …

Congressmen reintroduce bill to make CRS reports public

The Government Publishing Office would be required to make Congressional Research Service reports publicly accessible over the internet, under legislation reintroduced last week by Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., …

Applying a BAT to reinsurance would be a big swing and a miss by Congress

As we all saw in recent media coverage of President Donald Trump's 100th day in office, many observers treat the first 100 days of a new presidential administration …

Three years in, what does the DATA Act tell us about agency spending?

Trying to figure out exactly how much money the federal government spends long has been an exercise in futility for those few brave souls who endeavor to try …

Congress should prioritize small farmers and taxpayers over ‘big ag’

While the chattering classes debate whether the White House or congressional Democrats earned more "wins" in the omnibus spending package released Monday, taxpayer advocates can take comfort that lawmakers …

Trump is quietly waging a nontariff trade war

Trade policy emanating from the Trump administration over the past month has been dizzying. From the fairly standard, if regrettable, enforcement actions taken by the United States Commerce …

The Fed must be held accountable and the CHOICE Act will make it so

This week, the House Financial Services Committee passed Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act. Most of the public discussion of this bill is about its changes in banking regulations, …

Will Gov. Kay Ivey un-Bentley the ABC’s liquor tax hike?

The bureaucrats of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) are poised to pass a legally suspect tax hike and the Alabama Legislature is complicit. The only question left …

Let’s get rid of Puerto Rico’s triple-tax exemption

Let’s ask a simple and necessary question: Why in the world is the interest on Puerto Rican bonds triple-tax exempt all over the United States, when no U.S. …

How Trump’s border tax could boost your property insurance rate

As Congress and the White House begin talks to reform the U.S. tax code, Texans should be particularly concerned. The taxes on imports that federal lawmakers are considering …

The Grass Gets Greener: New data tells old story of public-employee greed

Yet another prominent study highlights the depth of California's and the nation's pension crisis. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released a report on the "state pension funding gap" — i.e., …

R Street applauds passage of Texas’ H.B. 1774

AUSTIN, Texas. (May 4, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomes today's passage by the Texas House of Representatives of H.B. 1774, legislation designed to rein in the …

Impact of a border-adjustment tax on the Louisiana insurance market

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street's Ian Adams and R.J. Lehmann. Louisiana’s insurance markets took nearly a decade to recover fully from the damage wrought by …

Testimony: Oakland ordinance prohibiting sale of flavored tobacco products

In OPPOSITION to Ordinance Amending Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 5.91 To Prohibit the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-policy research organization based in …

Puerto Rico’s inevitable debt restructuring arrives

"Debt that cannot be repaid will not be repaid" is Pollock's Law of Finance. It applies in spades to the debt of the government of Puerto Rico, which …

Cuomo should reconsider crusade against e-cigarettes

The New York State Senate is owed a debt of gratitude from all New Yorkers who care about public health. It managed to remove Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed …

Lawmakers must recognize that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit

As the electronic cigarette industry prepares for the devastating impact of Food and Drug Administration rules that would force nearly all products off the market 15 months from now, …

Rep. Ken Buck on the Federal Budget Accountability Act

The Federal Budget Accountability Act—introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., as H.R. 1999—is a short bill, barely two pages long. But it aims to help Congress answer …

Do new Bay Area tobacco bans promote health or erode harm reduction?

Restrictive new anti-tobacco ordinances are spreading across the San Francisco Bay Area like a cigarette-sparked wildfire. Northern California cities already have some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in …

Mistakes cloud self-driving vehicle regulations

Now that the California Legislature, the autonomous vehicle industry and the general public all have had their say, California’s self-driving future is in the hands of bureaucrats at …

Bullet train myopia driving local transit boondoggles

Over the past six years, California legislators and the governor have increased overall general-fund spending by $36 billion but couldn't find extra money to spend on road, freeway and other …

AB 1679: Reining in insurance department’s regulatory authority

After years of falling rates, the cost of auto insurance is now once again increasing across the nation. The problems of distracted driving and rising repair expenses are acting together …

Applying heightened scrutiny to protectionist alcohol laws

While protectionist alcohol laws might appear to be nothing more than garden variety restrictions on economic liberty, the role of Prohibition and its subsequent repeal add an additional …

Feds taking social media passwords at the border sets a bad precedent

The following op-ed was co-authored R Street Research Associate Daniel Semelsberger. The Trump administration's plan to require visitors to the United States to hand over their social-media passwords is, when all …

Dodd-Frank reform must include repealing the Durbin amendment

Many of us know what a "seven-year itch" is. Between the famous Marilyn Monroe movie of the 1950s and the legendary Roseanne Cash song of the 1980s, it …

‘Damning’ audit showcases out-of-touch UC leaders

University of California students have to dig deeper to pay for tuition, thanks to a large increase approved by the Board of Regents this year. Taxpayers also are …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Five

Don't get me wrong — Jack Daniel's is a very impressive company. Its sales growth over the past 40 years is mind-boggling. During the 1970 and 1980s, most …

Nixing e-cigarettes because of flavor is nonsensical

I like Jolly Ranchers, especially cherry-flavored ones. The flavor doesn't dull as they dissolve, they last a few minutes, they are relatively low in calories, and they disrupt …

Regulatory barriers are stifling the contact lens industry

In the science fiction novel Rainbow’s End, contact lenses equipped with what we would now call "augmented reality" allow wearers to overlay different images, filters or virtual scenes on top …

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 …

Congress’ ‘cotton fix’ just another corporate welfare handout

Spring is a special time in Washington, filled with many wonderful traditions. Between the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the White House Easter Egg Roll and the Washington …

North Carolina’s beer pong battle

A legislative battle currently is brewing that could determine whether North Carolina beer-makers will still be able to sell and market their own beer. The result could have …

Statewide ridesharing rules on the table in Louisiana

Louisiana may soon join the more than 40 states that have adopted some kind of statewide ridesharing rules, under legislation that would pre-empt parish and local governments from …

Impact of a border-adjustment tax on the Texas insurance market

The attached policy study, a joint publication of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams and Editor-in-Chief R.J. Lehmann. Applying a destination-based …

An uncomfortable reality… Congress needs more staff

Mark Twain famously remarked: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Although famously crotchety, he did touch upon a …

‘Anything goes’ rational basis versus rational basis ‘with bite’

The fight over how to treat economic liberty under the Constitution has been as lengthy as it has been acrimonious. Under current constitutional jurisprudence, certain types of recognized …

Here comes the attempt to reframe Silicon Valley as modern robber barons

It's difficult for me to read Jonathan Taplin's cri de coeur about Google and other technology companies that have come to dominate the top tier of successful American …

Conservatives need an energy vision

For conservatives seeking a major victory, a great place to start would be to fix the mess of energy subsidies and regulations that have accumulated over the past …

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 …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Three

It was difficult to feel anything but awe standing in front of the still at Jim Beam's main distillery. It is six-stories tall and 200 gallons of beer pour into …

CHOICE Act would be major progress for financial system

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 …

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, …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day Two

We all have heard the story: manufacturing is dying in America. All the good blue-collar jobs are moving to Mexico and China. America's middle-class employment has been hollowed …

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 …

Oregon might join the 21st century on ridesharing

Oregon has a reputation as young and hip, given the vibrant tech economy in cities like Portland, Eugene and Salem. But the Beaver State sometimes also shows a …

Could economic liberty litigation free the booze?

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently struck down a state law limiting how many liquor retail outlets an individual or business could own within the Palmetto State. According 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 …

American Whiskey Trail tour, Day One

Where better to start a tour of the American Whiskey Trail than at Mount Vernon? George Washington often has been called the father of our grand nation — the prototype …

Westinghouse bankruptcy epitomizes failures of electricity monopolies

Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC—the nuclear power company that traces its lineage to the original Westinghouse Electric Corp., founded in 1886—has been forced to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, largely …

The rise of vaping has nothing to do with ‘big tobacco’

There are reasonable debates to be had about the role e-cigarettes can and should play when it comes to harm reduction and public health. Some public-health advocates see …

Troops shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 21 to drink

The following op-ed was co-authored by C. Jarrett Dieterle, governance project fellow with the R Street Institute. When 19-year-old Purple Heart recipient Marine Cpl. Samuel “Lee”  Anderson was injured by a …

Let all S.C. liquor stores compete on the same level

Until very recently, South Carolina liquor store owners were only allowed to operate up to three retail outlets in the Palmetto State. The decades-old cap was struck down …

Data transparency and multiple perspectives

One question underlying the very interesting data project and proposed legislation we are considering today is the relationship of data transparency to multiple perspectives on financial reality. In …

Does Congress have the capacity it needs in foreign affairs?

The Constitution assigns Congress the power to declare war, fund the military, approve treaties and regulate commerce with other nations. Yet, over the past century, presidents have taken …

Beer industry on the brink

“You’re probably going to get fat.” These were some of the many words of warning handed out by Liquid Mechanics CEO Davin Helden during his talk on what it …

Making farm supports a safety net again

As part of his Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint, President Donald Trump requested a $4.7 billion cut in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, slashing the department’s budget by …

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 …

Florida House bill would make solar installations a pain

If you think getting home improvements approved and ultimately completed in Florida is a hassle now, if monopoly power companies get their way, just wait until you try …

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 …

FSOC is too political to be taken seriously

The Financial Stability Oversight Council is a political body masquerading as an analytical one. A dubious creation of the Dodd-Frank Act, it reflects that law's urge to expand …

CDC: E-cigarettes more popular than FDA-approved quitting aids

Cigarette smokers prefer e-cigarettes to the Food and Drug Administration's approved quit methods, according to a research brief authored by RTI International, the University of North Carolina and …

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 …

Missouri ridesharing bill moves to Gov. Greitens’ desk

Legislation legalizing ridesharing services in the Show-Me State now sits on Gov. Eric Greitens' desk, after the Missouri House passed statewide rules for transportation network companies by a …

Ex-offenders need jobs, not handouts. But there are too many regulatory barriers.

There's a tragic irony at the heart of American criminal-justice policy. While we invest billions of dollars each year to house inmates in state and federal correctional facilities, …

Short-term rentals and property rights

I was surprised to read the claim in Sabrina Shaeffer’s Wednesday commentary, “Short-term rentals could turn our communities into commercial zones,” that prohibitions on short-term rentals are needed …

Stop mandating burdensome background check for Uber, Lyft drivers

The following op-ed was co-authored by Jon Haggerty, a research assistant at the R Street Institute. The Bay State has been abuzz this month at news that more than 8,000 Uber and …

Carbon taxes are about climate issues, not budgets

A good test for whether politicians are serious about battling climate change, or merely using the problem as an excuse to advance a grab-bag of progressive issues, is …

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, …

Executive orders alone can’t create sustainable deregulatory change

Both during the election campaign and over the first 100 days of his administration, President Trump has declared his commitment to deregulation. Dubbed the “most aggressive campaign against government regulation …

Are you paying your fair share of taxes?

