Posted by 19 July 2019
Supporters of the “Fight for 15” achieved a victory yesterday, as the House of Representatives passed legislation to increase the minimum wage.
By a vote of 231-199, the House passed H.R. 582. Here is how VoteSpotter describes the bill:
To increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over 5 years. This legislation would also end the ability of nonprofits to offer work paying below the minimum wage to people with disabilities and end the different minimum wage rates for tipped and newly-hired employees.
This legislation would gradually increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour over 7 years. Ever year during that time, the minimum wage would automatically go up. Then, after the seventh year, the Department of Labor would increase the minimum wage based on the increase in the median hourly wage for all employees.
In addition, this bill would end the ability of employers to pay lower waged to tipped workers and younger workers who are new hires. The federal program that allows some nonprofits to pay wages that are based on productivity but are below the minimum wage to people with disabilities would also end.
Supporters of this proposal say that workers should be paid a “living wage,” and that $15 an hour will help accomplish this. They also argue that this boost in wages will put more money into the economy, helping businesses. Opponents counter that this higher minimum wage will boost the pay of some workers, but will destroy the jobs of others. They contend that businesses will be hurt with the new burden of paying higher wages, since they will face the choice of raising prices or letting people go.
A recent Congressional Budget Office study concluded that a $15 minimum wage would increase the wages of 17 million workers while eliminating the jobs of 1.3 million workers and reducing business income.
This legislation now heads to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is unlikely to schedule it for a vote.
Do you support a $15 an hour minimum wage?
Posted by 09 July 2019
The “Fight for 15” is a popular idea within the Democratic Party and progressive political circles. A study released yesterday concluded that hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour would indeed give some people a wage boost, but it would cost others their jobs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) looked at three options for raising the minimum wage above its current level of $7.25 an hour. The three wage levels it looked at were $10 an hour, $12 an hour, and $15 an hour. Here’s what the CBO concluded about what the effects of a $15 an hour minimum wage would be:
In an average week in 2025, the $15 option would boost the wages of 17 million workers who would otherwise earn less than $15 per hour. Another 10 million workers otherwise earning slightly more than $15 per hour might see their wages rise as well. But 1.3 million other workers would become jobless, according to CBO’s median estimate. There is a two-thirds chance that the change in employment would be between about zero and a decrease of 3.7 million workers. The number of people with annual income below the poverty threshold in 2025 would fall by 1.3 million.
The CBO also concluded that a $15 minimum wage would have impacts on family income:
- Real earnings for workers while they remained employed would increase by $64 billion,
- Real earnings for workers while they were jobless would decrease by $20 billion,
- Real income for business owners would decrease by $14 billion, and
- Real income for consumers would decrease by $39 billion.
This study points to the trade-offs that would come from a minimum wage hike. Some workers would see an immediate wage hike, but other workers would lose jobs. Businesses and consumers would also be affected by such a hike. With this issue likely to be a part of the 2020 presidential race, the CBO’s study gives more information on the effects of a minimum wage increase to inform the debate.
Do you think that the federal minimum wage should be raised to $15? Is the trade-off of higher wages for some workers worth it if other workers lose their jobs?
Posted by 12 June 2019
Millions of people use the services Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other technology companies. The dominance of these companies has raised the ire of some politicians and regulators, however. Yesterday both the House of Representatives and the Department of Justice signaled they are looking at antitrust action against big technology firms.
The legislative front against these companies will be spearheaded by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. Chairman David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, held hearings yesterday examining the impact of tech companies on the news media. He contends that these companies harm the news industry.
During the hearing, there was bipartisan support for some legislative changes aimed at helping the news industry compete in the changing technology landscape, but there were differences on how far Congress should go in pursuing antitrust action. Some Democrats have suggested breaking up companies like Google on antitrust grounds.
The antitrust path is something the Trump Administration is considering, as a speech by a top Justice Department official yesterday indicated. He laid out principles by which the department could pursue legal action against Facebook, Twitter, and others, saying that federal antitrust law could deal with the issues posed by these companies. He noted that antitrust law has many aspects, including consumer harm and harm to competition.
