Commercial Freedom

The moral case for free trade

Make no mistake: The facts are on the side of free trade. There’s a reason it receives nearly universal support from professional economists — a notoriously disagreeable bunch …

Open letter to Congress: Reject special-interest protectionism, preserve choice and competition for contact lens consumers

Dear Member of Congress: The undersigned organizations from across the ideological spectrum encourage you to uphold competition and choice in the contact lens marketplace, which is exemplified by the …

Freeing the Booze: A recent court case could upend the alcohol industry

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2017) – A recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision could be a game-changer when it comes to ending oppressive and protectionist alcohol regulation regimes across …

Reports of the taxi industry’s death have been greatly exaggerated

Co-written with Jonathan Haggerty  It seems like nearly every time ridesharing is brought up in New York City, someone will inevitably bring up the dramatic decline in taxi medallion …

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 …

R Street applauds Texas passage of H.B. 100

AUSTIN, Texas (May 17, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomes today's vote by the Texas Senate to approve H.B. 100, legislation that creates uniform rules across the …

Free-market coalition urges lawmakers to support overtime choice bill

From Inside Sources: A coalition letter from free-market advocates urged lawmakers Wednesday to support a bill that is designed to provide employees flexibility in how they get compensated for …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Free-market groups warn California DMV not to derail self-driving cars

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 25, 2017) – The R Street Institute joined today with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TechFreedom and the International Center for Law and Economics is calling …

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 …

R Street applauds Texas House passage of H.B. 100

 AUSTIN, Texas (April 19, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomes today's vote by the Texas House of Representatives to approve H.B. 100, legislation to create uniform rules …

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 …

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 …

How cronyism threatens Louisiana’s craft breweries

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

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, …

Caleb Watney talks self-driving cars on KVOI

In light of last month's high-speed crash in Tempe, Arizona, involving a self-driving Uber car (reports say the car had the right of way), R Street Tech Policy …

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 …

Short-term rentals are an opportunity Missouri can’t afford to miss

Whether it’s the cars in their garages or the rooms in their homes, Americans are realizing they’re leaving money on the table when their property remains idle. House …

Electric-vehicle charging stations could be cure for boring highway rest stops

WASHINGTON (April 6, 2017) – Limitations on commercial activity at federal highway rest stops have rendered them dreary and unappealing. Meanwhile, electric vehicles have been hampered by 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 …

‘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, …

It’s time to replace fuel-economy rules with clean tax cuts

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2017) – The current federal approach to regulating vehicle efficiency has resulted in costlier vehicles, few discernable benefits for consumers and a mess of shifting …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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). …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

Dieterle talks distilling restrictions on ‘Free to Brew’ podcast

R Street Governance Project Fellow Jarrett Dieterle joined the Free to Brew podcast to discuss regulatory issues around alcohol distillers, particularly in Virginia, which has some of the …

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, …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Ian Adams on KVOI in Tucson

R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams and Mike Shaw of KVOI in Tucson, Arizona, to discuss the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act) Act …

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 …

Adams talks self-driving cars on Tech Policy Podcast

R Street Institute Senior Fellow Ian Adams recently joined TechDirt's Tech Policy Podcast for a discussion about the many implications of autonomous vehicles. Full audio of the show is …

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 …

Video: Orange County short-term rentals panel

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Yes, fewer traffic fatalities is a good thing!

Outlet bias is a hallmark of the bored and lazy, and also of The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro. Taken by the recent headline of a piece I wrote with …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Coalition urges Congress to reject the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016

Dear Member of Congress: We the undersigned organizations, representing millions of taxpayers and consumers, urge you to reject the “Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016” – S. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

War over contact lenses tricks consumers, treats optometrists

It's Halloween season, which means it’s that time every year when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tries to spook consumers out of wearing costume or decorative contact lenses. …

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" …

More than a dozen groups oppose the Surface Transportation Board’s efforts to re-regulate the freight rail industry

Dear Chairman Thune, Chair Fischer, and Ranking Members Nelson and Booker: We write today to strongly oppose efforts to re-regulate our nation’s freight rail industry currently being considered by …

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 …

R Street Criticizes New York’s Anti-Airbnb Law

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent signing of a New York State law that institutes a fine of between $1,000 and $7,500 for posting a property on a short-term …

