Posts Tagged ‘Regulation’

Let the Texas Racing Commission Die

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

The Texas Racing Commission is tasked with overseeing and regulating horse and greyhound racing in Texas. In 2014, the commission decided to legalize “historical racing”.

What’s historical racing, you ask? That’s where bettors use a machine to wager on already-run races whose distinguishing characteristics have been stripped out. In other words, betting real money on imaginary digitized horses, the horses on which they have are theoretically based being, in most likelihood, long dead.

So what law passed by the legislature enabled them to legalize this entirely new form of gambling in Texas?

None. They just made it up after the gambling lobby asked them to. Race tracks say that without historical racing they’ll have to close up shop.

One tiny little problem: Not only has the legislature not approved historical racing machines, they say that the machines violate Texas laws against gambling machines. “‘These rules appear to be an attempt by the Racing Commission to circumvent the Legislature’s authority to decide what types of gambling are and are not legal,’ stated a letter sent at the time by [Texas Sen. Jane] Nelson, [Texas Sen. Craig] Estes and others in the Senate GOP Caucus. ‘This is not an appropriate decision for the Racing Commission.'”

Indeed, they stripped funding from the Texas Racing Commission until such time as they were willing to obey the law.

And the Legislative Budget Board is enforcing that decision.

So how did the Texas Racing Commission respond to being told to obey the law? “Screw you, we’re legalizing historical racing anyway.”

Personally, wearing my libertarian hat, I think more forms of gambling should be legal, regulated and taxed in Texas. However, at this point it’s become clear that the Texas Racing Commission has been captured by the very industry it was created to regulate. At this point it’s better for the LBB to let funding for the Texas Racing Commission lapse entirely. A short special session would be called creating a new agency to regulate horse racing and letting Governor Abbott choose commissioners who serve the interests of Texas citizens rather than the gambling lobby.

And if Texas race tracks close (either temporarily or permanently), that’s acceptable collateral damage for a marginal industry that captured its own regulatory agency and pushed it into promulgating illegal regulations not authorized by the legislature.

So focused has the Texas Racing Commission been on imposing historical racing, if I were Attorney General Ken Paxton, I’d take a serious look at investigating the possibility that current commissioners received payoffs from the gambling lobby to do so.

But you know who would probably profit the most from letting historical racing and slots machines appear at Texas race tracks? Texas speaker Joe Straus, who stands to rake in millions due to his and his family’s connections to gambling interests.

Edited to Add: Cahnman’s Musings notes that two of the commission members who voted for historical racing are holdovers that Gov. Abbott can replace at moment’s notice. Sounds like that should be the strategy going forward…

WTO Trade Agreement Reached on IT Products

Monday, July 27th, 2015

A new trade agreement was struck at the World Trade Organization.

A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

The tentative deal, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, affects a wide variety of products ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. It covers US$1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today.

This is one of those pieces of Snooze Inducing News that could very well turn out to be A Great Big Hairy Deal. Free trade is a win-win for the nations involved, so this could potentially help alleviate the real nasty recession that’s careening down the pike at us.

A complete list of the products covered range from the excessively specific to the frustratingly general (“memories”). But a whole lot of them look related to semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, an industry that American and Japanese companies dominate. (Almost makes me wish I hadn’t sold all my Applied Materials stock. Almost.)

(Hat tip: Slashdot.)

LinkSwarm for July 24, 2015

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Today will be full of Stuff. And Things. So enjoy a LinkSwarm!