It is unclear if any legislation will emerge from Congress with a bipartisan consensus on this issue, just as it is unknown what the Trump Administration will do in the courts. However, there does appear to be growing desire to act in the executive and legislative branch.
Do you think that large technology companies like Facebook and Google should be broken up under antitrust law? Are consumers harmed by these companies? Does Big Tech stifle competition?
Posted by 02 April 2019
It’s “Equal Pay Day,” and you’ll probably be seeing statistics about how women are paid less than men and statistics debunking that stat. Regardless of how you interpret these statistics, one thing that may be overlooked today is that the House of Representatives passed a bill last week aimed at addressing this issue.
By a vote of 242-187, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, on March 27. This bill has a variety of provisions that are aimed at reducing what the sponsors view as a gender wage gap. It would:
- Narrow the factors by which employers can justify gender-based pay disparities to only apply to “bona fide” factors such as education, training, or experience
- Prohibit employers from punishing employees who discuss their pay
- Ban employers from considering salary history when considering hiring someone
Sponsors of this bill have been trying for years to see it pass the House. With the Democrats now in charge, they finally succeeded. No Democrats voted against it, while 7 Republicans voted for it.
Those supporting this bill say it is necessary to address persistent discrimination against women in the workforce, as evidenced by the gender pay gap. Opponents say that the pay gap is not due to discrimination, but to personal choices made by women – such as leaving the workforce for motherhood. They argue that this bill will only tie up businesses in more red tape.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration, where it is unlikely to receive a vote.
Do you think that the gender pay gap is due to discrimination that needs to be addressed by stronger federal laws? Or is the gender pay gap due to choices that individual men and women make in the workforce?
Posted by 16 January 2019
Kristen Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator, is running for president. She is betting that paid federal family leave is her key to gaining the White House.
Getting ready to announce her candidacy on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” Sen. Gillibrand previewed her campaign platform. One of her highest priorities is a federal policy of mandatory paid family leave, something that she has championed while in the Senate.
Under Sen. Gillibrand’s proposal, a new federal program would pay workers who take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a year. This leave could be used to deal with health conditions, pregnancy or childbirth, and caring for family members. The federal government would pay 66% of the parent’s monthly wages, financed by a tax on both individuals and businesses. A new federal agency, the Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave, would be created to administer the program.
Supporters of this idea argue that this would promote people entering the workforce who are of child-bearing age, since they would be guaranteed income if they have children. They also note that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without such a leave guarantee, so it is time that we join the rest of the world in helping working parents. Opponents point out that this would involve a large tax hike on both workers and businesses. They also say that it would hurt smaller businesses who would lose employees when they are needed for work.
Sen. Gillibrand’s family leave legislation never received a hearing in the Senate when she introduced it in the previous session of Congress.
Do you think the federal government should impose a tax on employees and employers to pay for a federal paid family leave program?
Posted by 11 December 2018
As the lame duck Congress moves towards adjournment, members of Congress still have many unfinished issues. Grilling Google is one of them.
Lawmakers have concerns about a variety of issues, ranging from how Google treats conservatives to the company’s privacy protections, and they aired them at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) chaired this hearing, which featured Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
There have been repeated complaints from President Trump and Republican elected officials that Google discriminates against conservative voices. This hearing offered Rep. Goodlatte and his colleagues an opportunity to air these concerns and Pichai to respond. “I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai testified. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions — and we have no shortage of them among our own employees.”
Google is also under fire for a recent security breach that affected over 50 million users. In addition, the company is working with China to develop a search engine that complies with that country’s censorship. Both of these issues are troubling for some lawmakers.
This hearing was an opportunity for members of Congress to air their grievances against Google. What steps they may take in response is unclear, however. Some have floated the idea of treating social media companies like public utilities, subject to strict government rules on how they operate. Others have called for investigations.
When the new Congress convenes in January, there will likely be multiple bills filed that deal in some way with the issues raised in today’s hearing.
Do you think that the federal government should impose more regulations on Google and social media companies?
