Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

Environment roundup

  • California state agency in charge of Prop 65 enforcement seeks to effectively reverse judge’s recent ruling and exempt naturally occurring acrylamide levels in coffee from need for warning [Cal Biz Lit] Prop 65 listing mechanism requires listing of substances designated by a strictly private organization, spot the problem with that [WLF brief in Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment]
  • Yes, those proposals to ban plastic straws are a test run for broader plastic prohibitions [Christian Britschgi, Honolulu Star-Advertiser] Impact on disabled users, for whom metal, bamboo, and paper substitutes often don’t work as well [Allison Shoemaker, The Takeout] Surprising facts about fishing nets [Adam Minter, Bloomberg, earlier]
  • “A closely watched climate case is dismissed; Will the others survive?” [Daniel Fisher on dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland cases] Rhode Island files first state lawsuit, cheered by mass tort veteran Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) [Spencer Walrath/Energy in Depth, Mike Bastasch/Daily Caller]
  • Meanwhile back in Colorado: Denver Post, Gale Norton, other voices criticize Boulder, other municipal climate suits [Rebecca Simons, Energy in Depth, earlier here and here]
  • Waters of the United States: time to repeal and replace this unconstitutional rule [Jonathan Wood, The Hill, earlier on WOTUS]
  • “What you’re talking about is law enforcement for hire”: at least nine state AG offices “are looking to hire privately funded lawyers to work on environmental litigation through a foundation founded by” nationally ambitious billionaire and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg [Mike Bastasch]

Environment roundup

  • California law requires cities, counties to generate elaborate plans for new housing. No need to grant permits though [Liam Dillon, L.A. Times]
  • Strenuous campaigns to block fossil fuel infrastructure have helped saddle Rhode Island with some of the highest electric rates in the land [Douglas Gablinske, Providence Journal]
  • Ronald Bailey reviews Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks, by Geoffrey Kabat [Reason last winter]
  • Update: judge strikes down Montgomery County, Md. ban on common lawn pesticides [my Free State Notes post]
  • Short video with Prof. Eric Claeys (George Mason/Scalia) on Penn Central v. City of New York (1978), the leading case in regulatory takings law [Federalist Society]
  • Scientist leading WHO review of Roundup chemical knew of but omitted recent study finding no cancer risk; California went ahead and listed glyphosate anyway [Reuters Investigates, Karl Plume/Reuters on California action, Kiera Butler/Mother Jones]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • “This Massachusetts Lawmaker Wants to Throw Folks in Prison for Having Secret Car Compartments” [Scott Shackford; earlier on compartment bans here, here, and here]
  • Traffic stops dangerous and intrusive. Why not focus them where they’re most needed? [Steve Chapman] More: a different view from Scott Greenfield;
  • Why is AG Sessions enabling forfeiture end runs by police around their own state lawmakers? It’s not good federalism [Natalie Delgadillo, Governing] Angling to end suit, Philadelphia offers to end use of asset forfeiture funds for law enforcement [Robert Moran, Philadelphia Inquirer]
  • White-collar prosecution: “Time To Revisit The Yates Memo?” [Robert Bork, Jr.]
  • What happened when Rhode Island inadvertently legalized indoor prostitution [Elana Gordon, NewsWorks]
  • What if U.S. Department of Justice policies had to be run through OIRA regulatory review for cost-benefit comparison, as many other agencies’ do? [Mark Osler, Marshall Project]

Police roundup

  • “My dad was a cop. He despised the bad guys. But he always told me, ‘we’re the good guys and people should always know the difference.'” [Rep. Eric Swalwell on Twitter, Daniel Dale/Toronto Star on President’s “You can take the hand away, okay?” remarks about handling of suspects in custody; reactions from IACP and rounded up at NYT; related Caroline Linton, CBS News on Suffolk County, N.Y. police department]
  • New legislation in Texas, pushed by police unions, authorizes special courts for cops, guards, and first responders who seek to blame misbehavior on job-related mental conditions [Jolie McCullough/Texas Tribune via Radley Balko]
  • Providence has bad habit of ticketing drivers over parking practices you’d assume were legal [Susan Campbell/WPRI, Scott Shetler/Quirky Travel Guy, 2011]
  • Boston cop to be reinstated with five years’ back pay after nearly choking unarmed man to death; victim, a corrections deputy, had settled with city for $1.4 million [Boston Herald via Jonathan Blanks] Camera saves footage from 30 seconds before activation button pushed: “Baltimore is reviewing 100 cases after video leaks appearing to show police planting drug evidence” [Veronika Bondarenko/Business Insider, Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector/Baltimore Sun] What’s it take for cops to get disciplined, anyway? [Jonathan Blanks on Fort Worth, Tex. whistleblowing case]
  • From the Des Moines Boy Police to D.A.R.E.: America’s long history of enlisting kids as cops to watch peers, family [Joshua Reeves, Reason]
  • Among the public policy involvements of the Fraternal Order of Police: arguing in the Bank of America housing-disparate-impact case for more bank liability to municipalities over lending practices [Liz Farmer, Governing]