  • Barack Obama, the MegaBanker’s friend. “Three top Democrats are accusing the Department of Housing and Urban Development of quietly removing a key clause in its requirements for taxpayer-guaranteed mortgage insurance in order to spare two banks recently convicted of federal crimes from being frozen out of the lucrative market.”
  • Companies that continue to fund Planned Parenthood. I believe the American Cancer Society should come in for a particularly hard time for sponsoring an event called “The Race For Life”…
  • And those same companies are scurrying for cover now that the lights have been flipped on.
  • On the New York Times running interference for Planned Parenthood. Which should surprise no one. Of course one branch of the Democratic Party will always defend another.
  • Five examples of that voting fraud Democrats swear doesn’t exist from 2015.
  • 93% unionized A&P supermarket chain files for bankruptcy. Again. Gee, what could be the cause?
  • Republicans chastise their extremists, Democrats pander to them.
  • Salman Rushdie says the world learned the wrong lesson from his fatwa. Namely to cower down in the face of jihad and really lick boot… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Not just Israel: Border walls are going up all across the Middle East to help keep out jihadists. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • How Uber is taking on Bull De Blasio. Man, Democrats hate it when you threaten the profits of their favored entrenched monopolies.
  • Return to the joyous heydays of lesbian feminists collective. “Sitting in endless meetings, unable to reach agreements, and taking days to produce one leaflet because someone objected to the word seminal.” Can’t imagine why they didn’t take the world by storm…
  • All the people who should sue Gawker. It’s a lengthy list. Plus this: “Gawker is the kind of place where they hold up pictures of Sabrina Erdely and say: ‘Now this is how you do it!”
  • Guns don’t kill people, Austin policemen bumping off their 7-month pregnant girlfriends kill people. Allegedly.
  • Sorry Instapundit, but I read this piece and I instantly think Grizzly Man 2.
  • Texas Legalizes Medical Cannabis Oil

    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    This was one small story in the tidal wave of session-ending bills, but Texas has now legalized medical cannabis oil.

    “Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation Monday legalizing low-THC cannabis oils as treatment for certain medical conditions.

    The Texas Compassionate Use Act from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, will legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. The state will regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication.

    I’m a “legalize it, regulate it, tax it” sort of guy, but this is a good first step in reducing legitimate suffering without engaging in the farce that is California’s “medical” marijuana industry. “Yeah, I have a medical condition I’m suffering from! I’m not high right now!”

    Texas vs. California Update for May 21, 2015

    Thursday, May 21st, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • “March marked a phenomenal run of 99 consecutive months when Texas’ unemployment rate was at or below the national average.” Also: “Texas employs an impressive two and a half times more people since December 2007 than the rest of the nation combined.”
  • The Texas state legislature is on the verge of passing an actual conservative budget.
  • Will Franklin looks at local bond debt in Texas. It’s creeping up, partially due to big government advocates scheduling off-year bond elections when fewer people are voting. Even so, voters seem willing to reject big-ticket bond items.
  • San Bernardino’s bankruptcy plan: CalPERS gets theirs, bondholders get screwed.
  • And San Bernardino is planning to outsource their firefighting operations, not least of which because the fire department sucks up $7 million worth of overtime a year. And the fact their union stopped participating in bankruptcy talks didn’t help… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How a few wealthy California environmentalists give the illusion of a mass movement.
  • How retroactive pension increases destroyed California budgets. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California is a victim of repeated short-sighted thinking.
  • Los Angeles joins the minimum wage hike bandwagon. Expect another wave of small business closure stories over the next few months…
  • Why public employee unions are the elephant in the room for California’s debt crisis. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s majority Democrats shelve legislative transparency bill written by Republican. This is my shocked face.
  • Compton teachers get laid off, Do-Da, Do-Da…
  • “In another corporate exodus from Torrance, California, to North Texas, Kubota Tractor Corp. and Kubota Credit Corp. announced Thursday that they will move their headquarters to Grapevine from the Los Angeles area.”
  • “The number of young adults admitted to California hospital emergency rooms with heroin poisoning increased sixfold over the past decade.” (Hat tip: Cal WatchDog.)
  • The Weinstein Company hit with $130 million lawsuit. File under: Hollywood Accounting.
  • LinkSwarm for May 5, 2015

