Texas

Egads! – a Hurricane Harvey recovery tax

Hurricane Harvey appears likely to go down as the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. The estimates are wide-ranging - from $70 billion in damages projected by catastrophe modeling …

Texas floods show need for federal flood insurance reform

The pictures were almost unimaginable. Over 48 hours, parts of Houston were pummeled by more than 30 inches of rain as Hurricane Harvey swept across the Texas coast. …

For Congress, there’s a flood of work to do

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of the Texas coast, heartbreaking images flood our television screens of families struggling to stay safe amid rising waters. It’s too …

The great Texas gas shortage

The great Texas gas shortage of September 2017 is over. But did it ever happen? For me, it all began last Friday morning. As I was driving to my …

Study shows many homeowners would do better with private flood insurance

It's no great revelation that when prices are centrally controlled, they tend not to reflect reality. In some cases, this means that consumers pay less than the true …

Carbon tax versus clean tax cuts policy wonk rumble

Back in April, R Street Energy Policy Director Josiah Neeley moderated a panel at Earth Day Texas in Dallas. Billed as a "Policy Wonk Rumble," the panel compared …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Testimony to Texas House Committee on Business and Industry

Chairman Oliveria, members, my name is Josiah Neeley, and I am the Southwest Region director for the R Street Institute. I am here today to speak against H.B. …

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 …

Testimony in support of Texas S.B. 451

Chairman Hancock, members, thank you for allowing me to testify today. My name is Josiah Neeley. I am the Southwest Region director for the R Street Institute and …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

Time for a ceiling on hail damage claims in Texas

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Austin, Texas Residents Rally in Support of Uber

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

R Street disappointed in onerous Corpus Christi ordinance that hurts ridesharing drivers and riders

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2016) – The R Street Institute is disappointed at news that ridesharing company Uber will cease operations in Corpus Christi, Texas, due to onerous regulations …

Texas setting positive example on RESTORE Act priorities

AUSTIN, Texas (March 10, 2016) – As the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill approaches, Texas should serve as a model for taking measures to ensure …

Texas and the RESTORE Act: A progress report

As we approach the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is coming up on April 20, states along the Gulf Coast continue to deal with …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

Texas shouldn’t wait to address EPA carbon rule

WASHINGTON (Nov. 18, 2015) – The option to use carbon fees to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan could produce enough revenue for Texas to …

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 ) …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

Neeley letter to GCERC on Texas Funded Priorities List

The R Street Institute is encouraged by the inclusion within the initial Funded Priorities List (FPL) released by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) of the six …

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, …

R Street urges Austin City Council not to hinder the tourism economy

AUSTIN, Tex. (Sept. 15, 2015) – The R Street Institute today expressed deep concern about proposed regulations currently before the Austin City Council that would restrict short-term rentals …

Texans shouldn’t need a license to earn a living

Earlier this summer, the Texas Supreme Court overturned state licensing requirements for threading, the hair removal process most commonly used on eyebrows. The court found that the requirements, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

R Street RESTORE Act Scorecard

State and local officials charged with selecting and funding projects under the RESTORE Act must carefully prioritize. Toward that end, the R Street Institute has created a scorecard …

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 …

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 …

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 …

R Street praises Texas budget bill

AUSTIN, Texas (May 28, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Texas Legislature today for both providing tax relief and restraining spending growth in the new state …

R Street urges Texas Legislature to oppose S.B. 900

R Street is a free-market think tank dedicated to limited, effective government, free markets and responsible environmental stewardship. One of R Street’s core focus areas is insurance reform, …

Insurance bills could have a big impact on Texas

Most people find insurance regulation boring, and maybe that’s understandable. But in a state with some of the highest home insurance rates in the nation, Texans have good …

Fixing the Texas tax-cut stand-off

As the Texas Legislature nears the end of its biennial session, the biggest issue on the table is how best to cut taxes. The state House has proposed a …

