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OpenMarket: January 2013

  • Update On D.C.'s Driverless Car Legalization Legislation

    January 4, 2013
    In November, I noted in The Washington Post and here on Open Market that a bill introduced in the D.C. Council contained two dangerously flawed provisions and another unnecessary and overcautious provision. Basically, the original bill 1) nonsensically mandated that autonomous vehicles operate using alternative fuels, 2) established a special tax that would further reduce consumer purchases, and 3) required that a licensed driver be in the driver's seat of the vehicle during autonomous operation, which is unnecessary and will restrict potential testing and functionality (admittedly, this...
  • Not So Rosey Facts About Green Schools

    January 4, 2013
    It is amazing how public officials will blindly pass mandates even when evidence is abundant to show their policies will prove costly and counterproductive. My colleague Todd Myers highlights one very good example of such regulatory stupidity in a recent blog post. Washington state officials are mandating green building standards even though  such standards are proving costly to taxpayers around the country because they have raised -- rather than lowered -- energy usage. Myers explains:
    Pointing to a recent television news story, the House Democrats yesterday touted the...
  • Mice Study Questions BPA-Obesity Link

    January 4, 2013
    Science is a long-term process that only brings meaning when numerous, scientifically robust studies produce consistent results. But when it comes to politically loaded issues -- such as chemical safety -- a single study with a "weak association" and a small pool of subjects can capture headlines ad nauseam, creating the impression that consumers face a looming public health crisis where none really exists. As readers of this blog and that of my chemical policy coalition know well, bisphenol A (BPA) -- a chemical used to make hard plastics and resins that line food containers -- is the subject of many such headlines. Studies on the substance  come out regularly and sensationalist news stories and blog posts from BPA detractors suggest that each study provides yet...
  • The Constitution And Broad First Amendment Freedoms Are Obsolete, Say Left-Leaning Judges And Constitutional Law Professors

    January 4, 2013
    The progressive Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman argued Monday in The New York Times that we should just ignore the Constitution and its limits, since it led to the "fiscal cliff" (a combination of painful tax increases and long-overdue spending cuts that would have cut the federal budget deficit in half). “As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its...
  • Settlement: FTC Ends Google Antitrust Investigation

    January 3, 2013
    Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cleared Google of accusations of "Search Bias," and inappropriately harming rivals. The investigation lasted nearly two years. CEI released a statement today, "Web Users Dodge Bullet as FTC Closes Google Probe." Google rivals naturally object, but those protests are revolts against the objective reality that people like Google. The FTC did secure certain concessions from Google, which will alter how it presents bits of information, such as that from review sites such as Yelp (a criticized practice it was already modifying in some areas); and Google will make it easier for firms to advertise across other...
  • CEI Podcast For January 3, 2013: The Fiscal Cliff Meets The Costberg

    January 3, 2013
    Congress made an unsatisfying compromise deal this week to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff. But Vice President for policy Wayne Crews thinks this is just the tip of the costberg, and Congress should tackle a more fundamental issue: the $1.8 trillion regulatory state.
  • Other December doings

    January 3, 2013
    In addition to the objection to the Citigroup Securities settlement, we were busy in December:
  • New Year, New Laws

    January 2, 2013
    More than 400 new laws came into effect today.
  • Chicago Voters Reelect Legally Insane Judge

    January 2, 2013
    In November, Chicago voters re-elected a legally insane judge charged with a crime of violence. "The Cook County Democratic Party supported her" in her re-election bid. The day after Judge Cynthia Brim “won re-election to the Cook County Circuit Court" with 63.5 percent of the vote, she “showed up in court — not as a judge, but as a defendant in a battery case." Some "progressive"...
  • 2012's Year-End Regulatory Report Card

    January 2, 2013
    Both 2011 and 2010 finished with over 81,000 pages in the Federal Register, as tallied in Ten Thousand Commandments. These were the highest page counts ever. Of course page counts don't tell you much; rules of a few pages might be burdensome, lengthy rules might impose comparatively less of a headache. It's now the second day of 2013. On December 31, 2012, the Federal Register added 441 pages. That brought the year's total to 77,250 pages in the hard-copy (or PDF, as is customary for many readers today) edition. In my own adjusted tally, which will account for some skips and blanks, I find 76,875 pages. So at least in terms of the page count, we're not at a record level despite an imminent surge of rules affecting energy efficiency, health care, and finance. Rule flows slowed prior to the...

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