Posts Tagged ‘Regulation’

The Night Before Christmas: Air Cargo Deregulation Edition

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

This year’s lazy holiday blogging theme: Silly Capitalist Christmas videos! This one is from the Mercatus Center.

And there’s more on that theme coming tomorrow!

Winning

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

If you’re still not feeling the Christmas spirit yet, the New York Times offers up this brimming chalice of Winning:

More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

Yet the winning continues:

Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by President Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach.

Conservatives were wary that a Trump presidency would actually implement conservative policies, but when it comes to reducing regulatory burdens and bringing rogue agencies to heel, President Trump has not only exceeded expectations, he’s easily exceeded the (admittedly low) deregulation standards of Bush41 and Bush43, and is even on track to eclipse Reagan’s record in this regard.

So enjoy a heaping plate of Winning with your eggnog this year.

That Silly Daily Caller/Ajit Pai Net Neutrality Harlem Shake Video Google Tried to Ban

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

This is a very silly video from the Daily Caller featuring FCC Chairman Ajit Pai making fun of “Net Neutrality” that Google tried to ban.

It’s back up. Google not wanting you to see it makes it a good idea to spread it far and wide.

My Bumps, My Bumps, My AR-Stocky Humps

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Bump fire stocks (or just “bump stocks”) are replacement stocks for semiautomatic rifles that let the shooter simulate automatic by firing several shots without having to re-squeeze the trigger, are a hot topic in the news after Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock used them as part of his deadly rampage.

Unlike the overwhelming majority of our press corps, I had actually heard of bump stocks before the shooting, and seen videos like this, before the shooting:

Usually the NRA’s reaction to any call for gun control is “See you in Hell first!” However, their reaction to a call for bump stock regulation was quite different:

“In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented. Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world. In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations. In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities. To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”

So the NRA just signaled it’s willingness to sign on to a national gun control regulation. You better head out early, as the lines for the ski lodges of Gehenna are going to be out the door.

Of course, NRA support was contingent on getting national carry reciprocity in return, so watch congressional Democrats derail the deal, probably by tossing in the usual knee-jerk demands for for banning other “scary” gun part, higher capacity magazines, etc. Because NRA.

I’ve never fired a bump stock, and don’t know anyone who owns one. To get a better handle on this issue, I sent a few questions to old friend and master class shooter and trainer Karl Rehn about bump fire stocks.


1. My impression is that bump stocks are generally not well-regarded in the majority of the firearms community, and that they’re not allowed at the overwhelming majority of shooting ranges. Is that true? Do you allow bump stock firearms at any classes or events at KRTraining’s A-Zone range?

I’ve never had a student show up for a long gun class with a gun with a bump fire stock. They aren’t considered professional grade gear. You won’t find a SWAT team or a Navy SEAL or a professional shooting competitor using one.

I do not prohibit the use of bump stock equipped guns in my long gun classes. I’ve just never had anyone show up for a class wanting to use one. The drills we run in my long gun classes generally don’t involve firing more than 3 rounds at any target, and accuracy is part of the scoring for every drill.

2. Is it possible to rapid fire a bump stock equipped gun accurately, or is it a “spray and pray” weapon?

I haven’t used one. See answer #1. People serious about shooting quickly and accurately, or even just accurately, don’t use them.

3. What, if any, legitimate use cases are there for bump stock guns besides “having fun on your own land?”

It was originally invented as an aid for disabled shooters to operate a rifle more easily.

4. Besides the ill-conceived and ill-fated “Assault Weapons” ban, has the federal government ever attempted to regulate rifle stocks, or indeed anything beyond the receiver?

There has been considerable controversy and confusion associated with the ‘pistol brace’ which is sort of a stock that can be attached to pistols made from rifle lowers. See https://www.sigsauer.com/press-releases/atf-clarifies-ruling-pistol-stabilizing-braces/.

Will a bump stock ban have any impact on crime? Unlikely. If the shooter had not had the bump stock, could he have fired just as many rounds in the same time? Probably yes.


