Posts Tagged ‘California’

Gig/freelancer economy roundup

In an emergency that has made trucking, logistics, and home delivery uniquely important, fractured the schedules of countless parents and caregivers, and sent the services sector reeling, it would be nice if California and other states were not making war on the work arrangements needed for the situation. That’s why California’s AB5 fiasco (earlier here, here) along with similar moves in New Jersey and elsewhere, come at the worst time.

P.S. Related Cato post now up. Truckers especially have many more problems than this right this moment responding to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, read about some of them here (and help if you can!) They have begun getting direly needed removals of regulations. But don’t let this one slip off the list.

Environment roundup

  • “Ninth Circuit Dismisses Kids Climate Case for Lack of Standing” [Jonathan Adler, more; John Schwartz, New York Times; earlier here, here]
  • Administration finishes replacing much-criticized Obama rule on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) [AgInfoNet, WilmerHale, earlier]
  • Prop 65 mini-roundup: the California chemical-disclosure regime “has not been shown to provide benefits that justify its high cost.” [Michael Marlow, Cato Regulation magazine last summer] It has also created a $300 million/year industry that includes not a few shakedown artists [Cameron English, ACSH] Take two Tylenol and label them as hazardous chemicals or else [Masha Abarinova, Reason] Gas utility’s Prop 65 insert warning of exposure to, yes, natural gas [SoCalGas] From Cal Biz Lit, lists of 2019 settlements and consent judgments;
  • Forcing insurers to renew risky policies: “California Politicians Double Down on Encouraging People To Live in Wildfire-Prone Areas” [Christian Britschgi]
  • Exchange on the Price-Anderson Act and the liability regime it creates for nuclear power generation [John Cochrane; Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution] “Germany’s closing of nuclear power stations after Fukushima cost billions of dollars and killed thousands of people due to more air pollution.” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • Two Cato Daily Podcast episodes hosted by Caleb Brown: why scaling back National Environmental Policy Act review of infrastructure projects “won’t have much of an impact on environmental quality.” [Peter Van Doren] Should Presidents wield unilateral power to lock or unlock use of federal land, as is conferred on them under the 1906 Antiquities Act? [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Jonathan Wood]

More about University of California diversity oaths

Details continue to emerge about the University of California’s use of mandatory diversity statements in faculty hiring (earlier here, etc.) In Berkeley life sciences hiring “diversity statements were used at the outset of searches to eliminate candidates.. … No matter how good your scholarship, if you didn’t pass the diversity [advocacy] cutoff (a score of 11 in the second search), you were toast.” [Jerry Coyne; John Cochrane]

“UC Berkeley has publicized its rubric for assessing peoples’ diversity and inclusion statements. You get 5 points for ‘Clear and detailed ideas for…advancing equity and inclusion…through their research, teaching, and/or service.’ Note word ‘research’.” [Agnes Callard] What if you embark on research that bears on questions of equity and inclusion but it reaches findings that do not advance the cause?

UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge, a friend of this site, recently chose to submit and publish a diversity statement emphasizing his efforts to foster a more ideologically diverse atmosphere at his UC campus — testing whether diversity as such, or only some manifestations of it, are the goal [AEI “Carpe Diem”] It caused a stir [Bainbridge blog, reactions and emails; some faculty at campuses like UC Davis have begun to push back] Given that UC is a public university, the prospects for a legal challenge appear strong, and there is interest in mounting a suit [Brian Leiter]

Meanwhile at the national and federal level, a $241 million cluster-hire grant program from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “is requiring every candidate to prove that they have already promoted diversity”; among those who may lose out are “minority candidates who have been doing things other than ‘changing the culture'” [Jerry Coyne]

January 29 roundup

  • Authorities arrested man who stood in front of courthouse passing out leaflets encouraging jury nullification. Michigan Supreme Court should uphold his First Amendment rights [Clark Neily and Jay Schweikert on Cato Institute brief in Michigan v. Wood, earlier here, here, and here]
  • Also on the topic of jury nullification, is that an appropriate metaphor for things happening with the Senate and impeachment? [Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quotes me]
  • In 2018 an Eleventh Circuit panel green-lighted a suit claiming that it was unconstitutional for Alabama to enact a law pre-empting Birmingham’s local enactment of a higher minimum wage, on the claim that the white-led state lawmaking majority had acted with the purpose and effect of injuring African-Americans, who (it was argued) were more likely to be beneficiaries of the wage mandate. Now the full circuit en banc (over a dissent) has dismissed the case on standing grounds without deciding whether disparate racial impact can taint otherwise neutral laws [Lewis v. Governor of Alabama]
  • New California law CCPA, promoted as giving consumers the right to see and delete their data, results in users being required to yield up more data and creates new security risks [Kashmir Hill, New York Times via Gus Hurwitz (“anyone who didn’t see this coming shouldn’t be in the business of writing laws”)]
  • Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter (“take some home to the wives”) is deemed okay by regulators in its own state of Utah, but is too naughty for their counterparts in North Carolina [Hayley Fowler, Charlotte Observer]
  • Symposium on “The Politicization of Antitrust” with Luigi Zingales, Alec Stapp, and others [Truth on the Market] And “The Future of Antitrust: New Challenges to the Consumer Welfare Paradigm and Legislative Proposals” with Makam Delrahim, Maureen Ohlhausen and others [Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention]

