West

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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. …

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, …

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, …

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. …

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 …

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, …

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

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

Oregon town ponders onerous short-term rental rule

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

20+ conservative organizations to Utah State Legislature: Oppose online sales tax proposal

January 27, 2016 Dear Utah State legislator: On behalf of our organizations and the millions of citizens we represent, we write in strong opposition to the online sales tax proposal …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Nevada lawmakers send bill legalizing ridesharing to Gov. Sandoval

There was no rest for lawmakers in Carson City over the weekend as the Nevada Legislature was hard at work in the early hours of Saturday morning. The …

Nevada should embrace disruption in energy markets

Things are changing rapidly in America's energy markets. The shale revolution of the past decade already has brought about enormous changes both in the price of energy and in …

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 …

Legal ridesharing comes to Portland…sort of

Uber is operating legally in Portland, for now. A pilot program adopted by the Portland City Council has given transportation network companies the green light to operate for …

Nevada Senate gives green light to ridesharing

With just three weeks to go in Nevada’s legislative calendar, a bill that will give the green light to hitherto illegal ridesharing activity has cleared an important hurdle …

Testimony on Oregon carbon-pricing proposals

My name is Ian Adams and I am the Western region director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a non-profit, free-market think tank, headquartered in Washington, …

R Street congratulates Gov. Herbert on signing insurance modernization bill  

SALT LAKE CITY (April 13, 2015) – The R Street Institute congratulated Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for today's signing of H.B. 141, which will modernize arcane insurance terms …

Hawaii considers bill to regulate ride-sharing…in 2112

No two states are the same. What passes for polite in New England may be considered downright abrasive in the Pacific Northwest. What a Californian finds politically correct, …

The West not yet fully won for ridesharing

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

Testimony to Utah House Business and Labor Committee

Chair Peterson, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, my name is Ian Adams and I am the Western region director of the R Street Institute. Thank you for …

Support Montana’s warrant-for-content bill

Dear Austin Knudsen, Debby Barrett, Chuck Hunter, and Jon Sesso: We, the undersigned companies and organizations, are writing to urge speedy consideration and passage of Montana House Bill 444. …

Letter to Oregon Legislative Assembly about HB 2546

I submit this comment and request to amend H.B. 2546 in my capacity as a public health physician and my role as senior fellow for tobacco policy with …

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 …

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 …

Letter to Washington Legislature on e-cigarettes

Dear Speaker Chopp,­­­ In the next few days, you and your colleagues will again consider measures that impose significant new taxes on e-cigarette products and will serve to make …

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 …

Nitzkin on Oregon’s proposed e-cigarette ban

R Street's Dr. Joel Nitzkin testified yesterday before the Oregon Legislature regarding bills that would ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors and ban their use in areas where …

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 …

Centennial Institute on Renewable Portfolio Standards

Renewable Portfolio Standards are policies that mandate electricity producers generate certain percentages of their power from renewable standards. As of 2012, 30 states had RPS mandates and another …

Hawaii’s Legislature hopes to avoid new taxes

Having already witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Obama the first time around, I opted this week instead to attend the opening day of the newly elected Hawaiian …

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