Posted by 17 October 2018
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?
Posted by 19 September 2018
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?
Posted by 16 August 2018
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?
Posted by 09 August 2018
Many pension plans are facing an uncertain future. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has a plan to help them out – federal loans.
Senator Brown has introduced S. 2147, which would create the Pension Rehabilitation Administration. This new government agency would make loans to multi-employer pension plans that are declining, in critical status, or are insolvent. These loans would be for a 30-year term. To qualify, pension plans could not increase benefits over this 30-year term or allow for a reduction in contributions to the plan.
The pension plans that would be covered by this legislation are indeed facing an insolvency crisis. Some estimates put their unfunded liabilities at as much as $68 billion. Roughly 1.5 million Americans have retirement benefits that come or could come from these pensions.
Under Sen. Brown’s bill, aid to the pension plans would be in the form of loans that are supposed to be paid back to the government. However, there is no guarantee that such loans would be repaid. The Congressional Budget Office looked at the bill’s details and concluded that it could cost as much as $100 billion in federal dollars to support these plans. That number would be less if the pension plans were able to repay their loans.
Sen. Brown says this legislation is necessary to ensure that Americans can have access to the pensions they worked for and that were promised to them. Opponents of the legislation say that is a taxpayer bailout of union pension funds that made irresponsible financial decisions with workers’ money.
While Senator Brown’s bill has 22 co-sponsors, none of them are Republicans. That means it is unlikely that his proposal will be acted upon by the Senate this year.
Do you agree with Senator Sherrod Brown that the federal government should make loans to pension plans to guarantee workers’ retirement money? Or is it wrong for taxpayers to bail out union pension plans?
Posted by 06 August 2018
In 2017, Missouri legislators and then-Governor Eric Greitens enacted a law that would make Missouri a right-to-work state. Labor groups organized to stop this legislation through the referendum process. As a result, over a year later, voters will determine the future of organized labor in Missouri.
If voters pass Proposition A on August 7, it will enshrine the state’s right-to-work act into law. This would end the requirement that Missouri workers either join a union or pay a fee to a union as a condition of employment.
After Republicans took both houses of the legislature and governor’s mansion with the election of Gov. Greitens, they made passage of a right-to-work law a priority. Labor leaders have been able to delay its enactment through the veto referendum process. By collecting signatures and placing it on the ballot, voters have a chance to veto this law by voting “no.”
Supporters of right-to-work legislation say that no one should be forced to join a union or pay a fee to a union in order to work. They contend that unions should attract workers and their money voluntarily, not through the state forcing workers to fund labor organizations. Those opposed to these laws contend that since unions bargain on behalf of every worker at a business, no worker should be able to “free ride” on the benefits provided by unions.
If affirmed by the voters, Missouri would become the 28th state to enact right-to-work legislation.
Do you support right-to-work laws? Should workers be free to decide on whether to pay dues or fees to a union? Or are workers who refuse to join a union or pay fees to it free-riding off that union’s efforts on behalf of them?
Posted by 27 July 2018
President Donald Trump has been vocal in his desire to upend U.S. trading policy. He has imposed or threatened a variety of tariffs, and other nations have retaliated. Now Iowa farmers are caught in the middle of this trade war, something that concerns them as well as their representatives in Congress.
Earlier this year, President Trump imposed tariffs on some goods coming in from Mexico, Canada, the EU, and China. In response, these countries imposed tariffs on U.S. products, some of them agricultural. This has caused prices to drop for corn, pork, and other farm-sector products to drop. That is hitting some Iowa farmers hard.
These farmers are struggling with lower prices for this year’s crop while at the same time facing decisions about what to do next year. Given the uncertainty over trade policy and the willingness of the president to continue exploring further tariffs, many farmers are unsure about their economic future. This has prompted some farm state members of Congress, such as Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, to encourage the White House to consider how this trade war is affecting farmers.
Even in light of this disruption to the farm economy, however, many of these members of Congress are wary about supporting legislation that would scale back the president’s tariff powers. They are taking an attitude of waiting to see if these trade issues can be resolves soon so that U.S. farmers can once again enjoy greater access to international markets.