I would oppose a bump fire stock ban on general principles of federalism, and the fact that it won’t actually prevent any mass shootings, nor will they actually prevent new bump stocks, since bump stock designs are readily available for 3D printing.

That said, if you’re going to sacrifice any firearm component on the alter of appeasing mass hysteria, heavier regulations on bump fire stocks (which have always struck me as a quick and dirty hack) is probably the best option. Especially if we get national carry reciprocity in the bargain.

LinkSwarm for August 18, 2017

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The House IT scandal, another UK Islamic rape ring, jihad terror attacks, Charlottesville, Google: Another packed week of news, all big stories that deserve more time than I have to fully untangle. I especially don’t want to get dragged into the endless Charlottesville debate/recrimination/squirrel! morass, since that’s exactly where the leftwing activists and the MSM (but I repeat myself) want us to focus our attention, rather than the economy or Islamic terrorism.

Plus two Disney links, just because that’s the way the week shook out.

  • “Newcastle has joined a list of British cities where grooming gangs, made up of predominantly Pakistani Muslim men, systematically rape and abuse vulnerable, white girls. A nationwide pattern emerged after the first prosecutions in Rotherham, and then Rochdale, where a ‘culture of silence’ and political correctness led to inaction by authorities who feared being called ‘racist’.”
  • Barcelona jihad terror attacks kill 13.
  • But news reports go out of their way to avoid mentioning “Islam” or “Jihad.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • On the same subject:

  • Jihad stabbing attack in Finland? Obviously Finland needs stricter knife control…
  • “Imran Awan, a former IT aide for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was indicted Thursday on four counts including bank fraud and making false statements.”
  • The Feds also indicted Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. “In addition to lying on multiple mortgage disclosures, as an affidavit alleged at the time of Imran’s arrest, the indictment claims Hina lied by claiming medical hardship in order to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from a retirement program.”
  • “Feds Accuse Former Texas Police Chief of Working with Mexican Cartel.”

    McALLEN, Texas — Federal authorities arrested a former chief and current police sergeant for his role in allegedly helping Mexico’s Gulf Cartel move cocaine and marijuana through his jurisdiction. The Texas cop claimed that he needed money to pay for his upcoming bid for county constable after a failed attempt for the Hidalgo County Sheriff position.

    Current Progreso Police Sergeant Geovani Hernandez went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby who formally charged him with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

    The case against Hernandez began earlier this year when agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations received information from a confidential informant indicating that Sgt. Geovani Hernandez was working for the Gulf Cartel, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed. According to the documents, Hernandez bragged to an informant that he was a friend of former Gulf Cartel leader Juan Manuel “El Toro” Loza Salina and was able to travel to Reynosa without heat. The Texas cop told the informant that he needed money for his upcoming race for Hidalgo County Constable.

    Hernandez, like the majority of candidates running for office in the Rio Grande Valley, is a Democrat. The person he lost to in the 2012 Democratic, Guadalupe “Lupe” Trevino, is in prison for money-laundering. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Participant at Charlottesville rally claims police actively pushed attendees into the arms of antifa to be attacked. Which would seem to be a misuse of police power even if the people being abused are white nationalist scumbag LARP Nazis.
  • Agreeing with the above version of events: Those well-known Nazi sympathizers, the ACLU:

    “I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence,” said Gastanaga. “They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area.”

  • “The ridiculous campaign by virtually every media outlet, every Democrat and far too many squishy Republicans to label Trump some kind of racist and Nazi sympathizer is beginning to have the stink of an orchestrated smear. The conflagration in Charlottesville is beginning to feel like a set-up, perhaps weeks or months in the planning.” Also this tidbit I’ve seen elsewhere: “The ‘founder’ of Unite The Right, Jason Kessler, was an activist with Occupy Wall Street and Obama supporter.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Charlottesville Deputy Mayor’s Troubling Twitter Feed: ‘I Hate Seeing White People.'”
  • “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.” Noam Chomsky and I agreeing on something. And the moon became as blood… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Why Was This ‘Crowd Hire’ Company Recruiting $25 An Hour ‘Political Activists’ In Charlotte Last Week?”
  • Scott Adams: “How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble”:

    A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartin Pre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies.