Privacy a casualty in war on opioids

Law enforcement officials in some states are seeking warrantless access to prescription databases. A New Jersey bill “would require officials to ‘certify’ that they are engaged in a specific investigation,” seeking to calm fears that enforcers will begin trawling data for people to investigate. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has already signed a similar bill. “In California, the Supreme Court ruled recently that the state Medical Board can dig through prescription drug records without a warrant or subpoena.” [Associated Press via Scott Shackford, Reason]

Labor and employment roundup

  • Rhode Island bill would lock in existing public employee union benefits until new contract reached. Why bargain in good faith? [Providence Journal editorial]
  • NYC Mayor De Blasio signs “Fair Work Week” package imposing on fast-food and retail employers various constraints typical of unionized workplaces; meanwhile, court strikes down 2015 NYC law imposing punitive terms on nonunion but not union car washes [Seth Barron, City Journal; Ford Harrison on new legal package]
  • How reliable a guide is Paul Krugman on the minimum wage? [Scott Sumner and commenters] “Thing is, there has been an awful lot more empirical research on the effects of minimum wage increases than this one paper by Card and Krueger.” [Thomas Firey, Cato] “New Paper Shows Workers Commute Away From Minimum Wage Rises” [Ryan Bourne, Cato]
  • House hearing: “Illinois worker recounts ordeal to decertify union” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
  • New Mexico: “‘Ban the box’ issue not so clear cut” [Joel Jacobsen, Albuquerque Journal]
  • In which Jonathan Rauch and I for once disagree, but still a good survey of ideas for reinventing unionism (works councils, Andy Stern/Eli Lehrer, Ghent, etc.) [The Atlantic]

What’s the problem with Rhode Island officials and free speech, anyway?

Seriously, what’s their problem? [Hans Bader on the Rhode Island attorney general’s proposal for a ban on many hostile social media posts, covered here earlier] Meanwhile, a Providence Journal editorial blasts home-state Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse:

…in dealing with [carbon dioxide emissions], or any crisis, it is vitally important that America not discard its essential values of freedom.

Regrettably, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., continues to make noises about using government to prosecute some of those who willfully persist in questioning the scientific consensus on climate change. …

This is troubling: a U.S. senator and attorney general [Loretta Lynch], both sworn to uphold the Constitution, mulling legal action against American citizens and companies for the “crime” of challenging a scientific theory. A number of Democratic attorneys general — including Rhode Island’s Peter Kilmartin — have also expressed interest in prosecuting those whom they believe are deliberately misleading the public about this issue.

Turning such disagreements into punishable acts of fraud would seem to be legally difficult. But that may not be the point. The threat alone could have a chilling effect on free speech, by intimidating dissenters into silence. Such an approach would be an affront to the scientific method, which involves the free exploration of ideas. …

President Thomas Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: “Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

There is no reason to pit environmentalism and free speech against one other. We can join together to protect our planet without trying to silence those who argue against us.

Some more recent commentary on the AG subpoena investigation Sen. Whitehouse helped orchestrate: Richard Epstein, George Will, Ronald Rotunda. As Prof. Rotunda points out, the government not only declines to prosecute advocacy research in other contexts, but often funds it. And the 2012 Alvarez v. U.S. (stolen valor) case establishes that outright, knowing lying for advantage often receives constitutional protection as well, on the recognition by the courts that “if the government can punish that, we go down a steep slippery slope. … The marketplace of ideas, not the subpoena power of government, should decide what is true or false.” More: “The environmental campaign that punishes free speech” [Sam Kazman and Kent Lassman (CEI), Washington Post]

Free speech roundup

Rhode Island attorney general pushes broad ban on hostile social media posts

Someone needs better advice about the First Amendment, and quickly: “Social media posts, sexually explicit or otherwise, that cause someone’s online embarrassment or insult, would become crimes under a set of bills being advanced by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.” One of the bills “would target a wide range of social media activity that makes people ‘feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.'” so long as it had been “made with the intent to cause emotional distress and be expected to cause distress in a ‘reasonable person.'” While previous “cyber-bullying” legislation required a pattern of conduct, “someone could be prosecuted under the new Kilmartin bill for a single post if at least two others pile on with ‘separate non-continuous acts of unconsented contact” with the victim.'” — meaning that the trigger for jail time over speech could be the actions of other persons. [Providence Journal] Two years ago the New York high court struck down an overbroad ban on so-called cyber-bullying.