Do you think that farmers are right to be concerned that trade disputes could hurt their ability to stay in business?
Posted by 26 July 2018
Illinois legislators don’t like when potential employers ask job candidates about their salary history. They say this practice hurts women applicants. In early July, they passed legislation that would prohibit employers from asking job seekers about salary during interviews. Now it is up to Gov. Bruce Rauner to decide if he will go along with this effort to amend the state’s Equal Pay Act.
The salary legislation prohibits employers from doing three things: 1) screening potential employees on their salary history, 2) requiring that potential employees’ prior salary satisfy a maximum or minimum range, and 3) asking about salary history as part of the job search process.
Supporters of such legislation contend that asking about salary history is one way that employers can get away with offering women job applicants lower starting wages. They say that if women come from a job with a lower pay then it is difficult for them to receive jobs with a higher pay if new employer inquire about salary history. Opponents of this law counter that salary history is a relevant factor when hiring someone, so employers should not be banned from asking about it.
Governor Rauner vetoed a similar bill last year. It is unclear what he will do once this new bill reaches his desk.
Do you think that employers should be prohibited from asking about salary history when interviewing someone? Do employers questioning potential employees about their salary history contribute to a gender pay gap?
Posted by 28 June 2018
The Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn is getting ready to open its North American headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Understandably, Governor Scott Walker is proud of this move, which adds onto an announcement that Foxconn will build an LCD manufacturing plant elsewhere in the state. But critics say that the only thing that lured Foxconn to Wisconsin is billions of dollars in corporate welfare.
Gov. Walker dismisses any criticism of the subsidies provided to Foxconn, noting that they were necessary to create thousands of new jobs in the state. These subsidies passed after strenuous lobbying by the governor. He convinced the Republicans who control the legislature to pass the incentive package last year.
Here is how VoteSpotter described the subsidy bill, which passed 20-13 in the state Senate and 59-30 in the Assembly:
To allow the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to provide tax credits up to $2.85 billion in a new technology manufacturing zone. The bill also exempts the purchase of construction material in this zone from the state's sales tax.
The sales tax exemption is worth roughly $150 million, making the state subsidy package a $3 billion offer to Foxconn. With other government incentives included, this one company could be receiving as much as $4.5 billion directly or indirectly from taxpayers. There is also a move by a local government to use eminent domain to seize some land designated as “blighted” and turn it over to Foxconn.
The end result would be between 3,000 and 13,000 new jobs created in Wisconsin. While Gov. Walker touts the jobs figure of 13,000, legislators rejected a Democratic proposal that would have required Foxconn to repay its subsidies if it does not create this number of jobs.
Do you support Wisconsin using $4.5 billion in subsidies to lure Foxconn into the state? Should the government designate land as “blighted” so it can use eminent domain to seize it and turn it over to Foxconn or other private businesses?
Posted by 20 June 2018
Should the state mandate a union wage on government construction projects? Michigan legislators answered “no” to this question in early June. They passed legislation to repeal the state’s prevailing wage requirement. While unions bemoaned this move and promised payback at the ballot box, businesses and some workers applauded the move to allow greater flexibility on construction projects financed by the state government.
For decades in Michigan, government construction projects operated under the requirement that they pay the “prevailing wage” in a region. That is a state-set wage rate that was supposed to equal the wage and benefits paid to the majority of workers in a certain area. Usually, this meant the union wage rate. This allowed unions to have easier access to these projects and made it more difficult for non-union companies to compete for government construction contracts.
A business group had collected enough signatures to place a repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage law on the November ballot. Legislators had the option of enacting this measure by approving it through a majority vote. Both houses of the legislature did so, with most Republicans voting to repeal the wage requirement and most Democrats voting against it.
Proponents of repealing the prevailing wage mandate say that taxpayers will save money because labor costs on government construction projects will be lower, perhaps by as much as 15%. They also say that this will mean more companies will be able to bid on government construction projects, thus giving more job opportunities to workers who are not in unions.
