Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

Deregulating For Dollars: How Trump’s Anti-Regulation Agenda Could Boost His Own Pocketbook

Source: David N. Cicilline and Rick Claypool, Public Citizen, October 11, 2017

From the introduction:
…. This report highlights six examples of cases in which President Trump’s business interests could benefit from his administration’s plans to dismantle public protections. Gutting these protections – the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule and ban on brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, the National Labor Relations Board’s “joint employer” rule, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pay transparency rule and the Department of Homeland Security’s cap on H-2B visa workers — could benefit the Trump Organization. At the same time, these rollbacks would harm low- and middle-income Americans, many of whom supported his candidacy.

The report also provides nine additional examples off anti-corruption restrictions, consumer protections and worker protections that could be rolled back under Trump, to the potential benefit of his companies. It also notes Trump’s potential conflicts of interest relating to an affordable housing program from which he and his family profit and details how Trump could benefit from restrictions on class action lawsuits and tax cuts to benefit corporations and the rich.

At issue are not only the direct monetary gains that Trump may garner from deregulatory moves. His ongoing ownership of a wide range of business interests can’t help but color his approach to regulatory policy, as it relates both to specific rules and broad policy considerations.

The stakes are high. Trump’s deregulatory agenda will result in more workers facing injuries and discrimination, more consumers ripped off and more pollution accelerating climate change and poisoning our air and water. The more Trump’s deregulatory agenda is realized, the more the costs will be borne by the American public. ….

Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress

Source: Thomas H. Neale, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43824, October 6, 2017

The electoral college method of electing the President and Vice President was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and revised by the Twelfth Amendment. It provides for election of the President and Vice President by electors, commonly referred to as the electoral college. A majority of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is necessary to win. For further information on the modern-day operation of the college system, see CRS Report RL32611, The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections, by Thomas H. Neale ….

MapLight – Data

Source: Maplight.org, 2017

MapLight tracks several data sets that you can search for evidence of money’s influence on politics.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
Top contributions from major donors to congressional politicians.

CONGRESSIONAL BILLS
Bills paired with contributions, positions taken by special interests, and vote results.

LEGISLATORS
Profiles of elected officials with campaign finance statistics.

LOBBYING
See how much money companies and interest groups spend trying to influence lawmakers.

BULK DATA SETS + APIS
Use MapLight’s data for your own research or software project.

The Supreme Court’s Quiet Assault on Civil Rights

Source: Lynn Adelman, Dissent, Fall 2017
(subscription required)

It is a little-known and disturbing fact that the Supreme Court is in the process of gutting what may be the most important civil rights statute Congress has ever passed. It is particularly distressing that the harm is being done by a largely unanimous court—and that, other than a few legal scholars, no one seems to be paying any attention.

The statute in question is Section 1983 of the United States Code, which was enacted in 1871 as part of Reconstruction. Section 1983 enables people to bring suits in federal court to enforce the rights created by the Fourteenth Amendment—which, among other things, prohibits state officials from depriving persons of due process and equal protection of the law. The law was designed to provide a federal remedy against officials who violated the rights of the newly freed slaves or who stood by while others, like the Ku Klux Klan, did so. Specifically, it authorizes individuals to sue in federal court “any person who under color of law” violates their constitutional rights. The purposes of the law are to compensate persons whose constitutional rights have been violated and to deter future violations. Actions brought under Section 1983 are known as constitutional tort suits.

After Congress enacted Section 1983, the law lay largely dormant for some ninety years. In 1961, however, in Monroe v. Pape, the Warren Court breathed life into the statute. The plaintiff in Monroe alleged that thirteen Chicago police officers broke into his home in the early morning without a warrant, made his family stand naked, and interrogated him under physical threat. The Supreme Court upheld the plaintiff’s claim for damages under Section 1983 and interpreted the “under color of law” requirement to include actions by government officials taken under the badge of their authority even if the actions exceeded what they were permitted to do under state law. A police officer who used excessive force—as in the Monroe case—would be a prime example.

