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China, U.S. Move Closer to Trade War

The dispute over tariffs between the U.S. and China heated up this week – and there is no indication that it may cool down any time soon.


On Monday, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be imposing new tariffs on numerous Chinese products. China then said that they would levy tariffs against some U.S. goods in retaliation. President Trump then announced that if China did that, he would put in place even more tariffs on Chinese imports.


Unless the two countries come to an agreement, this back-and-forth levying of tariffs could lead to a major trade breakdown.


President Trump has been a consistent critic of foreign trade, especially trade with China. The tariffs he announced this week would impose a 10% duty on $200 billion in Chinese imports, ranging from auto parts to refrigerators to toys. The Chinese tariffs announced in response would have a similar tariff on $60 billion in U.S. imports to that country. President Trump also imposed tariffs on some Chinese goods in July.


Over the past two decades, trade between China and the U.S. has increased dramatically, nearly doubling since 2006. The interdependence of the two nations’ economies would be severely disrupted by high tariffs, which would not only affect consumer goods but also components used for manufacturing in the U.S. Auto makers in Detroit, for instance, are very concerned that these tariffs will raise their cost of manufacturing cars, leading to higher prices and lower sales.


President Trump and those who support higher tariffs say they are necessary to protect U.S. companies from unfair competition. They contend that U.S. companies could make many of the products being produced by China, and that tariffs will help stimulate American manufacturing. Critics of tariffs point out that it is ultimately U.S. consumers, not foreign businesses, who will pay these tariffs. They note that the evidence is overwhelming that tariffs hurt economic growth.


Officials from China and the U.S. are planning to meet to see if the differences between the two nations can be worked out.


Do you support President Trump’s decision to impose higher tariffs on Chinese goods? Or do you think that these tariffs will raise costs for consumers and hurt U.S. businesses?

Senators Mull Regulation of Social Media

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have become an important force in American public discourse. Some politicians and commentators think they are too powerful. They want to see the federal government impose new rules on these sites. One Senate Democrat even says there may be strong bipartisan support to do just that.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in early September to answer questions about how foreign governments may have meddled in U.S. elections. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was invited but did not attend the hearing.


This Senate scrutiny of social media comes on the heels of criticism by President Trump and prominent conservatives. The president tweeted in late August, “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!” Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham echoed that thought a few days later on her Fox News show, saying, “There’s a thought that, given the enormity of these corporations, could there be a movement to treat [Twitter and Facebook] more like public utilities so they have some quasi-government oversight of these entities?”


As indicated by Ingraham’s idea, among the proposals to regulate social media sites is to have the government treat them as something like a public utility. This would recognize them as private entities but ones that are operated with a public purpose. The government would set rules that would prevent social media sites from denying a platform to users based on certain factors, such as political ideology.


Supporters of this level of regulation say that Facebook and Twitter operate much as the town square used to do, giving a space for people to speak and persuade others. As a virtual town square, the argument goes, these sites should allow everyone to speak. Big business has too much power to censor individuals, so the government must step in, according to those who are pushing for more federal oversight.


Opponents of this government regulations point to the dangers of government controlling media platforms. They argue that past federal rules on media content stifled debate about public policy. They say that social media companies should have the power to exclude speech that they deem offensive, such as that from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, without fear of government reprisals.


While President Trump may be pushing for the federal government to have tighter control over social media companies, it is unclear if there is much support in Congress for such a proposal. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said there is likely strong bipartisan support for legislation aimed at protecting privacy and cracking down on violent posts. He said that details of such a bill have not been finalized, however.


Should the government impose more regulations on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter? Do you think social media sites discriminate against conservative voices?

Death Penalty Repeal Fails in New Hampshire

A majority of New Hampshire legislators want to see the end of the death penalty in that state. However, there aren’t enough of them to overcome Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of their death penalty repeal bill.


Last week legislators met in a special session to consider overriding six bills vetoed by Gov. Sununu. The most high-profile measure was one that would abolish capital punishment in the state.


Earlier this year, both houses of the General Court passed a bill that would end the use of execution as punishment in New Hampshire. There was bipartisan support for this legislation, which came on the heels of two previous repeal attempts in recent years. Governor Sununu vetoed the bill on June 21.


No other state in New England permits the death penalty. New Hampshire still allows it, but has not executed anyone since 1939. There is only one person on the state’s death row – Michael Addison, who murdered a police officer.