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

    Happy Cinco de Mayo! My efforts to move the LinkSwarm back to it’s usual Friday position by posting early have failed, so I’m trying to get it there by letting it drift back one day later each time…

  • “Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of Donors to Clinton Foundation.” Just in case you missed that. Because trying to keep up with all the sleazy bribery angles of the Clinton Foundation is like trying to drink from the firehose…
  • Speaking of which:

  • “Hillary may want to talk about inequality, but is there any better example of a couple who gorged at the trough of Wall Street and foreign autocrats, chose not to follow the rules, never could stop chasing more and more money and (in Hillary Clinton’s case) went to extraordinary lengths to destroy “personal” e-mails that might have pulled back the curtain on all that?” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Hillary hires Scott Hogan, an organizer of the failed “Everytown” gun-grabber astroturf to run her “Grassroots” campaign. Hopefully he’ll bring Hillary the same outstanding success he brought to gun control…
  • Russian stooges in Ukraine: “Soviet terror famine? No, that was all just a big misunderstanding!” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Islamic State murders 600 more Yezidis. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • The Islamic State also claimed post facto credit for the Garland attack.
  • Speaking of which, here’s an interview with Bosch Fawstin, the winner of the Draw Mohammed contest. (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Emergency room visits up under ObamaCare.
  • Lefty lawyer Laurence Tribe calls Obama’s “force everyone to use green energy without congressional approval” plan unconstitutional. “After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”
  • Drug cartel violence heats up in Mexico: “Gunmen shot down a Mexican military helicopter Friday in the western state of Jalisco, killing three soldiers, and set fire to buses, blocked roads, and attacked banks and gas stations in a sharp escalation of violence against the government.” This is evidently the handiwork of the New Generation drug cartel.
  • Minimum wage hike hits San Francisco Comic Store.
  • When the Social Justice Warriors started attacking the company Protein World over their “Beach Ready” ad campaign, Protein World didn’t cave, they fought back. Result: They earned an additional $1 million in four days.
  • Not understanding that the Presidency is not an entry level job, and that the Republican field was already packed, Ben Carson joins the Presidential race.
  • Ditto Carly Fiorina, whose tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was not an unqualified success, and whose 2010 California Senate race lost to Barbara Boxer by 16 points.
  • And evidently Mike Huckabee is going to run as well.
  • Texas Democrats are furious that a new ethics bill might keep them from scratching each other’s backs. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • The Austin American Statesman is moving printing and packing operations to San Antonio and Houston, resulting in about a 100 jobs lost in Austin. Previously. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Social Justice Warriors can’t even win elections at UCLA.
  • Austin’s Highland Mall closed on April 30th.
  • Texas vs. California Update for April 15, 2015

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    Hope you’ve finished your taxes already! Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Detroit and Stockton’s bankruptcies may signal further problems nationwide, says New York Fed President William Dudley. “While these particular bankruptcy filings have captured a considerable amount of attention, and rightly so, they may foreshadow more widespread problems than what might be implied by current bond ratings.”
  • The Texas senate approves a $211.4 billion biannual budget, which will need to be reconciled with the $209.8 billion House budget. Both budgets offer tax relief, but of different kinds.
  • The senate also zero funds two rogue agencies the Texas Racing Commission and the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. Expect Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, with deep ties to the gambling industry, to go to the mat to save the Racing Commission.
  • The Texas senate has also passed signifcant spending limit reform in Senate Bill 9.
  • CalPERS raises contribution rates by 6%.
  • California senate OKs yet another restrictive energy policy bill. Yet another in their continuing “Let’s send as much business to Texas as possible” acts…
  • Los Angeles Unified School District extends lavish employee benefits package another three years, despite existing underfunded liabilities. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California sets aside $261 million for cost overruns on its already pricey high speed rail boondoggle.
  • California’s drought is something environmentalist liberal elites have brought on themselves: “Those who did the most to cancel water projects and divert reservoir water to pursue their reactionary nineteenth-century dreams of a scenic, depopulated, and fish-friendly environment enjoy lifestyles predicated entirely on the fragile early twentieth-century water projects of the sort they now condemn.”
  • More on the same theme.
  • San Diego builds a desalinization plant (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Central California is already starting to suffer water-related thefts.
  • In the wake of the Vergara ruling, California Republicans want to overhaul how teachers are hired and fired. Naturally teacher’s unions are opposed…
  • Judge rules that California must pay for sex change operations for prisoners on Eight Amendment grounds. “To contend that ‘forcing’ a prisoner to continue as a man violates the Constitution is absurd…It is nonsensical to grant imprisoned convicted felons health-care ‘entitlements’ that many law-abiding, hardworking taxpayers don’t enjoy.”
  • California prostitutes demand prostitution be legalized. You’d think they’d get a sympathetic hearing from California’s Democrat-controlled legislation, what with all they have in common… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Stanford student council candidate grilled over Colleging While Jewish. This could go in the regular LinkSwarm, but I noticed that both of these recent incidents took place in California.
  • Austin City Council Punts on Anti-BBQ Ordinance

