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RAWA subcommittee hearing full of dire warnings of evils of online gambling

March 26, 2015, 2:43 PM

From Cards Chat News:

Perhaps the most interesting witness was the one that was added to the hearing between the originally scheduled date earlier this month and the actual hearings on Wednesday. That was Andrew Moylan, executive director of R Street. Moylan is a states’ rights proponent, and attacked RAWA for being an example of federal overreach.

“RAWA contains potentially problematic language that appears not to carve out wholly intrastate activity, as the Wire Act…and UIGEA both do quite clearly,” Moylan said. “From the prospective of federalism, an argument of this nature is problematic, to say the least.”

BBC drops the ball on baseball and smokeless tobacco

March 26, 2015, 2:08 PM

It’s almost baseball season, which means it’s time for anti-tobacco extremists to start grabbing easy headlines. One especially zealous state lawmaker wants to ban smokeless tobacco by players and fans in all California ballparks. It’s all based on smoke and mirrors, as illustrated in a woefully inaccurate recent BBC story on smokeless tobacco and baseball.

The report includes an erroneous claim that baseball stars Tony Gwynn, Curt Schilling and Babe Ruth died from cancers caused by smokeless tobacco.

Neither Gwynn’s nor Schilling’s cancer was related to smokeless products, as I have detailed before here and here. Reporter Nada Tawfik concedes that “doctors say a link between [Gwynn’s salivary] cancer and chewing tobacco cannot be proven.” I have previously noted the absence of a scientific link between smokeless tobacco and this cancer type. As for Schilling, he never said he had mouth cancer and not one of his doctors has supported his statement that smokeless tobacco caused his illness.

The BBC repeated the decades-old myth that Babe Ruth suffered from smokeless tobacco-induced mouth cancer. In truth, Ruth had nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Ruth was a prodigious consumer of cigars and alcohol, but neither are strongly associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (discussed here). He also used smokeless tobacco, which has no link to this cancer type.

Included in the BBC story was a remarkable quote attributed to Dr. Jatin Shah, who runs the Head and Neck Service at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Chewing tobacco, he is reported to have said, is “probably more harmful than smoking.” I emailed Dr. Shah to ask if he had been misquoted. He responded with a comment on South Asian products, but the BBC’s vast audience has been left with the grossly erroneous impression that American smokeless tobacco is more dangerous than cigarettes.

Thus are myths perpetuated and the public health undermined.

RAWA hearing criticised by PPA, anti-igaming claims get airing

March 26, 2015, 8:46 AM

From iGaming Business:

However Parry Aftab, executive director cyber safety advice group WiredSafety, recognised that regulation of online gambling would better protect American consumers, families and problem gamblers; while Andrew Moylan, executive director of R Street Institute, said he opposed RAWA for overstepping state rights.

Hillary now thinks this email thing is hilarious

March 26, 2015, 8:43 AM

If you’re keeping score, based on familiarity with the Clinton playbook, we have now delightfully exited the “pretend nothing is wrong” phase of Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal and we’ve moved into the “joke about it as though it’s funny” phase.

If you recall, this closely mirror’s Bill Clinton’s response to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, where, after denying his scandal under oath and then recanting it, embraced his public personal as a lovable, yet kind of creepy oaf, bound to haplessly follow the edicts of his nether regions: “Oh, that’s just Bill!” and “Did someone say Colombian prostitutes?” Hillary is following suit. Fresh off her United Nations press conference, where she revealed her own technological vulnerability, as well as her abject commitment to the feminist principle of always playing too dumb to know what’s going on, she’s confident the situation has been completely resolved. And so, on to the jokes.

“I am well aware that some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight,” Clinton said.

“I wanted to spend an evening with a room full of political reporters, I thought to myself: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’”

The former secretary of state told the crowd that she was ready to open up a new era of transparency and divulge all her classified information.

“No more secrecy, no more zone of privacy — after all, what good did that do me,” she announced.

“But first of all, before I go any further, if you’ll look under your chairs you’ll find a simple nondisclosure agreement. My attorneys drew it up. Old habits last.”