Gig/freelancer economy roundup

More on the chaotic, destructive effects of California’s AB5 (earlier here, here, etc.):

Labor and employment roundup

  • More on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ big plans to regulate employment [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown, related earlier]
  • It’s not just the joint employer rules, NLRB is rolling back Obama-era decisions in many other areas too: union elections, including “quickie” procedures [Laura I. Bernstein, Felhaber Larson]; confidentiality in workplace investigations and use of company email systems [Jon Hyman]
  • California Agricultural Labor Relations Board adopts a regulation entitling union organizers to enter farms whether owners approve or no. When such a mass incursion, with bullhorns, disrupts farm operations, has a taking of property occurred? Ninth Circuit says no [Pacific Legal Foundation; Metropolitan News-Enterprise; Federalist Society podcast with Wen Fa and Bethany Berger]
  • Study based on tax data finds typical member of top-earning 1% “derives most of his or her income from human capital, not financial capital” [David Henderson] Or on the other hand: “The [analytic] attempt to divide all income between labor and capital is a fool’s errand.” [Arnold Kling]
  • “Both the financial market crash and the aging of America’s industrial workforce are real phenomena. They did not, however, cause the multiemployer pension crisis.” [Charles Blahous, Economics21; more by Blahous here, here, and here; earlier]
  • Supervisor’s remarks critical of exercising FMLA leave options keep nurse’s lawsuit alive despite clients’ complaints about her behavior while visiting their homes [Ronald Tang, SHRM]

“What Does California’s New Data Privacy Law Mean? Nobody Agrees”

The new California law on consumer data is stringent but, as is so often the case with that state’s legislation, less than pellucidly clear [Natasha Singer, New York Times] :

“Companies have different interpretations, and depending on which lawyer they are using, they’re going to get different advice,” said Kabir Barday, the chief executive of OneTrust, a privacy management software service that has worked with more than 4,000 companies to prepare for the law. “I’ll call it a religious war.”

The new law has national implications because many companies, like Microsoft, say they will apply their changes to all users in the United States rather than give Californians special treatment.

AB5: California’s much-predicted freelancer disaster

“California’s new employment law has boomeranged and is starting to crush freelancers” [Elaine Pofeldt, CNBC; Kerry Flynn, CNN Business] “As with many of my colleagues today, because I live in California, I was just told that I can no longer hold a paid position with SB Nation.” [Rebecca Lawson, Mavs Moneyball; Whitson Gordon thread on Twitter] “Separately, there’s some bit of irony in the fact that just a few months ago, Vox itself had a headline celebrating AB5 calling it a ‘victory for workers everywhere.’ Except, I guess, the freelancers who worked for Vox.” [Mike Masnick, Techdirt] “These were never good jobs,” claims the measure’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), but lots of freelancers have made clear they disagree [Billy Binion] “Mainstream politicians and pundits love to cite ‘unintended consequences’ when their preferred policies cause harm in the exact ways libertarians said they would.” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, earlier]

More: impacts on music, theater, and the performing arts make AB5 a creative-unfriendly law [Joshua Kosman and Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle]

Constitutional law roundup

  • “North Dakota legislators attempt to retroactively change the terms of contracts between manufacturers and dealers of farm equipment. Well, crack open your Con Law casebook because that violates the Contract Clause of Article I, Section 10. So holds the Eighth Circuit (over a dissent), treating the reader to a history of the clause from 1789 to the New Deal and beyond.” [IJ “Short Circuit” on Association of Equipment Manufacturers v. Burgum]
  • Subsidies conditioned on, and meant to promote, an official orthodoxy: California moves to approve $50 million state fund for film and TV production earmarked for producers who “share” state’s “values” on reproductive rights [Eugene Volokh]
  • Not your usual combination: Cato Institute, Brennan Center, and Sierra Club join in amicus brief to challenge President’s powers under National Emergencies Act to divert funds appropriated for other purposes to construction of U.S.-Mexico wall [David Post]
  • Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain on textualism and the future of the federal judiciary [Federalist Society]
  • “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law,” declares the constitution of Arizona. While judges in Washington have developed a distinctive jurisprudence based on the similar clause in their state’s constitution, the Arizona judiciary as yet has not [Timothy Sandefur]
  • Does the Commerce Clause really empower the U.S. Congress to criminalize acts of animal cruelty “affecting” interstate commerce, whatever that means? [Jacob Sullum]

Discontinue prosecution of shoplifting, get more of it

On the West Coast, changing public policies including lighter legal consequences for theft and lower priority of police response have led to a rise in shoplifting and other crime in stores, sometimes blatant. Compounding the problem: stores fear large liability payouts should they chase or touch a suspected miscreant [Christopher F. Rufo, City Journal; Scott P. Lindsay study for Downtown Seattle Association]