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OpenMarket: February 2016

  • House Committee Narrowly Approves Eleanor Holmes Norton's Deadly E-Cigarette Science Denialism

    February 11, 2016

    Following three government reports in the 1980s highlighting the low cabin air quality caused by cigarette smoking and the health risks of passive smoke, Congress banned smoking aboard airliners.

    This prohibition is currently codified at 49 U.S.C. § 41706, and refers to “smoke” and “smoking,” which are banned on domestic and international flights. A popular new alternative to smoking is the electronic cigarette. Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not combust tobacco and do not produce smoke. Instead, they heat a liquid that generates vapor containing nicotine and is absorbed by the user’s lungs.

    According to the latest scientific research, e-cigarettes are around...

  • Permanent Moratorium on Internet Taxation in Customs Bill

    February 11, 2016

    Today the Senate voted 75-20 in favor of the conference report accompanying H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, the so-called customs bill.

    While the majority of the bill deals with customs duties and procedures, there are some notable provisions in the conference report that won support. Chief among these is a permanent moratorium on Internet taxation, replacing temporary holds on states and localities taxing Internet access or placing multiple and discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. That’s good news for consumers, who increasingly are purchasing goods and services on internet sites.

    A House amendment to H.R.644 specifically amends the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (the Trade Promotion Authority Act) by ensuring that...

  • A Banner Day for Rule of Law, Constitution, and Common Sense

    February 10, 2016

    In an unexpected and unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court last evening granted an application by more than two dozen states to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan during pendency of petitions for review.  

    Absent a stay, the imminent danger was that EPA could effectively escape judicial review in implementing the rule, which is President Obama’s marquee climate policy. Last year, for example, the Supreme Court checked EPA’s absurd Utility MACT...

  • FOIA Production on Clinton Email Scandal and Security Training

    February 10, 2016

    The following documents were produced in response to CEI's FOIA requests seeking records of IT and cybersecurity training by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Our two requests were broken down by the State Department into three and assigned FOIA numbers ending in:

    • 05781 (cyber security training records Clinton, Abedin, Mills)
    • 05043 (IT training records for Clinton)
    • 05069 (Separation docs Clinton, Abedin, Mills)
    • ...
  • In Defending Clean Power Plan before the Supreme Court, EPA/DOJ Misrepresent Clean Air Act with Lame Editing Tricks

    February 9, 2016

    Lawyers for the EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are trying to pull a fast one on the Supreme Court. Through creative formatting, they are misrepresenting the text of the Clean Air Act such that it omits a major constraint on federal power.

    At issue is Clean Air Act §7411(d)(1), which is a regulatory program to control emissions from existing stationary sources. Section §7411(d)(1) allegedly authorizes Obama’s marquee climate policy (known as the Clean Power Plan). Below, I’ve reposted the text of the provision in full.

    §7411(d)(1) The Administrator shall prescribe regulations which shall establish a procedure similar to that provided by section 7410 of this title under which each State shall submit to the Administrator a plan which (A) establishes standards of performance for any existing source for any air pollutant (i) for which...

  • RealClear Radio Hour: Budding CEOs and PC University

    February 9, 2016

    This week on RealClear Radio Hour my guests cover two topics that lie at the heart of how we educate our children: How we can nurture a generation destined to come of age in the new gig economy and how can students withstand the wave of political correctness sweeping our colleges and universities.

    My first guest is Jeff Sandefer, co-founder and middle school teacher at the Acton Academy. Jeff shares his novel approach to education—emboldening children to be heroes on a hero’s journey. Sandefer recounts stories from the Acton Children’s Business Fair and how adeptly children as young as five embrace entrepreneurship.

    ...
  • PITFA a Poor Hostage for Internet Sales Taxes

    February 9, 2016

    Despite the premise of many a political cartoon, U.S. senators aren’t stupid. But a few of them are hoping to bamboozle at least 60 of their colleagues into voting to strip the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) out of new customs legislation, the conference version of The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act

    The House has already passed PITFA and it would permanently ban unpopular discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce and access being pursued by multiple state legislatures. The original ban has been extended with bipartisan support many times since its inception in 1998. It protects consumers from new and, if telecommunication taxes are any indication, typically high taxes related to accessing the Internet. Its permanence would be a boon for Internet users, innovators, and investors. On its merits, it’s hard to argue against PITFA.

    But as any...

  • House Votes This Week on Common Sense Nutritional Disclosure Bill

    February 8, 2016

    Many, if not most proposals that make their way through Congress seem to have comically unsuitable names. However, at the end of this week the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a plan to remove one onerous, unneeded Obamacare regulation. A little known provision within Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calories for regular menu items it serves on all signs and printed menus. While consumers might benefit from knowing calorie content, this one-size-fits-all mandate puts a big burden on small food retailers, and it could lead to unwanted price hikes. H.R. 2017—the Common Sense Nutrition...

  • CDC Alcohol and Pregnancy Scare Tactics Backfire

    February 8, 2016

    Are you a woman of childbearing age? Do you binge drink constantly and have unprotected sex on the reg? Well, the CDC wants you to know that you’re putting a potential child’s life at risk with your irresponsible behavior. This message was at the center of a mini-firestorm last week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a press release telling women between 15- and 44-years-old they need to either quit drinking entirely or get on birth control. Some couldn’t understand why seemingly reasonable advice was so offensive. Luckily, there are many smart, snarky, female writers out there who leapt at the task of explaining why looking at women as existing in a...

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    February 8, 2016

    Back to business as usual this week, with new regulations covering everything from Taiwanese orchids to student pilots.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 58 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 56 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes.
    • With 275 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 2,855 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
    • Last week, 1,371 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,096 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 6,400 pages, the 2016 Federal Register is on pace for 66,666.66 pages. The 2015 Federal Register had an adjusted page count of 81,611.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have...

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