Har, har, harrrrrrrr.

In her mind, I’m sure Hillary Clinton was absolutely positive that this spelled the end of her press wrestling. After all, if they can laugh at a quip about an unsigned legal agreement guaranteeing their silence on an issue, they’ve definitely put that little tidbit about sending emails from a private server to other private email addresses during a major administration crisis that resulted in a dead ambassador, so as to avoid the unnecessary involvement of congressional investigators who would no doubt want to know what happened, right?

Right.

Fear-mongering testimony overshadows facts at Internet gambling ban hearing

March 26, 2015, 8:34 AM

From PokerNews:

There were two reasonable witnesses in WiredSafety executive director Parry Aftab, who recognizes that regulation of online gambling in the U.S. will better protect American consumers, families and problem gamblers; and R Street Institute executive director Andrew Moylan, who opposes RAWA for overstepping state rights…

…Moylan, a late addition to the panel, indicated that RAWA not only overreached from a federalism perspective in attempting to prohibit intrastate activity but was largely unnecessary.

“If a state wishes to prohibit gambling within its borders, it has the sufficient power to do so and sufficient legal remedies at its disposal,” Moylan said.

RAWA rhetoric sweeps House subcommittee meeting in federal online gambling debate

March 26, 2015, 7:49 AM

From Casino.org:

Next up was Andrew Moylan, executive director and senior fellow at R Street Institute, a conservative-libertarian think tank. Moylan was a late addition to the list of witnesses, a concession, perhaps, to criticism of the largely partisan panel.

However, he confusingly stated that he was not particularly knowledgeable about or interested in gambling. Instead, he was here to “articulate a conception of limited government and federalism as it relates to gambling legislation.”

Moylan noted that RAWA and its blanket ban on online gambling was at odds with the principles of federalism and also the “more narrowly targeted language of the original Wire Act and UIGEA.” Both the Wire Act and UIGEA, he said, were enacted to help states in their own law enforcement pursuits.

He also said that RAWA “potentially establishes a dangerous precedent by suggesting that the mere use of a communication platform like the internet subjects all users and all activity to the reach of the federal government, no matter its location or its nature.”

R Street urges caution against expanding the scope of federal government in Judiciary testimony

March 25, 2015, 3:52 PM

WASHINGTON (March 25, 2015) – The Restoring America’s Wire Act (RAWA) would overextend federal reach and usurp states’ rights, the R Street Institute’s Executive Director Andrew Moylan said in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today.

The legislation expands the 1961 Wire Act to cover all forms of gambling, but goes a step further to prohibit all wire or Internet gambling transmissions, including those conducted over the Internet in states that may have chosen to license and regulate gambling.

Both the Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) were written to help states in their own law enforcement pursuits and were circumscribed to cover only genuinely international or interstate activity.

“By appearing to extend its reach to wholly intrastate conduct, RAWA unwisely empowers the federal government,” testified Moylan. “This both impedes upon an area of law that is traditionally reserved for the states, and establishes a dangerous precedent in suggesting that mere use of a communications platform like the Internet subjects all users and all activity to the reach of the federal government, no matter its location or nature.”

Instead, Moylan suggested modifying the language of the RAWA to more closely resemble that of UIEGA, which carefully exempted intrastate payments and those between states with legal gambling.

“If limited government and federalism are to have any meaning in the 21st century and beyond, Congress must exercise restraint in claims of such power and RAWA in its current form is not consistent with that needed restraint,” he said.

Moylan’s full testimony can be found here.

Testimony on H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act

March 25, 2015, 3:00 PM

The attached testimony from R Street Executive Director and Senior Fellow Andrew Moylan was delivered to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations at the March 25, 2015 hearing titled “H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.”

Is Sheldon Adelson’s online gambling ban unconstitutional, or is it constitutionally required?

March 25, 2015, 2:01 PM

From Reason:

Today a House subcommittee held a hearing on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would ban online gambling throughout the country, even in states that choose to allow it. The witnesses included Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, who explained why that policy would violate the federalist principles reflected in the 10th Amendment.