    Snip.

    One sign of a good mass hysteria is that it sounds bonkers to anyone who is not experiencing it. Imagine your neighbor telling you he thinks the other neighbor is a witch. Or imagine someone saying the local daycare provider is a satanic temple in disguise. Or imagine someone telling you tulip bulbs are more valuable than gold. Crazy stuff.

    Compare that to the idea that our president is a Russian puppet. Or that the country accidentally elected a racist who thinks the KKK and Nazis are “fine people.” Crazy stuff.

  • German town of Bad Nenndorf discovers best way to defeat both Neo-Nazis and Antifa: Have a big party! (Hat tip: Will Shetterly.)
  • 7 Things You Need to Know About Antifa,” including the fact that 92% still live with their parents.
  • On this Althouse thread I joked that SJWs would soon start digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers to put their bones on trial for war crimes. Guess what?
  • Next up on the statue destruction spree: Well-known Confederate sympathizer Abraham Lincoln, whose statues have been the target of multiple incidents of vandalism.
  • The hard left is drawing up big plans for November 4. “It’s very likely nothing will come of this, that it’s just another left-wing wish-fulfillment pantomime of a type carried out by leftists every year – if not every six months – since the 60s.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Where this is all leading:

  • Google engineer James Damore explains why he was fired:

    I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company’s code of conduct and “cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

    My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company’s “ideological echo chamber.” My firing neatly confirms that point.

  • “James Damore was just fired for being insufficiently Googly.”

    He rejected Google’s internal mythology, and worse, he did so with basic math, in a company where mathiness is supposed to be part of the culture.

    He also rejected a piece of the general mythology so firmly that what he said was actively misreported — so blatantly that one has to conclude the reporters either can’t read the hard parts of the memo, didn’t bother to read the memo, or somehow managed to see things that weren’t there. (That last is my guess, based on the examples of Trump Trance we’ve seen over the last six months.)

  • “I’m An Ex-Google Woman Tech Leader And I’m Sick Of Our Approach To Diversity!”

    In the copious hiring I did at Google, 97% of the people I hired were men. I wrote reams of appeals to the hiring committee to make cases for cross-functional candidates who would be great assets to Google, even though a (typically) male dominated software engineering interview crew did not find these candidates up to snuff. I had a 90+% success rate changing the hiring decision for these candidates. Almost every one of these hires made an amazing difference to the company. 98+% of these candidates were men.

    It’s not like I wasn’t trying to hire women. But I was working with a candidate pool composed of 90% men. Try software engineers with experience in sensors, wireless and hardware stacks before angrily correcting my stats there. There was no way I was going to come out of that with a larger percentage of women hires than I did.

  • Slashdot commenter nails them for their endless social justice warrioring:

    Yes, there are some unproductive people in major corporations and the media who wish to push their left-leaning political agendas on the public at large.

    But we want no part of it.

    And you know what? It’s no different here at Slashdot.

    We come here to learn about new technologies, about new scientific and mathematical discoveries, and to discuss computing.

    We don’t want to waste our days arguing about genitalia, sexual preference, racism, and transgenderism.

    We just want this bullshit to end.

    We want those on the political left to stop trying to divide society into small groups based on arbitrary traits.

    Or at the very least, we want everybody else to ignore the divisions that the political left are trying to create.