The following is a guest post by attorney and freelance writer Mark Meuser. Today, many Americans will finalize their federal income tax returns and send their 1040 forms to …

How cronyism threatens Louisiana’s craft breweries

Louisiana is well-known its love of both food and alcohol. The state is a tourist destination for those looking both to enjoy excellent dining and to have a …

This is why rest areas on federal highways are so boring

If you've ever taken a long road trip on a federal interstate, you might have had reason to stop at one of the nation's nearly 3,000 rest areas. …

Age restrictions on smoking, drinking and driving

State legislatures have been lobbied in a coordinated effort, called Tobacco 21, to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 years. Hawaii, California and …

Franz Kafka, anti-bureaucrat

To understand the bureaucratic state, read Franz Kafka. Few writers have his knack to convey the peculiar, perverse effects the modern leviathan exerts on the soul as forcefully …

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 …

America’s gonzo drinks history

Steven Grasse’s Colonial Spirits is the wackiest drinks book I have ever read. (I state this with admiration, and a bit of jealousy.) And I’ve read more than my share, …

The ‘fixed AI’ fallacy

As Andy Kessler points out in The Wall Street Journal, a tax on robots would hinder entrepreneurial activity in automation and artificial intelligence (AI). The same algorithms that …

Colleges are acting like subprime loan brokers

Rana Foroohar, in “Dangers of the college debt bubble," points out a lot of problems with the U.S. student loan program, but misses the main point: the corruption …

Transparency initiative shaped nature of road-tax debate

It’s no secret that the state’s legislative leadership is less than thrilled about an open-government initiative that California voters passed in the November election, and are doing what …

Hiking the minimum wage will hurt those that it intends to help

The following op-ed was co-authored by Vance Ginn, an economist with the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The Texas House of Representatives recently heard nine …

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 …

Is reform on the horizon for Section 702 surveillance?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Daniel Semelsberger, a research assistant with the R Street Institute. An unappreciated subplot of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s departure as national security advisor …

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. …

Throwing cold water on the insurance industry’s dog bite numbers

Today is National Pet Day, a day to cherish the love, entertainment and fulfillment provided to us by our animal companions. Or, if you're in the insurance industry, …

Regulatory reform in the 114th and 115th Congresses

The election of Donald Trump presents what some see as the potential for a sea change in the American regulatory state, given the emphasis that candidate Trump put …

Kevin Kosar at TPA postal reform panel

R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar took part in a recent Capitol Hill briefing on U.S. Postal Service reform. The panel was hosted by Taxpayers Protection Alliance and …

It’s time to kill the Durbin amendment

After six years of unfulfilled promises, it's time the Durbin amendment finally was repealed. A last-minute addition to the Dodd-Frank Act—itself a political overreaction to the financial crisis …

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 …

Comments to FDA on regulating tobacco-related products as drugs

Cigarettes are the most hazardous and addictive tobacco product. All of the 480,000 U.S. deaths each year attributed by federal authorities to tobacco products are due to a …

Carbon tax could provide White House with missing link on tax reform

You've heard it all before: the U.S. tax code hasn't been updated since 1986; it's riddled with loopholes, giveaways and inefficiencies; our corporate tax rate is the highest …

Adams talks self-driving cars at Institute for Legal Reform

The threat of litigation could derail the promise of autonomous vehicles to lives. R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams recently joined a panel hosted by the U.S. Chamber …

On criminal-justice reform, Alabama should look to Texas

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley recently announced a new initiative aimed at addressing the state's overcrowding problem, with 23,000 prisoners in facilities designed for about 13,000. The “Alabama Prison Transformation …

Ohio and Indiana take different approaches to opioid epidemic

Ohio Gov. John Kasich described drug addiction as "a common enemy" in this week's state-of-the-state address. Kasich highlighted the challenge in terms similar to those laid out by …

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 …

The human toll of anti-tobacco extremism

This is a tale of two tobacco users and the very different medical advice they received. In 2005, two physicians and a dentist published a report in the American Journal …

Toward a global norm against manipulating integrity of financial data

The following is a guest post by Tim Maurer, who co-directs the Cyber Policy Initiative at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Steven Nyikos, research analyst at …

Re-energizing highway rest stops

Limitations on commercial activity at federal highway rest stops have rendered them dreary and unappealing, and embroiled states and the federal government in pointless bureaucratic battles. Meanwhile, the …

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 …

Citation nation

In April 2013, when California resident Derick Neal rolled through a red light, it was no surprise that he received a ticket. What did surprise Neal was how …

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 …

Juvenile justice legislation now moves to U.S. House floor

A decade after Congress allowed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act's authorization to expire, legislation to reauthorize the bill is moving to the House floor following today's …

It’s OK, California. Breaking up isn’t hard to do.

Two leaders of the successful referendum to remove Britain from the European Union were recently in California, where they said favorable things about the newest version of a …

Judge rail industry by performance, not processes

As Congress prepares to consider as much as $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending, it bears remembering that among the nation's most essential infrastructure industries is one of …

Even if they confess ‘hypermasculinity’ or offer women respect, men can never win

The internet is abuzz this week after this Washington Post profile of the second lady, Karen Pence, revealed that Vice President Mike Pence maintains a policy of never dining alone with …

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,” …

Robots are in our future. Will policymakers keep denying that?

You’d be forgiven for getting worried about how many smart folks seem to be warning lately that robots are taking all our jobs. Bill Gates calls for the …

What’s next for U.S. housing finance?

The attached policy study originally was published in the Spring 2017 edition of Housing Finance International. With the new administration of President Donald Trump, and simultaneous Republican majorities in …

Raising alcohol taxes is a bad bet for West Virginia

In the budget proposal, Gov. Jim Justice proposes expanding revenues for the state’s coffers by raising both beer taxes and the markup on distilled spirits. The same markup …

Kentucky’s new leadership tries to pull it back from the pension cliff

Having become the last legislative chamber in the entire South to flip to Republican control last November, the Kentucky House of Representatives wasted no time this session in …

Murphy’s Law and a banking career

Murphy’s law is well-known in the form: "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" and similar variations on the theme. But the intellectually interesting substance of Murphy’s law …

‘Right to Know Act’ puts lawyers’ interests ahead of consumers

The Right to Know Act has a great ring to it. Even if you don’t care to read the substance of the legislation—sponsored by state Sen. Michael Hastings, …

Let ex-offenders hold a job

Getting a job can be a particular challenge for those who have a criminal record. Surveys by the Kauffman Foundation find that between 60 and 75 percent of …

Replacing fuel-economy rules with clean tax cuts

The federal approach to fuel-economy regulation is a bad deal for Americans. Consumers pay for costlier vehicles, but receive few discernable benefits. Making the situation worse is that fuel-economy …

H.B. 80 is short-sighted and would levy a tax on safe drivers

Delaware is poised to go back to the future with its approach to auto insurance. Inspired by California’s 1988 ballot initiative, Proposition 103, new Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro …

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, …

Tear down the wall and let the free market in

ABC Fine Wine & Liquors, Florida’s largest alcohol retail chain, struck a deal last year with a mobile app service to start offering one-hour alcohol delivery with the …

Beyond Preferences: Embracing a competitive energy vision

Testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Good morning, Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Rush, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity …

Moving Copyright Office authorities to executive branch could improve accountability

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Policy Fellow Jarrett Dieterle. An obscure debate about whether the U.S. Copyright Office should be part of the executive branch …

The next repeal and replace

With Obamacare left in place for the time being, President Donald Trump is setting his sights on a different aspect of his predecessor’s legacy. A wide-ranging executive order on …

Cuomo’s proposed ‘Amazon tax’ would hit NYers in the wallet

It's hard enough to afford living in New York state with residents already paying the highest combined tax burden in the nation. Even in a region surrounded by high-tax …

Budgetary ‘kill lists’ are a good way to kill wasteful spending

Groups across the ideological spectrum have raised alarm about President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled budget blueprint that, as detailed last week by The Washington Post, targets numerous federal programs for elimination. While …

Alaska’s ridesharing bill one step closer to becoming law

With the state Senate's passage of S.B. 14, Alaska is one step closer to a legal framework for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. The Senate …

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 …

What does the executive order mean for the climate? Not much

President Donald Trump’s long-awaited executive order on climate policy vastly remakes the executive branch approach to climate-change risk, adaptation and mitigation. Whereas the Obama administration was focused on …

Let’s eliminate the SEC’s Investment Advisory Committee

Looking at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Advisory Committee as a proxy for the relative influence of the shareholder empowerment movement gives one the distinct impression that …

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 …

A flawed process generated by a flawed structure

Testimony to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Madam Chairman, Ranking Member Green and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to …

Low-rate blues

In asking “Is the Federal Reserve Using Overheated Data?” (Up & Down Wall Street, March 11), Randall W. Forsyth did the math: “If the Fed fulfills its own …

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 …

Senate to FCC: Privacy regulation is not your job

The U.S. Senate narrowly passed a resolution Thursday that would halt Federal Communications Commission efforts to create rules for the way internet service providers use their customers’ personal …

Building infrastructure by walking across ideological lines

Talk of infrastructure is in the air, as President Donald Trump and his advisors call for $1 trillion in investment and Democrats propose their own wish lists. Is …

R Street welcomes Keystone XL permit approval

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomed today's decision by the U.S. State Department to approve developer TransCanada's permit to build the $8 billion Keystone …

Local laws threaten the global future of augmented reality

The following op-ed was co-authored by Daniel Oglesby, research assistant with the R Street Institute. The intense, if fleeting, popularity of Pokemon Go helped demonstrate the market potential of …

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 …

Educating Air Force generals about tobacco use and risks

The Military Health System and the Defense Health Agency published a grossly misleading article on their website in November 2016 titled, "Quit the spit: Smokeless tobacco no better …

56 major conservative groups urge Senate to confirm Gorsuch without delay

Dear Senators: On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the undersigned organizations who value freedom and liberty, we write to urge you to support a swift confirmation …

The government has to change its tune on how to reduce harm from tobacco

A recent report from the Core Team on Tobacco Control drew 120 eminent signatories from the tobacco control community to endorse the proposition that it is possible to …

Take two devekut and call me in the morning

Since the original Moses, the world has been blessed with Mosii of many varieties. (One of my favorites, Moses Malone, actually took the Philadelphia 76ers to the Promised …

Tito’s Vodka isn’t the only good distilled spirit out of Texas

When you think of Texas alcohol, you usually think of good ole Shiner beer. The state is more famous for its beer than anything else. However, some new …

Shifting drinks law landscape in Pennsylvania is a maze for businesses

The alcohol-policy landscape in Pennsylvania was static—almost glacial—for most of the past 40 years. However, these days, the glaciers are melting and the landscape is changing rapidly. New …

Texas workers shouldn’t need a license for everything

Should you need a license to work? For a few key fields such as, say, brain surgery, most people would say “yes.” Yet in recent decades, the number …

Shots fired between Sheriffs Association and NRA in Alabama Legislature

"S.B. 24 is not a Second Amendment bill and NRA should have kept their nose out of it," wrote Alabama Sheriffs Association Executive Director Bobby Timmons in an …

R Street’s criminal justice project goes to SXSW

R Street was busy at the recent South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, including co-hosting a series of discussions on criminal justice reform with the Texas Public Policy …

Accessory Dwelling Units: A flexible free-market housing solution

Much of the American built environment was constructed in the post-World War II era, when government policy and planning fashion favored a highly dispersed development model centered on …

Whither the conference committee?