The bill, introduced last month by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), prohibits “any bet or wager” communicated by “any transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce, incidentally or otherwise.” Those last three words “carry a tremendous amount of weight,” Moylan noted, because they make the ban applicable to wholly intrastate betting that happens to be routed through equipment located in another state. “To treat all use of the Internet, no matter its nature, no matter the individuals or entities it might connect, as ‘per se interstate’ and thus subject to Commerce Clause regulation,” he argued, “would constitute an enormous shove down the slippery slope toward federal power without meaningful limits.” Ron Paul agreed.

D-Day for RAWA as Poker Players Alliance fights back

March 25, 2015, 12:27 PM

From Cards Chat News:

Andrew Moylan, executive director of libertarian think tank R Street, will now be joining the hearing and will be arguing for states’ rights.

Prop 103’s authors argue for changing Prop 103

March 25, 2015, 9:00 AM

Scottish poets from the 18th Century are rarely credited for their insights into California politics. Yet the architects of Proposition103, California’s 25-year-old attempt to rigidly control prices in the state’s insurance market, would have done well to heed the insight of Robert Burns as they crafted their lamentable brainstorm and sought to leave no angle unaddressed.

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]

Not unlike Burns’ “mice”, their foresight had its limits.

In an obscure section of the California Insurance Code inserted by Prop 103 lies a provision that inadvertently bucks Prop 103’s otherwise unifying trend, in that it doesn’t hurt California consumers. It is a provision that allows groups to negotiate collectively with insurers to achieve discounts based upon their shared characteristics. This is a good idea, because certain groups have better loss experiences than other policyholders and should pay lower premiums as a result.

The people who receive discounts under this provision are referred to as “affinity groups.” To date, the California Department of Insurance has approved rating plans that include affinity groups.

In spite of the fact that the rates charged to affinity groups enjoy the blessing of the CDI, the authors of Prop 103, Consumer Watchdog, are up in arms. Their complaint is that groups they don’t fancy are receiving lower premiums than they otherwise would on a differentiated basis. The groups who are receiving benefits, in the words of Consumer Watchdog, are:

college graduates who can afford to maintain memberships in an alumni association, people with high paying jobs like doctors, lawyers, and business executives, and other elite members of the 1%.

That politically charged and polarizing class-driven characterization might come as a surprise to the elderly fixed-income AARP members who enjoy more accurate rates. It might also surprise the public-spirited teachers, public safety professionals and members of the military who enjoy affinity group status, since they don’t typically identify as members of the 1 percent.

But those inconvenient truths complicate a simplistic narrative that does more to obfuscate than it does to enlighten. As is often the case, an intentionally partisan and misleading surface-level discussion of who is “deserving” of what rate belies more problematic issues.

First, narrowing the regulatory definition of “group” will deny consumers an opportunity to enjoy rates that more accurately reflect their level of risk – rates that are often lower than what they currently pay.

Second, and not without some irony, attempting to promulgate a definition of the word “group” that meaningfully changes the scope of Prop 103 via the administrative rule-making process violates the very language of the initiative. Instead, to make this change, it is necessary to appeal to either the Legislature or directly to the people.

Bereft of both a sound policy rationale and the governing authority to make this change via administrative action, the ongoing controversy surrounding affinity groups only makes sense in the light of a profound historical embarrassment. The best-laid plans of Prop 103’s drafters, to gain an inimitably complete level of control over California’s insurance market, has gone awry through an action of their own.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The myth of the child poker player

March 25, 2015, 8:26 AM

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations is scheduled hold hearings today on a federal bill aimed at stopping states from legalized online gambling.

The Restoration of America’s Wire Act comes in response to a 2011 Justice Department memo stating that, apart from sports betting, there is nothing in the federal Wire Act that prevents a state from permitting intrastate online gambling. Since that memo, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have set-up regulatory structures to accommodate online gambling (poker only, in Nevada). Players and advocates are watching California closely, although legislation seems stuck amid political fights between the big casino interests, smaller card rooms, tribal casinos and prohibitionists.

