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Imaginary Discrimination Bill is “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week”

This week’s bad bill is a thorny issue, but one that highlights yet another danger of the progressive-left’s agenda to control our lives via a government driven by political correctness. In our American society, this means a direct threat to free speech and free thought.

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Cicilline Reinforces the Suspicions That Elected Trump

In the Bonus Q&A of a recent Rhode Island Public Radio Political Roundtable, Democrat Congressman David Cicilline responded to a question by RIPR commentator Scott MacKay in a way that affirms the suspicions that many of us have had about the thinking of federal politicians, especially on immigration and especially among Democrats.  MacKay asked, “Would you be willing to appropriate federal money to build Trump’s wall in exchange for taking care of the Dreamers?”  Cicilline responded as follows (emphasis added):

You know, the proposal that Senator Schumer put before the president, that he has now withdrawn is something that I think it would be challenging for most Democrats to support. I support border security. I think that will obviously mean repairing some of the existing wall, maybe building some fences. It ought to be done in a smart, efficient, effective way. The president’s own chief of staff said a wall is not the way to secure our border. So, it’s probably not the best way to go forward.

Although, Louis Gutierrez said the other day: We ought to vote for the wall, take care of the Dreamers and then when we get back into the majority, in November, we can repeal the wall. That’s not a bad strategy.

As the recent cliché goes, this is why we got Trump.  Part of the reason that immigration has become such a challenging issue is that the political Right has known for decades, now, that any deal must implement the stronger security that they seek before any of the laxity that the political Left wants can be done.  That’s because we know that any sort of amnesty or relief will be done immediately, and then the federal government will never get around to implementing greater security.  All that sequence does is send the message worldwide that the U.S. will ultimately bend its rules for people who can get here while leaving open the gaps to enter the country.

The lesson applies more broadly, too.  We know from experience, and now from Cicilline’s own words, that his party nationally is not interested in fair negotiation and good faith negotiations.  They have political objectives, and any promises, rules, and a sense of shared nationality are nothing in the face of those goals.

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Pushing for Occupational Licensing

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has today released a media and information page and an initial brief supporting reform of occupational licensing laws and other regulations.  From the second link:

Rhode Islanders Dream, Too. The right to earn a living in the profession of one’s choice without government interference is fundamental to each person’s freedom to fulfill his or her individual dreams and goals. In making Rhode Island a less friendly place to call home for Americans looking to fulfill a lifelong dream, to raise a family, and to build a career, our state government restricts that right by forcing too many of its residents to seek its permission and to overcome burdensome and costly barriers before engaging in meaningful work.

In a comprehensive national analysis of occupational licensing barriers for low-to-middle-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs, a 2017 Institute for Justice report ranked Rhode Island among the 10 most widely and onerously licensed states. Already suffering bottom 10 rankings on the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), overall business climate, and on Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), Rhode Islanders should be provided with every opportunity to engage in gainful work.

Unfortunately, Rhode Island is becoming less of a “home of the free” and more of a “land that requires permission.” For many, the costly fees and training mandates that are irrationally and unfairly imposed on certain occupations presents an insurmountable barrier to engaging in a new profession. As one factor in its bottom 10 FPI ranking, the lack of opportunity to engage in prosperous work has forced tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders to move out of state, bringing with them billions of dollars of income earning potential.

Rhode Island’s dismal business climate, because of excessively high levels of taxation and regulation, keeps our state uncompetitive on a regional and national basis. Especially hard hit are low-income occupations for which earning a primary or secondary income is vital to family self-sufficiency.

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Their Constitution Is Their Ideology

Pro-abortion extremists in the General Assembly are back with their push to cut all traces of Rhode Island law, most of which is currently superseded by federal law, that in any way limits access to abortions or affirms the biological fact that unborn children are, in fact, human beings.  One provision would eliminate the statute against the barbaric procedure of partial-birth abortion, wherein the abortionist brings the baby almost fully into the air and then kills him or her before final delivery.  (The method of killing can involve crushing the baby’s skull and sucking his or her brains out.)

But rather than inflame passions with accurate descriptions of abortion, I’ll focus, here, on a peculiar rhetorical trick of the activists:

“We have anti-choice leaders in both chambers of Congress, and a Supreme Court whose balance could help the other two branches destroy the protections provided by Roe v. Wade. Unless we erase these unconstitutional laws, it is feasible that the women of Rhode Island could be knocked back a half-century to the days of secret, dangerous back-room abortions,″ [Providence progressive Democrat Representative Edith] Ajello said last week after introducing the bill.

“Our state has lacked the political will to repeal these unconstitutional laws, and that inaction is now putting the health and rights of Rhode Island women at genuine risk,″ added the lead Senate sponsor, [Providence progressive Democrat Senator] Gayle Goldin, in a news release last week. “Women deserve better from the leaders of our state.”

Clearly “unconstitutional” is a very important talking point to these activists.  The peculiarity is that if the Supreme Court were to reverse the precedent of prior activist courts, these state laws would no longer be unconstitutional.  That is, in addition to their belief that one human being has the authority arbitrarily to declare whether another human being has any rights at all, they also hold that constitutionality is ultimately defined by conformance with their own ideology, rather than agreed-upon words and legal processes.