The following post was co-authored by Adam Chan, a former Institute of Politics summer research assistant at the R Street Institute. Hong Min Park, Steven S. Smith and Ryan J. Vander Wielen recently presented …

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 …

State lawmakers increasingly work to accommodate the ‘gig economy’

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow companies to extend to workers some of the benefits commonly associated with full-time employment, but without triggering a presumption of …

E-cig tipping points vs. FDA deeming regulations

The attached policy study originally was published in Volume 8, Issue 1 of the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy. In 2002, writer Malcom Gladwell introduced the concept of …

The ‘Dig Once’ bill could bring better broadband to rural areas

Telephone and cable companies are routinely slammed for being slow to build infrastructure in rural areas. Critics wrongly attribute delays to "market failure," claiming that because rural service …

Appalachia ain’t just moonshine anymore

It’s not often one can take several weeks off, pile into a car, and hit the open road without any significant responsibilities piling up (or email inboxes overflowing). …

Thank you for killing PBS funding, President Trump

The hue and cry from critics protesting the proposed cuts to the Public Broadcasting System made in President Trump’s budget makes clear those same critics haven’t looked at …

Testimony to Texas House Committee on Transportation

Chair Morrison, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am the Texas director for the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan research organization that works on issues related …

ACLU gives needed rebuke to OC’s meetings policy

City governments, police departments and county boards of supervisors have an enduringly difficult time understanding the proper order of things. It’s clichéd, but true. We don’t work for …

U.S. banks’ real estate boom could be signaling next crisis

Excessive real estate credit is the most common cause of banking booms, busts and collapses, throughout history, right up through the most recent financial crisis and around the …

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 …

We need better solutions than ‘big government’ incarceration

Many Alabama politicians pride themselves on being "tough on crime." If we don't get a lot smarter about criminal justice, the "tough" stance is going to be a …

What is the actual collateral for a mortgage loan?

“Economics and finance are like going to the dog races,” my friend Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute is fond of saying. “Stand in the same place and …

Department of Defense anti-smokeless campaign is ’50’ shades darker

February is a popular month for tobacco prohibitionists to attack smokeless tobacco, or "ST." A year ago, I refuted seven false claims on the topic from county health …

Florida lawmakers weigh streamlining short-term-rental rules statewide

New legislation introduced in the Florida Legislature would establish a framework that does away with the hodgepodge of regulations governing vacation rentals across the state. The most publicized aspect …

How to reduce juvenile crime: Use separate courts

The following op-ed was co-authored by Marc Schindler, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. As budget-strapped state legislatures seek ways to spend taxpayer dollars more effectively and efficiently, …

‘Conservative’ environmental protection shouldn’t mean ‘less’

"Conservative" environmental protection shouldn't mean "less." We're great at rejecting imbalanced, heavy-handed environmentalism, but we often come up short putting forth policies that demonstrate genuine concern for our …

‘Gender injustice’ behind call to reduce taxes on tampons

In his veto message of a series of tax-reduction bills last September, Gov. Jerry Brown explained that “tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the …

Why Trump’s government overhaul won’t work

The executive order issued by President Donald Trump yesterday has a goal nearly every citizen and legislator would cheer: to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch.” What's …

Build infrastructure like a perennial football contender

The American Society of Civil Engineers' latest report card gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of D+. The report considers the rating “at risk” and one step above failing …

Congress needs to take back its war powers in the fight against ISIS

“We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach,” then-President Barack Obama said during an Aug. 30, 2013 news conference about the situation in Syria. The former president would repeat his …

Insurance debate could doom border adjustment tax

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams. President Donald Trump signaled during last week's address to a joint session of Congress that he is, in fact, …

Promoting transparency and stakeholder engagement in an era of complex government

It is a well-known tenet of democracy that citizens must have access to information about the government’s activities, as well as the means by which to interact with …

Texas bill would end wine protectionism

For her last birthday, my wife got a gift she couldn’t use. Literally. A thoughtful family member had given her a gift card for an online wine retailer. …

Sheriffs shouldn’t profit off our Second Amendment exercise

Imagine if an Alabama politician introduced legislation that required citizens to pay a fee in order to attend church. He or she wouldn't be a politician for very …

What role should Congress play in regulation?

Historically, Congress has delegated great authority to the executive branch when it came to regulatory matters. For the most part, the executive branch has had a free hand, …

‘Pink slips’ evidence of a dysfunctional system

The news from the Santa Ana Unified School District board meeting should raise red flags for anyone with children in the district’s struggling school system. The board voted, …

Legislators should stop mandating how Uber conducts background checks

After several years of tumultuous debate, the big questions surrounding the basic legality of ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber have essentially been resolved. In most major American cities, we …

California DMV takes a ‘self-driving’ news dump

Friday news dumps are a long and proud tradition, and one in which the California Department of Motor Vehicles took part today by releasing its long-awaited “Proposed Driverless …

Unsafe spaces

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Policy Analyst David Bahr. Three months after the 2016 election, many Americans are still reeling. Anti-Trump protests clog the streets, shrill …

E-cigarette toxic chemical exposure is same as for nonsmokers

The new finding from British and U.S. e-cigarette researchers understated the good news for vapers. "Long-term NRT-only and e-cigarette-only use…is associated with substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and …

Technology has already created innovative solutions for our bloated jail populations, we just have to implement them

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Research Associate Jon Haggerty.  On any given day, roughly 750,000 people are locked up in American jails. Indeed, one-in-three incarcerated persons …

California legislators consider self-driving vehicles and the need for Prop 103 reform

Proposition 103—California’s restrictive regulatory regime for insurance—may need a few tweaks as fewer and fewer cars on the road have human drivers. During a March 8 informational hearing, …

Zero rating in a competitive broadband market

Zero rating—that is, not charging end users for some categories of data use—represents the response of a functioning telecommunications market to consumer demand for broadband content. Unfortunately, not …

American Health Care Act isn’t the replacement we had in mind

For years, Republicans have opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). They've campaigned on it. They've had town halls about it. Some dreamed of the day the …

Why infrastructure spending is not as simple as it seems

In a deeply divided America, infrastructure investment appears to be a rare area of political consensus. Donald Trump called for a major road-and-bridge program in his victory speech. …

Westworld shouldn’t frame debate over artificial intelligence

In the HBO show Westworld, guests are immersed in a Western experiential theme park populated by human-like robots bordering on self-awareness. The show exploits and exacerbates natural anxieties about …

The problem of legislating from inside a silo

In a recent example of how the best intentions often lead to the worst policy, Massachusetts legislators are considering a bill that would tax autonomous vehicles based on …

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 …

Machiavelli’s Clizia: Or, how to win dowries and dominate husbands

Machiavelli gets a bad rap, and not without some justification. As nearly all MBA students, dime-store dictators and White House counselors can agree, The Prince offers things How to Win Friends …

How to put the ‘most complete and effectual weapon’ back in their hands

Indubitably, our nation's finances are a mess. America has run deficits 36 of the past 40 years. The national debt is $18 trillion, and it has tripled as a percentage …

Setting the right course for self-driving cars

We’re still just weeks into the Trump administration, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has already signaled she will review a number of Obama administration policies related to developing, …

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 …

At NCOIL, state lawmakers look to claw back power from NAIC

Newly assertive leadership of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators appears eager to confront what it views as an ongoing usurpation of authority from state legislatures. Thomas B. Considine—now …

FDA should get out of the smokeless tobacco industry

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Associate Fellow Brad Rodu. Just days after President Donald Trump's inauguration, the Food and Drug Administration proposed new rule mandating major reductions in the …

‘Fake News’ is repackaging an old debate

Fake news isn’t new. As far back as 1927, The American Mercury’s H.L. Mencken remarked on “the problem of false news” and the decay of American journalism in …

Short-term-rental rules on the docket in Indiana

Carmel, Indiana, is a beautiful and completely modern community of more than 85,000 folks, just north of Indianapolis. Its 100 traffic roundabouts are the most of any U.S. …

Congress, please make smoking less harmful

Legislation introduced recently by Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., would make significant changes to the way the Food and Drug Administration regulates tobacco and nicotine …

Legislative scrutiny of regulations in the Anglosphere

President Donald Trump’s inauguration could have significant implications for the U.S. regulatory state for two principal reasons. The first is that he is committed to reducing the regulatory …

Heavy snus use: Possible link to Type 2 diabetes

A Swedish research study finds that heavy consumption of snus is associated with type 2 diabetes. Analyzing data from six groups of Swedish men, researchers found no risk of …

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 …

For regulatory reform, look to Congress

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. It is rare that we get a glimpse at the guiding principles that motivate a president …

OC flap sheds light on academic bullying

The board of trustees at an Orange County, Calif., community college district put an end to a long-simmering local dispute by ending the suspension of a student who …

So-called ‘consumer protection’ bill is actually protecting the utilities

Think you are capable of managing your own affairs? The government might not see it that way. Over the past few decades, a growing field of scholarly thought …

Jersey’s new ridesharing law should put New York on notice

With Gov. Chris Christie’s signing of legislation outlining a regulatory framework for ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft, New Jersey became the 36th state to legalize and …

Replacing ridesharing red tape with a red carpet

The attached policy study was published originally by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and was co-authored by Bryan Mathew, a policy analyst with TPPF's Center for Local Governance. Ridesharing …

Criminal justice reform takes center stage at CPAC

The right end of the political spectrum historically has favored getting tough on crime and increasing criminal penalties as a solution to rising crime rates. But to be …

Why the FCC should wait on privacy rules

Chairman Ajit Pai wants an emergency vote this week by the Federal Communications Commission to halt implementation of new rules on how internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon …

So many drinks laws: An interview with food policy expert Baylen Linnekin

In his recent book, Biting the Hands That Feed Us (Island Press, 2016), food-policy scholar Baylen Linnekin exposes many of America’s nightmare food laws. From the so-called “cheese …

Feds have an abysmal track record when it comes to cybersecurity

The following op-ed was co-authored by Daniel Oglesby, a research associate with the R Street Institute. Despite work by Congress to pass more than 50 laws to address cybersecurity, the …

George Kaufman: 57 years of banking changes and ideas

57 Years of Banking Changes and Ideas Remarks at the Dinner in Honor of Professor George Kaufman’s Retirement Nov. 17, 2016 It is a great pleasure to be able to add …

Vapor devices are not cigarettes

There is a movement afoot in New Mexico to treat e-cigarettes and related nicotine-vapor products as if they pose the same risks for addiction and potentially fatal tobacco-attributable …

New York’s nuclear subsidies contradict economic principles

When New York State's massive zero-emission credits (ZECs) program kicks off in April, it will begin a 12-year process of unloading $7 billion in subsidies on unprofitable nuclear …

My boys and I attended a GOP town hall to see what democracy looks like

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't easy to convince a 7-year-old and 5-year old to make contributions to America's civil discourse on a Saturday morning. That said, my …

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 …

Fighting for booze equality on ‘Alcohol Alley’

On paper, Silverback Distillery in rural Afton, Virginia, should be considered an All-American success story. The husband-and-wife team of Denver and Christine Riggleman opened Silverback in 2014. Denver …

Border adjustment would sock Florida with hugely higher insurance rates

In recent years, Congress repeatedly has considered legislation that would have adversely and profoundly impacted disaster-prone states like Florida. Luckily, we were spared passage, over and over again. …

What the Wall Street Journal gets wrong about farming in 2017

With the Farm Bill up for reauthorization in 2018 and legislative debate poised to heat up later this year, there’s been a lot of talk about the plight …

A cyber mandate isn’t the way to address cyber-insurance takeup

To improve cyber preparedness and help companies recover from cyberattacks, it's essential that the takeup rate for cyber insurance continues to rise. The insurance capacity plainly exists to …

Gorsuch v. Overcriminalization

Much of the media attention to date surrounding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has centered on the judge’s views of originalism, separation of powers, administrative law, …

‘Free speech’ isn’t a justification for being terrible

Given what I've seen lately, I'm not sure most of us really understand the concept of free speech enshrined in our Constitution. The First Amendment is essential to …

Lessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting

Most of the attention around President Donald Trump's recent deregulation executive order focused on its “one in, two out” requirement mandating that agencies repeal two regulations for every …

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 …

Should we have a long-term budget for entitlements?