R Street praises Texas Legislature for strengthening rights of property owners

AUSTIN, Tex. (May 13, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Texas Legislature for passing S.B, 1626, a bill to strengthen homeowners’ rights to choose how to …

Texas moves closer to hail insurance reform

There’s one month left to go in the Texas legislative session, and things are starting to get interesting. On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed S.B. 1628, a bill designed …

Texas moves to abolish renewable energy mandates (but much damage has been done)

Texas has always been big on energy. The state's long history of oil and gas production is well-known. And on the electric generation side, Texas ranks first in the nation in nuclear …

Testimony on fraud in Texas hail claims

Chairman Frullo, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a nonprofit, free-market think tank that specializes …

Testimony on Texas Windstorm Insurance Authority reform

Chairman Frullo, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a nonprofit, free-market think tank that specializes …

Testimony on Texas auto franchise rules

Chairman Smith, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a nonprofit, free-market think tank headquartered in …

R Street urges Texas to restore local control of pension plans  

AUSTIN, Tex. (April 20, 2015) - The R Street Institute expressed strong support for H.B. 2608, under consideration today by the Texas state House Pension Committee. Sponsored by Rep. …

A TWIA by any other name

As I’ve written ppreviously, Texas’ market for coastal windstorm insurance is in dire need of reform. Insurance rates for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, a state-run agency that …

Don’t let local control undermine the Texas model

Texas has always been fiercely protective of its prerogatives as a state. From challenging federal regulatory overreach in court to maintaining our own electric grid, we are willing …

Testimony to Texas House Energy Resources Committee

Chairman, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am the Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a non-profit, free-market think tank headquartered in …

Testimony to Texas Senate Committee on Natural Resources

Chairman Fraser, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am the Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a non-profit, free-market think tank headquartered …

Are casinos the solution to TWIA’s woes?

When it comes to hurricane insurance, Texas is in trouble. The state-run Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has more than $77 billion in potential liabilities, but only a few …

Bring Texas liquor laws into the 21st century

It’s been more than 80 years since America ended its ill-fated experiment with prohibition. Yet the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is still littered with provisions that serve little …

San Antonio must continue to revisit rideshare ordinance

Ridesharing reform is coming to San Antonio, but so far it’s been a bumpy road. In December, the San Antonio City Council voted 7-2 to impose a set of …

It’s tax break week in Texas

The Texas state Senate this week is holding hearings on a whole slew of tax reform bills. Starting yesterday and continuing today and tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee …

Building houses on sandy ground

In the summer of 2004, I packed all of my worldly belongings into a small U-Haul trailer and made the trek from Central Texas to the Florida Panhandle. …

R Street welcomes Texas bills to modernize liquor laws

AUSTIN, Texas (Feb.18, 2015) – The R Street Institute welcomed bills introduced in both houses of the Texas Legislature that would modernize alcohol regulation by removing anticompetitive provisions …

Don’t ignore RESTORE

Depending on the outcome of ongoing litigation, Texas soon may find itself the recipient of a sizable windfall. But the state shouldn’t fall victim to the temptation to …

The inevitability of the sharing economy

Uber, AirBnB and other companies that mine the so-called “sharing economy” continue to face legal and regulatory challenges, both in the United States and internationally. At heart, these services …

$7 billion just disappeared on the Gulf Coast

Right now, a federal court in Louisiana is wrapping up the penalty phase of the trial against BP to determine the oil company's negligence under the federal Clean …

Six reasons Texas should kill the margin tax

One of the most basic laws of economics is that if you tax something, you get less of it. So why is business-loving Texas one of the few states …

R Street disappointed by Hunter bill to reform TWIA

AUSTIN, Texas (January 15, 2015) – New legislation introduced by state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, would take the wrong approach to reforming the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, …

Texas Legislature should address hail litigation, R Street study finds

AUSTIN, Texas (Jan. 15, 2015) – With insurance claim litigation over hail damage at an all-time high in Texas, the Legislature should make tort reform a priority in …

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. …

Texas craft brewers sue for freedom from distributors

During its last session nearly two years ago, the Texas Legislature passed groundbreaking reforms to allow the state’s craft breweries greater freedom to operate. But thanks to a …

Taxi trouble in Texas

Texas has a well-deserved reputation for being a freedom-loving state. We like our regulations same as we like our steaks: rare. That, at any rate, is the stereotype, and …

Will San Antonio welcome or reject ridesharing?