Prohibitionists worry that if California’s sizable population gains access to online gambling, online wagering will spread to other states and, consequently would be difficult to reverse. Hence the urgency of their efforts to win federal preemption before that can happen. At the subcommittee hearing, the R Street Institute’s executive director, Andrew Moylan, will be speaking on behalf retaining state sovereignty over gambling regulation.

Andrew’s addition to the speaker list is welcome, considering that the committee’s original line-up consisted completely of online gambling critics and opponents, many relying on inaccurate data and overly emotional appeals.

A favorite tactic has been to present online gambling as a danger to children. This is a go-to message for the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, the organization funded heavily by brick-and-mortar casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It can be seen in these comments from former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln last November on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show. Adelson’s less articulate, yet more risible, rant at last year’s Global Gaming Expo can be viewed here (hat tip to World Series of Poker’s Nolan Dalla). They are encapsulated most luridly in a coalition video that shows a pre-teen hacking his father’s iPhone to gamble online.

Among the reasons the commercial fails is its focus on the boy’s poor playing decisions, such as doubling down at blackjack too often and going all-in with poor poker hands. It calls to mind dice-player Sky Masterson’s question to anti-gambling crusader Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls: “Is it wrong to gamble, or only to lose?”

But practically speaking, it’s very hard for a child to play on a gambling site. To begin with, he needs access to funds to play real money games. This is tautological, but it’s surprising how fast it gets overlooked. Even if junior steals dad’s credit card, a feat in and of itself, he has to be able to negotiate an electronic application form and successfully make a deposit. While it’s true that a seven-year-old can intuit enough to play Angry Birds proficiently, filling out an online financial form requires a level of real-world knowledge and experience that most grade-schoolers don’t have. But even if the occasional precocious kid gets through this, he could be tripped up immediately if he deposits too much. Heck, my credit card company calls me when a series of legitimate transactions for clothing and electronics are processed too close together. Even if mom or dad isn’t alerted at the time of the transaction, when they get the first bill, the chips, so to speak, will hit the fan.

The issue of parental responsibility can’t help but come up, mainly because it’s so carefully avoided in these heated calls to “protect the children.” Like porn sites and online music stores, gambling sites can be easily blocked through at-home filtering. And just like with other harmful issues related to online use—bullying, sexting, inappropriate content—parents can talk to their kids about Internet gambling.

Yes, these games are set up to be alluring and addictive. But they can be resisted with emotional control and a sound knowledge of facts. Frankly, I think there’s a great opportunity to use games that employ cards and dice to introduce children to basic concepts such as probability, expected return, risk management and the gambler’s fallacy, especially because what is often mathematically correct is also counterintuitive. For instance, in Monopoly, most players covet the high-rent properties of Boardwalk and Park Place because they yield high payoffs. But in the long run, the mid-range properties in the orange color group (St. James Place and New York and Tennessee Avenues) are the more profitable. The reason has everything to with probability.

Kids naturally get excited about games of chance. When chance is combined with decision-making strategy that can be mathematically calculated, as it is in gambling games such as poker and blackjack, and with sound adult guidance, it offers adolescents a gateway not to vice, but to the true elegance and science of mathematic concepts, ranging from statistical analysis to equilibrium theory and game theory – the stuff Nobel Prizes are made of. The math argument was strong enough that at least one high school—George Mason in Fall Church, Va.—was allowed to start a poker club.

Opponents of online gambling play up the danger angle because it gets attention. Yet when it comes to consumer protection, in contrast to the propaganda, online casinos may do a far better job at preventing underage players, as spelled out here by Marco Valerio in the current issue of Global Gaming Business. It’s an emotional, anecdotal message that should be given little weight. Certainly it does not justify creating yet another federal prohibition.

Contrary to what many believe, there is no federal law against gambling. The Wire Act simply prohibits using telephone and telegraph facilities to place wagers across state lines. In spite of the RAWA bill’s name, there is nothing about the Wire Act to “restore.” States have been regulating gambling since the nation’s founding. There’s no reason to change that.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Broad coalition demands NSA surveillance reform

March 25, 2015, 7:30 AM

March 25, 2015

We the undersigned represent a wide range of privacy and human rights advocates, technology companies, and trade associations that hold an equally wide range of positions on the issue of surveillance reform. Many of us have differing views on exactly what reforms must be included in any bill reauthorizing USA PATRIOT Act Section 215, which currently serves as the legal basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata and is set to expire on June 1, 2015. That said, our broad, diverse, and bipartisan coalition believes that the status quo is untenable and that it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform.

Together, we agree that the following elements are essential to any legislative or administration effort to reform our nation’s surveillance laws:

  • There must be a clear, strong and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA PATRIOT Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and the Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices. Any collection that does
    occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.
  • The bill must contain transparency and accountability mechanisms for both government and company reporting, as well as an appropriate declassification regime for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions.

We believe addressing the above must be a part of any reform package, though there are other reforms that our groups and companies would welcome, and in some cases, believe are essential to any legislation. We also urge Congress to avoid adding new mandates that are controversial and could derail reform efforts.

It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities. Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability. We strongly encourage both the White House and members of Congress to support the above reforms and oppose any efforts to enact any legislation that does not address them.

Thank you,

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Association of Law Libraries
American Booksellers for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
Application Developers Alliance
Association of Research Libraries
Brennan Center for Justice
Center for Democracy & Technology
CloudFlare, Inc.
Committee to Protect Journalists
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Computer & Communications Industry Association
The Constitution Project
Constitutional Alliance
Defending Dissent Foundation
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Engine Advocacy
Free Press Action Fund
FreedomWorks
Global Network Initiative
Government Accountability Project
Hackers & Founders
Human Rights Watch
Internet Association
Internet Infrastructure Coalition
Liberty Coalition
Mozilla
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
New America’s Open Technology Institute
Niskanen Center
OpenTheGovernment.org
PEN American Center
Project On Government Oversight
Public Knowledge
R Street
Reform Government Surveillance
ServInt
Silent Circle, LLC
Sonic
TechFreedom
Venture Politics
Wikimedia Foundation
World Press Freedom Committee

Free-market groups urge senators to support the Small Business Regulatory Sunset Act

March 25, 2015, 7:00 AM

Dear Senators,

On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by the organizations below, we urge you to support Sen. Mark Kirk and Sen. Steve Daines’ recently introduced “Small Business Regulatory Sunset Act,” which aims to protect small enterprises from the large and growing costs of regulatory compliance.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, regulatory compliance for small businesses cost an average of $11,724 per employee in 2012. For small manufacturers, that cost was $34,671. More than 87,000 rules have been issued since 1993, with an average of 3,500 new rules each year, many of which affect small business. In fact, according to analysis by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, if the cost of complying with U.S. regulations were an economy unto itself, it would be the 10th largest in the world, coming in at $1.863 trillion.

This regulatory burden acts as a hidden tax on consumers, who ultimately shoulder the costs. It discourages hiring, sidelining Americans who are struggling to find work, and lowers productivity, as vital resources are wasted adhering to outdated and unnecessary rules.

Despite being authorized to review and update rules affecting small business, most agencies fail to complete this review in an acceptable manner. This ensures the ever-growing list of rules continues to multiply, disproportionately weighing down small entities with fewer available resources. That’s why the Small Business Regulatory Sunset Act is crucial to jump-start economic growth. The act would:

Require agencies to publish on their websites plans to periodically review rules affecting small business;

    • Force agencies to review existing covered rules within nine years of publishing the plan, as well as new and existing rules every nine years thereafter;
    • Require agency reviews to include comment from small entities and assess the cumulative economic impact of the rules, among other criteria;
    • Compel agencies to issue compliance guides for small enterprises;
    • Sunset each new covered rule seven years after the final rule is issued, unless the agency takes action to renew the rule.