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Fake Claims From The Progressive Land Of Make-Believe

The legislative onslaught from the left has begun. As the poster child of their desire for government-control over the lives of residents and businesses, Rhode Island’s progressive-Democrats announced they will introduce legislation this week to establish an estimated $13.2 billion single-payer health insurance system.

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The Appearance of a Crime Wave

Obviously, it’s still too early to assert correlation, but given how crazy I think parts of Providence’s “Community Safety Act” are, leading me to call it the “Gangland Security Act,” I wanted to note Dan McGowan’s WPRI coverage of a related controversy:

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said Thursday he sees “absolutely no correlation” between several recent shootings and the new police reform ordinance that took effect Jan. 1.

Pare was responding to a post on the Providence police union’s Facebook page that claimed violence “seems to have escalated” since the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA) became law at the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, it takes a while for data to accumulate sufficiently to assert a trend, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the possibility.  And of course, having a string of progressive mayors would seem likely to open several streams of causation for an increase in crime, so the Gangland Security Act may not necessarily be the greatest contributor.

I’ve made some changes in the way I gather my daily news, so that might account for this impression, but in general, it has seemed as if more crime stories have been coming out of Providence lately.  I’ve certainly started seeing posts here and there around the Internet with people asking if it’s safe to go into Rhode Island’s capital.  For now, they’ve seemed to be tongue in cheek, but impressions affect people’s behavior.

As the number of crime stories climbs and people begin talking about what seems to be an increase, with the police union chiming in with an explanation, actual data may come to matter less than the talk around the state.

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Regunberg’s Drug Innovation Disincentive Act

Barely out of the gate in the new legislative session, progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg of Providence is proving exactly how dangerous he is to the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders:

The bill (2018-H 7042), which Representative Regunberg introduced Jan. 3, would establish a board of pharmacy to examine how prescription drug manufactures set the price for certain prescriptions, and give it the authority to set a maximum allowable price to protect the Rhode Island consumers.

The price-fixing scheme would give nine unelected board members, most of them pharmacists with a financial interest in the industry, deep access to the private information of drug companies and the power to set prices for drugs — particularly those that are among the most innovative and life changing — below the level that companies believe necessary to make it worthwhile to develop more.

There is no reason to expect pharmacists to understand every aspect of drugs’ production and sale generally, let alone the internal operations of a particular company.  If companies are forced to justify pricing decisions to Rhode Island’s socialist-nine board members and beg their indulgence, the potential for corruption is immense.  If the members are cycled out every three-year term, then they’ll lack a long-term perspective, but if they’re kept on the board for much longer, they’ll become less accountable.

The minimum price for a drug in the state will always be zero… in the sense of being unavailable.

Given the critical nature of its products, our health care market does need controls against price gouging, but we should go the route of reform and competition, not the philosophy that has brought Venezuelans into the gutter.  Reform patent laws, giving generic drug manufacturers more opportunity.  Take the thumb off of insurance companies so they’ll have more leverage against drug companies.  Take the restrictions off of health care providers and consumers so they’ll have leverage to shop around for drugs, insurers, and types of treatments.

Above all, Regunberg’s bill illustrates how close we are to the end game of government control, and that’s an extremely unhealthy place to be.

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Jobs Lost to Regulation

Katie Wendell’s article on occupational licensing in Ohio brings to mind questions about Rhode Island:

Ohio lawmakers are considering changes to some requirements amid concerns that over-regulation is keeping some people — including many from the generation most apt to leave the state — from gaining employment.

“Ohio’s licensing requirements have prevented more than 7,000 people between the ages of 25-45 from pursuing licensed occupations in the state,” says a new study by the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank.

I don’t think it’s so much a generation that might leave as a class, which I’ve called the “productive class.”  (Again, that description is meant to distinguish from, say, an “investor class” or “student class,” not a “lazy class” or something.)

I do wonder what the Buckeye Institute’s model would find Rhode Island’s job prevention number would be.  According to the Institute for Justice, Rhode Island has the 10th most burdensome licensing laws for low-to-middle-income occupations, compared with Ohio’s 38th.

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Locking People Out with an Explosion of Regulation

The topic of occupational licensing has been trending, lately, and Nila Bala adds this on The Hill:

Nearly one out of three Americans has a record in the criminal justice system and, as a result, faces a difficult road to becoming employed. Adding to their woes is the fact that many jobs — including interior designer, barber, pest control applicator and fire alarm installer — require some kind of occupational license.

Unfortunately, many states still deny licenses for individuals with criminal convictions, even when those convictions are decades old or relatively minor. The good news? Several states and cities across the country are poised to become leaders in reforming the law.

The number of jobs requiring occupational licenses has ballooned in the last 50 years. Occupational licensing has expanded from covering five percent of the workforce in the 1950s to 30 percent today. In recent years, occupational licenses have come under fire for creating unnecessary barriers to work without any measurable gains in safety or quality of services provided to the public.

Of course, one could argue that the mix of jobs has changed in the last half-century, but somehow people got along without government oversight of a big chunk of the economy in the past.  It isn’t clear that the benefits of all this regulation outweigh the costs, or even have substantial benefits looking only at that side of the ledger.

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