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 …

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 …

It’s not about Tesla, it’s about Michigan’s future

Michigan has made great strides in its dramatic rebound from the economic doldrums of the Great Recession, helped by efforts to reduce unnecessary red tape and to create …

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 …

Alabama’s ABC is little more than a Prohibition hangover

With all the focus on Alabama's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) cracking down on sidewalk alcohol sales, it might have been easy to miss its stern warning about following alcohol …

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 …

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 …

Unusual drinks (part 1)

There is something very satisfying about having a go-to drink. After a long day of work and kid care, a glass of whiskey is very welcome. The Kosar …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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

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

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

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

California legalizes rental cars for ridesharing

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

From congressional bootleggers to Beltway booze bans

From American Spectator: 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 …

Buying a house as an Airbnb investment strategy is a risky move

From MarketWatch: “There’s just this incredible patchwork that’s developing across these cities,” said Andrew Moylan, executive director of R Street Institute, a nonprofit public policy research organization. For example, New …

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 …

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 …

What others are saying

From Chicago Tribune: For all its appeal across the political spectrum, the narrative of the gig economy has a major problem: There is very little broad statistical evidence that …

Backlash against sharing economy worthy of the Luddite label

From Daily Caller: "A widely publicized report commissioned by the Freelancers Union in 2014 found what appears to be strong evidence of a growing gig economy: About a third …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Adams talks driverless cars on ABC 10 Sacramento

R Street Senior Fellow Ian Adams joined ABC 10 in Sacramento, California, recently to talk about the future of driverless cars and what they could mean for auto …

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 …

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 …

Officials ‘drone’ on about issues they don’t understand

From Reason: 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 our …

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 …

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 …

History Revised: Meet the slave responsible for Jack Daniel’s whiskey

From Men's Journal: Kevin Kosar, senior fellow at the R Street Institute think tank and author of Whiskey: A Global History, says it’s a difficult task to accurately tell …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

June 22 roundup

From Overlawyered: Zach Graves, “Optometrists Push For State Laws Blocking Online Eye Exams” [TechDirt] …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Pennsylvania’s drinks reform changes too little

From American Spectator: 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 …

Worry about bad marijuana—not Big Marijuana

From Brookings Institution: The three-tier system aimed to deter the vertical integration of the tied-house days, but now is controversial with critics who argue that the distribution tier is …

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 …

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 …

DC takes aim at Airbnb, hits existing rental industry

From The Freeman: The DC-based R Street Institute, which has graded cities by their friendliness to short-term rentals in its Roomscore index, notes that as short-term rentals have spread across …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

R Street Institute welcomes Uber settlements in California, Massachusetts

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2016) – Concluding a legal battle that began last year, ridesharing company Uber announced it will pay $100 million to settle two class-action lawsuits initiated …

California’s Soviet-like kangaroo ‘courtroom’

It’s hard to spend time on Facebook without finding examples of “Godwin’s Law”: The longer an online discussion goes on, the higher the likelihood someone will use a …

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, …

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 …

Free-market groups support American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016

Dear Chairman Brady, On behalf of our organizations, we write in support of your legislation, the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016,” which would revise and improve the process …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Free-market groups to Congress: Don’t grant IRS authority to license tax preparers

March 8, 2016 Dear Representative: The 12 undersigned organizations together ask Congress to oppose H.R. 4141 and similar efforts to grant the IRS new powers to license tax preparers. As …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Seven cities top R Street annual ‘Ridescore’ for transportation friendliness

WASHINGTON (Dec. 17, 2015) - In the second year of analyzing data from 50 of the largest U.S. cities, seven cities received the top score for friendliness to …

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 …

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 …

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 …

A new gin for a new century

Gin has had a weird and wild ride over the past 500 years. The Dutch were producing the piney drink in the 1500s, but adding herbs to liquor …

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 …

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 …

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 …

‘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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Daily fantasy sports and the case for legal online gambling

If daily online fantasy sports contests are legal, why aren’t online poker or other casino-type gambling games? I’m not against the idea of playing fantasy sports for money, I …

Free America’s beverage markets!