When talk turns to cultivating a local high-tech economy, Internet companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and other Silicon Valley giants tend to come to mind. Certainly these companies …

New portal will help alleviate Texas’ unfunded storm liability

Gulf coast states have long struggled to deal with the increased risk of property damage in hurricane-prone coastal areas. In Texas, we have increasingly relied on TWIA (the …

Keeping the Texas budget lean

Mark Twain famously observed that the two things you don’t want to see being made are laws and sausages. But when it comes to the state budget, an …

Austin gets a C on taxi alternatives

Austin enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant, tech-friendly metropolis. But when it comes to the vehicle-for-hire market, the city could be doing a lot better. A new report …

Texas cities are losing control of fracking

Overall, conservatives in Texas had a very good election night earlier this month. Republicans took all the statewide offices, as indeed they have in every election since 1994, …

Gulf Coast spill money is starting to flow

On Monday, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced a second round of grants from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. The fund – established as part of the …

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 …

Will TDI hold the line on TWIA liability expansion?

The Texas Department of Insurance met Wednesday to consider whether to expand liability for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). State law caps the amount that TWIA can …

Come hear how Texas will benefit from a ‘conservative budget’

Next Monday, Nov. 10, I officially join R Street as its new Texas director. I'll be working on a variety of issues of critical importance to the Lone …

A big conservative city is about to strangle its sharing economy

Onerous new regulations in Houston, Texas, set to go into force this Tuesday, may end up shutting down some ride-sharing operations in the country's fourth most populous city …

With Texas windstorm insurance, what you don’t pay for, you won’t get

There’s an old saying in business: you get what you pay for. Yet all too often, government policy seems based on the hope that you can make costs …

‘Ike contingent’ pounding insurers with Texas hail claims

Insurance availability crises are nothing new. Nor is finger-pointing about what exactly causes them. In Texas, a red state that is nonetheless home to a robust plaintiffs' bar, …

R Street is looking for a Texas director

The R Street Institute, a free-market think tank based in Washington, is looking for a dynamic, super-smart, energetic person to serve as the director of its Texas office.  …

Ten great policy panels to vote for at SXSW

I recently wrote a short post highlighting the four panels we put forward for the 2015 SXSW Interactive conference, including the one I'll be on (along with folks from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the …

On politics, prosecutions and public perspective

On Aug. 15, 2014, a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, indicted Governor Rick Perry for abusing his official capacity and for coercion of a public servant. The criminal …

R Street testimony to Houston City Council on ridesharing

      Remarks by Steven Titch Associate Fellow, R Street Institute Re: Legalization of ride-sharing services Houston City Council meeting Aug. 5, 2014 Good Afternoon, I would like to thank the City Council for the opportunity …

Letter to Houston City Council on transportation network companies

    Houston City Council City Hall Annex 900 Bagby Street First Floor Houston, TX 77002 July 31, 2014 Dear Honorable Council Members, By approving the proposal to allow vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft to operate, …

Don’t take the Texas GOP’s crazy platform too seriously

In recent weeks, more than a few groups – including one on whose board I serve – have denounced various aspects of the Texas Republican Party's platform. Indeed, there's …

Uber and Lyft prepare for Houston showdown

When Uber entered the Houston market in February it provoked the same outcry from the city's only two cab companies. The city code does prohibit drivers without livery …