Those opposing the death penalty point out that it is very expensive to execute prisoners. They also say that since it is not consistently applied, it is not a deterrent to crime. Those who support it argue that it is only right to have the most severe penalty available to punish those convicted of heinous crimes.


The override vote was 14-10 in the state senate. Sixteen votes were needed.


Do you think that the death penalty should be abolished?


Trump, Senate Exploring Russian Sanctions


Punishing Russia is the hot topic under consideration at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.


President Donald Trump is considering signing a new Russian sanctions order while the Senate Banking Committee is looking at the effectiveness of sanctions. As evidence of Russian misdeeds continues to emerge, both the president and Congress face pressure to increase U.S. punishment on this nation.


Through legislation and executive orders, Russia already faces a variety of sanctions. President Trump may sign an order today aimed at punishing individuals or companies that interfere in U.S. elections. Intelligence agencies would be empowered by this order to act if they determined that Russians or other foreigners were attempting to influence the electoral process.


In the Senate, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing to assess the various tools used by the federal government are working to counter Russian activities. Experts testified about how sanctions should be shaped to exert maximum pressure on Vladimir Putin or other officials responsible for anti-U.S. actions.


These actions come on the heels of increasing amounts of information from U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian activities attempting to influence the 2016 U.S. election. With the 2018 mid-term elections approaching, there is a strong desire among some government officials to ensure that such meddling cannot occur once again.


Do you think that the U.S. should impose stronger sanctions on Russia for trying to influence the 2016 election? Are you worried that Russian or other foreign entities will attempt to meddle in this year’s election?



Trump Clean Air Rules Give States More Flexibility


The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed overhauling Obama-era clean air rules in a way that would give states more flexibility in meeting federal goals. The president touts these new regulations as a way to help the ailing coal industry. Environmental advocates, however, are expressing their strong opposition to what they call a step backwards in federal air quality standards.


The new Affordable Clean Energy Rule would replace the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Both regulations are aimed at reducing air pollution. The Clean Power Plan had come under fire by states for exceeding federal authority over energy sources. It would have mandated that states meet certain goals for carbon dioxide emissions. If the state did not submit a plan to meet those goals, the federal government would impose one on the state.


The Affordable Clean Energy Rule allows states to set their own goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It also focuses on driving plants to improve their efficiency.


The EPA says this would lead to better air quality while also staying within the law, something that critics contend the Obama rules did not. President Trump also hails it as a way to help keep the coal industry alive. Critics of this new rule counter that this is simply a way to prop up the coal industry at the expense of cleaner energy sources and the health of Americans. They say that the new rule will lead to dirtier air compared to what the Clean Power Plan would have accomplished, with more Americans dying as a result.

This rule is now open for public comment before it takes effect. There is likely to be a legal fight over its legality that could postpone its implementation for years.


Do you think the Trump Administration’s new clean air rule is a good move? Do you think the Trump Administration is right to reduce regulations that are hurting U.S. coal production? Or is the Trump Administration bailing out the coal industry at the expense of air quality?


Ohio Governor Vetoes Regulatory Reform Bill


A bipartisan coalition of legislators passed a bill that would give the Ohio General Assembly more say over state regulations. Business groups backed the bill as a much-needed reform. Governor John Kasich did not agree, however. He recently vetoed this bill, saying that it would cause too much uncertainty. This may not be the end of the issue, though, since there may be enough votes to override the governor’s veto.


The bill in question, SB 221, would reform how state agencies finalize regulations. Among other things, the bill imposes greater publication requirements for rules and mandates that agencies must also consider whether rules would reduce revenue to private businesses. The provision of the bill that garnered Gov. Kasich’s ire its section that provides legislators with an opportunity to review rules that are challenged by the public if a rule has an unintended impact on business.


Gov. Kasich’s veto message argued that this would prevent any state regulation from ever being final. If the rule can be challenged at any time, he said, there would be considerable uncertainty over whether the rule should be followed. That, he argued, would lead to greater disruption and cost. He pointed out that he and legislators agreed on a regulatory reform measure in 2012 that has led to significant rule revision since its implementation.


Legislators who support this bill say that it is needed to ensure that agencies do not enact rules that unintentionally cause harm to businesses. They contend that elected officials in the legislature should be able to review these rules they are indeed hurting businesses. They point out that this proposal had bipartisan support as a way to reform the state’s regulatory process.


Legislators are now considering whether or not they will override the governor’s veto.


Do you think that legislators should be able to review regulations if these rules have unintended negative consequences for businesses?