  • Is a war between China and India brewing in the Himalayas? That would seem to be a bigger story than some century-old statues. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Liberals: “There should be fewer regulations on cool things I like!” Everyone else: “What about regulations on things other people like?” Liberals: “Fuck them!
  • Madness is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  • “Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape.”
  • College girl gets her picture taken with the Vice President. Lunatics freak out.
  • If any Republican wrote that Adolf Hitler was “had in him the stuff of which legends are made,” the way John F. Kennedy wrote in his diary in 1945, his career would be over.
  • Ted Nugent believes he would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if he weren’t such an outspoken supporter of gun rights. He’s probably right: How do you think is a bigger “Rock and Roll Legend”: Ted Nugent, or ABBA?
  • In case you’re wondering how big a joke that Southern Poverty Law Center “hate list” is, Bosch Fawstin, a critic of Islam who drew Mohammed and was targeted for assassination in Garland, is evidently a “hate group” all on his own:

  • “He tried to kill them with a forklift!” Alice in Wonderland, that is. Who is a man. And then it gets weird…
  • The rise and fall of Disney’s River Country, a small water park near Disney World in Orlando that’s been closed and allowed to decay for 15 years.
  • 10 Disney Princesses Re-imagined as Electoral Maps.”
  • LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!
  • Texas 2017 Special Session Begins

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

    The Texas Special Session opened Tuesday, ushering in a 30 day flurry of legislative activity. Naturally the media is focusing on the bathroom bill, because liberals are incensed that an unpopular culture war victory imposed by Obama fiat could possibly be overturned. But a lot of other important items are on the agenda, most of which liberals will hate just as much.

    The uncontroversial portion of the session is sailing right through:

    Waiving rules and blocking Democrats, Republicans in the Texas Senate opened the special legislative session Tuesday by taking rapid action on two key bills, potentially allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to open the overtime session to a longer list of conservative priorities as early as Wednesday afternoon.

    Abbott said he will expand the special session’s agenda after the Senate approves two “sunset” bills allowing five state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, to continue operating.

    To hasten action on the bills, Republicans voted along party lines to waive a rule requiring 24-hour notice of meetings so the Business and Commerce Committee could consider the sunset measures while the Senate was in a late-morning recess.

    For the first time in more than 30 years, senators also voted — again along party lines — to suspend a rule allowing one senator to “tag” legislation, requiring a 48-hour wait before a bill can be heard in committee.

    Here again are the 19 items after the must-pass Sunset legislation that Gov. Abbot has put on the agenda:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Bathroom bill
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • Here is the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s issue guide for the special session.

    Raising Speed Limits to Make Roads Safer

    Monday, July 17th, 2017

    Here’s a piece on raising speed limits to make roads safer that will sound counterintuitive, at least to those who have never actually driven on an freeway:

    “We all speed, yet months and months usually pass between us seeing a crash,” Lt. Megge tells us when we call to discuss speed limits. “That tells me that most of us are adequate, safe, reasonable drivers. Speeding and traffic safety have a small correlation.”

    Over the past 12 years, Lt. Megge has increased the speed limit on nearly 400 of Michigan’s roadways. Each time, he or one of his officers hears from community groups who complain that people already drive too fast. But as Megge and his colleagues explain, their intent is not to reduce congestion, bow to the reality that everyone drives too fast, or even strike a balance between safety concerns and drivers’ desire to arrive at their destinations faster. Quite the opposite, Lt. Megge advocates for raising speed limits because he believes it makes roads safer.

    Every year, traffic engineers review the speed limit on thousands of stretches of road and highway. Most are reviewed by a member of the state’s Department of Transportation, often along with a member of the state police, as is the case in Michigan. In each case, the “survey team” has a clear approach: they want to set the speed limit so that 15% of drivers exceed it and 85% of drivers drive at or below the speed limit.

    This “nationally recognized method” of setting the speed limit as the 85th percentile speed is essentially traffic engineering 101. It’s also a bit perplexing to those unfamiliar with the concept. Shouldn’t everyone drive at or below the speed limit? And if a driver’s speed is dictated by the speed limit, how can you decide whether or not to change that limit based on the speed of traffic?

    The answer lies in realizing that the speed limit really is just a number on a sign, and it has very little influence on how fast people drive. “Over the years, I’ve done many follow up studies after we raise or lower a speed limit,” Megge tells us. “Almost every time, the 85th percentile speed doesn’t change, or if it does, it’s by about 2 or 3 mph.”