Federal law treats Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements as “mandatory” spending programs, which means they are not subject to the annual appropriations process like the rest …

Nicotine, smokeless tobacco and Tourette’s Syndrome

A man with Tourette's Syndrome, a nerve disorder developing in childhood and involving muscle tics (repetitive involuntary movement) and voice problems, recently posted online his experience with smokeless …

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, …

The Senate should pass the Email Privacy Act without delay

With Congress consumed by political battles, there's still a glimmer of hope for bipartisanship on privacy issues: The House last week passed the Email Privacy Act by unanimous …

Fixing the power grid through open markets and new technologies

The following op-ed was co-authored by Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, a national business organization. The electric power system makes our modern, mobile, information-age economy possible. But it …

Utah roomshare bill stops local overreach

Local government officials like to argue that “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” The general concept is a good one, in that far-off officials in …

Where’s Minnesota’s electricity choice?

Minnesota Republicans are missing a critical opportunity to practice what they preach. Competition and consumer choice are good for the Gopher State. The phone you use, car you drive, …

It’s time to reel in and replace fuel economy standards

More than four decades after they first were introduced, federal fuel-economy standards just aren't working. They force Americans to pay more for cars and light trucks while providing …

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 …

Franchise tax reform still a priority for Texas

Nobody likes paying taxes. But unlike the rest of us, once every two years, the Texas Legislature gets the chance to do something about it. In 2015, with the …

Will Trump sign postal reform legislation?

The House of Representatives took up postal reform legislation this week, a decade after Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which was supposed to shore up …

Aligning cybersecurity incentives in an interconnected world

In the stop-motion animated short “Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers,” the protagonist Wallace’s alarm clock kicks off a Rube Goldberg-like chain of machines and devices that dress …

America’s self-driving anxiety

  The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams. Autonomous vehicles hold great promise to remake our society and economy, but not everyone is along for …

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 …

Congress should take hands off the wheel of self-driving cars

Manufacturers developing the self-driving cars of the future haven't had the straightest regulatory road. States across the country each have pursued unique legislative and regulatory paths—to date, at …

Complicated models can’t alter the data – part 2: Youth smoking is way down

As reported here last week, University of California-San Francisco researchers Lauren Dutra and Stanton Glantz tortured data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) to support a purported “lack of …

A conservative’s tips for liberals facing a Republican trifecta

I've been there—when your political party has told you that America will be lost if a certain presidential candidate doesn't win the election. Not only does that candidate …

CTA previews Innovation Policy Day at SXSW

The Consumer Technology Association welcomed R Street Tech Policy Fellow Anne Hobson to take part in a recent Facebook Live panel to preview the Innovation Policy Day programming …

When it comes to Louisiana floods, how much does a foot really matter?

The following op-ed was co-authored by William Booher, interim executive director of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy in New Orleans. One foot can make a lot of difference …

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 …

CBS show ‘Hunted’ spotlights our surveillance nation

I'm no fan of reality TV, but I was sufficiently intrigued by the premise of CBS' "Hunted," which promises $250,000 to any of nine teams of contestants who …

Good Alco-News: America’s spirits business is booming

The U.S. drinks business is booming, despite the finger-wagging by neo-prohibitionists. Last year’s liquor volume sales climbed 2.4 percent to 220 million cases, and revenues were up 4.5 …

R Street welcomes bill to rein in Texas hail claims

AUSTIN, Texas  (Feb. 13, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomes today's introduction of S.B. 10, legislation to rein in the disturbing growth in Texas hail-related litigation. Sponsored by …

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, …

Transportation regulators are determined to stretch their powers to the limit

Since 2008, the freight-railroad industry has contested an effort by two federal regulators to rebalance the relationship between freight-rail operators and Amtrak. The issue is one of control …

Tobacco harm reduction potential for ‘heat not burn’

"Heat not burn" is a method of delivering the tobacco experience by heating, rather than igniting it. The potential benefits of this approach involve its ability either to …

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, …

New York is rightly moving to reduce barriers for companies such as Uber and Lyft

With this week's passage of legislation in the New York Senate aimed at allowing ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate upstate—until now, state laws have limited …

Needless obstacles in securing hail damage claims

When you ignore a problem long enough, sometimes it just goes away. And sometimes, it gets even worse. Two years ago, the Texas Legislature heard testimony about a simmering …

Make Congress work (Saturdays) again

Amid partisan battles over President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees, Republican congressional leaders are threatening to make members work weekends to get the president's confirmations finalized. While these threats …

The administration’s bad start on civil asset forfeiture

It appears that President Donald Trump has officially taken a position on civil asset forfeiture. This week, the president offered to help “destroy” the career of a Texas …

Fixing the federal policy on e-cigs will save lives

Unless something changes soon, the doomsday clock will strike midnight on the e-cigarette industry. Thanks to regulations finalized in August 2016 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), …

Neeley addresses press conference on ‘Conservative Texas Budget’

R Street Southwest Region Director Josiah Neeley joined with Texas state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, and other members of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition at an Austin press …

Republicans could have a regulatory ‘game changer’ on their hands

Last week, the House and Senate voted to repeal one of the last regulations the Obama administration enacted on its way out the door. The regulation, known as …

If Democrats want a less-powerful Trump, there’s a REINS Act for that

Congressional Democrats may not like President Donald Trump, but they’re not even remotely serious about limiting his policymaking power. They’d rather bring pictures of Trump’s tweets to the …

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 …

Debunking the ‘experts’ on vaping

A recent article on the millennial-focused website Mic.com deigned to summarize “what the experts say” about the long-term effects of vaping, which certainly is an important topic. Alas, the …

Disciplined policy responses to nuclear retirements

A combination of market, policy and regulatory factors have converged to squeeze the finances of the U.S. nuclear generation fleet. Among a variety of organic and external factors, …

Increasing reinsurance taxes would be a manmade disaster

With the new Congress underway, tax reform is at the top of the agenda. Many of the ideas now being proposed, such as proposals to fix our punitive …

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 …

Reagan’s ‘city on a hill’ meets Trump’s immigration order

We have indeed arrived at another time for choosing. We must answer one question: Will we advance liberty or sound its retreat? The emotional response to President Donald Trump's executive …

Seventh Circuit strikes down Indiana’s protectionist vaping rules

Apparently we weren’t the only observers who thought the Indiana law regulating vaping products was a little over the top. A major reason why Indianapolis rated a grade …

Trump should eliminate state lines for professional licensing

Perhaps not surprisingly, President Trump hasn't spent much time letting us know his thoughts on the ins and outs of insurance regulation. But to the extent he has …

Some women simply don’t like Hillary Clinton’s politics

We've all heard the claim that sexism holds women back. But what if there is a deeper, more insidious force preventing women from reaching high levels of office? …

How onerous federal tobacco policy is endangering health

The anti-tobacco crusade—one of the left’s favorite holy wars—has hit a wall. Though great strides have been made in reducing the rate of cigarette smoking, about 15 percent …

Should Congress have to approve every federal regulation? A debate.

The following written debate between R Street Senior Fellow Kevin Kosar and Andrew Rudalevige, Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, was published in the Washington Post's …

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 …

Florida’s four walls of insurance reform

The attached policy study originally was published by the James Madison Institute. For many years, Floridians struggled to purchase insurance coverage—whether it be for their properties, vehicles or employees—in …

Experts to FDA: End the smokeless tobacco misinformation campaign

Two internationally renowned tobacco policy experts are urging the Food and Drug Administration and "like campaigns and health information websites” to “follow established ethical principles and accepted communication …

Whether the easy way or the hard way, GOP will confirm Gorsuch

Tell me about the Democrats' right to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and I'll point to roughly 60 million Americans who voted for President Donald Trump. They …

SmarterSafer National Flood Insurance Program reform proposal

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides critical insurance coverage to those at risk, is up for reauthorization this year. The program must be reauthorized and reformed …

Trump’s patent policy should put America first, not the patent lobby

The following op-ed was co-authored by Charles Duan, director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge. President Donald Trump campaigned on a platform to put America first and protect American …

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 …

Politicians should stay out of cybersecurity market

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Tech Policy Fellow Anne Hobson. As online crime has come into its own, ransomware—a particularly insidious type of cyber attack—has emerged …

Five big questions about Trump’s executive order on regulation

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar. On Monday, the Trump administration made its first big move against overregulation, issuing an executive order requiring agencies …

Eight tobacco harm reduction proposals for the federal government

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer and David Sweanor, professor at the University of Ottawa’s Center for Health Law. In 2015, 36.5 million …

Beer can battles in Texas

What’s the difference between a beer can and a mayonnaise jar? It sounds like the opening to a bad joke, but it’s also the basis for a legal …

FERC chair’s departure spells policy uncertainty and infrastructure delays

In his first week in office, President Donald Trump elevated Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to serve as acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This action removed that …

Exit earmarks, enter lettermarks

The attached policy study was co-authored by Nicole Kalaf-Hughes, an assistant professor of political science at Bowling Green State University. Before convening the 115th Congress, Republicans and some …

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 …

Almost 50 years later, Allan Bloom’s Republic remains as vital as ever

Next year, Allan Bloom’s translation of Plato’s Republic turns 50. Its mastery is such that, with the exception of Joe Sachs, no one else has even come close …

Why process matters in congressional appropriations

As recent legislative sessions repeatedly have ground to a halt with threats of government shutdown, we’re forced to wonder: what has gone so terribly wrong in the appropriations …

Reforming the administrative state—and reining it in

National Affairs released a special report earlier this month on comprehensive proposals to rein in the regulatory state. The report's three authors -- Hoover Institution Research Fellow Adam White, Manhattan …

The Nebraska internet sales tax…comes for you!