Supreme Court, Abortion an Issue in New Hampshire Governor’s Race


Governors do not have any say over who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the New Hampshire gubernatorial race, President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the nation’s high court has become an area of contention.


Incumbent Governor Chris Sununu joined 29 of his fellow governors in signing a letter to U.S. Senate leaders in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination. This has led to attacks on Sununu by his Democratic challengers who question the governor’s pro-choice credentials for supporting Kavanaugh.


According one of the Democrats running for governor, Molly Kelly, Kavanaugh could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to an abortion. If Gov. Sununu truly is pro-choice, they argue, then he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination.


Governor Sununu countered that he continues to believe in a woman’s right to an abortion. He said that his signature on the letter to Senate leadership was in favor of a fair process for Kavanaugh. Sununu also said that he did not have a litmus test for the judges he has chosen as governor, only a requirement that they follow the Constitution.


Kelly pointed out that if Roe were overturned, then states would have to enact laws to protect abortion. She has vowed to do this. Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Steve Marchand, has laid out a plan that would provide taxpayer funding for abortion in New Hampshire.


Do you think that pro-choice governors should signal their support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination? Should states enact laws that will keep abortion legal in the event the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?


Defense Bill Targets China


Since 2001, the main priority for the Department of Defense has been stopping terrorism. Under the new Defense Authorization bill passed by Congress, however, our nation’s military will focus much more on China.


This legislation authorizes $716 billion in military spending over the next fiscal year while also making a variety of changes in how our nation approaches defense policy. Many of the biggest changes involve China.


Among other things, the bill imposes more government scrutiny on American technology sales to China and Chinese investment in the U.S. Under this bill, U.S. universities that host the Confucius Institutes, a Chinese funded center that is accused of spreading propaganda, would face limits on Defense Department funds. The bill also requires an annual report on how the Chinese government is influencing U.S. media, business, academic, and cultural institutions.


Notably, the bill did not prohibit American companies from selling technology to Chinese telecom firm ZTE. That is something that some conservative Republicans had pushed for but President Trump had publicly opposed.


Beyond these provisions, the bill also calls for adding 15,600 new members of the armed forces and 13 new ships for the navy.


President Trump is expected to sign this legislation soon.


Do you think that the U.S. military priorities should have a greater focus on China?


Colorado Landowners Seeking Compensation for Value Lost to State Regulations


States and local governments routinely pass laws and enact regulations that reduce property values. Under a proposed initiative for this year’s Colorado ballot, they may have to compensate landowners when they do so.


The “Colorado Compensation to Owners for Decreased Property Value Due to State Regulation Amendment” would mandate that whenever the state enacts regulations that diminish property values, the state must provide just compensation. This would be an addition to the state constitution’s requirement that the state provides compensation when it takes or damages private property.


A group of ranchers and farmers is backing this amendment. They are primarily concerned about another proposed constitutional amendment that would severely limit landowners’ ability to explore for natural gas and oil on their land. They contend that it is only fair that if the state is going to enact a law that restricts their ability to use their land to make money, then the state should compensate them.


Opponents of this amendment say that it would make it almost impossible for the state and local governments to function. They argue that routine zoning laws could trigger lawsuits. These opponents contend that many laws meant to protect the public reduce the property value of individuals, so it would be a huge financial burden if governments must compensate these owners.


The secretary of state is reviewing this amendment to determine if it has enough signatures to be placed on November’s ballot.

Do you think that the government should compensate landowners if government regulations reduce the value of that land?


Dueling Medical Marijuana Initiatives on Missouri Ballot


Missouri voters will have the chance to make Missouri the 31st state to legalize medicinal marijuana. To accomplish this, however, they will have to choose between three amendments on November’s ballots, each presenting a different way to legalize marijuana for medical use.


The three measures that qualified for inclusion on this year’s ballot are Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C. Each one would remove legal penalties for using medical marijuana, but each has a different tax rate and different use for tax revenue.


Amendment 2 would tax medical marijuana at a 4% rate, using the revenue for health care and veteran care. Amendment 3 would establish a 15% tax rate on medical marijuana, using that revenue to fund medical research into curing cancer and other diseases. Proposition C would not amend the state constitution, unlike the other two ballot questions. Instead, it would change state law, imposing a 2% tax rate on medical marijuana to be used for health care, drug treatment, public safety, and early childhood education.