It is difficult to understate just how politicized America’s alcoholic beverage markets are. And I say “markets” because the country does not have a single nationwide market. Rather, …

Congress looks to reduce the regulatory behemoth

The Code of Federal Regulations is more than 170,000 pages long. How did it become such a behemoth? Simple: every year, about 4,000 new regulations are proposed, and …

Jersey Strong…but not strong enough to pump gas

As a New Jersey native who has spent most of his adult life living elsewhere, I often find myself standing up to defend my much-maligned homeland against the …

Meet the money behind the effort to keep Alabama in the liquor retail business

"If you thought this bill was not going anywhere; that it would die or get killed like it always has, you need to think again!" Bob Leavell is concerned …

Credit unions should focus on the middle class

As the 2016 presidential and congressional elections draw nearer, credit unions and their representatives undoubtedly will be meeting with any number of potential candidates for office. For those …

Congress should vote to override Obama’s latest veto

Congress returns from its two-week break on Monday. If it has any respect for itself, it will promptly schedule a vote on President Obama’s most recent veto. The nixed …

Limited government? Four Republicans keep Alabama in state-run retail liquor business

You'd expect it from Democrats in the Alabama Senate - they've never met a state-run operation they did not want to preserve. But Republicans in the Alabama Senate? Last …

Moylan testimony on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act

The video below features R Street Executive Director Andrew Moylan in his testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations during their March …

Letter on Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code reform

The Honorable Kevin Eltife Chairman, Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee Texas State Capitol Austin, TX 78711 Dear Chairman Eltife: My name is Josiah Neeley, and I am Texas director of the R …

Last call for Alabama’s state-run retail liquor operations

In the 21st century, why does the State of Alabama need to be in the liquor business? Frankly, that is the question state legislators need to consider, and Sen. …

Testimony on H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act

The attached testimony from R Street Executive Director and Senior Fellow Andrew Moylan was delivered to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations …

The myth of the child poker player

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations is scheduled hold hearings today on a federal bill aimed at stopping states from legalized online gambling. The Restoration …

Free-market groups urge senators to support the Small Business Regulatory Sunset Act

Dear Senators, On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the organizations below, we urge you to support Sen. Mark Kirk and Sen. Steve Daines’ recently introduced “Small …

Repeal law that forces expensive burdens on retailers selling adult beverages

In Florida, you can buy beer and wine at your local supermarket. Some even sell it straight out of the tap and allow you to taste it before …

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 …

Indiana passes e-cig regs, but stops short of vaping ban

The State of Indiana is moving to regulate e-cigarettes and the liquids used for “vaping.” The Indiana House and Senate both have passed legislation that would ban sales …

Florida may move forward on TNC regs

Florida lawmakers this month filed legislation in both houses of the Legislature to regulate transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft.  The two companion bills seek to establish …

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 …

R Street welcomes bill to liberalize Florida liquor laws

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2015) – The R Street Institute welcomed today's vote by the Florida House Business and Professions Subcommittee passing H.B. 107, also known as the …

Testimony to the Florida House Business and Professions Subcommittee

As Florida director of the R Street Institute, one of my responsibilities is to identify emerging free-market issues in my state and suggest to our national office in …

Alcohol delivery and your smart phone: a match made in heaven

In a world where the lines between the digital and the physical are blurry and fluid, constantly crossing and morphing and mashing up into a new version of …

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 …

Lawsuits against premium booze makers may have major impact on spirits labeling

So-called "premium" spirits, which are made in smaller batches and are traditionally more expensive than ordinary mass-produced spirits, are helping to fuel growth in alcohol sales in the …

Cheers! A day worth celebrating

Even in the middle of a busy holiday season I find it is worth taking time to commemorate the end of Prohibition. Eighty-one years ago today the 18th …

Does simply calling for Judge Fuller to resign send the right message about domestic violence and the federal bench?

In August, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was arrested for assaulting his wife and charged with misdemeanor battery. The Atlanta Police report noted that Fuller's wife "explained that …

Four other ethnic groups who could challenge pro team trademarks

Today's decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to vacate six of the Washington Redskins' trademarks on grounds that they are "disparaging …

Service, restrictions force CU fans to abandon CU

This piece was co-written by R Street President Eli Lehrer. We both love credit unions. The free-market think tank we lead considers them a vital part of America's financial …

Testimony on Michigan ticket freedom bill

Testimony on House Bill 5108 Alan Smith, R Street Institute Midwest Director Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Michigan Senate Government Operations Committee Good afternoon Chairman Richardville and members of Senate leadership constituting the …

Five reasons why online poker is here to stay

The annual World Series of Poker got underway in Las Vegas Tuesday. Poker enthusiasts are looking to see if legalization of online poker has an impact on the …

R Street applauds progress toward ticket freedom in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 27, 2014) - The R Street Institute welcomed today's passage by the Michigan House of Representatives of HB 5108, which would repeal Michigan's archaic law …

How can businesses ‘regulate their rivals’ in a bill eliminating regulations?