P.J. O’Rourke once snarkily noted that the American tax code was clearly designed by “A” students, as “every April 15, we have to pay somebody who got an …

What Dow 20,000 looks like in inflation-adjusted terms

The Dow Jones industrial average closing Jan. 25 at more than 20,000 inspired big, top of the fold front-page headlines in both the Wall Street Journal and the …

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 …

Testimony on Washington state’s anti-rebating law

Madam Chair and members of the committee, my name is Ian Adams and I am a fellow at the R Street Institute – a free-market think tank headquartered …

The erosion of ownership in the digital age

When you buy a book from the store, no one doubts that you own it completely. You can take it home, write in its margins, lend it to …

Partisan echo chambers erode our check on political power

According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the Trump administration is "going to hold the press accountable" because "the American people deserve better." Some media outlets could …

The Future of Work: Capturing the American Dream in an internet-enabled economy

As we race toward a technologically enhanced future, internet-enabled technologies continue to disrupt markets and industries at a breathtaking clip. Corporations see exponential increases in productivity from internet-enabled …

Strengthening Congress by shrinking the administrative state

Regulatory reform appears to be gaining traction in Washington, D.C. The White House directed agencies to halt the issuance of new regulations. Congress also got in the act. …

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 …

Environmental benefits of electricity policy reform

The structure of the electric industry can help shape environmental outcomes. In the United States, we have significant experience with the regulated monopoly model, which dates back to …

Regulating ‘internet of things’ requires a better definition from lawmakers

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration—the U.S. Department of Commerce agency that advises the White House on telecom policy—published a green paper outlining what it saw as the department’s role …

Federal studies: ZERO mouth cancer deaths among men who dip or chew tobacco

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 23, 2017, published a proposed smokeless tobacco regulation that was based on erroneous calculations of smokeless tobacco risks. The agency's rules …

Letter to Financial Times: Borrowers and speculators benefit at savers’ expense

As your report “Fed balance sheet moves up agenda” makes clear (Jan. 19), the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing experiment is still buying bonds and mortgage securities eight years …

It’s time for the Senate to pull in the REINS

Much of the debate about the new administration’s regulatory-reform agenda centers on the Regulations from Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require both houses of …

Will Trump follow in the footsteps of other very wealthy presidents?

President Donald Trump has a big ego, to say the least. Before taking office, he loved nothing more than flying around in his private jetliner, talking about his …

Six ways Congress can curb a runaway president

No bones about it, Donald Trump is a steamroller. He defeated 16 Republican candidates, despite being a political novice. Jeb Bush’s $150 million war chest couldn’t insulate him from Trump’s insults; …

GOP tax plan would burden Wyoming’s businesses

The following was co-authored by R Street Western Region Director Steven Greenhut. No state voted more lopsidedly for the 2016 Republican presidential candidate than Wyoming, where voters gave President …

Ohio and Michigan both kick off 2017 with asset-forfeiture reform

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, opened the new legislative session last week by declaring the legislative branch's job was to improve quality of life for all Ohioans. …

The importance of the business judgment rule

The business judgment rule, the most prominent and important standard of judicial review under corporate law, protects a decision of a corporate board of directors from a fairness …

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 …

Six quick takes on President Trump’s speech

Thank you for making your speech short. Really, the days when folks enjoyed hearing long orations have passed. I am glad you thanked the Obamas for being "magnificent" to …

R Street Panel: The expertise gap between Silicon Valley and Washington

It shouldn't be surprising that our elected representatives don't always understand new technology. Rather than being early adopters, most of them are at least a decade behind the …

Cybersecurity in the internet of things is a game of incentives

Cybersecurity was the virtual elephant in the showroom at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Attendees of the annual tech trade show, organized by the Consumer …

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 …

A new conservative approach to jail reform: police diversion

There's no shortage of innovative methods states have explored to divert offenders away from jail and toward treatment-based solutions, whether it be through deferred prosecution, veterans' courts or, …

The Twitter presidency

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Technology Policy Fellow Sasha Moss. Franklin D. Roosevelt was famous for his “fireside chats” — evening radio addresses that helped …

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 …

Reasserting Congress in regulatory policy

The attached policy study was originally published in "Policy Reforms for an Accountable Administrative State," the second installment in National Affairs' Unleashing Opportunity series. Congress is "the first branch," …

Letter to New York Times on opioid treatment

The treatment proposed by Tim Lahey is part of a larger family of clinical approaches that could help reshape the landscape for many of our health care challenges. Harm …

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 …

Kosar talks Congressional Regulation Office on C-Span

R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar was on C-Span's Washington Journal program recently to discuss his recent piece in National Affairs proposing a Congressional Regulation Office and …

State, city should be friendlier for e-cigarettes

Even though a half-million Americans die every year from smoking-related illness, roughly 17 percent of U.S. adults continue to smoke. It’s encouraging that new options have come to the …

Does Congress want to govern?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the political reform program at New America. Over the past year, leading members of Congress have delivered …

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 …

Regulatory protectionism in the contact lens market

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Alan Smith. New technologies often present competitive threats to established industries. Incumbent businesses sometimes respond in turn …

Meet the UA law professor who joined 1,423 colleagues opposing Jeff Sessions

Nobody is surprised that more than 1,400 law professors from across the nation signed a letter opposing Sen. Jeff Sessions's nomination for attorney general. I'd frankly be more …

Artificial intelligence is set to remake event experiences

2016 was a big year for droids, as two different installments of the Star Wars series finished among the year's 10 highest-grossing films. But elsewhere in the universe, …

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 …

Join us tonight for Le Hackie Awards

DC Legal Hackers hosts its third annual Le Hackie Awards tonight, an event to honor companies, organizations, legal hackers and the best legal hacks of 2016. For those not …

Can e-cigarettes be a harm reduction approach for HIV-positive smokers?

John is a 43-year-old gay-identified man who arrives coughing at my office for his weekly therapy appointment. "I've now been living with HIV for 15 years and undetectable …

Warming winter whiskeys

I am a seasonal drinker. What tastes best to me in the summer swelter is not what I hoist in the chillier months. Since the cold began its …

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 …

Making Congress great again

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth first week for the Republican-controlled 115th Congress. On Monday, House Republicans voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics—only to reverse their …

The intelligence community should be more accountable to Congress

The salvo between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community continues to intensify. Having downplayed and dismissed unanimous intelligence agency conclusions about Russian involvement in the DNC …

Criminals in 2017 may have to commit crime like it’s 1999

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Criminal Justice Director Arthur Rizer.  Las Vegas will be inundated with 150,000 tech geeks this weekend flocking to the Consumer Electronics Expo, …

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 …

Confirmed: Snus use protective for Parkinson’s disease

Investigators in Sweden, Italy and the United States report that "non-smoking men who used snus had a substantially reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease." The research, published in the International Journal …

Under President Trump, will Congress REIN in executive branch?

When I was counsel to former Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., in the 112th Congress, a constituent named Lloyd Rogers asked why Congress wasn’t accountable for the cost of federal …

It’s time for SCOTUS to weigh in on digital fair use

The following op-ed was co-authored by Charles Duan, director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge. It's been almost 10 years since Stephanie Lenz was informed by Universal …

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 …

The Cincinnatian Doctrine revisited

The attached policy study originally appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of Housing Finance International. Ten years ago, in September 2006, just before the great housing bubble’s disastrous collapse, …

How to modernize labor law

The attached policy study was co-authored by Andrew Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union and a senior fellow at Columbia University. It appeared first in the …

Big news from 2016 highlights rapidly changing county

My first encounter with an Orange County politician came in the mid-1990s, when I met then-U.S. Rep. Bob Dornan during his ill-fated 1996 presidential run. Dornan was speaking …

Seven bold, probably unpopular, political predictions for 2017

At the end of 2016, social media buzzed with Americans intentionally sharing their unpopular opinions. While I wasn't aware that anyone on Twitter or Facebook ever held back …

Self-driving cars will make organ shortages even worse

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams. Much has been said about the ways we expect our oncoming fleet of driverless cars to change …

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 …

Kraft case a reminder that Congress should enact patent system reform

The U.S. Supreme Court announced earlier this month it will hear the appeal of a patent infringement case brought by Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC against zero-calorie sweetener …

Trump’s Great Negation of 2017

The Obama administration began amid the Great Recession. Donald Trump will take office in January 2017 and usher in the Great Negation. How long it will last depends …

Why policy should recognize help of e-cigarettes

In the late 1960s, I worked at Grant Hospital as an inhalation therapist, fascinated that some of those I treated for breathing ailments would stub out a cigarette …

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 …

Swapping the corporate income tax for a price on carbon

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Executive Director Andrew Moylan and Research Assistant Daniel Semelsberger. The corporate income tax and domestic carbon policy are two areas …

Autonomous vehicles could change everything you know about traffic stops

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams. A driver’s license is a rite of passage. Unfortunately for many drivers, so too is one’s first …

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 …

For-profit policing undermines confidence in justice system

The following op-ed was co-authored by Alyse Ullery, a criminal justice policy advisor based in Austin, Texas. Card-reading devices that allow law enforcement to both check and seize the balance …

FDA rejects plea to correct smokeless tobacco warnings; a closer look at flawed interpretations

After a two-and-a-half-year review, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products rejected Swedish Match's request to eliminate or revise the 30-year-old, egregiously inaccurate warnings that are …

Don’t demonize bitcoin, blockchain, Tor and other online privacy tools

“Can bitcoin be used for good?” read the headline of an April article in The Atlantic. It’s not just a headline writer’s attempt at provocative rhetoric. The phrases “darkest …

In internet of things era, cybersecurity for autonomous vehicles will require restraint

The following op-ed was co-authored by Darren Teshima, a litigation partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in San Francisco. Concerns about the vulnerability of America's physical infrastructure have long …

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 …

A national law needed to protect online freedom of speech

The following op-ed was co-authored by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, who represents Texas' 27th congressional district. Christmas is almost here. While Santa Claus knows who’s been naughty or nice, …

The Federal Reserve is the bank most in need of a stress test

Do you know a bank that is leveraged at more than 100:1-to be exact, with assets of 111 times its equity? You do: it's the Federal Reserve. The consolidated …

January promises an end to FCC’s zero rating attack

There’s a quote posted in the guidance counselor’s office at my son’s middle school: “Fairness isn’t everyone gets the same.” Unfortunately, that is how outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman …

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 …

Michigan looks to become autonomous vehicle mecca

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder last week signed a package of four bills (S.B. 995-998) intended to signal the state's commitment to the autonomous future, including by opening up …

Uber and California DMV fight over definition of self-driving cars

In highly regulated private industries, the law means what it says – right up until a regulator decides that it doesn't. For that reason, Uber, a company with …

Information overload, fake news and infinite opinions

I remember when I didn't have opinions about everything. There were many, many events that happened in the world, and I was either blissfully unaware or simply an …

R Street panel on NHTSA rules for self-driving cars

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its much anticipated self-driving vehicle guidelines, instant reaction was generally favorable. But upon further reflection, a more complicated picture was …

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 …

How an idyllic Italian village was crippled by family-centrism

More than 60 years ago, an American family arrived in a seemingly idyllic town in Southern Italy. Stone buildings resembled “a white beehive against the top of a …

Robot scalpers and the BOTS Act

The current system for allocating tickets to popular events leaves a lot to be desired. Most tickets for the most popular shows are pre-allocated to fan clubs, VIP …

FBI fingerprinting for Uber and Lyft in Maryland would do more harm than good

Maryland is precariously close to being Uber-less, thanks to a requirement that, as of Dec. 15, all drivers must submit to background checks that include FBI fingerprinting [“Uber …