Organized labor fought against this law’s repeal, arguing that it would lead to lower wages for workers. They contend that it will drive skilled labor out of the state. They also say that this law helped working families.
Do you think that states should mandate a union wage scale on government construction projects?
Posted by 06 June 2018
It has been two years since legislators enacted legislation that made West Virginia a right-to-work state. Unions and their supporters are now striking back, hoping to make support for overturning this law a winning issue this election year.
In 2016, then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, vetoed legislation that would end the requirement that individuals join a union or pay a fee to a union as a condition of employment. This bill passed the Republican-controlled legislature, and these lawmakers overturned Gov. Tomblin’s veto. After a year-long court battle, West Virginia’s right to work law went into effect in 2017.
Unions and their political supporters fought hard to defeat the law, but were unsuccessful. They now see this year’s state elections as a way to put candidates in office who will overturn it.
They have already had some success. In the May primary election, one of the Republican senators who fought hardest for this law lost his primary. He was beaten by a state delegate who opposed the 2017 law and received support from the state teachers’ union.
Support for overturning the right to work law also features heavily in the campaign of Richard Ojeda, who is a Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s Third Congressional District. According to him, “Right-to-work needs to go…If we take back the state of West Virginia, we will be the first state to overturn right-to-work.”
Those opposing right-to-work in West Virginia say that the law hurts workers’ ability to bargain for higher wages and better benefits. Supporters of the law contend that it will help attract businesses and new jobs to West Virginia.
Do you support right-to-work laws?
Posted by 25 May 2018
The tech boom has been good to Seattle. Companies like Amazon have revitalized a city that was once in such a severe decline that it featured a billboard requesting, “Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights?” Now the city council has unanimously voted to mandate that large companies in the city to pay a new tax on every employee – an idea that many fear would hurt job growth there.
Under this tax plan, companies that have $20 million in annual gross receipts would be subject to a tax of $275 a year for every employee working at these companies. This tax would end in five years, with the council having the option of renewing it. The revenue from this tax is slated to be used for constructing affordable housing units and emergency services for the homeless.
Initially, the tax was $500 a year for every employee and it would have been replaced by a .7% payroll tax in 2021. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan pushed for a lower tax that did not transition to a payroll tax.
Advocates of this tax say it is needed because the companies being targeted have contributed to the high cost of housing in the city. These advocates contend that it is only fair to ask these companies to pay a special tax to help the city government provide affordable housing and homeless services.
Opponents of the tax include business owners and some unions. They say that it will penalize companies for creating jobs in Seattle. This will discourage companies from hiring new workers or locating their business in Seattle. These observers note that companies can set up their headquarters in suburbs and still enjoy many of the benefits of being located in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Amazon paused consideration an office building’s construction during the consideration of the tax and said that it would look at leasing some of its space to other companies. Tax supporters accused Amazon of trying to blackmail the city, while tax opponents said this was the natural reaction of a business being targeted by a punitive tax proposal.
Do you think that large companies should pay a special tax for every person they employ to fund government affordable housing programs and homeless services?
Posted by 08 May 2018
If you live in Connecticut and want to buy a Tesla, you have to travel to a neighboring state. Connecticut law mandates that new cars can only be sold through franchises, but Tesla sells their cars directly to consumers. Legislators are considering a bill that would change the way cars can be sold in Connecticut, but it has garnered fierce opposition from existing franchise owners.
For decades, Connecticut has prohibited automobile manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to people who want to buy them. Instead, the state mandates that car sales must be made through independent franchises. This law is similar to laws that all 50 states passed to protect independent vehicle dealers from what was perceived as unfair competition from automobile manufacturers. Lawmakers at the time saw manufacturers as having too much power to undersell or coerce independent dealers, so passed laws that prohibited these manufacturers from selling directly to the public.
Tesla does not operate its sales in the same was as other automobile companies, however. It contends that independent dealers will not prioritize sales of its cars, so it wants the ability to market them directly to people who are interested in buying them. The company has been working in states around the country to change laws that prohibit it from making sales in this way. Connecticut consumers can buy cars from Tesla dealerships in New York or Massachusetts, and some do. Tesla contends that Connecticut is losing out on tax revenue by banning the car’s sale in the state.