Agencies must be held accountable for the toll their actions take on the American economy, particularly those most vulnerable to agency overreach. We applaud Sens. Kirk and Daines for crafting a pragmatic solution and encourage all senators to join him in this effort to protect small business from an overzealous executive branch.Sincerely,

Lori Sanders
R Street Institute

Wayne Crews
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Tom Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Seton Motley
Less Government

Gregory Angelo
Log Cabin Republicans

Pete Sepp
National Taxpayers Union

David Williams
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Major insurers to strike deal to support compromise TNC language

March 24, 2015, 4:46 PM

For much of the past year, we at R Street have been active in trying to promote reasonable, effective compromise on ride-sharing regulations. The goal all along has been to arrive at a model that allows transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to operate, ensures that basic coverage requirements are met and preserves the greatest possible flexibility for new insurance products to come to market that meet the needs of this emerging risk.

If the rumblings we’re hearing from a number of state houses across the country prove to be accurate, we’re about to see a major step in that direction.

Today, we learned from sources familiar with the deal that a joint legislative framework for ride-sharing insurance requirements will be supported both by Uber and by State Farm, Farmers, USAA and the American Insurance Association. (Lyft may also soon join the deal). The model already has been discussed in ongoing legislative debates in Tennessee, Maryland, Washington state and Kansas and could be expanded to debates in more states in the coming weeks.

According to 2014 SNL Financial data, State Farm, Farmers and USAA combine to write 33.7 percent of the private auto market in Kansas, 31.5 percent of the market in Tennessee, 31.3 percent of the market in Washington state and 28.2 percent of the market in Maryland. State Farm is also a major writer of commercial auto insurance in all four states, as are a number of AIA members, such as Zurich and Travelers.

Under the model, primary insurance coverage would have to be in-force during all three periods of the ride-sharing experience, including the hotly contested “Period 1,” during which a driver is logged in to the TNC application but has not yet matched with a fare. Required liability limits during that period would be $50,000 in per-person bodily injury, $100,000 in per-incident bodily injury and $25,000 in physical damage.

The model would recommend state law be agnostic about whether the coverage is procured by the TNC, the driver or a combination thereof, so long as consistent terms are applied. That’s a provision we at R Street are particularly happy to see, as the roll-out of new insurance products targeted toward TNC drivers – particularly to cover Period 1 – has been rapidly accelerating. Just this past week, Geico announced plans to introduce its end-to-end TNC product to the Maryland market, one of the states where the model could gain traction.

The coverage limits in Period 2 (when a driver is en route to pick up a passenger) and Period 3 (when a driver is actually traveling with a passenger) would match those currently required of limousines in each state. Importantly, this would mean that comprehensive and collision coverage would not be required, as recently has been proposed in some states.

Insurers also would be ensured a right to subrogation, in cases where they feel they paid out a claim that ought not have been covered. That provision, one hopes, would reduce significantly instances of upfront claims denials, instead moving such disputes to litigation between a driver’s personal insurer and the carrier offering coverage to the TNC.

We haven’t seen the final language, as yet, but this has to be considered good news, both for the health of the insurance market and for the emergence of these exciting new service platforms.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Bill sets expiration date for federal rules

March 24, 2015, 1:58 PM

From The Hill:

Market research and advocacy groups including the R Street Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste released an open letter Tuesday that called on senators to pass the bill.

“Despite being authorized to review and update rules affecting small business, most agencies fail to complete this review in an acceptable manner,” the letter said. “This ensures the ever-growing list of rules continues to multiply, disproportionately weighing down small entities with fewer available resources.” 

Quoting figures from the National Association of Manufacturers, the groups said regulatory compliance for small businesses cost an average of $11,724 per employee in 2012 and $34,67 for small manufacturers. Since 1993, more than 87,000 rules have been issued.

