Policy Study

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

6 charts that debunk the ‘gig’ economy

The headlines are, by now, depressingly familiar: "more Americans are stuck in part-time work" or "part-time jobs put millions in poverty." Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently …

Preserving energy access for distributed generation

ISSUE SNAPSHOT Moving our energy generation paradigm increasingly toward distributed generation and market choice provides many potential benefits. Regulations and state policy should ensure access to existing infrastructure at rates …

Proxy Access: Shareholder democracy or creeping mercantilism?

Following certain rule changes made by Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the 2015 proxy season has seen a deluge of shareholder proposals at U.S. public …

TV regulation in the age of digital downloads

Television viewing must now be added to the long list of activities the Internet has changed. The time when audiences across the country simultaneously experienced a televised event—such …

Freeing investor capital for small business

Something has gone wrong with small business in America. For the first time since statistics were kept, the rate of business failure now exceeds the rate of business …

A practical approach to climate change

The attached policy study appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of National Affairs. Climate change resulting from human activity likely poses the biggest environmental risk modern society faces. Its …

A guide through Senate amendments to the USA FREEDOM Act

The attached policy brief was co-authored by R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer. NSA apologists (we sometimes call them “the security hawks”) could use the USA FREEDOM Act as …

Governance in distributed generation: A Nevada case study

Disruptive innovation has hit electricity markets. Just as disruptive technologies and services have revolutionized telecom and urban-transportation markets by expanding consumer choice, electricity customers can now take advantage …

Oversight needed to get conservation compliance right

Ever since they were first signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985, the so-called “conservation compliance” provisions of America’s agricultural support programs have stood as prime …

Bracing for the storm

The attached report was co-authored jointly by members of the SmarterSafer Coalition. Hurricanes, floods, fires, and heat waves resulting in millions of dollars of damage are no longer unusual …

Three steps for reasserting Congress in regulatory policy

Each year, federal agencies produce more regulations. These regulations affect nearly every aspect of our lives, yet are never voted on by Congress. This is a remarkable and …

The role of U.S. research and development policy in nuclear power

The U.S. civil nuclear sector faces a number of challenges that threaten grid reliability and climate mitigation goals. Though current U.S. reactor designs improve confidence in the predictability …

Anti-rebating laws and the Utah experience

Most free-market proponents recognize there can be a productive role for sensible regulation, but the bar is relatively high. First, one must identify some clear and compelling consumer …

Before the Flood: Reducing Louisiana’s vulnerability to severe weather through market-based insurance reforms

This paper will examine Louisiana's vulnerability to severe weather and suggest market-based reforms to adapt to extreme inherent risks, which could be exacerbated by a changing climate. It is …

Lasting reforms for Florida’s property insurance market

With the 2014 Hurricane Season having drawn to an unremarkable close, Florida has now gone nine years without a hurricane making landfall. This represents the longest such “drought” …

Insuring a way out: Modernizing the California Earthquake Authority

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

Come hail or high water: Texas’ litigation explosion

Texas is known for its extreme weather. From hurricanes along the coast to wildfires in Bastrop, the state has absorbed more than its share of weather-related property damage. …

Why I left the Congressional Research Service

The attached piece originally appeared in the January/February 20 edition of Washington Monthly. If there’s one event that epitomizes why I quit my job last October as a researcher …

2014 Insurance Regulation Report Card

Since it opened its doors two years ago, R Street has issued an annual Insurance Regulation Report Card. This is the third edition of our annual examination of …

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

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

Earthquakes and home mortgage risk

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

Blurred Lines: Insurance challenges in the ride-sharing market

The world of property/casualty insurance long has been divided into two separate and entirely circumscribed hemispheres: the personal and the commercial. Personal lines policies – primarily home and …

Conservatives should champion the free-market system of the peer-production economy, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2014) – Regulation of the “peer production” or “sharing” economy can be a good political issue for both the left and the right, argue R …

Embracing the peer-production economy

(The attached paper, co-authored by R Street Executive Director Andrew Moylan, appear in the Fall 2014 edition of National Affairs.) Enthusiasts of the growing "peer-production" or "sharing" economy are …

Alternatives to government broadband

  Universal access to high-speed broadband is a desirable social goal. There is no question that broadband brings incalculable utility and value to individuals, businesses and organizations. Because broadband …

The peer production economy should be allowed to succeed without heavy regulation, R Street study finds

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) – Emerging "peer production" markets could unlock trillions in previously dormant capital, making it essential that lawmakers and regulators do not strangle these new business …

Five principles for regulating the peer production economy

The attached paper was co-authored by R Street Executive Director Andrew Moylan. Economic history over the last 200 years is largely the story of the industrial move from small-scale …

E-cigarettes: A life-saving technology or a way for tobacco companies to re-normalize smoking in American society?

