Regulation and Subsidies

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Trump Threatens to Shut Down Social Media Sites

This week, Twitter decided to fact-check President Donald Trump’s tweets. In response, President Trump is threatening to shut down Twitter and other social media companies – a move that many observers say runs counter to the First Amendment.

 

On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted:

 

Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can't let a more sophisticated version of that.... happen again.

 

On Tuesday, he also complained about this issue, tweeting, “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH.”

 

This comes after Twitter put a link to a fact-checking article below a string of tweets that the president made regarding mail-in ballots. The president’s tweet claimed that this type of election would be “substantially fraudulent.” Twitter posted a link where users could see statements that claimed the president was making false statements.

 

This move by Twitter came in response to observers who said the platform had a duty to prevent the president from spreading falsehoods using its services. They argue that President Trump routinely says things that have little or no basis in fact, and that Twitter is aiding this misinformation by letting him do it. After Twitter acted, however, President Trump and others are accusing it of liberal bias and trying to influence the 2020 election in favor of Democrats.


It is unclear what power the president has to shut down or regulate social media companies. Twitter is breaking no law by fact-checking users, and these companies are broadly protected by the Constitution from federal interference in speech on their platforms. In fact, some legal experts say that President Trump’s threats are imposing a “chilling effect” on speech by merely threatening government action.

 

Do you think that the federal government should regulate content on social media platforms like Twitter?

Feds Propose to Tighten Rules Allowing Animals on Flights

As more people bring service animals or animals they say are necessary for “emotional support” onto flights, there are more complaints from other passengers and rising incidents with the animals. Now the federal government is looking to revamp rules that require airlines to accommodate these animals.

 

Under current government rules, airlines must permit service animals and emotional support animals. The rules are vague about what qualifies an animal to serve these tasks. Critics say that this has allowed people to claim that their pet is an emotional support animal to get special treatment on planes. There have been a rising number of incidents of people taking animals onto planes that have resulted in bites or other incidents.

 

The proposed Federal Aviation Administration regulations would still require airlines to allow service animals and emotional support animals on board. However, it sets criteria that these animals must meet. Among other things, those wishing to bring the animals on a plane must show that they are trained for the duties that are being claimed. The animal’s owner would also be subject to new paperwork requirements, such as attesting that the animal will not relieve itself on the flight or will do so in a sanitary way.

 

Supporters of the rule change say it is necessary to stem the tide of fake service and emotional support animals being let on planes. They argue that current rules allow people to claim that their pets are serving another function without actually having to prove such a role. Critics counter that this rule will require too much paperwork for people with disabilities or an emotional issue, so it will discourage them from flying.

 

The regulation is in the proposal stage. The public can comment on it for the next two months, then the Trump Administration will finalize it.

 

Do you think the federal government should set stricter rules about allowing service and emotional support animals on planes?

Flavored Vaping Pods Targeted by Trump Administration

The sale of most flavored e-cigarette pods will soon be illegal.

 

The Trump Administration has announced a ban on pods that contain flavored juices for e-cigarettes, except for tobacco and menthol flavors. Citing concerns with these pods being popular with teenage vapers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says this ban is necessary to protect public health.

 

In September, President Trump announced that his administration would ban all flavored vaping juice. The actual policy falls short of this sweeping ban, only covering closed pods. Flavored vaping juices sold at vape stores would still be permitted to be sold. Some presidential advisers argued that a widespread ban would lead to job loss in the vaping industry.

 

Supporters of this ban contend that flavored vaping juices are attractive to teenagers. They argue that these flavors get teenagers hooked on an unhealthy habit. Many public health advocates are upset that the Trump Administration did not go further and ban all vaping juices.

 

Opponents of this action point out that vaping is far less dangerous than smoking. They say that by making it less attractive to vape, it will prevent efforts to move people from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes. They argue that the federal government should not target vaping, but welcome it as a public health victory.

 

Sales of these flavored e-cigarette pods will end after 30 days.