When there are competing ballot measures concerning the same subject, the one with the most votes generally prevails. However, there could be a legal question if Proposition C, which is merely a statutory change, gains more vote than either of the constitutional amendments. Constitutional amendments are a higher source of authority than a change in state law, so it is likely that the state Supreme Court will decide which measure prevails if that situation occurs.


Do you support legalizing medical marijuana?


New York City Makes Jail Calls Free


When inmates call family or friends from jail, it can be costly. In New York City, however, inmates may soon be able to do something unprecedented – make jailhouse calls for free.


Prior to legislation recently passed by the city council, in-state calls from New York City jails cost 5 cents a minute, while out-of-state calls cost 21 cents a minute. The company that provided phone services only allowed prisoners to put $50 on an account at one time, with a $3 fee every time that account received more money.


With many people in jail because they cannot find money to pay bail, these fees and charges added up. This led to a movement by prisoners and their families to either reduce the amount being charged or make the calls free.


New York City Council members initially supported a bill that would end the city’s ability to profit off of the telecommunication services. Advocates pressed them to end charges completely for the calls, which is what the city council eventually passed in mid-summer.


Those who support this measure say that high charges and fees for calls are unfair for struggling families. They contend that the private companies running these services are making huge profits off of a population that has no choice but to pay their extremely high charges. Opponents of the measure counter that these services come with a cost, and it is only right for prisoners and their families to pay for them.


With an end to charges on jail calls in New York, there are now efforts in other cities to do the same.


Do you think that it is fair to charge prisoners high fees for jailhouse calls? Should jailhouse calls be free?


Pennsylvania Nuclear Plants to Close without Subsidies


Three Mile Island may be the most famous nuclear plant in the U.S. The site of an accident in the late 1970s that garnered worldwide attention, the plant is still producing power for Pennsylvania today. It may not remain open much longer, however. To stop this plant from closing, the nuclear industry is lobbying for a bailout from Pennsylvania lawmakers.


Facing competition from lower-priced natural gas power plants, Three Mile Island and other nuclear plants are increasingly unprofitable. The only hope to remain open that the owners of these plants see is a subsidy from the state. In arguing for state help, nuclear advocates point out that these plants generate electricity without any carbon emissions. They say that if Pennsylvania wants to combat climate change, nuclear plants are a vital part of that effort. Subsidy supporters also talk about the hundreds of jobs that will be lost with every nuclear plant closure.


These arguments have met resistance in Harrisburg. Subsidy opponents argue that nuclear plants should compete on the free market. If they cannot offer electricity to consumers at an affordable price, they should shut down. The state, these opponents say, should not prop up unprofitable businesses, and that includes nuclear power plants. Those who are against the subsidy also note that Pennsylvania is a large natural gas producer, so it should welcome the growing use of natural gas for electricity generation to replace nuclear power.


Legislators who support nuclear subsidies formed a caucus during this year’s legislative session in Harrisburg and held hearings that discussed the importance of nuclear power. Three Mile Island is scheduled to close next year, so these legislators will likely begin to press for subsidy legislation soon.


Do you think that Pennsylvania legislators should approve subsidies for nuclear power plants?


Virginia Governor Denounces Plan to Arm Teachers


If the school board in a small Virginia county gets its way, teachers and staff members will soon be allowed to carry guns. This does not please Governor Ralph Northam. He has come out against the proposal, urging the attorney general to look into its legality.


Lee County is a rural county in the southwest part of Virginia. Its school board unanimously voted to allow some teachers and staff members to carry concealed weapons or store them in lockers at school. County officials have said that they cannot afford to hire more security for schools, so permitting staff members to carry guns is the only option to provide greater protection to students.


Governor Northam said that arming teachers is not a good idea. He said that school districts should wait for an opinion by the attorney general before undertaking this action. The attorney general’s office is researching the matter, but Attorney General Mark Herring has said that the law bans guns in schools with very few exceptions.


The issue of allowing teachers to carry guns to protect students has been discussed across the country after recent school shootings. Those in favor of the idea think that a teacher with a gun could be the first line of defense if a school shooting occurs. Others say that teachers should not be responsible for confronting armed intruders. Instead, those like Gov. Northam support providing more money for schools to hire security officers.

Do you support allowing teachers and school employees to carry guns to stop school shootings? Or should the government provide more money to schools in order to hire security guards?


Michigan Milk Facility to Receive Millions in Subsidies


Two milk processing companies are making plans to build a $510 million facility in central Michigan. This would help support the state’s agricultural industry, but it comes at a price – millions of dollars in state subsidies.