    Friday, April 3rd, 2015

    After a huge outcry over a proposed ordinance to limit BBQ smoke in residential areas, the Austin City Council has decided to punt:

    A proposed resolution that could have forced barbecue restaurants in the city of Austin to install smoke scrubbers on their smoke stacks will come before the full city council this summer. That’s what council members approved during Friday’s meeting, after hearing from restaurant owners and neighbors who say the smoke is ruining their quality of life.

    Snip.

    The resolution now goes through a stakeholder process, meaning the city will hear from people who have a direct stake in the issue. Then it will go to the economic development and health and human services committees before coming before the full council again. That’s scheduled to happen after July 31.

    So they could still kill the golden goose and fulfill Dwight’s longing to see an entire city council tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail. But the delay also gives them time to quietly kill the proposal after realizing how many orders of magnitude more BBQ-eating voters there are than people supporting the ordinance…

    Austin Getting Ready To Declare War on BBQ

    Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

    Austin has one of the nation’s best barbecue joints in Franklin Barbecue. So how does the city celebrate that fact? If you’re the People’s Republic of Austin, you see if you can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs through over-regulation!

    A proposed city council resolution could threaten Austin’s continued status as an international destination for Texas barbecue. District 3 council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria is spearheading a code change to limit barbecue smoke in residential areas, as reported by KUT. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin tells Eater if such a code were to pass, it could force Franklin Barbecue and many other barbecue joints in Austin to go out of business.

    The proposed code change would require any restaurant or food truck using “a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill” within one hundred and fifty feet of residential zoning to install an exhaust system known as smoke scrubbers. Franklin estimates the cost of such a system would run between $15,000 and $20,000, which he says is not an option for even his hyper-successful business. “Cost aside, the barbecue would not be the same—it would modify how the cooker smokes,” Franklin says. “If this resolution passes, we would be forced to close or move. It would destroy Austin barbecue.”

    Yes, because so many normal people (as opposed to radical vegetarians) hate the smell of barbecue.

    Franklin has threatened to move if the ordinance passes. Mr. Franklin should feel free to move up to Williamson County, where people appreciate barbecue and he won’t be hassled by The Man…

    Followup: Villalba Pulls Police Filming Bill

    Sunday, March 29th, 2015

    It turns out that even the supposed beneficiaries of state Rep. Jason Villalba’s unconstitutional and ill-conceived H.B. 2918 are opposed to it as well.

    “Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba withdrew his proposal — which would incriminate independent bloggers who film police activity within 25 feet, or 100 feet if they carry a handgun — from a committee meeting Thursday.

    “That came a day after he heard complaints from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.”

    Given the nigh-on-universal opposition, one wonders why Villalba came up with such an appallingly stupid bill, and why he foolishly defended it from widespread criticism for so long.

    (Hat tip: Push Junction.)