 

Do you support the Trump Administration ban on flavored vaping pods?

Trump Administration Tightens Food Stamp Work Requirement

This week, Department of Agriculture officials announced a rule change that will make it more difficult for states to waive work requirements for able-bodied individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

 

Under current law, food stamp recipients who are between 18 and 49 and who do not have a disability or dependents must work or be in work training programs for 20 hours a week. However, states have broad leeway to waive this requirement. The Trump Administration wants to reduce the criteria states can use to do this.

 

Officials justify this move as a way to spur food stamp recipients to find jobs if they are able to work. These officials point out that it does not affect people who are caring for children, the elderly, or those who have a disability. They argue that in today’s good economy, there are plenty of jobs for people who want them.

 

Opponents counter that this regulation will end vital food assistance to needy Americans. They say that it is a way to push people off a program that they need to feed their family. They also argue that it removes the flexibility of states to design a food stamp program that takes into account people who have sporadic work or are underemployed.

 

A similar measure failed in Congress when SNAP was reauthorized last year.

 

Do you support cutting off food stamps for able-bodied recipients who are not working?

Massachusetts Bans Flavored Tobacco, Vaping Products

Flavored tobacco and flavored nicotine vaping products will soon be illegal to sell for most businesses in Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law this week that prohibits the sale of these items for all except a few locations.

 

Public health advocates praised the move, saying they would make these products less attractive to teenagers. There has been concern about vaping in recent months due to deaths caused by some vaping products, although these vaping deaths have been linked to black market vaping items, not legal products.

 

Opponents of this law argued that vaping products are an important way that smokers quit cigarettes. They say that by banning flavored products, it will lessen their attraction to smokers and lead more people to keep using tobacco. They also note that this will damage tobacco and vaping retailer in the state, since Massachusetts residents can go to other states to buy these products.

 

Under the legislation, licensed smoking bars and hookah lounges could still sell these products, but they must be used on-site. They bill also imposed a 75% tax on vaping products. The law goes into effect on June 1, 2020.

 

While some other states have implemented temporary bans on these items, Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to enact a ban on flavored nicotine products.

 

Do you support banning flavored tobacco and flavored vaping products?

Schumer Wants to Mandate that Airlines Sit Families Together

Senate Minority Leader has an idea that he thinks will improve travel, especially during the holiday season. He’s written a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asking her department to issue a rule forcing airlines to sit families together.

 

Under Schumer’s proposal, airlines must seat a child who is 13-years-old or younger next to an older family member. He notes that Congress passed legislation last year that called on the Department of Transportation to consider such a regulation. He argues that there have been instances where families have been separated on flights when children had health issues.

 

The Department of Transportation pushed back against this proposal, noting that very few complaints come into the agency about families not being seated together. A spokesman for the department also noted that the federal legislation that mentioned a family seating regulation only said the agency should issue such a rule if it was appropriate. There is no indication that the Department of Transportation is looking at this type of regulation.

 

Do you think the federal government should mandate that airlines must seat families together on flights?

House Reauthorizes Federal Export Support Agency

In the midst of impeachment hearings, the House of Representatives also conducted legislative business this week. The main legislation under consideration was a bill to reauthorize a controversial federal agency that provides loan guarantees for U.S. businesses. Supporters say it is essential to supporting American exports, while critics argue that it’s nothing more than corporate welfare.

 

The House passed H.R. 4863 by a vote of 235-184. Here is how VoteSpotter described the bill:

 

To renew the authorization of the Export-Import Bank to operate through 2029 and expand its lending authority from $135 billion to $175 billion. The Export-Import Bank is a federal agency that gives loans and loan guarantees to companies purchasing U.S. exports. These loans are backed by the federal government, meaning if borrowers default the government pays them.

 

The reauthorization and staffing of the Export-Import Bank’s board has been a long-running controversy in Congress. While the agency has bipartisan support, there is also strong opposition to it on the left and the right who see it as a taxpayer giveaway to large corporations. This reauthorization legislation is aimed at ending the efforts to kill the agency.