Michigan is one of the top milk-producing states in the nation. It lacks adequate processing facilities to handle all of the milk its cows can produce. That is why a company is looking at building a $425 million dairy processing plant north of Lansing, with another company seeking to build an $85 million byproduct processing plant next door.


This would be a large investment in the central Michigan region, but it would not be a completely private investment, however. The state of Michigan is looking at offering these companies $26 million in tax incentives.


Proponents of the subsidies say that the processing center is vital to ensuring that Michigan has a healthy dairy industry. They say that subsidies are necessary to counter the offers coming from other states. Opponents counter that this is a taxpayer giveaway to private corporations. They note that if there is so much dairy supply in Michigan, then there is little need for these companies to receive taxpayer handouts to make this project work.


If approved, this facility would be completed in 2020.


Do you think that Michigan should provide subsidies to milk processing plants or other private businesses?


California Won’t Be Dividing into Three States


California is the third-largest state in the U.S. Some residents think it is too big; they want it divided into three states. This proposal obtained enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but the state Supreme Court removed it. This does not end the fight to divide California, but makes it more difficult for proponents to see their dream of two new states joining the union.


Under the Proposition 9, California would be split into California, Northern California, and Southern California. Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, proposed the idea and was the main backer of the initiative. He helped collect the necessary signatures to place it on the ballot, with over 460,000 valid signatures being submitted to the state.


That led to a court challenge on the grounds that this ballot initiative violated the state constitution’s ban on initiatives making a major change to the constitution. Draper argued that this would not be a change to the constitution but a nullification of it. The state Supreme Court did not agree with Draper, and pulled the measure from the ballot.


Those supporting this initiative say that breaking the state up would lead to more responsive government. They contend that California is too large and too diverse to be governed by one state government. They also note that this would lead to lead to six U.S. senators representing a population that has two senators currently. Opponents countered that there is power in being a large state. They also noted that there have been past efforts to divide the state that have never been popular with Californians.


The U.S. Constitution allows new states to be formed from existing states with the consent of the existing state’s legislature and the U.S. Congress. There is some question whether or not a ballot initiative can provide this consent instead of a legislature.


Draper, who previously supported a proposal to break California into six states, will continue pursuing this issue after the 2018 election.

Do you support splitting California into three states?


Is Rent Control Coming to Illinois?


Rent hikes are a source of loud complaints across Chicago. Some activists think that government should put controls on how high rental increases can go, but state law forbids this. The Democratic candidate for governor wants to lift this prohibition.


Currently, state law does not allow local governments to place caps on rent increases. This prevents Chicago or other cities from enacting rent control. In three city wards, however, activists have placed a measure on the November ballot that would gauge voters’ opinion on rent control. These measures are non-binding, but would indicate whether or not these residents support rent control.


J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat running for governor, would like to repeal the state law banning rent control. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner does not support repeal. His opposition to allowing rent control has likely played a role in preventing serious consideration of a repeal bill in the legislature. A Chicago legislator has proposed the establishment of county boards, controlled by tenants, which would keep rent increases at 4-6% a year for elderly and low-income renters or renters with disabilities.


Supporters of rent control say that it is a way to prevent landlords from pricing out low-income residents in the face of gentrification. They say rent control is a good way to stabilize neighborhoods and promote affordable housing. Rent control opponents say that the use of rent control in cities like New York has demonstrated that it leads to reduced investment in housing and higher rental rates for those not covered by rent control.


Do you think that the government should tell landlords how much they can raise rent?


Study Finds “Medicare for All” Would be Costly


Single-payer health care, or “Medicare for All,” is becoming a popular campaign issue for many candidates. Ben Jealous, running for Maryland governor, supports it. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, candidate for the House of Representatives from New York, does, too. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill that would implement it.


So how much would this new health care system cost?


According to a new report by the Mercatus Center, federal spending would rise by $32.6 trillion during the first 10 years of a single-payer system. This amount would be equal to 10.7% of the national gross domestic product in 2022. In 2031, the amount would increase to 12.7% of GDP and go up after that.


The study lays out a variety of reasons for this large price tag. A single-payer system would require that the federal government pay for all current state and private health care spending. It would also provide coverage for the uninsured and would drive greater use of health care services. The report’s authors caution that their estimate may be low, given that they assume that members of Congress would have the political will to reduce payments to health care providers and decrease the prices the federal government pays for drugs.


To find the money for single-payer, this report concluded: “A doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan.”