Fred Campbell, executive director of a new group called the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology, had a curious piece on retransmission consent on The Hill’s Congress Blog …

R Street praises progress toward ticket freedom in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 30, 2014) – The R Street Institute welcomed yesterday's vote by the state House Criminal Justice Committee approving legislation to repeal Michigan's archaic 83-year-old law …

Testimony to Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee

Testimony of Alan Smith, R Street Institute Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 Michigan House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee Good morning Chairman Heise, Vice Chairs Graves and Oakes and members of the Criminal …

Repeal duplicative USDA catfish inspection program in farm bill conference legislation

January 8, 2014 Honorable Debbie Stabenow U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture 328A Russell Senate Office Bldg Washington, DC, 20510 Honorable Thad Cochran U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture 328A Russell Senate Office Bldg Washington, DC, 20510 Honorable Frank …

Are we seeing the end of Baptist-bootlegger politics?

Thirty years ago, economist Bruce Yandle introduced the world in a classic essay to the pervasive power of "Bootleggers and Baptists," a catchphrase used to refer to any …

Consumers deserve open ticket markets

Like most Americans, I enjoy attending live entertainment events. But also like most Americans, I find the complex world of online ticket sales as user-friendly as the Healthcare.gov …

Why scalping opponents are losing their heads

When one thinks of ticket scalpers, one generally conjures a mental image of shady men waiting outside theaters offering scandalously overpriced tickets to late buyers from under several …

Huzzah! Europeans have purchased our brewery!

To listen to some of my beer snob friends talk, Belgium invaded Kansas this month. Figuratively, of course—the Belgians have not been serious aggressors since the times of …

A vindication of Juggalo society: Why America is increasingly down with the clown, and that’s ok

In February 2012, Cato Institute Vice President Gene Healy tweeted what may be the funniest think tank tweet to date: "Someday, the 'Think Tank Network' (TTN) will sponsor …

The sober way to legalize marijuana

As a general rule, Americans don't give much thought to Uruguay, a small South American republic with a population of 3.3 million. But Uruguay has embarked on a …

R Street launches urban project with ‘In My Backyard – DC’

WASHINGTON (Aug. 15, 2013) – The R Street Institute today announced the launch of a major new research and outreach project centered on urban affairs, with particular focus …

Toward a new and improved regulatory apparatus

The following was co-authored by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum. No one in Washington, D.C. is particularly happy with the nation’s current regulatory …

Alcohol vs. tobacco: State penalties for underage possession diverge

In their efforts to prevent teen smoking, tobacco control advocates focus almost exclusively on tobacco manufacturers. For example, a CDC press release for World No Tobacco Day (today, …

An agenda for regulatory reform: Think big (and small)

If they want to get serious about doing away with job-killing government regulations, congressional Republicans need to get practical about the battles they choose. Last session, Congress' deregulatory …

The right way to eliminate state income taxes

Even as the newly reelected president calls for ever-bigger government, a tax-slashing season has started in some Republican-leaning states. Efforts to eliminate or significantly cut state income taxes …

Finding a path for pot in the post-criminal world

Pot smokers with no medical justification finally broke through in November in a couple of states where citizen-initiated lawmaking allowed the state’s voters to decide to allow recreational marijuana …

Don’t let states tax beyond their borders

Current federal legislation, called the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate and the Marketplace Equity Act in the House, would undermine basic taxpayer protections, create an unleveled playing …

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 …

The case for ending Powerball

The chance to win over a half billion dollars in this week's Powerball drawing brought millions of Americans out to buy lottery tickets. (I was one of them.) …

Credit union lending bill would help small firms

(This piece was co-authored with John Arensmeyer, chief executive officer of the Small Business Majority.) A look at the numbers makes it clear that America's economy relies on small …

The decay of federalism

Within my own lifetime of several decades, I can remember a time when there was wide agreement among citizens of this country about issues that affected nearly everybody. …

Letter from Washington: Credit-scoring and the downside of market prices

Dealing with insurance-related credit scoring is like playing whack-a-mole: whenever one effort to ban the generally beneficial practice is defeated, another one pops up. At the National Conference …

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