Deepwater Horizon restoration funding must be transparent and avoid cronyism

Next month will mark four years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded fifty miles off the Louisiana coast, killing eleven men and spilling over four million barrels …

R Street Institute applauds efforts to depopulate Texas Windstorm Insurance Association

AUSTIN, Tex. (Feb. 17, 2014) -- The R Street Institute welcomed news of a study to examine the benefits of enabling private insurers to voluntarily take homeowners policies …

Free-market groups call on Gulf Coast governors to use RESTORE Act wisely

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2014) -- Governors of the five Gulf Coast states – all Republicans – have a unique opportunity to ensure the windfalls those states are set …

Letter to Gulf Coast governors on RESTORE Act

Jan. 30, 2014 Dear Govs. Perry, Jindal, Bryant, Bentley, and Scott - As you know, Congress passed the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy Act, better known …

RESTORE Act is key to flood insurance affordability

The following was co-authored by R Street Senior Fellow R.J. Lehmann. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, passed as part of 2012's transportation bill, is an important step forward …

A new red state slush fund?

The Gulf Coast states — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas — are all governed by Republican governors and have Republican majorities in both legislative chambers. With the …

The oil spill windfall: A test for Republicans

A federal court in Louisiana will decide in the next few months how much oil company BP must pay in Clean Water Act penalties as a result of …

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 …

Joint R Street-Pelican Institute report calls for careful oversight of RESTORE ACT

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 19, 2013) – Nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it is crucial that conservatives engage as local authorities implement federal law passed …

Restore Gulf treasure

Regarding "Maintaining a healthy Gulf Coast is key to local economy" (Page B7, Wednesday), Sinclair Oubre is absolutely correct when he argues that the RESTORE Act presents an …

Don’t mess with Texans’ emails, revisited

Just a week ago, we noted that the Texas Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Rick Perry that would force state law enforcement to get a warrant if …

Texas wind pool wants $500 million in pre-event notes

On Tuesday, the board of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association agreed to explore additional funding options, after the Legislature was unable to pass any reforms during the recent …

Don’t mess with Texas emails

The Texas Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Perry's desk that would require a warrant to open any email, no matter how old the email is. Ars Technica has …

R Street welcomes appointment of Texas insurance commissioner

AUSTIN, Texas (May 28, 2013) -- The R Street Institute today welcomed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Julia Rathgeber as commissioner of the Texas Department of Insurance. Rathgeber …

Texas House passes ban on texting

Rarely do Texas trial lawyers and "red mea"t Republicans find common ground. But they did this week on the Texas House floor during the statewide texting-while-driving ban debate. A …

Reinsurance collateral modernization in Texas

The Texas Legislature is considering changes to its reinsurance collateral rules based on the updated Credit for Reinsurance Model Law promulgated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. …

R Street urges Texas to adopt tough conflict of interest standards

AUSTIN, Texas (April 2, 2013) –- Financial advisers that work with Texas state agencies to place bonds should be held to the same conflict of interest standards that …

Who navigates Obamacare’s navigators?

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed to address both the cost of medical treatment through insurance and the fact that many people didn't have …

Texas House bill would create Hurricane Mitigation Week

AUSTIN, Texas (March 6, 2013) -– The R Street Institute today welcomed the introduction of legislation in the Texas House of Representatives creating an annual sales tax holiday …

Texas bills look to address mitigation, wind pool

This week, two important pieces of legislation began moving through the Texas Legislature. H.B. 1890 was filed by Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, and S.B. 784 by Sen. Juan …

Texas lawmaker calls for tough conflict of interest standards for wind pool

AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 27, 2013) –- The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and Texas Public Finance Authority would be subject to stringent conflict of interests standards under new legislation …

Texas bill offers tax relief for hurricane preparedness

AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 25, 2013) –- The R Street Institute today welcomed the introduction of Texas legislation establishing a sales tax holiday for individuals and businesses who purchase …