Supporters of “Medicare for All” dispute these numbers, saying that a federally-run health care system would find efficiencies through lower administrative costs. They also note that although the federal government would take on these costs, average Americans would no longer be paying for health insurance premiums. Some critics of the Mercatus Center report have also pointed out that this think tank has a libertarian ideology, so it would not be inclined to support a government-run health care system.


Do you think that a single-payer health care system would be too expensive for taxpayers?


Abortion to Remain Legal in Connecticut Even if Roe v. Wade Overturned


With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many people are worried that the high court may overturn the landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade. This ruling legalized abortion nationwide, regardless of state laws. Regardless of what happens at the national level, however, Connecticut has already enacted a strong law to protect abortion in that state.


While many observers discount the possibility, some pro-choice activists are concerned that Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court could lead to a majority that would overrule Roe v. Wade. If that happened, there would no longer be a national right to an abortion. The issue would once again fall to state legislatures to determine.


If this happens, abortion will be illegal in states that have legalized it. Many states do not have such a law.


Connecticut is different – it has already enacted a law that expressly permits abortion. This law does not have many restrictions on the procedure. For instance, there is no mandate that minors seek parental permission prior to obtaining an abortion. There is also no prohibition on using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. There is also no waiting period for abortions in the state and late-term abortions are permitted, but must be performed in a hospital.


For those who support legalized abortion, Connecticut is an example of what states should be doing to protect access to this procedure. For abortion opponents, however, the state’s law illustrates the extreme nature that some states will go to in order to remove reasonable restrictions on the procedure.


Do you think that states should enact laws to keep abortion legal if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?


Court Rejects Miami Cab Request to Block Uber, Lyft


With the advent of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, taxicab companies are facing stiff competition. In Miami-Dade County, taxicab owners sued the county after it legalized these ride-sharing services, contending that this competition devalued their business. A federal judge recently rejected these claims, saying that the government has no duty to protect taxicabs from competition.


Prior to the arrival of Uber and Lyft, owning a taxicab medallion in Miami-Dade County was a lucrative investment. The county handed out a limited number of these medallions, limiting taxicab numbers. The government cap on cabs limited competition, ensuring a high price for medallions. With the county’s legalization of ride-sharing services, however, the price of a taxicab medallion in Miami-Dade County has fallen by 90%.


In response, Checker Cab, B&S Taxi, and Miadeco sued the county. They argued that they had a property interest in the value of a taxicab medallion. Legalizing competing services, they claimed, was an illegal government “taking” of their property.


In early August, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected that argument. These judges held that these companies are not entitled to a competition-free marketplace. The court ruled that these taxicab companies could not force the government to protect them from competition. The taxicab medallions are licenses to operate taxi services, not licenses to have no competitors.


There have been other suits of this type brought by taxicab companies. A similar suit in Chicago led to the same holding, with a federal circuit court finding that taxicab companies had no legal right to be free from competition.


Do you think that Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services are unfair competition for taxi companies? Should courts protect taxicab owners from competition?


Should Arizona Expand Education Savings Accounts?


Arizona legislators want to expand student access to state-funded savings accounts that could be used to pay for private school tuition. A group called Save our Schools Arizona doesn’t like that idea. In November, the state’s voters will decide the future of education choice in the state.


In 2017, Arizona legislators passed a law that Governor Doug Ducey signed that would expand the use of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). These accounts were first established in 2011 for students with disabilities whose parents opt them out of the public school system. The state Department of Education funds ESAs at 90% of the state’s spending for a student in his or her public school district. The money in an ESA can be used for education expenses such as private school tuition or textbooks. Under the 2017 legislation, any Arizona student would be eligible for an ESA.


Save our Schools Arizona collected enough signatures to place this issue on the ballot as a “veto referendum.” This will allow voters to overturn the law if a majority votes “no” in November.


The opponents of expanded ESAs contend that this is nothing more than a way to funnel taxpayer money to private schools. They argue that this will drain funding from public schools that do not have enough money. They also say that it will hurt the state’s efforts to improve education, something that will slow job growth.


Supporters of allowing more students access to ESAs counter that this is simply giving parents more control over the money being spent to educate their children. They say that parents, not bureaucrats, can better manage the money so that their children receive a better education. They also note that the opposition to expanding ESAs come from people who want to prop up public schools, no necessarily improve education for individual students.


Do you think that Arizona should provide resources so that parents have more education choices for children? Or are state-funded education savings accounts a way to undermine Arizona public schools?


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