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OpenMarket: March 2016

  • Not Much Business Sense on Capitol Hill

    March 8, 2016

    Members of Congress, even some Democrats, are finally coming to terms that the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule may be bad for business. Why the change of heart? They finally realized that the rule may apply to their staff.

    On June 30, 2015, the DOL submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking to modify overtime rules. The federal labor agency wants to make any salaried employee earning under $50,440 eligible for overtime, a huge increase from the current $23,660 threshold. That is more than a 100-percent increase.

    To no one’s surprise, when the rule was proposed, Democrats jumped on board. One hundred Democrats in the House and Senate sent a letter of support for the overtime rule to the president.


  • RealClear Radio Hour: Unauthorized Climate Treaty & Biofuel Scandal

    March 7, 2016

    This week on RealClear Radio Hour we cover the ever important issue of energy and environment. As the Paris Climate treaty continues to cause problems between the President and Congress nearly 4-months removed from the COP-21 summit, the biofuels and alternative energy industry plans to capitalize on this administration’s agenda despite their decades-long failure to produce cost effective products and innovate to market standards.

    My first guest this week is Marlo Lewis. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of The Paris Climate Agreement is a Treaty Requiring Senate Review, discusses President Obama’s attempt to enact the Paris agreement without the Senate’s consent. Lewis argues this is an unconstitutional...

  • Regulation Poses Biggest Threat to Monarch Butterflies

    March 7, 2016

    Like many nature lovers and gardeners, last year I launched a milkweed garden for monarch butterflies, starting from seed. After a long summer of manually picking pesky milkweed bugs and aphids off the plants, I noticed one monarch caterpillar. Success! I hope that caterpillar made it to the butterfly stage, and then took off to Mexico where many monarchs overwinter.

    My efforts represent a tiny part of a larger effort to save these butterflies through private conservation, whose numbers have dwindled in recent decades. Such efforts may have begun to pay off as the...

  • Obama Administration Policy Threatens Youth Job Opportunities

    March 7, 2016

    The National Labor Relations Board’s long-awaited trial involving McDonald’s will begin this week on March 10. The case puts the franchise model in the crosshairs of the NLRB’s new joint-employer standard, which makes one employer liable for unfair labor practices of another employer they do not directly control. By threatening franchises, this new NLRB standard endangers a successful business model that has made it possible for thousands of people to achieve their dreams of opening and running their own independent businesses, not to mention providing jobs for local workers.

    By overturning the decades-old joint-employment standard, the NLRB is exposing thousands of businesses to increased costs and liability they cannot afford—many of which are small businesses that are the...

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

    March 7, 2016

    After several years and multiple lawsuits, the TSA deigned to issue a formal rule for its use of full-body scanners. CEI’s Marc Scribner finds that the “TSA has still failed to justify the procedures that it imposes on millions of Americans each day.” Other federal agencies issued new regulations covering everything from wine to lamb.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 80 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 67 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 6 minutes.
    • With 523 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 3,041 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
    • Last week, 1,600 new pages were added to the...
  • Oregon Legislature Approves Aggressive Renewable Power Law

    March 4, 2016

    Oregon lawmakers this week approved a bill (S.B. 1457) to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard from the current target of 25% by 2025 to 50% by 2040, and to terminate Oregon’s import of out-of-state coal-based power by 2030. Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill (PV Magazine, Mar. 3, 2016).

    The targets may seem odd since nearly three-quarters of Oregon’s electricity comes from hydropower and other renewable sources. But nearly all of the state’s hydroelectric dams were built before 1972 and ...

  • Chairman Smith Turns Spotlight on RICO20 Ringleader

    March 4, 2016

    Who says climate politics is a battle between greedy corporations and idealistic scientists? In “The Climate Change 1%,” the Wall Street Journal reports that George Mason University climate science professor Jagadish Shukla ranks among the top 1% of U.S. income earners.

    Specifically, in 2014, Shukla earned $511,410 by combining full-time salaries from both his GMU teaching gig and the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES), a non-profit organization he runs.

    This is newsworthy because Shukla is the ringleader of a group of 20 university professors urging the Obama administration to launch a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of fossil fuel...

  • Is Conservative Opposition to the Passenger Facility Charge Softening?

    March 4, 2016

    CEI is a strong supporter of transportation user fees. We prefer tolls over fuel taxes, and local airport user fees over tax-funded federal grants. While there is broad agreement among free market transportation researchers on these points (see Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, and Heritage Foundation on why airport user charges are preferable to broad taxation), some conservatives fail to...

  • Australian Bank Devalues Rewards Scheme in Anticipation of Interchange Fee Cap

    March 3, 2016

    I fear I am beginning to sound like a broken record on the subject of payments card interchange fees, with the needle stuck on “We told you so.” Interchange fees are essentially the fees charged by a customer’s bank to the merchant when a customer uses the bank’s debit or credit payment card to buy goods or services. Merchants hate these fees, so regulators around the world have been pressured to cap them. The trouble is that banks have to make up their revenue stream somewhere, so raise fees on or cuts services to their customers. Customers end up worse off. One example we have warned about is that banks will lower the value of rewards cards. That happened in Europe last year, and is...

  • Uber Publishes Core Principles to Guide Seattle's Union Election Procedures

    March 3, 2016

    Uber maintains that Seattle’s recent ordinance that extends collective bargaining privileges to ridesharing drivers is illegal. However, to cover its bases, Uber issued a letter to direct the Seattle Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) on how to go about its rulemaking responsibilities.

    In December 2015, Seattle became the first city to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. Most cities have avoided such laws because of the potential legal costs of defending the legislation. Legal experts argue that the law violates the National Labor Relations Act, which expressly excludes independent contractors from collective bargaining privileges....


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