Texas panel gives insurers more time to answer regulatory requests

The Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee heard testimony on S.B. 183 this morning.  The bill establishes a more reasonable period of time for private insurance companies to …

Keeping up with the Texas Legislature

Want to keep up with the Texas Legislature? If you are into high tech toys, then you are in luck. These are a few of my favorite tech things... On …

Luck of the draw

Yesterday, Texas state senators drew lots to determine if they would serve a two- or four-year term before defending their seats at the ballot box again. One of the …

Texas lawmakers already looking to raid Rainy Day Fund

Swearing in for the Texas Legislature will open with a sunnier financial outlook than previously expected. State Comptroller Susan Combs announced a $101.4 billion revenue estimate for the …

Funds needed for a rainy day

Though Texas escaped another hurricane season without a catastrophic event, a big storm is brewing at the Capitol over how to fund the state’s windstorm pool. The current funding …

Heartland’s Stanek on the ‘Beach House Bailout’

Our old colleague at the Heartland Institute, Steve Stanek, has a great piece this week in The Washington Times on the laughably named "Taxpayer Protection Act," the latest …

R Street welcomes bill repealing Texas’ margins tax

AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 14, 2012) – The R Street Institute today welcomed new legislation filed by Texas state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, that would repeal the state’s …

The blue in Texas

Though the GOP easily held its majority in both the Texas House and the Senate, Democrats landed major victories to secure their voice will be heard in the …

Conflict of interest standards and lowering coverage limits are key to TWIA reform

AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 1, 2012) – Reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association should include tough conflict of interest standards, a roll-back of coverage for high-value properties and …

Distractions

An internal email sent back in July by Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman is keeping lawmakers from focusing on productive steps to reforming the troubled Texas Windstorm Insurance Association …

Testimony to Texas Joint Committee on Oversight of Windstorm Insurance

In testimony scheduled for an Oct. 19 hearing of the Texas Legislature's Joint Committee on Oversight of Windstorm Insurance, R Street Texas Director Julie Drenner proposes lawmakers limit …

Recommendations for TWIA improvement go unheeded

In response to the question of how to adequately fund the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), the Texas Department of Insurance hired Alvarez & Marsal Insurance Advisory Services …

Property insurance objectives in Texas’ 2013 legislative session

The attached is a preliminary outline of issues the Texas Legislature should address with regard to property insurance and, in particular, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, during the …

Texas lawmakers gear up for pension reform battle

The battle lines are being drawn in Austin over public pensions in anticipation of a budgetary fight during Texas' next legislative session. At last week’s hearing of the House …

Remarks on Florida perspective regarding state insurance pools

This testimony was provided Sept. 12 by R Street Florida Director Christian Cámara to the Texas Legislature's Joint Interim Committee to Study Seacoast Territory Insurance on the State …

Texas seacoast panel finds TWIA solutions hard to find

During the first hearing of Texas' Joint Seacoast Territory Insurance Committee earlier this week, three different insurance-related agencies unequivocally told lawmakers the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association was not …

Criminal investigation launched over Hurricane Ike claim

Texas homeowner Jim Warner has been locked in a legal battle with State Farm over denial of insurance claims for the damages to his home from Hurricane Ike. …

Texas state senator asks governor to sack insurance commish

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, is calling on Gov. Rick Perry to replace Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman, charging that in the year since she was appointed …

Tracking Texas transparency

Transparency has been a key concept not only throughout this election cycle, but in the upcoming budget fight at the Texas Capitol. Where does public money come from, …

Kitzman gets an earful in Corpus Christi

  Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman is hearing an earful from the coastal community as she listens to residents’ concerns in the Corpus Christi area. Coastal occupants are complaining about …

Texas commish fires back

Deluged by a mass-email campaign initiated by consumer group Texas Watch, state Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman responded this week with a thorough fisking of the commenters' questions, demands …

Texas wind pool should solve funding problems before making them worse

AUSTIN, Texas (Aug. 8, 2012) -- A decision by the board of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to raise the policy limits on both residential and commercial policies …