 

Independent Rep. Justin Amash spoke out forcefully against reauthorization, tweeting:

 

The Ex-Im Bank is inherently corrupt. It unfairly forces Americans to subsidize foreign entities that buy things from well-connected corporations—particularly Boeing. This corporate welfare program expires next week, yet the House is voting Friday to reauthorize it. Let it die.

 

And:

 

Ex-Im puts taxpayers on the hook for loans to foreign governments and corporations to buy things from well-connected companies (especially Boeing), which is unfair to the vast majority of Americans who don’t benefit from Ex-Im yet are assuming the financial risk for the loans.

 

There was bipartisan support for reauthorizing the agency, however, as well as a large coalition of interest groups pushing for this legislation. Linda Dempsey of The National Association of Manufacturers spoke for many of these supporters in defense of the agency:

 

As the United States’ official export credit agency, the Ex-Im Bank is a critical tool to support American jobs through exports. It has become increasingly vital in the face of more than 90 countries that operate more than 100 foreign export credit agencies (ECAs) around the world. From China and Germany to Canada and Japan, other countries are working to boost their farmers, manufacturers and workers and win foreign sales.

 

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it is likely to pass.

 

Do you support reauthorizing an agency that provides federal loan guarantees for companies that purchase U.S. exports?

 

 

California Looking to Reclassify Independent Contractors as Employees

The “gig economy” – people who work for Uber, Lyft, in similar ways – depends on independent contractors. Now California legislators are looking to change state law to reclassify most of these independent contractors as employees. They say this will lead to greater worker protection. Critics argue that it will end their work completely.

 

Under federal law, companies can contract with individuals to do work under certain circumstances, such as not having direct control over how work is done. This has allowed the flourishing of occupations in the “gig economy,” which allows people to work at jobs without meeting the traditional definition of being an “employee.”

 

Many of those who work at these jobs like this status. They say it allows them to pick and choose what jobs they do and when they do them. They like the flexibility and the lack of red tape that comes with traditional employment situations. Others, however, complain that such jobs do not offer the security and benefits of traditional jobs. They say that employers take advantage of independent contractors.

 

California legislators have listened to organized labor and others who take the latter view. The Assembly has passed legislation that would tighten rules in California for when employers can use independent contractors. The bill would narrowly limit who could work as an independent contractor.

 

Supporters of the bill argue that it will mean that employers will have to offer health and other benefits to a wider set of workers. Opponents counter that by adding more cost to hiring these workers, it will end their employment. Instead of helping independent contractors, they say, this will leave these people without work.

 

Uber, Lyft, and other companies that use independent contractors have vowed to fight this bill if it becomes law. They are sponsoring a ballot initiative that will increase protection for independent contractors while still allowing them to work. This ballot would be on the 2020 ballot.

 

Do you think that states should restrict who can work as independent contractors for companies such as Uber and Lyft?

Advocacy Group Pushing Candidates to Back Net Neutrality

A coalition of liberal advocacy groups is pushing for Democratic presidential nominees to pledge a restoration of net neutrality regulations. This group is seeking to make technology policy a key pillar of the 2020 presidential race.

 

The effort is aimed at having presidential candidates sign a pledge that they will re-impose network neutrality rules that were put in place during the Obama Administration but repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year. The pledge also commits candidates to refuse political donations from telecom companies or executives.

 

In December 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality regulations. The regulations in question date to 2015, when the FCC decided to regulate Internet service providers more stringently. In essence, the agency at that time classified the services they provide as a public utility, largely forcing providers not to discriminate in pricing, content, and the management of the network.

 

This rule change did not remove federal oversight from the Internet. In fact, the rule mandates transparency for network management practices. The Federal Trade Commission also regulates Internet service providers. But it did lessen the ability of the government to set rules proactively that constrain Internet service providers.