“If the cost of complying with U.S. regulations were an economy unto itself, it would be the 10th largest in the world, coming in at $1.863 trillion,” the letter said citing an analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Fifth witness added to RAWA hearing

March 24, 2015, 1:57 PM

From Poker News Daily:

The new panelist is Andrew Moylan, the Executive Director of the R Street Institute, which is, according to its website, a non-partisan think-tank whose mission is “to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.” Despite the “non-partisan” part of the description, R Street certainly skews conservative; much of the Institute’s focus is on free markets.

Moylan is in no way an expert on poker, but his stance is much more likely to be on the side of online gambling, as he frequently writes about states’ rights issues. It is quite possible he was added as a nod to House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R – VA), who himself is a major proponent of states’ rights. Goodlatte and Moylan are already familiar with each other, as Moylan has submitted testimony to the Committee on the Judiciary in the past. Last year, he submitted sixteen pages of opinion for a hearing on internet sales taxation in which, among other things, he said such taxation would violate states’ rights.

Why Uber’s deal with big insurance companies matters

March 24, 2015, 1:54 PM

From Vox:

The deal is supported by State Farm, Farmers, and USAA, as well as the American Insurance Association, according to Ray Lehmann of the R Street Institute. Lehmann says Lyft is also considering supporting the framework.

Letter to SBA on Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund

March 24, 2015, 1:43 PM

Ash Williams
Executive Director
Florida State Board of Administration

Jack Nicholson
Chief Operating Officer
Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund

Dear Mr. Williams and Dr. Nicholson:

We the undersigned represent a diverse coalition that is concerned about the long-term continued health of Florida’s economy. We also appreciate the important role of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in protecting our economic future. Although the Cat Fund is currently fiscally sound, thanks in part to wise decisions by yourselves and lawmakers, it is also largely due to Florida’s unprecedented, nine-year lucky streak of tropical calm.

This presents you and the State Board of Administration a unique opportunity. Given that global reinsurance prices are at their lowest level in years, this would be an ideal time to consider spreading some of Florida’s enormous hurricane risk held by the Cat Fund to the global private market. Doing so would have no adverse impact on consumers, but instead would reduce the likelihood or magnitude of debt the Cat Fund would have to incur to cover losses, and by extension, reduce the potential of multi-year assessments upon our businesses, churches, charities, local governments and most Floridians. These concerns were reflected in a 2010 report by Florida TaxWatch, and more recently in a study authored by R Street Institute analyst R.J. Lehmann published in January by The James Madison Institute.

Until January of this year, Floridians were paying assessments to cover losses dating all the way back to the 2005 hurricane season. Exporting some of the Cat Fund’s risk would protect Floridians from additional assessments should the wind blow. Furthermore, the flood of outside capital—rather than debt—after a hurricane would allow the state to quickly recover both physically and economically.

It is only a matter of time before our lucky streak runs out. As such, we urge you and the State Board of Administration to take advantage of this unique opportunity to insure some of the Cat Fund’s risk before the forthcoming hurricane season.

Steve Pociask
President & CEO
American Consumer Institute

Dominic Calabro
President & CEO
Florida Tax Watch

Pete Sepp
President
National Taxpayers Union

Tom Feeney
President & CEO
Associated Industries of Florida

Manley Fuller
President
Florida Wildlife Federation

Christian R. Cámara
Florida Director
R Street Institute

David Hart
Executive Vice President
Florida Chamber of Commerce

Bob McClure
President & CEO
The James Madison Institute

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

 

Poker community strengthens defense during RAWA delay; hearing set for Wednesday

March 24, 2015, 1:14 PM

From PokerNews:

However, the three week-delay for inclement weather did prove useful for the online poker community. Backlash to the original witness list helped get a fifth witness added in Andrew Moylan, the executive director of R Street Institute, a conservative and libertarian think tank. The hearing in the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations was rescheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. EST.

Moylan is expected to speak out against RAWA as a violation of state rights, just what Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas noted was lacking at the hearing when the witness list was first leaked.

“I don’t know Andrew, but I’m familiar with R Street and they have a good reputation for focusing on federalism and 10th amendment issues on a whole lot of subject matters. I think they will be very credible and a good voice at the hearing.”