The promise and limits of private cyber insurance

The wonders of the Internet Age have brought with them a previously unimagined level of interconnectedness among people and institutions around the world. The power and mobility of …

Snapchat spectacles and the creep factor

We're all amateur documentarians now, which is why sunglasses equipped with Wi-Fi-enabled cameras are a natural next step in the world of wearables. Snap Inc.’s Spectacles allow users …

Court OKs constitutional challenge to new state law affecting farm industry

A federal appeals court last week took the highly unusual step of finding a U.S. constitutional cause of action in a challenge to a California state law – …

Tax reformers must take care not to kill reinsurance market

During the 2016 presidential election, one theme from President-elect Donald Trump rang louder than any other: the importance of keeping jobs in America and finding ways to encourage …

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 …

All the president’s propaganda

The following op-ed was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton, a professor in Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International …

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, …

Time for a reset breath on tech antitrust

Just as the Senate was holding hearings on the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger last week, an interesting tidbit of information crossed my tablet: a story finding that …

R Street’s guide to policy events at SXSW 2017

In addition to its high-profile music and film festivals, Austin's South By Southwest (SXSW) also hosts one of the biggest annual gatherings of technologists, activists, government officials, entrepreneurs …

Lots of smoke, no fire

Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy got it wrong. Contrary to the claims in this week’s highly publicized report, e-cigarettes and other vapor devices are not a threat to …

It’s time for real innovation in U.S. labor law

Over the next few days, I am sure there will be a fair amount of ink spilled over Andy Puzder, President-elect Donald Trump's designate to be secretary of …

The insidious campaign of ‘soft’ prohibitionists

This week's Repeal Day (Dec. 5) marked 83 years since the dreadful social experiment of Prohibition finally was killed. We think we live in strange times today, but what …

Whether thriving or failing, cities need investment

Seven years into the recovery from the Great Recession, unemployment is down, gross domestic product is up, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed recently at an all-time …

R Street comments on surgeon general’s report on e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (Dec. 8, 2016) – The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General today released its first ever report on e-cigarettes and nicotine vapor devices. While the R Street …

E-cigarettes help smokers quit, so why crack down on them?

When it comes to battling teen pregnancy, our nation’s health officials have for two decades put aside moralism and focused on “harm reduction.” For example, instead of continuing …

California Legislature’s gaseous impulses

The California Legislature last week received a load of bad publicity because of a new law that attempts to reduce the methane output of dairy cows dramatically — …

Regulators’ vaping crackdown should concern other innovative industries

On the Food and Drug Administration’s webpage, Commissioner Robert M. Califf asserts “a successful FDA is a critical factor for better public health in this changing world” and …

Republicans should snuff out deadly tobacco rules

Last month, Republican U.S. House leaders sent a pointed letter to federal agency heads warning them against finalizing “midnight regulations” — last-minute rules approved during a lame-duck session, …

Memo for media and Hill staff on surgeon-general’s e-cigarette report

To: Media and congressional staff From: Clive Bates, The Counterfactual and Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute Re: Office of the Surgeon General’s forthcoming report on e-cigarettes On Thursday, …

CBO confirms OPEN Government Data Act won’t cost taxpayers

The bicameral, bipartisan Open Public Electronic and Necessary ("OPEN") Government Data Act will not cost taxpayers a dime, according to new scoring analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The …

The housing bubble renewed?

Average U.S. house prices are back over their 2006 bubble top, as measured by the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. “Home Prices Recover Ground Lost During Bust” read the …

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, …

More consumer choice in electricity should be on policymakers’ holiday wish lists

As we head into the holiday shopping season, consumers should consider adding one more item to their lists: an alternative electricity supplier. The process of switching energy providers long …

What’s the outlook for legal sports betting in the Trump era?

With the state-level battles over daily fantasy sports (DFS) largely settled, the online gambling industry, along with professional and recreational sports bettors, are speculating how the incoming Trump …

Vaping can help smokers

When it comes to smoking, there are two universal truths. First, smoking is really bad for you. And, second, it’s really hard to quit. America has been making progress. …

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 …

Moving forward on unwinding proxy access

The shareholder empowerment movement consists of activists who advocate shifting corporate decision-making authority to shareholders, and thus away from boards of directors and executive management. In effect, this …

Yesterday we talked about Congress reclaiming the power of the purse — a bit

I co-direct the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group, a nonpartisan gathering of scholars and congressional staff that aims to “make Congress great again.” We meet each month on …

The Ever-Changing Bogeyman: How fear has driven immigration law and policy

The attached policy study appeared first in Vol. 77 of the Louisiana Law Review.  The campaign for the Republican nomination for the American presidency in 2015 and 2016 has …

Testimony to House Oversight and Government Reform on agencies’ expenditures of fees

I thank the subcommittee for inviting me to testify on the subject of federal agencies and their self-funding activities. As the committee may know, I co-direct the Legislative Branch …

Will the public housing smoking ban include electronic cigarettes?

On Wednesday, a different Castro was in the news: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro decreed that all 3,100 local Public Housing Agencies must …

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, …

Rethinking expanded WIC eligibility and enrollment

The attached policy study was co-authored by Douglas M. Call, a senior research analyst at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. This study was adapted from the …

Can the FTC write an Rx for the contact lens market, or is legislation an aye for an eye?

A patient walks into an optometrist’s office for an eye exam. He walks out an hour later with a box of contact lenses, conveniently purchased in-office with the …

Texas can’t afford a minimum wage hike

After years on the back burner, the minimum wage is hot again. A national campaign to institute a $15 an hour minimum wage has picked up steam in …

Consumer Review Fairness Act heads to Obama’s desk

The U.S. Senate this week gave unanimous consent to H.R. 5111, the Consumer Review Fairness Act, legislation that would protect reputational information online. Having previously passed the House …

Ohio wants to be testing ground for self-driving cars

The world knows Ohio as home of the Wright brothers and the first man to step on the moon. But locals also know it as home to aviatrix …

What Joe Maddon can teach Illinois lawmakers about competition

Illinois policymakers are considering a sprawling, damaging and wasteful energy bill that seeks to bail out two unprofitable Exelon Corp. nuclear plants. This massive 446-page piece of legislation—dubbed …

Reinsurance saved Florida from catastrophic losses

While this year’s storms Hermine and Matthew brought an end to the state’s decade-long hurricane drought, they easily could have been stronger or cut a more destructive path. Indeed, …

Job-destroying effects of $15 minimum wage by metro, industry and occupation

The attached policy study was co-authored by Zackary Hawley, assistant professor of economics at Texas Christian University. With a host of states and municipalities implementing large minimum wage …

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 …

The Fed should be accountable for its results

“Vote Brings Uncertainty for Fed” (U.S. News, Nov. 10) says that President-elect Donald Trump might work with Congress to rewrite the laws governing the Fed’s structure. Good idea. …

Household incomes can fall even when everyone’s getting richer

One of the politically hottest statistics right now is median household income, especially its slow growth. But there is a big problem with understanding what this statistic means, …

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 …

Will the Trump administration revisit net neutrality and zero rating?

Network neutrality, the most significant piece of internet regulation championed by the Obama administration, might be yet another casualty of the coming Donald Trump presidency. That wouldn’t be …

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 …

Regulators chase cat from bar and are shocked when mice appear

One of New York City’s oldest bars recently was shut down for a few days. McSorley’s Old Ale House has operated in the East Village for 162 years and …

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 …

The kids suing over climate change better *not* be our best hope

Following election results and a subsequent transition period that probably has been fairly dispiriting to those concerned about tackling the problem of climate change, recent days have seen …

How the coming Republican Congress could cut regulations lickety-split

For the better part of eight years, Republicans have tried to stop the Obama administration from issuing new regulations. They have not had much success. But this may …

Motorcycles aren’t cars and cigarettes aren’t smoke-free tobacco

Motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. We know this because a government agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, routinely provides data that confirms it. For example, NHTSA reports …

Self-driving car makers shouldn’t have to ask NHTSA ‘mother, may I?’

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recently issued safety guidelines for self-driving cars would upend five decades of federal auto-safety policy by embracing a system of pre-market approval. The …

Dialing for dollars

I agree with the conventional wisdom that congressmen spend entirely too much of their time raising money. Like many viewers, I cringed at John Oliver’s dialing-for-dollars exposé featuring former Democratic …

The case for criminal justice reform in lame duck

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. With just a few weeks remaining in the 114th Congress, members are returning to Capitol Hill to take …

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 …

Four ways a President Trump could actually help the Climate

President-elect Donald Trump obviously doesn’t have very many fans on the environmental left. And he has said things about climate change that don’t jibe with reality. There are …

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 …

GDP per-worker vs. GDP per-capita

We have previously compared the growth in real per-capita gross domestic product between the United States and Japan and among the 10 largest advanced economies. Growth in GDP …

Stopping Big Government: Why we need a Congressional Regulation Office

The following op-ed was co-authored by Philip A. Wallach, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. This year, nearly 3,300 new federal regulations have been issued, and we still …

Cybercrime and the war on digital free speech

The internet is increasingly a target for those who want to silence speech. An Oct. 21 cyberattack rendered social media sites like Twitter and Reddit and news sites like …

R Street’s priorities for the next administration

The incoming Trump administration will inherit numerous challenges that must be dealt with in year one, such as overwhelming shortfalls in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and debt …

Letter to Oversight Board of Puerto Rico

In response to your request for public comments on the draft Puerto Rico fiscal plan, I respectfully submit the following thoughts. An old friend of mine who ran a …

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 …

Barron’s Mailbag: Chapter 11 for Social Security?

In their Other Voices essay, Dudley Kimball and Robert Morgan said that Social Security will be insolvent in 2034. In the sense of having liabilities vastly greater than assets, …

Ohio’s fight to preserve energy competition and choice

Ohio regulators recently approved a problematic, watered-down subsidy for investor-owned utility FirstEnergy Corp. amounts to corporate welfare to protect captive ratepayers of its monopoly utility segment from the …

Corporate governance by the board, not the government

The following op-ed was co-authored by Michael Wilt, a senior policy writer and editor with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Starbucks recently made a big change to its …

Make Congress great (or at least relevant) again with criminal justice reform

With a disapproval rating hovering around 80 percent, the 114th Congress is on track to be among the least productive in history. But with the end of a …

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 …

Does Congress finally get that business as usual should not continue?

Nearly everyone is gobsmacked by last night’s election results. But should we really be so surprised? No, because a significant portion of the public has been down on …

The anarchist case for climate action

A spate of recent articles have purported to offer the "conservative case for a carbon tax" or the "libertarian case for climate action," or some similar riff. R …

Angling for bass, salmon and drinks in Traverse City, Michigan

Let me state upfront: I caught no fish. This was not surprising, seeing as the weather was lousy for bass—cold (40s) and blustery—and I had no salmon lures. I …

Are robot scalpers ripping you off? Do we need government to stop it?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Christopher Koopman, a senior research fellow with the Project for the Study of American Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason …

R Street Welcomes Bill Legalizing Ridesharing in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON (Nov. 7, 2016) – The R Street Institute welcomes Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to sign S.B. 984 into law, at last legalizing ridesharing across the entire …

If elected, would Clinton declare war on the sharing economy?

The following post was co-authored by Senior Fellow Lori Sanders. This coming Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is expected to claim a resounding victory at the climax of a long, hard-fought …

The burgeoning air-taxi industry

Having a private plane is one of the key perks of the rich. Donald Trump makes much of his personal 757, while Leonardo DiCaprio received well-deserved criticism for …

Volkswagen’s Clean Air Act violations need a RESTORE Act solution

Volkswagen Automotive Group has admitted to installing software on several of its diesel vehicles effectively to defeat exhaust-emission testing and deceive customers who thought they were purchasing “clean …

Miscounting teen perceptions of e-cigarettes

journal Pediatrics recently published a report based on the 2012 and 2014 National Youth Tobacco Surveys. Stephen Amrock and coauthors from the Oregon Health Sciences University found that …

‘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 …

IRS plans to make it harder to let families keep their businesses

The Internal Revenue Service is up to about 10,000 public comments submitted thus far on its latest assault on families – proposed sweeping changes to Section 2704 of …

Pluto is out, Southern Ocean is in and science shouldn’t be political

My son came home from school the other day singing a jingle that included the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic oceans. Strangely, I also heard him sing about …

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 …

Why current asset prices are dangerously exaggerated

Over the long term, real per-capita household net worth in the United States has grown at about 2 percent a year. This is a wonderful achievement of the …

Finding a 21st century system for booze

Traverse City, Michigan (population 15,000), is a gorgeous bay town near the northern end of Lake Michigan. The town, which oozes charm, has very good restaurants and genial …

What’s holding back solar in the Lone Star State?

Texas is known for being a sunny place - literally. El Paso County is in the top 1 percent of U.S. counties for the amount of sunshine received …

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 …

Avoiding backdoor bailouts on the Texas grid

Texas is blessed to have a competitive market for electrical generation. Unlike most states, Texas’ electric-power mix is not decided by bureaucrats who guarantee that utilities can recover …

FDA tobacco director ignores 2.5 million ‘anecdotal reports’ about e-cigarettes

A feature of this month’s annual meeting of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) was a videotaped interview with Mitch Zeller, director of the Food and Drug Administration's …

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 …

States and cities are drowning in pension debts

One of the purest mysteries in public policy these days is that while there's a clarion call from every class of political leadership to do something about sea-level …

Chasing away scalpers only hurts consumers

The following op-ed was co-authored by Christopher Koopman, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Earlier this year, the Kennedy Center announced that the award-winning musical "Hamilton" …

A jack of all trades

The following op-ed was co-authored by Aaron Perzanowski,  professor of law at Case Western Reserve University. When Google announced its new line of Pixel smartphones, it directed some not-so-subtle …

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 …

Buying a car in Texas shouldn’t require a middleman

Buying a car isn't easy, and the law in Texas doesn't make it any easier. Since time immemorial, new cars in the United States have been sold via franchised …

How Texas can protect the electric grid from attack

A single nuclear device set off at a high altitude creates an electromagnetic pulse that knocks out electricity in a third of the United States. Key electrical infrastructure …

Government Information and Propaganda: How to draw a line?

The attached policy study was co-authored by John Maxwell Hamilton, the Hopkins P. Breazeale Professor in Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication. A government cannot be held accountable …

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 …

A chance to fix civil asset forfeiture

Law enforcement’s ability to seize money and property without evidence of a criminal act is known as civil asset forfeiture. This favored method of police across the nation …

The strongest branch of liberty

The following op-ed was co-authored by R Street Research Assistant Adam Chan. Which branch of government comes to mind when you think of your rights? Many, if not most, …

Cuba: Mi casa es su casa

There is a truism, fashionable in American foreign policy circles, that the liberalization of trade will, over time, soften the contours of authoritarian regimes, as the oppressed become …

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 …

Catching the Third Wave: A tale of two tech-policy battles

In his recent book "The Third Wave," AOL founder Steve Case outlines what the latest generation of technology companies will need to do to succeed, stressing the importance …

Conservatives should seek to enable and fairly value solar power

Competitive markets are at the heart of American economic prosperity and stability. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been true of the monopoly-led, scandal-prone Arizona electricity industry. Conservatives should welcome new technologies …

Five bad arguments against public access to CRS reports

This week the progressive organization Demand Progress, along with the Congressional Data Coalition, launched EveryCRSReport.com. This new project site makes available, with the help of friendly Congressional offices, …

It’s Time To Make Taxpayer-Funded Congressional Reports Available To The Public

This piece was co-authored by Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. American taxpayers support the $140 million a year expenditures of the Congressional Research Service, an independent and highly influential …

Memo to Feds: Tobacco ≠ Smoking

Government officials almost always use the word “tobacco” when they are actually discussing “cigarettes” or “smoking.” This practice is apparent in a 2015 progress report from the Centers for …

Don’t over-regulate driverless technology

Self-driving vehicles promise an exciting future, but whether the technology will see widespread adoption in the near term is anything but certain. Among the first hurdles to clear …

Sex offender registries need reform

Twenty-five years ago, with activist Patty Wetterling by his side, Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson signed America's first law establishing a public registry system for sex offenders. The law, …

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 …

Congress should unveil American surveillance

Revelations that Yahoo allegedly scanned hundreds of millions of user emails for the National Security Agency and the FBI underscores the pressing need for Congress to reevaluate federal …

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 …

The new federal safety guidelines for self-driving cars are too vague… and states are already making them mandatory

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earned plaudits from across the tech sphere for its recently released safety guidelines for self-driving cars. With the NHTSA looking to offer guidance …

‘Demilitarize’ the police?

Policing has always been a difficult job. It has recently become more so. On a daily basis, officers around the country find themselves yelled at, protested against, and …

Homeownership Rates: It depends on whether you are married

The attached piece originally appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition of Housing Finance International. American political rhetoric endlessly repeats that homeownership is part of the “American Dream.” So …

Don’t over-regulate driverless technology

Self-driving vehicles promise an exciting future, but whether the technology will see widespread adoption in the near term is anything but certain. Among the first hurdles to clear …

Why we need federal anti-SLAPP

Donald Trump has promised that if he becomes president, he’s going to “open up those libel laws so when The New York Times writes a hit piece we …

Agents for Change: Competitive reforms for producer licensing

More than a quarter of the U.S. workforce currently is subject to some form of state occupational licensing requirement, a figure that compares with just 5 percent in …

Subsidizing Disaster: As seas rise, why is government promoting coastal development?

Sometimes it seems like everything is underwater. In Galveston, Texas, sea levels have risen by more than a foot since 1983. So-called “superstorms” like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina …

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 …

Utility regulators must protect average electricity customers and competition

The following op-ed was co-authored by Dick Munson, director of Midwest clean energy for the Environmental Defense Fund. Ohio's utility regulators may have been appointed by a conservative governor, who …

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 …

Getting juiced by the roadside

Greenville, Alabama, is a small city of about 8,000 right off I-65, south of Montgomery. It’s best known for Bates House of Turkey, a popular lunch stop on …

Avoiding the renewables blame game – lessons from down under

News that wind energy may have played a role in an electrical blackout experienced last week in South Australia has reinvigorated the question of whether renewable-energy mandates decrease …

The Truth about Traffic: Putting fatalities in context

In my lectures, I often provide context about the risks associated with the use of tobacco products by comparing those behaviors with the use of automobiles.  Putting risk in …

Debating proxy access with substance, not bluster

There has been much bluster, but very little substance, in the ongoing debate over proxy access – that is, the ability of certain privileged shareholders to have their …

Do Less Harm: The vapid opposition to vaping

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, hates e-cigarettes. The devices, he says, are little more than an evil plot, "the new frontier in tobacco companies' quest to get kids addicted …

With state law still stalled, Lyft and Uber ordered to shut down in Philly

Most Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the Christmas Truce of 1914. Occurring during the early stages of World War I, the inspirational tale of a tenuous …

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 …

Where have all the nuclear plants gone?

With the recently announced planned retirements of nuclear facilities in Illinois and California, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. nuclear-energy fleet either already has closed or is scheduled …

Fixing what ails the Endangered Species Act

A recent tweak to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is sparking considerable backlash from environmentalists, with prominent groups accusing the Obama administration of weakening the landmark legislation. The controversy …

Congress may lower taxes on drinks

The Beer Institute recently reported some happy news: 51 U.S. senators support a bill to lower federal drink taxes. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of …

Increasing tax on wind is a bad idea

Addressing the nation’s entrepreneurs and small business owners from the Old Executive Office Building in August 1986, President Ronald Reagan lightheartedly observed that, under his predecessor Jimmy Carter, …

These unneeded rules for freight railroads would cost consumers

By virtually any measure, America’s freight-rail system is one of the best in the world. In fact, rail transports a full 40 percent of freight moved in the …

Lawsuit against Palantir shows the absurdity of discrimination law

There’s a scene near the beginning of The Usual Suspects in which the police are interrogating a series of ne’er-do-wells about a recent robbery in Queens. To induce …

New Orleans could legalize spacesharing this week

The New Orleans City Council is set to vote tomorrow on an ordinance that would allow short-term rentals in the city. The vote comes in the wake of …

‘Fin’ versus ‘tech’ in fintech

Financial technology – or "fintech," in the modern parlance – may be seen as trendy, but computing technology has strongly influenced banking and finance for decades. Its effects …

Don’t adopt ‘overregulate ’em all’ strategy on game apps

After 74 days on the market, Pokemon Go last week lost the top revenue spot in Apple's U.S. app store to Clash Royale, although it remains the highest-grossing …

You can’t regulate self-driving cars into existence

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Technology Fellow Anne Hobson.  The editorial board of The New York Times apparently knows precisely the autonomous vehicle future that …

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 …

Yahoo! goes cuckoo for the NSA!

In stunning news, a just-published Reuters exclusive purports that Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails on behalf of the National Security Agency. While the public has been made aware …

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 …

Congressional Earmarks: Are we better off without them?

When the GOP took back the House in 2010, it followed through on what many of its members had promised in their campaigns—banning earmarks. Earmarks are the district …

Crime is still at historic lows

The following op-ed was co-authored by Jason Pye, director of communications for FreedomWorks. Some are playing up news stories or writing editorials with clickbait headlines featuring violent crime as …

To end the affordable housing crisis, Washington needs to legalize Main Street

In a sign that market solutions for the United States’ growing housing affordability crisis are beginning to earn bipartisan support, the White House this week unveiled its “Housing …

Happy birthday, TARP!

Today, Oct. 3, is the eighth anniversary of congressional passage of the act that created the famous or notorious $700 billion bank bailout program in the midst of …

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 …

Policing is a profession: You don’t get to pick and choose whom you serve and protect

Since the National Football League's kneeling controversy started, several police organizations around the country have stated they would not protect individual players or whole teams until all the …

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 …

Much ado about nothing? The phantom U.S. crime wave

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its much anticipated annual crime report this week, which within hours became fodder for both candidates in the first presidential debate. While …

Do Less Harm: The vapid opposition to vaping

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, hates e-cigarettes. The devices, he says, "are little more than an evil plot, the new frontier in tobacco companies' quest to get kids addicted …

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 …

Truth Initiative belies its name in new smokeless tobacco screed

The Truth Initiative is a $1 billion foundation devoted to tobacco prohibition. Launched as the American Legacy Foundation with cash from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, the group …

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 …

Where is Pokemon Go-ing?

After 74 days on the market, Pokemon Go this week lost the top revenue spot in Apple’s U.S. app store to Clash Royale, although it remains the highest-grossing …

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 …

Reality Check: The regulatory landscape for virtual and augmented reality

The mobile game Pokémon Go burst onto the scene in July 2016 and, within weeks, had acquired an amazing 45 million daily users. Alas, its popularity began to fade just as …

You wouldn’t pay taxes you don’t owe. Why should Lowe’s?

Taxes aren't a form of charity. Both businesses and individuals should pay the taxes they owe and not a penny more. They may be our obligation as part of …

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 that …

A carbon bargain for conservatives

Policies to restrict the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases already are a clear and present reality. Many conservatives might not agree with those ideas, but …

DEA’s kratom battle another misstep in war on drugs

In their infinite wisdom, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is expanding the war on drugs this week to include kratom, a medicinal plant seen by many as a …

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 …

Negative rates aren’t working. Why do central banks persist?

The following op-ed was co-authored by Paul Kupiec, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Monetary policies in Europe and Japan have produced trillions of dollars of bonds …

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 …

After it works too well, NYC scraps free web access

For years, the primary argument for municipal broadband has been about the need to bridge the digital divide. Government-run wireless networks, we’ve been told, are needed bring the …

‘ENDS’ don’t justify the means with e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes and vaping are transforming tobacco use in the United States and worldwide. These innovative products are being used almost exclusively by smokers looking for substitutes for more …

Waivers can fix out-of-date federal labor laws

The following op-ed was co-authored by Andrew Stern, former president of Service Employees International Union and a senior fellow at Columbia University. Few relationships in America suffer as unnecessarily thanks …

The Credit Crunch of 1966: An instructive 50th anniversary

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Credit Crunch of 1966, which roiled financial markets in August and September of that year. Group financial memory fades, so if you …

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 …

Study on smoking’s damage to DNA underscores need for cessation options

New research on the effects of smoking is capturing the internet’s attention today – a million people are discussing it and it is a top-trending subject on Facebook …

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 …

Corporate Income Tax: More trouble than it’s worth

Politics often yields suboptimal policy. In some cases, visible benefits flow to a select group at the expense of the largely invisible broader public. In others, visible costs are imposed on …

The case for a Congressional Regulation Office

The attached policy study was co-authored by Philip Wallach, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. It originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of National Affairs. To …

Republicans want to attach Ted Cruz’s internet governance language to the government-funding bill. It could blow up in their faces.

The following post was co-authored by R Street technology policy program director Zach Graves. SOURCE: Giphy Sept. 30 marks the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, which means both Republicans …

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 …

Yet one more unimportant article about Colin Kaepernick

How many “real” news stories are transpiring as I write this, the umpteenth unnecessary opinion piece about Colin Kaepernick and his protest to kneel during the national anthem? …

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. …

R Street sees NHTSA guidance on self-driving cars as positive step

WASHINGTON (Sept. 20, 2016) – The R Street Institute responded to this morning's release of guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety …

How pirates shaped the internet as we know it

Today is “International Talk like a Pirate Day.” While it’s a lot of fun to act like a pirate, drink rum and catch up on Errol Flynn movies, …

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 …

How limits on Hawaiian deep-sea mining could hurt the solar-energy market

In a bid to shore up his eco-legacy, President Barack Obama announced the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Monument. The protected area, first created by President George W. …

Inventing America: The business of drafting a national blueprint

The men who drafted the U.S. Constitution rightly earned our eternal praise. In 1787, they met in Philadelphia, where they pondered, debated and haggled for four months. James …

Criminal justice reform doesn’t have to mean ‘soft on crime’

The phrase "criminal justice reform" is loaded with emotional impact. To some, the words translate to "soft on crime," which has been a political mantra and damning epithet …

Selling tobacco to kids: FDA inspection data from 2015 and 2016

A Sept. 15 Food & Drug Administration press release notes the agency “has taken action against 55 tobacco retailers by issuing the first warning letters for selling newly …

Planting mustard seeds in the heartland

This week, I'm taking part in a beta test for a new service that connects Columbus, Ohio's parking-space owners mostly with out-of-towners looking for a place to park …

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 …

How the internet, the sharing economy and reputational feedback mechanisms solve the ‘lemons problem’

The attached paper was co-authored by Adam Thierer, Christopher Koopman and Chris Kuiper, and appeared in the University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 70, No. 3, 2016. This paper argues that the sharing …

How microgrids could help protect Texas

Reliable electricity is vital to civilization. By harnessing the power of electricity, countries like the United States have achieved historically unprecedented levels of prosperity and human advancement. Growth …

Is Pittsburgh the Kitty Hawk (or St. Petersburg) of self-driving cars?

The wonders of our modern age have left many of us immune to the kinds of feelings of astonishment that once were triggered by spectacular events. So, if only …

Americans don’t benefit from ‘safety nets’ for farmers

Libertarians and small-government conservatives have myriad gripes with U.S. agricultural policy, but many would agree that it’s appropriate to provide a “safety net” for farmers. Arguments for government …

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. …

Domain name not resolved: Breaking down the debate over the ICANN transition

The following blog post was co-authored by R Street Senior Technology Policy Program Director Zach Graves. Is Obama giving away the internet? According to some conservatives, like Sen. Ted Cruz, …

Taking on Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the great philosopher of the authoritarian state, in a famous metaphor portrayed the government as a dominating giant or Leviathan, animated by absolute sovereignty, and …

Four inconvenient truths about Fannie and Freddie

Americans have for years been addicted to long-term (that is, 15 to 30-year) fixed-rate residential mortgage loans. We just can’t live without them. The severity of this habit …

Strengthening congressional oversight of the intelligence community

The attached white paper is a joint product of the R Street Institute, DemandProgress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and FreedomWorks. The U.S. House of Representatives created the House Permanent …

Congress’ new opportunity to protect free speech: Voting to pass SPEAK FREE

As a computer hobbyist 30 years ago, I already could see where this online chat thing was going. Long before the word "internet" became part of the universal …

Letter to Mitch Zeller on FDA e-cigarette rules

The attached letter was co-authored by Clives Bates, director of The Counterfactual.  We were pleased when, in a May 2015 interview in The New York Times, you called for …

Vote YES on H.R. 5111, the Consumer Review Fairness Act

The R Street Institute encourages all members to support passage of H.R. 5111, the Consumer Review Fairness Act. This bill is expected to be considered under suspension of …

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 …

Never forget 9/11, but start remembering our response

We'll never forget the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but we've clearly forgotten our response. I was sitting in the living room of the Phi Gamma Delta House at …

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 …

American Cancer Society and CDC withheld evidence on safer smokeless products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society have a long history of suppressing information about the relative risks of smokeless tobacco (ST) products. CDC …

House Freedom Caucus should support justice reform this fall

The following op-ed was co-authored by Jason Pye, director of communications for FreedomWorks. Recently, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gave a much-needed boost to efforts in the U.S. House to pass …

The new century brings remarkable downshift in per-capita GDP growth

For the half-century from 1950 to 2000, U.S. real gross domestic product per capita grew at an average rate of 2.22 percent per year. For the first 15 …

The shrinking market of midsized farms

Americans enjoy a sense of collective national pride about the agricultural economy. The notion evokes mental images of proud farmers who provide our “amber waves of grain” and who weathered the …

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 …

Criminal-justice reform won’t be a boon to illegal aliens

A common avenue of attack against criminal-justice reform, particularly its mandatory-minimum provisions, is to invoke the bogeyman of illegal immigration. The argument generally suggests that incarcerated aliens would …

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. …

Texas limits on out-of-state alcohol may be headed to the Supreme Court

It’s been a busy summer for booze-related litigation in Texas. I’ve written previously about the successful challenge by craft brewers to a 2013 law that makes them give …

How the sharing economy can help in disaster recovery

The sharing economy has created new opportunities for hundreds of thousands around the world. It has provided new options in everything from lodging to transportation. It has helped …

What if you were mistakenly placed on a ‘watch’ list?

In the 1985 dystopian science fiction movie, “Brazil,” the plot centers on the authorities’ apprehension of an innocent man named Archibald Buttle. He was mistaken for the outlaw, …

Carrie Nation, M.D.: The neo-prohibitionists are on the march

To a degree, the British government’s recent freak-out over alcohol is understandable. The nation's tabloids regularly carry stories featuring individuals getting falling-down drunk and doing stupid things. "Drunk …

Musicians can’t always get what they want when politicians use their songs

It’s campaign season, which means politicians are stumping all around the country trying to win your vote. Candidates do this through a number of methods – television commercials, …

If you want to stop Zika, start promoting GMOs

The Zika virus is scary. Zika infections during pregnancy have been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly. Because it is spread via mosquitoes, it can be difficult to …

Louis Vuitton can’t take a joke

Charles Caleb Colton (and later, Oscar Wilde) is famous for the phrase, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” In the world of trademark, such "flattery" happens often. …

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 …

Economic reform for Puerto Rico

The attached letter was submitted to the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. Among the most fundamental of Puerto Rico’s many economic problems is that it …

Musicians’ brief in ‘Blurred Lines’ case: Overly broad copyright stifles creativity

A group of musicians that includes John Oates of Hall & Oates, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Rikki Rocket of Poison has filed an amicus brief in the …

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 …

Wholesale electricity markets in the technological age

The U.S. power industry, a major underpinning of the national economy, has experienced significant regulatory and market transitions over its long history. The unique nature of electricity provision …

From congressional bootleggers to Beltway booze bans

Fans of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire will no doubt recall the series' many Prohibition-era scenes featuring high-level politicians rubbing elbows with bootleggers and openly imbibing in private, …

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 …

5 habits of highly effective lawmakers

The following post was co-authored by Alan E. Wiseman. How can legislative staffs help their members of Congress become effective lawmakers? One way is by checking his or her Legislative …

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 …

Texas court invalidates restrictions on craft brewers

The forces of boozy liberty won a big victory Thursday when an Austin judge declared unconstitutional a 2013 law that required craft brewers to give away distribution rights …

Japan versus the United States in per-capita GDP

We often see and hear in the media about the “stagnation” of economic growth in Japan. Let’s look at the numbers and see how Japan has done compared …

NCOIL looks at high cost of air ambulances

Health insurance premiums, and the underlying health care costs that drive them, were a major topic at last month's National Conference of Insurance Legislators' meetings in Portland, Oregon, …

Is TWIA’s progress to rate adequacy over?

  It’s no secret that the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) has a funding problem. Rates for coastal windstorm insurance offered by the state-created agency long have been well …

DFS and the right to gamble – even a little bit

With football season two weeks away, we can expect an uptick in interest in fantasy-sports leagues and their controversial offshoot, daily fantasy sports (DFS). The kerfuffle over DFS speaks …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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., …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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; …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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) …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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., …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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], …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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" …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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, …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 – …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 Ca