 

The imposition of net neutrality rules was an issue that many liberal and progressive groups long been advocating prior to 2015. They said that telecom companies had too much power to determine what consumers saw. They argued that federal regulations were necessary to protect consumers that could be victimized by telecom companies denying them access to certain websites. Opponents of net neutrality say that they will stifle innovation, preventing the internet from evolving and changing to meet consumer need. They say that companies should be able to price internet access in different ways to provide a higher level of service.

 

The FCC is an independent agency not directly under control of the president. To change FCC policy, the president can appoint new members to the commission with views more in line with the president’s opinion on technology policy.

 

Do you support net neutrality rules?

Trump Hosts Social Media Summit

 

President Trump is no stranger to social media. His tweets make news on an almost daily basis, and have helped shape his presidency. But the president has issues with social media companies, saying they discriminate against conservative viewpoints. Today he hosted a summit at the White House to discuss these concerns.

 

The president invited members of Congress, think tank analysts, campaign strategists, and some online personalities to attend the summit. He tweeted that he was concerned about “be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies.” This echoes complaints of some conservative activists that Google, Facebook, and Twitter have tried to silence them.

 

Tech companies deny they have a bias against conservative voices. However, President Trump and his allies argue that they are engaging in censorship and may need stronger federal regulation. Others push back against this suggestion, saying that it would violate the Constitution for the government to interfere with how these companies operate their platforms.

 

It is unclear if there will be any policy goals that emerge from this social media summit, but President Trump will likely continue to decry what he sees as unfair treatment from technology companies.

 

Do you think that social media companies are biased against conservatives? Should the federal government regulate how these companies treat users?

Harris Wants Business Fines over Equal Pay

Sen. Kamala Harris has a plan for what she perceives as the gender pay gap – big fines for corporations. And if she’s elected president, she says she will implement these fines with or without legislation from Congress.

 

Under Sen. Harris’s plan, companies must receive an “Equal Pay Certification” from the federal government or face fines. This certification would come only after these companies submit data to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission proving that they are paying male and female employees comparable pay for comparable work. The Harris plan would also force companies to provide information about how they hire workers and the racial and gender diversity of their workplaces.

 

If companies do not receive “Equal Pay Certification,” Sen. Harris would like to see them fined 1% of their profits for every 1% of the wage gap. Sen. Harris said she would seek legislation from Congress to authorize such a program, but would implement it regardless of whether Congress acts.

 

Current federal law already prohibits paying men and women different wages for doing the same work. Senator Harris’s legislation would go further by targeting different pay for what she calls “comparable” work, which would be determined by the federal government. She says that her proposal would stop discrimination. Critics contend that the pay gap she cites is not caused by discrimination but can be explained by differing education and experience levels as well as individual choices made by workers.

 

This proposal is one of the many laid out by the freshman senator from California in an attempt to distinguish her from the rest of the candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

 

Do you think that companies should be fined if they are not certified by the federal government as paying men and women the same for comparable work? What do you think about the gender pay gap?

GOP Senators Float Social Media Regulation

Facebook and Twitter came under fire during a Senate hearing this week. Some senators even floated ideas to impose more government oversight on these social media companies.

 

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Chairman Ted Cruz and other Republicans grilled officials from Facebook and Twitter regarding what they perceive as anti-conservative bias. While saying they did not want to see the government begin regulating these companies, they did float ideas that would increase government oversight of the platforms or open the door for more lawsuits by users.

 

Likening these companies to public utilities or the “town square,” some Republican senators said that the government had a role to ensure that the companies were not discriminating against certain viewpoints. Bringing up instances that these senators said proved Twitter or Facebook removed conservative content, they said that the government may be needed to preserve fairness.

 

These companies, as well as Democrats on the committee, pushed back against the idea that conservatives faced systematic discrimination on social media. Democrats pressed the officials to do more to police their content, especially when it comes to hate speech.

 

Senator Cruz said that no one wanted the government to be the “speech police.” However, he did suggest that the federal government could apply antitrust law to larger social media companies. He also said that Congress could change the law to make the companies liable for users who post libelous content.

 

Do you think that the federal government should regulate social media companies? Do Facebook and Twitter discriminate against conservatives? Should these companies do more to police hate speech?

House Takes Up Net Neutrality

How strictly the federal government should regulate Internet service providers is the question that the House of Representatives will take up today. The House is set to vote on legislation that would overturn a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote that invalidated net neutrality rules.

 

In December 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal “net neutrality” regulations. The regulations in question date to 2015, when the FCC decided to regulate Internet service providers more stringently. In essence, the agency at that time classified the services they provide as a public utility, largely forcing providers not to discriminate in pricing, content, and the management of the network.

 

H.R. 1644, the bill that the House will vote on, would overturn the 2017 vote and re-impose the 2015 rules. That has been a goal of Democrats in Congress and liberal activists around the nation since the FCC vote occurred.

 

Not surprisingly, Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast opposed the 2015 net neutrality rules and the House legislation. They do not like the fact that these regulations constrain them from treating different types of customers differently when it came to pricing or network management. Internet content companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, however, are strongly lobbying for the imposition of net neutrality regulations, seeing an advantage in being protected from higher charges when they use far more bandwidth than other websites or apps.

 

This 2017 FCC rule change did not remove federal oversight from the Internet. In fact, the rule mandates transparency for network management practices. The Federal Trade Commission also regulates Internet service providers. But it did lessen the ability of the government to set rules proactively that constrain Internet service providers.

 

Do you support legislation to re-impose net neutrality regulations? Should the Internet be treated as a public utility, subject to government rules on pricing and usage?

Trump Judicial Pick Neomi Rao under Scrutiny Today

President Trump has made judicial appointments a top priority. That has not escaped the notice of Senate Democrats and liberal activists, who have mobilized to oppose many of them. This battle over the fate of the federal judiciary is once again on display today as Neomi Rao faces senators in the Judiciary Committee.

 

The president has nominated Rao to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The seat has been left empty with the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Rao is currently Administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

 

The president and many legal commentators have praised Rao for her background. They point out that as head of an agency that specializes in regulatory affairs, she is well suited to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, which handles many regulatory and administrative matters.

 

Opponents counter that she has never served as a litigator. They also say that, while she was in college, she wrote troubling things about women and rape.

 

With Republicans in control of the Senate, Rao’s path to confirmation seems assured. What remains to be seen is if she will pick up any Democratic support in the final Senate vote.

 

Do you think that Neomi Rao should be confirmed as a federal judge? Do you think that someone’s writings during college should be held against them decades later?

Massachusetts Legislators, Governor Differ on Airbnb Regulations

 

Residents of the Bay State who rent their homes on Internet platforms like Airbnb may soon be facing new rules and taxes. Governor Charlie Baker and legislator cannot seem to agree on what these regulations should be, however.

 

Legislators passed a bill in August that would require homeowners with short-term rentals to register with the state, meet insurance mandates, and collect and pay the same taxes that hotels do. The bill would also allow local governments to regulate and impose taxes on these short-term rentals.

 

Governor Baker did not veto this legislation, but he did suggest some changes that would need to be made before he signed it. One of these modifications would be to exempt anyone from these new regulations who rented their homes for fewer than 14 days. His changes were generally aimed at reducing the legislation’s burden on those who use short-term rentals to earn some extra money, not as a full-time moneymaking operation.

 

The governor’s staff is meeting with legislators to find a way to resolve their differences. This leaves local governments in limbo. Some have already enacted their own regulations, but they lack the ability to impose taxes. They are pressing state lawmakers to come to a decision on a final state bill.

 

Massachusetts joins other states in looking at regulating short-term rentals. As online platforms such as Airbnb become popular, hotels have pressed local and state governments to impose regulations on homeowners using these services.

 

Do you think that homeowners using services like Airbnb should be regulated and taxed the same as hotels are?

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?

 

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?

 

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?

 

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?

 

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