The shifting sands of Galveston Island

The ever-changing coastline on Galveston Island’s West End is creating myriad dilemmas for citizens and government officials. First, beachfront landholders woke up to the fact that their once-public beaches …

HUD holding millions of relief dollars hostage

Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski is taking on U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan over $589 million in disaster relief funds. The federal government is threatening to …

Texas voter ID trial wraps up

Attorneys for the State of Texas have not been lacking for work recently. Last week, arguments in the Texas voter identification trial wrapped up in U.S. District Court  for the …

Help cut Texas’ red tape

Texas state Rep. Bill Callegari, R-Katy, chair of the state House Government Efficiency and Reform Committee, launched an innovative new tool yesterday to engage citizens to fight onerous regulations …

Texas should look to building codes, competition to ease property rates

AUSTIN, Texas (July 10, 2012) -- Texas will always face an unusually high concentration of natural catastrophe risks, but there are steps that lawmakers could take to make property insurance …

Testimony to Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce

In testimony delivered July 10, 2012 to the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, R Street President Eli Lehrer discusses the state of the homeowners insurance market …

TDI’s report on insurance rates: You need to go beyond the statutes

Sometime around mid-afternoon on July 10th, Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman will sit down at a witness table before the Texas Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee and launch …

Texas primes for primary run-offs

Early voting for Texas' primary run-offs begins July 23. There are four statewide races for Republicans and one for the Democrats. By far, the most contentious is the race …

TWIA solvency concerns finally on Texas lawmakers’ radar

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has only about $3.6 billion in claims-paying resources “under a best case scenario,” even though it could face losses of $14.2 billion from …

Florida can and should fix its own insurance problems

You have to hand it to the Palm Beach Post. First, the paper sends out a reporter to a press conference with Gov. Rick Scott to ask his …

R Street report card ranks Vermont best, Florida worst regulatory environments for insurance

The R Street Institute published its first research project as an independent institution today, a report card of the insurance regulatory environments in each of the 50 states. …

R Street Institute publishes 2012 Insurance Regulation Report Card

WASHINGTON (June 4, 2012) – The R Street Institute, a new national non-profit public policy think tank dedicated to free markets and real solutions, today released its first …

FIRE Podcast- J. Robert Hunter: Insurers’ disappearing cat risk

[podcast]http://redesign.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/fire022912.mp3[/podcast] It isn’t often that we find ourselves in agreement with J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. The former Texas insurance commissioner and …

Letter from Austin: Kitzman drops bomb on TWIA

Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman dropped a bomb on the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), recommending it be restructured to address the long-term sustainability of the program. As is often …

Telematics are the future of auto insurance

Writing at National Underwriter’s PropertyCasualty360 site, Robert Regis Hyle, editor-in-chief of Tech Decisions magazine, sees the future of auto insurance dominated by “telematics,” those advanced modeling systems that …

Texas commissioner calls TWIA ‘unsustainable’

Calling the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s present structure “unsustainable,” Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman has put forth a proposal to hire consultants to reduce the state-backed insurer’s exposure …

Letter from Austin: The trouble with Texas taxes

In 2006, Texas fundamentally changed how it taxed businesses in the state.  It replaced its long-standing franchise tax on businesses chartered in the state with a new tax …

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 …

Letter from Austin: Senate chair wants to bring down rates

With a sigh of relief, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency closes out the calendar year absent a major hurricane or other severe weather event. Only a hailstorm in …

Letter from Austin: TWIA considers alternatives to reinsurance

Four state senators, four representatives and a member of the public have been appointed to Texas’ Joint Interim Committee to Study Seacoast Territory Insurance, charged with examining alternative …

Letter from Austin: TWIA more transparent on legal costs

Earlier this month, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s management offered an update on implementation of the reform legislation passed in June. The report displayed an overall commitment to …

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