  The attached study appeared in the June 30, 2014 edition of the Food and Drug Law Institute's Food and Drug Policy Forum. Electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as "e-cigarettes," …

R Street urges state and local governments to take steps on e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (June 24, 2014) – State and local governments should take steps to curb cigarette use and promote e-cigarettes as a real driver of tobacco harm reduction, said the …

E-cigarette primer for state and local lawmakers

Cigarettes kill an estimated 480,000 Americans each year. An estimated 46 million Americans smoke cigarettes, the most hazardous and most addictive of tobacco products. Despite our best efforts, …

The case in favor of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction

This paper has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. A carefully structured Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) initiative, with e-cigarettes as a …

Is interactive design becoming unpatentable?

If 20th Century design was inspired by American architect Louis Sullivan's 1896 pronouncement that "form ever follows function," the key realization thus far of the 21st Century has …

R Street paper urges more opportunities for nuclear power

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2014) - Opportunities to export U.S. nuclear technology should be expanded and subsidies granted to other forms of power should be eliminated to make the …

A rational approach to U.S. civil nuclear power

The U.S. commercial nuclear sector is in trouble. Absent significant policy changes, the near-term closure of a number of reactors appears increasingly inevitable. Much has been written about …

Fugitive emissions from hydraulic fracturing: Current knowledge and policy implications

Recent innovations in drilling technology, especially staged hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal drilling, have unlocked unconventional resources of oil and natural gas.  These developments represent a revolutionary moment …

WORKING PAPER: Conservation in the 113th Congress

With no major storm events and few environmental catastrophes in the United States in 2013 or thus far in 2014, it's been easy for policymakers to lose a …

R Street paper calls for shortened copyright terms and examination of international treaties

WASHINGTON (April 30, 2014) -- U.S. copyright term lengths must be shortened and lawmakers should heed warnings handed down by the founders about the dangers of copyright as …

Guarding against abuse: Restoring constitutional copyright

Copyrights are intended to encourage creative works through the mechanism of a statutorily created limited property right. Under both economic and legal analysis, they are recognized as a …

Homesick: How housing tax breaks benefit the wealthy and create McMansions

Since its inception a century ago, the individual income tax code has been exceedingly generous to homeowners.  Homeowners may deduct the interest paid on up to $1 million …

R Street paper encourages re-examination of housing tax breaks

Panel discussion to take place on Thursday on Capitol Hill WASHINGTON (April 22, 2014) - Housing tax breaks in the current tax code disproportionately benefit the wealthy and should …

Rethinking tax benefits for home owners

The attached piece, which appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of National Affairs, was co-written with Ike Brannon and Zackary Hawley. The individual income-tax code offers a multitude of …

Artfully resolving Detroit’s bankruptcy

The attached policy study was co-authored by R Street Midwest Director Alan Smith. For the first three decades of the 20th Century, Detroit was the second fastest-growing city in …

Bringing local knowledge to federal lands

The United States might indeed be one nation, indivisible, but there are huge differences between its eastern and western halves when it comes to federal lands. In the …

Has the NSA poisoned the cloud?

The U.S. technology industry enters 2014 facing a backlash to its perceived role as accomplice to a series of National Security Agency surveillance programs, each making extensive use …

Moving to work

The following piece was co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer. Between 1776 and 1890, when the U.S. Census Bureau famously declared the frontier closed, Americans who found themselves …

2013 Insurance Regulation Report Card

Welcome to the R Street Institute's 2013 Insurance Regulation Report Card, our annual examination of which states are doing the best job of regulating the business of insurance. …

Why road pricing matters

Road pricing — the use of fees or tolls applied to road usage — is the most promising tool we have to improve the productivity of America's aging …

Government sources of systemic insurable risk

In mid-2013, three years after the Dodd-Frank Act's passage, American International Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. became the first insurance companies to be designated by the Financial …

The promise of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction

Nicotine vaporizers, usually referred to as e-cigarettes, show substantial promise as a vehicle for tobacco harm reduction (THR). Skyrocketing sales of e-cigarettes, consumer advocacy for these products, and …

Restoring the RESTORE Act’s conservative principles

The 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill was the largest offshore oil spill in American history. For 87 days, the Macondo prospect gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico …

The economic benefits of protected lands: A government-lite approach

During the 1966 fight over whether to construct dams within the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Club made their objections known through a full-page advertisement in the New York …

Ten reforms to fix Florida’s property insurance marketplace — without raising rates

Florida's property insurance system remains broken and need of significant changes. Past studies from the James Madison Institute have demonstrated the challenges that Florida's unstable property insurance market …

A state approach to flood insurance reform in Florida

With various provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 taking effect this year, there is growing concern that scheduled rate increases by the National Flood …

The value of conservation compliance to hunters and anglers

In recent years, free-market groups and environmental activists have demonstrated they can work together effectively to root out wasteful federal subsidies that benefit environmentally destructive development. As such …

Opportunities for the expansion of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982

Current government policy incentivizes behavior that both harms the environment and wastes taxpayer dollars. Rooting out these policies and finding ways to dampen their negative effects offers an …

Climate change: It’s time for a conservative alternative

President Barack Obama's climate agenda announced in June 2013 represents the latest of many Democratic Party efforts to address climate change. Although it includes no new legislation, the …

Responsible prison reform

Between 1979 and mid-2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the number of Americans behind bars rose from roughly 314,000 to about 2 million. Today, the United States …

Strange bedfellows: SmarterSafer.org and the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012

  PDF Download Text This paper by R Street President Eli Lehrer, which originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum,  focuses …

Defending America, defending taxpayers

PDF Download Text As conservative organizations, the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union believe strongly in a robust national defense. However, our groups also believe strongly in …

Spotlight on NC’s auto insurance system: Seven things to understand

Authored by R Street Senior Fellows R.J. Lehmann and Alan Smith, this paper outlines how the North Carolina Rate Bureau works and how it stifles competition and innovation. …

R Street policy statement on crop insurance reform

As Congress returns for a second attempt at crafting fiscally responsible food and farm policy, it should ensure that basic limitations to taxpayer liability are applied to federally …

Cutting the corporate tax rate means cutting corporate taxes

In 1986, the United States cut its corporate tax rate close to the current rate of 35 percent as part of broad, comprehensive tax reform at both the …

Reducing smoking: A guide for state policy makers

PDF Download Text A review of public health literature related to smoking cessation suggests smoking bans and efforts to stop minors from smoking can be very effective. They …

Analysis of the South Carolina coastal property insurance market

PDF Download Text This paper aims to clarify the debate over property insurance rates and provide a basis for rational discussion of the current situation in South Carolina’s …

Reforming Michigan’s auto insurance market

PDF Download Text Michigan’s unaffordably high auto insurance premiums result in large part from its unique requirement granting all policyholders unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Higher rates of medical …

Coastal preservation through Citizens reform

PDF Download Text The 30-year-old federal Coastal Barrier Resources Act has been successful in promoting conservation of natural resources, fiscal responsibility, and the reduction of inappropriate high-risk coastal …

R Street policy on tobacco harm reduction

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is a policy and process by which smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking are enabled and encouraged to switch to a …

Medical cost containment in the Wisconsin workers’ compensation market

Wisconsin’s 20-year-old certified database system, used to resolve disputes about the reasonableness of medical reimbursements paid by workers’ compensation carriers, has failed to control costs and should be …

The ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of the Fiscal Cliff

With the end of the year fast approaching, the conversation about how Congress should address the “fiscal cliff” is heating up. If Washington fails to act, the New …

A tax hit list for the 113th Congress

As Congress ponders whether it can reach agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," this paper argues that, in addition to identifying credits, deductions, and exemptions that could …

Conservation compliance: The obscure environmental provision key to protecting taxpayers and privatizing crop insurance

The overwhelming majority of American farms receive federal subsidies of some sort. These payments are controversial and, in the opinion of many who favor smaller government, ought not …

Small business credit still a problem

PDF Download Text American small businesses create 65 percent of all net new jobs and employ roughly half of all workers in the private sector. According to the …

Analysis of S. 637, the Earthquake Insurance Affordability Act

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

R Street Shorts – Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association

Under Michigan’s unique personal injury protection auto insurance system, every insured driver in the state must pay a fee to the state-run Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association and, in …

How should insurers treat tobacco use?: A review of the research

Co-published by R Street and the Heartland Institute, this paper explores a growing body of data, including several studies from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, finding that certain …

Green Scissors 2012

PDF Download Text Green Scissors 2012 recommends nearly $700 billion in cuts to wasteful and environmentally harmful federal spending. It is produced by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for …

2012 Insurance Regulation Report Card

PDF Download Text A state-by-state study of the U.S. insurance regulatory system, examining which states are doing the best job of regulating insurance through limited, effective and efficient …

Texas’ margins tax: principles for reform

This policy brief, co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer and Texas Director Julie Drenner, was issued by the Heartland Institute in February 2012. The pair looked at …

Workable solutions for Florida’s challenging insurance problems

PDF Download Text This paper, co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer and Public Affairs Director R.J. Lehmann, was published in January 2012 by the James Madison Institute. …

The case for creating a Michigan auto insurance fraud prevention agency

PDF Download Text This report, authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer, was issued by the Heartland Institute in November 2011. It recommends the State of Michigan, which …

Green Scissors 2011

PDF Download Text This report, co-authored by R Street President Eli Lehrer, was issued in August 2011 as a joint project of the Heartland Institute, Friends of the …

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