As the result of Monroe, Section 1983 became the primary vehicle for enforcing constitutional rights in the United States, and that remains true to this day. As Professor Lynda Dodd of the City University of New York (CUNY) has shown, although the statute has never received as much attention as some of the 1960s-era statutes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1983 has served as a central pillar of civil rights work for more than half a century. It is the means by which plaintiffs challenge the use of excessive force by police officers, race-based patterns of stop and frisk, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, wrongful convictions, and other kinds of official misconduct…..

The 2017 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability – Sustained Growth Among S&P 500 Companies Signals Commitment to Political Disclosure and Accountability

Source: Bruce F. Freed, Center for Political Accountability (CPA), September 26, 2017

The CPA-Zicklin Index benchmarks the political disclosure and accountability policies and practices of leading U.S. public companies. Issued annually, it is produced by the Center for Political Accountability in conjunction with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The indicators used to score companies are available here, and the detailed Scoring Guidelines can be downloaded here. To see the raw data used to compile this report, see this spreadsheet.

Related:
Your favorite companies may be political black boxes
Source: Lateshia Beachum, Center for Public Integrity, September 26, 2017

A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked From Voting in Wisconsin Last Year

Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, September 25, 2017

Trump won the state by 22,748 votes. ….

…..Even though Brinkman was already registered in Wisconsin and had other forms of ID, poll workers only allowed her to cast a provisional ballot. It was never counted. “I was very frustrated,” she said. “This past election was kind of a big one.” She described herself as “liberal” and said she didn’t vote for Donald Trump, who carried the state by just 22,000 votes.

A comprehensive study released today suggests how many missing votes can be attributed to the new law. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed registered voters who didn’t cast a 2016 ballot in the state’s two biggest counties—Milwaukee and Dane, which is home to Madison. More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn’t vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter ID law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote.

The study’s lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election, though he cautioned that it was difficult to produce an estimate from just two counties.*….

Related:
Elections Center Affiliates Release Initial Results from Voter ID Study
Source: Professor Kenneth R. Mayer (Principal Investigator) and Ph.D. candidate Michael G. DeCrescenzo, September 25, 2017

Initial findings from a new study on the effects of Wisconsin’s voter ID requirement.

  • Press Release
  • Background Study and Technical Documentation
  • Questions and Answers
  • Survey Instrument (Questionnaire)
  • Bankrupt Cities, Municipalities List and Map

    Source: Governing, 2017

    A select few cities and other public entities across the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy as they seek to pay off debts.

    Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as additional municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.

    Nationally, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection from 2008 through 2012. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities (not all states permit governments to file for bankruptcy) filed since 2008.

    Detroit became the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy in 2013. The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known public authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country. In Omaha, Neb., more than a dozen sanitary districts have filed for bankruptcy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all Chapter 9 filings since 2010.

    It’s also important to note that only about half of states maintain laws authorizing municipal bankruptcy. View our bankruptcy laws map for each state’s policies…..

    A Curated List of Environmental Laws That Both Protect The Environment and Support Economic and Job Growth

    Source: USC Schwarzenegger Institute, Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, 2017

    Laws that protect the environment and the health of citizens, while simultaneously supporting economic and job growth, are being passed in state legislatures across the United States. These laws are more important than ever before and, increasingly, the work being done at the subnational level is having an impact on national and global decision making. The USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators have partnered with one another to create this online resource that will help state legislators throughout America learn from their colleagues in other states. We hope to assist legislators who are interested in advancing smart environmental policies by sharing best practices and actual legislation that is working successfully in a number of states already.

    Governor Schwarzenegger has long insisted that voters aren’t interested in Republican air or Democrat air but instead simply want clean air. That belief has guided our thought process when choosing the legislation to include in this database. We believe that lawmakers from both political parties and all 50 states will be able to use this resource to find creative legislative solutions to many of the environmental and public health issues facing the people and communities they represent.

    This list, although extensive, is by no means complete. We look forward to expanding the list of legislation shared on this website and encourage you to recommend bills from your respective states that you believe can be helpful to legislators elsewhere in America.

    BROWSE BILLS BY CATEGORY:
    Air Quality
    Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
    Human Health
    Climate Change