    As most honest drivers would probably concede, this means that if the speed limit on a highway decreases from 65 mph to 55 mph, most drivers will not drive 10 mph slower. But for the majority of drivers, the opposite is also true. If a survey team increases the speed limit by 10 mph, the speed of traffic will not shoot up 10 mph. It will stay around the same. Years of observing traffic has shown engineers that as long as a cop car is not in sight, most people simply drive at whatever speed they like.

    Luckily, there is some logic to the speed people choose other than the need for speed. The speed drivers choose is not based on laws or street signs, but the weather, number of intersections, presence of pedestrians and curves, and all the other information that factors into the principle, as Lt. Megge puts it, that “no one I know who gets into their car wants to crash.”

    So if drivers disregard speed limits, why bother trying to set the “right” speed limit at all?

    One reason is that a minority of drivers do follow the speed limit. “I’ve found that about 10% of drivers truly identify the speed limit sign and drive at or near that limit,” says Megge. Since these are the slowest share of drivers, they don’t affect the 85th percentile speed. But they do impact the average speed — by about 2 or 3 mph when a speed limit is changed, in Lt. Megge’s experience — and, more importantly, the variance in driving speeds.

    This is important because, as noted in a U.S. Department of Transportation report, “the potential for being involved in an accident is highest when traveling at speed much lower or much higher than the majority of motorists.” If every car sets its cruise control at the same speed, the odds of a fender bender happening is low. But when some cars drive 55 mph and others drive 85 mph, the odds of cars colliding increases dramatically. This is why getting slow drivers to stick to the right lane is so important to roadway safety; we generally focus on joyriders’ ability to cause accidents — and rightly so — but a car driving under the speed limit in the left (passing) lane of a highway is almost as dangerous.

    Speed traps and the Arab oil embargo also get mentioned.

    (Hat tip: The Corner.)

    Go Home, TABC, You’re Drunk (on Power)

    Sunday, July 9th, 2017

    Here’s something from the regulators behaving badly file:

    Leaders at the Texas Capitol love to bash what they call out-of-control bureaucrats at city halls and in Washington, D.C., but a recent case pitting the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission against Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods looks like state regulatory overreach on steroids.

    After an investigation of the state’s largest liquor retailer, the TABC sought to yank permits for all 164 of the company’s stores — which would effectively shut it down — or hit Spec’s with fines of up to $713 million, according to court documents filed last week. The agency also put the company’s expansion plans on ice by freezing Spec’s new permit applications during the three-year probe, records show.

    What did Spec’s, a family-run company based in Houston, do to deserve the business equivalent of the death penalty? That’s what a couple of Texas administrative law judges wondered last week.

    They poured out the TABC like stale beer in a blunt 151-page ruling. The judges said TABC failed to prove dozens of allegations, rebuked agency lawyers for failing to disclose evidence to their own witness (and the court) and called out the agency for “stacking” charges, a tactic commonly used to pressure defendants into a settlement.

    In the end, the multi-year prosecution and an eight-day March administrative law hearing — similar to a trial — turned up evidence that Spec’s may have paid a $778 invoice from a wine supplier a day or two late in 2011 under the complicated liquor “credit law” spelling out when payments for booze must be made.

    The article goes on to document a series of abuses, including using another company’s admission of guilt as evidence of Spec’s guilt.

    The Spec’s case is just the latest in a long series of abuses that caused previous TABC head Sherry Cook to step down and Governor Greg Abbott to state “It’s time to clean house from regulators not spending taxpayer money wisely.”

    Hopefully newly-appointed TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly can clean up the mess and get the agency back on track. Texas labyrinth alcoholic beverage laws are bad enough without adding abuse…

    You Want People To Die!

    Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

    More lazy holiday weekend video blogging, with Reason extending liberals go-to argument on changing a single thing about ObamaCare to its logical conclusion: