The federal seat-belt-law mandate was the result of a 1980s deal between Reagan-era Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole (proof, long before Mayor Bloomberg, that nanny-state tendencies transcend partisan labels) and Detroit automakers, who calculated that regulating their customers would help stave off regulating their own design decisions. And now? Less individual liberty, more scope for police discretion, and in some states a taste for revenue: “In California, a single seat-belt violation can be as much as $490.” [Radley Balko] Earlier on mandatory seat belt usage laws here, here (“saturation detail” police stops), here, etc. (“doggie seat belt” laws), here (Germany: Pope in Popemobile), here, and here (England: Santa’s sleigh), among others.
He came to stay: “A Telegraph Hill resident who was squabbling with his building co-owners allegedly duped them into renting him their unit by using a false identity on Airbnb, according to a complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court. Then, after two months in the apartment, he claimed he qualified for tenants’ rights and said he planned to stay indefinitely.” [San Francisco Chronicle, earlier in series]
- “The business model of Wall Street is fraud” line is, well, vintage B.S. (that’s Bernie Sanders to you) [Steve Chapman/Chicago Tribune, Bret Stephens/WSJ. More: “Sorry Bernie, Wall Street Wasn’t Deregulated Pre-Crash” [Jared Meyer, Forbes]
- Auto lender shakedowns by Obama CFPB and DoJ continue, latest is Toyota for $21.9 million [WSJ] “Obama bullied bank to pay racial settlement without proof: report” [Paul Sperry, New York Post]
- Delaware Chancery Court takes step toward countering plaintiff lawyers who sue on almost every deal, still has many miles to go [Ronald Barusch, WSJ “Dealpolitik”]
- New York Times endorses financial transactions tax with unconvincing regulatory rationale [Peter Van Doren/Cato, earlier]
- California insurance commissioner pushes politicized investing, which can actually complicate solvency risk by harming portfolio diversification [Business Insider]
- “Smaller community banks appear to have a valid concern that their compliance burden is rising and the playing field is becoming more uneven” [Preston Ash, Christoffer Koch and Thomas Siems, Dallas Fed via Kevin Funnell] Marshall Lux/Robert Greene study ties trend to Dodd-Frank law [Harvard Kennedy School via Todd Zywicki]
- Laws against money laundering hurt more good guys than bad guys, latest installment [Jeff Miron, Cato]
The California Public Utilities Commission has voted to approve a $7.6 million dollar fine levied against ride-sharing app provider Uber “for not adequately reporting legally-demanded data on its service to the disabled.” The paperwork dispute is distinct from any actual proceedings over claims of service denial. [Brian Doherty, Reason; earlier and related on what Doherty calls California’s “regulatory war on Uber” here (employee status of drivers), here (CEQA), etc.]
- “Outdoor guides to Obama: Take a hike” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Labor Department imposes higher federal-contractor minimum wage on outfitters operating in national parks, though they do not fit conventional definition of contractors]
- Los Angeles: “Gov’t Emails Cast Doubt On Berkeley Minimum Wage Study” [Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
- Video: David Boaz (Cato) debates Chai Feldblum (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) on identity in the workplace [Atlantic “Ideas”]
- Oyster visas: when even Sen. Barbara Mikulski says labor regulations go too far, maybe they go too far [Rachel Weiner, Washington Post]
- Lawsuit: California shouldn’t be letting private employees work seven days in a row whether they want to or not [Trevor Burrus, Cato; Mendoza v. Nordstrom brief, Supreme Court of California]
- One hopes U.S. Senate will think carefully before ratifying international labor conventions [Richard Trumka and Craig Becker, Pacific Standard]
- “We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles”: union chief vows to go after lawmakers seeking to break county liquor monopoly in Montgomery County, Maryland [Bethesda Magazine]
“Do you donate to the Sierra Club or the National Rifle Association? California Attorney General Kamala Harris wants to know who you are, what your address is and how much you give….
“Every American has the right to support the causes we believe in without the fear of harassment and retaliation. Disclosure mandates undermine this basic freedom, dry up donations to charities and silence political speech.” [Jon Riches, Sacramento Bee]
“…How can we help you commit fraud today?” [Coyote]
Related, an entry of mine from Twitter’s #ExplainaFilmPlotBadly:
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) December 13, 2015
30-employee Woof ‘N’ Poof, which manufactures stuffed collector dolls and other novelty accessories in the northern California community of Chico for sale in Nordstrom and other stores, may soon call it quits [Debbie Cobb/KHSL via Richard Rider, Flash Report]:
[Owner Roger] Hart says a raise in minimum wage and workers compensation are just a couple of issues that have made it difficult to keep the business financially afloat here. Hart said, “The high cost of doing business in California coupled with ridiculous regulatory environment makes it virtually impossible to do business.” He says he has seen an 11% hike in payroll.
…A recent visit by an inspector with the Department of Consumer Affairs set the company back. The inspector from Sacramento cited him for having the wrong size font on the decorative pillow labels. He was told to take the labels out, or they would have his inventory seized. It was a costly fix.
Government is just another word for the things we do together, like threatening to seize pillow inventories with wrong-font labels.
- Mechanics of high-volume injury litigation: “A disgruntled former law firm employee spills secrets on a mass tort factory” [Paul Barrett, Business Week] More on chasing clients: new Chamber Institute for Legal Reform research finds 23 of top 25 Google key words linking ads to user searches are for personal injury law firms; TV advertising by lawyer is projected to reach $892 million in 2015, up 68% from 2008. Yet more: Daniel Fisher/Forbes (“San Antonio car wreck attorney” goes for $670 per click on Google), Tampa Bay Times (“Highly groomed attorney duo …shown moving in slow motion on courthouse steps to a hard rock beat”);
- Flurry of other new papers by U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, many connected with its annual Legal Reform Summit, include one on how the trial bar has been successful at lobbying the Obama administration. Plus a new edition of “101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems”;
- In speech, Rudolph Giuliani recalls tort-law challenges he faced as NYC mayor [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]
- A quarter century later, trial lawyers’ initiative to take revenge against insurer adversaries continues to harm California insurance customers [Ian Adams, “The troublesome legacy of Prop 103,” R Street Institute, paper in PDF, summary]
- A story we’ve covered before: Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood and the flow of funds from and to private lawyers he hires [Steve Wilson/Mississippi Watchdog, quotes me]
- Most New York counties have passed resolutions calling for reform of the state’s unique scaffold law [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York]
- You’d think indictment of Mikal Watts, Texas law major-leaguer with friends in high D.C. places, would be playing bigger in the press [Tim Carney]
- Availability of Uber and Lyft at LAX airport tied up in lawsuits including one filed under CEQA, the California environmental-review law often used tactically to delay projects [Los Angeles Times]
- Twenty years after his classic contrarian article on recycling, John Tierney returns with another close look at its pros and cons [New York Times] Quit scapegoating plastic bags, they carry enough weight as it is [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason, related]
- California class action: Reynolds should have disclosed formaldehyde in vaping [Winston-Salem Journal] Authors of widely noted New England Journal of Medicine formaldehyde/vaping paper got “philanthropy to support research” from two big-league trial lawyers [NEJM paper, disclosure form, Joseph Nocera January, related April, August and recent New York Times columns, Michael Siegel]
- Federal court blocks EPA’s hotly disputed Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) rule [Jonathan Adler; National Wildlife Federation (pro-rule); Todd Gaziano and M. Reed Hopper, PLF (against), American Farm Bureau Federation (same)]
- Environmental law firm intervenes in Louisiana governor’s race to tune of $1.1 million [Greater Baton Rouge Business Report]
- Same state: “BP oil spill settlement to reimburse millions Louisiana paid to politically connected law firms” [Kyle Barnett, Louisiana Record]
- Government subsidies for rebuilding hurricane-prone areas disproportionately aid the wealthy [Chris Edwards, Cato]