Franchise owners say that if legislators change the law, it will lead to an un-level playing field for them. They argue that Tesla dealerships have fewer employees and lower overhead, so they will have an unfair advantage. They also argue that jobs will be lost at franchises if the state allows for manufacturers like Tesla to sell directly to consumers.
Legislators have been debating this issue for four years in Connecticut. There have been attempts to find a compromise between dealers and Tesla, but so far the two sides cannot come to a consensus. It remains to be seen if this will be the year that lawmakers break through the impasse and allow Tesla’s cars to be sold in the state.
Do you think that state laws should prohibit Tesla from being sold directly to consumers? Or do you think it is a good idea to have laws that mandate cars be sold through independent franchises?
Posted by 02 May 2018
If you want to work as a hair braider or a boxing announcer in Florida, the state mandates that you get a license. Some legislators think that workers pursuing these jobs should not be forced to get permission from the state. They passed a bill in this year’s legislative session that would have de-licensed these and a few other occupations. But this push for occupational license reform did not survive the legislative process, meaning that anyone wishing to work in these jobs must still get a state license.
In early January, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would end the requirement that people looking to work in the occupations of hair braiding, hair wrapping, body wrapping, boxing timekeeping, and boxing announcing must obtain a state license. The bill also reduced the number of hours of mandatory training that someone seeking to work as a barber, nail specialist, face specialist, or a full beauty specialist must complete. The legislation was the same as a bill passed the previous year in the same body.
Those supporting this reform contend that occupational licenses are a barrier to Floridians seeking work. These licenses keep people from being able to get jobs and act to protect those already in the occupation from competition. They also say that the licenses may be defended as a way to protect the public, but the evidence indicates that these licenses don’t offer a public benefit.
The bill met stiff opposition from barbers and those in the beauty field. The professional associations and licensed workers testified that the longer training hours were necessary to ensure that the public is not harmed by barbers or beauty workers who did not know their craft. They said that the state should mandate more hours to protect the public, not cut the mandatory hours.
While this legislation passed the House of Representatives, it died in the Senate. Given the history of this proposal, a similar bill is likely to be debated in the 2019 Florida legislative session.
Do you think that the state should impose a mandatory license on hair braiders and boxing announcers? Should the state require barbers complete 1,200 hours of training before they cut hair professionally?
Posted by 01 May 2018
Across the nation, city and county governments are passing laws that regulate how employers pay their employees or what benefits they provide. In Wisconsin, however, these local governments recently lost their power to enact such ordinances.
In mid-April, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that pre-empts local authority to regulate employee wages and hour. The bill to do this passed 58 to 32 in the Assembly and 18 to 14 in the Senate. Governor Walker is a Republican, and both of the legislative bodies are controlled by Republicans.
This act prohibits local governments from doing the following:
- Imposing mandatory “labor peace agreements,” which are requirements that businesses enter into agreements with unions as a condition for doing government work
- Regulating employee hour and overtime
- Regulating employment benefits
- Prohibiting employers from asking job candidates their past salary information
Nationwide, local proposals to increase the minimum wage or mandate paid sick leave generally occur in cities led by liberal leadership but located in states that have a conservative state government. The actions of local officials in this area often prompt a backlash from state officials, such as was seen in Wisconsin. Local governments have no inherent authority to regulate these areas; states can pre-empt any efforts by cities or counties to pass laws on this subject.
Supporters of these pre-emption laws say that they are necessary to provide uniform labor laws across the state. They contend that a patchwork of local labor laws makes it difficult for businesses to operate. Opponents of the state pre-empting local government labor regulations say that cities and counties should have the power to adopt laws that meet needs in their jurisdiction, which may be different from what works in other jurisdictions across the state.
Do you think that Wisconsin cities should be able to enact laws, such as a higher minimum wage, than what state law allows? Or should there be uniform wage and labor laws that apply across Wisconsin?